M3's friend Erik is wisely moving from Santa Fe to Albuquerque tomorrow, and he's bringing his blog Alterdestiny with him!
Erik's been quiet lately (like someone else I know... ahem...), but keep checking on him while he gets settled into his new place. Sooner than not, I'm sure he'll be bringing us more of his political/historical/musical/sarcastic analysis that we've come to know and love.
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Many people have expressed interest in the report we wrote last summer on our July trip to Israel and the Occupied Territories. If you want to check it out, look on my website, www.markrudd.comThere is a lot left to be said, especially be people who feel that we were not fair to Israel. We intend this discussion to be an open dialogue, not one intended just to hammer Israel and her supporters.Hope to see you there Monday evening. Please come with questions and opinions on all sides.Thanks,
202 Harvard SE
Monday, Dec. 5
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
Virginia Governor Mark Warner granted clemency today to what would have been the 1,000th prisoner executed in the U.S. since the reinstatement of capital punishment in 1976. The man, Robin Lovitt, was given a life sentence without chance of parole rather than the lethal injection he'd been scheduled for. He was convicted of stabbing someone during a robbery.
The 1,000th prisoner in line for execution is now a North Carolina man, Kenneth Lee Boyd, convicted of killing his estranged wife and her father. The next opportunity to spare someone's life rather than support state-sponsored killing resides with NC Governor Mike Easley. It's a case many of us will be watching closely.
Who is willing to be the symbol for an arbitrary justice system that kills and saves with stereotypical abandon? More importantly, who is willing to not be that symbol, no matter what it takes?
Hah! Made you look!
Okay, this post has nothing to do with politics... FOR ONCE!
This is much more serious: this is about comedy!
Horror comedy, to be specific (and oxymoronic...and mysteriously charming).
Even more specifically, about local theatre gods of Tricklock Company.
Their latest offering starts this Friday, December 2, 8 pm:
Show runs Friday, December 2nd - Saturday, December 17th 2005
Thursdays & Saturdays -8:00 PM
Within the walls of the Father Harrington Memorial Hospital for the Mentally Ill and Criminally Upset, a cacophony of carnivorous evils is methodically killing the inhabitants of the madhouse –doctors, patients, cooks… NO ONE IS SAFE! -including a beautiful young woman seemingly abandoned within the cavernous walls. A dashing young doctor is the damsel’s only hope for survival –or is he??? With mystery, comedy, gore & more, Love & Beauty is an unforgettable, incomparable horror comedy that will have you choking on your own tears of laughter!!!
General Information & Fees: Reservations recommended.
Tricklock Performance Space
118 Washington Avenue (1/2 block south of Central)
Monday, November 28, 2005
marjorie wants to know...
Were folks following the “intelligent design” debate in
So, again, thinking about the differences among us--what exactly is the disagreement?
According to the intelligent design people, it’s about Objectivity in the sciences. They contend that the concept of evolution is taught in a way that overtly rules out an intelligent creator. Is this true? Or is evolution presented in a way that leaves the possibility open?
Most scientific folks I know will say there is no evidence that an intelligent being created the universe. Suspending our biases for a moment, could there ever be evidence of a creator within the system?
According to the intelligent design folks, logic says that such a complex and beautiful natural system could *only* have been created at the hands of an intelligent creator. And, they believe that the current way evolution is taught in the schools in effect indoctrinates young people to think there is NO “intelligent creator” -- you know, GOD.
I recently flew back to
My questions to him: Given the statistics that show people in the
To my first question, he replied that many people are simply afraid of losing control. I thought this was a very revealing statement. Seemingly, he didn’t include himself in that group, although I couldn’t help but note that he uses the intelligent design language himself. To my second question, he simply didn’t reply. I don’t think he can reply to that second question because that would show a conflict between his religious beliefs and his scientific standards.
In truth, we are embroiled in an enduring historical conflict between concrete natural science and supernatural belief systems. For me, much of this is about the separation of church and state, and protecting the rights of minorities (in this case, those who aren’t Christian) to not be subjected to religious dogma. But where do we draw the line, and is our insistence that the concept of intelligent design stay out of the classroom its own form of indoctrination? For me, this is the most important question.
On Woodward and PlameGame from Washington Post:
Although he has spoken to CNN's Larry King and the Village Voice in the past week, Woodward declined several requests for an on-the-record interview with The Post, saying only that "I think the work speaks for itself."On eroding freedom in America from Democracy Now (who got it from Washington Post):
Report: Pentagon Expands Ability to Spy At HomeOn Karl Rove and PlameGame from Washington Post:
The Washington Post is reporting the Pentagon has expanded its ability to spy on citizens within the United States. According to the Post, the Bush administration is considering allowing a little known Pentagon agency called the Counterintelligence Field Activity to investigate certain crimes domestically . The Pentagon is also pushing legislation on Capitol Hill that would create an intelligence exemption to the Privacy Act, allowing the FBI and others to share information gathered about U.S. citizens with the Pentagon, CIA and other intelligence agencies. Kate Martin of the Center for National Security Studies, said such an exemption would remove one of the few existing privacy protections against the creation of secret dossiers on Americans by government intelligence agencies." Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon said "We are deputizing the military to spy on law-abiding Americans in America. This is a huge leap without even a [congressional] hearing."
A second Time magazine reporter has agreed to cooperate in the CIA leak case and will testify about her discussions with Karl Rove's attorney, a sign that prosecutors are still exploring charges against the White House aide.
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Probably not speaking to too many of you out there, but today's news cycle reminds me of holiday Soaps: nothing happens. In the lives of people whose every moment screams drama, on holidays -- it all comes screeching to a halt, and all they ever show is people sitting around a table, smiling at each other, even if tomorrow they will return to scheming to steal each other's children and wives.
I looked at all my papers today -- the old standbys -- and no one had anything good. Does the holiday affect newspapers like Soaps?
Just look at the list of top e-mailed stories from today's NY Times:
- This Is Your Brain Under Hypnosis
- Thomas L. Friedman: George Bush's Third Term
- Op-Ed Contributor: Organic and Then Some
- Making Artists: Video Games Are Their Major, So Don't Call Them Slackers
- Native Foods Nourish Again
The first isn't news.
The second is an editorial.
The third wasn't even written by a staff member.
The fourth? Come on!
The fifth is a fluffy holiday food piece!
Here's what I really hope some reporters will track down during the holiday break, after taking a rest and enjoying their families:
- Whatever happened to the revelation about the first Downing Street memo, especially in light of the new Downing Street leak about Bush wanting to bomb Al Jazeera (by the way -- isn't bombing media outlets against international law? Why isn't that reported prominantly in any of the stories about this???)
- What's happening on the oil industry front? So they lied to Congress about not being involved with Cheney's energy task force... Can someone please connect the dots to show all the subsidies that we gave them in the recent Energy bill that led to record profits and oh, I don't know, REVERSE THEM?
- What's up with Woodward? Whose side is he on, anyway? What good is being in bed with the White House -- I mean, embedded in the White House -- if you don't actually EXPOSE anything? What's he waiting for? What's his angle?
- For that matter, what's up with Karl Rove? Someone should be tailing that guy. Where's the papparazzi with you need them? You know left in darkness for a second, this guy cooks up super daring deeds of nefarious evilitude -- stay on him!
- And somebody please tell me what's up with Condi Rice! Now her staff is implicated in the Plame Game. What's her role?
- Last but not least, what's up with that little whiner Scott McClellan? Has he wiped all that egg off his face yet? Did anyone get a good photo? No one? What is it with you people? This is classic Dynasty shit!
Now get back to work and get me some goddamn news! Inquiring minds want to know.
This makes me miss Massachusetts terribly. What a great state! Politics in the Bay State are amazing; you just sit back and watch the fireworks. Needless to say, I doubt this would happen in any of the other 49... And why not? Kudos to Joe Kennedy, who's steadily done great, under-the-radar work for years that truly helps folks who need it.
Venezuela sending cheap oil to Massachusetts
Two non-profit groups sign deal to aid low-income residents
Thousands of low-income Massachusetts residents will receive discounted home heating oil this winter under an agreement signed Tuesday with Venezuela, whose government is a political adversary of the Bush administration.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
After seeing Good Night and Good Luck a few weeks ago, I was struck by how understated the movie is. As timely as it is, it doesn't saturate you with preachiness, with modern parallels, with lecturing. Instead, the movie presents itself and then sits back, imagines your conversations but doesn't aggressively start them for you. The conclusions to draw are all yours, as they should be.
In my head, long after seeing the movie, I kept going back to Edward R. Murrow's bravery in the face of Senator McCarthy's bloodthirsty extremism. A day later, it hit me: back in high school, I'd "borrowed" a book of Murrow's broadcasts from my dad's bookcase. And sure enough, I still have it in my bookcase, now dusy and worn. Flipping through In Search of Light: The Broadcasts of Edward R. Murrow 1938-1961 is fascinating first because Murrow guides us through so much history but second, because we can truly see how low our standards for media and reporting have sunk.
Without lecturing, without preaching, without making pains to note how differently this might be handled today, I offer the following passage. I think you'll agree that Murrow's words - like the movie - stand on their own.
March 9, 1954
No one familiar with the history of this country can deny that congressional committees are useful. It is necessary to investigate before legislating. But the line between investigation and persecuting is a very fine one, and the junior senator from Wisconsin has stepped over it repeatedly. His primary achievement has been in confusing the public mind as between the internal and external threat of Communism. We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine and remember that we are not descended from fearful men, not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes which were for the moment unpopular.
This is no time for men who oppose Senator McCarthy's methods to keep silent, or for those who approve. We can deny our heritage and our history, but we cannot escape responsibility for the result. As a nation we have come into our full inheritance at a tender age. We proclaim ourselves, as indeed we are, the defenders of freedom - what's left of it - but we cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home. The actions of the junior senator from Wisconsin have caused alarm and dismay amongst our allies abroad and given considerable comfort to our enemies. And whose fault is that? Not really his; he didn't create this situation of fear, he merely exploited it and rather successfully. Cassius was right. "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves."
Fresh from teaching (being taught by?) yet another fabulous class (I'm telling you, my CRP 265 undergrads are downright brilliant), I'm pondering community, connection, and place. The official topic was local economic development, but as tends to be the case with our group, we talked up and down and around and eventually came back to ourselves: how can we make a difference? What can planners do about this? How can we make our communities be everything we want them to be? What do we do when it seems like no one cares anymore, and the battle is too big? What can one person do against an entire culture built on consumerism, profit, and convenience?
For me, the answers are always the same; they're always inside. I carry my values on my sleeve. They make my heart so full it feels like it can burst sometimes, but I know what I believe and I can only operate from that place. I believe in a future of strong communities and connections that are richer than Wal-Mart, heavier than subsidy giveaway packages, and truer than Applebees, our "Neighborhood Bar and Grill." Why fake community, I ask myself, when we still have a chance to save the real thing?
I surround myself with books like Going Local (a must-read, by the way) and How Wal-Mart is Destroying America, yet I don't need them to know what the answers are. The answers are in all of us, they're in those values that make my heart as heavy as it is. One person believing in something is so much more powerful than a group of people believing nothing much. When in doubt, think small. Each connection we make, each time we share a thought or an idea, each time we purchase something conscientiously, each time someone else sees us make a decision with our hearts and not our perceptions of saving money and/or time, we do a little something. And lots of little somethings add up to something pretty big.
Holiday season is upon us, and for me this always represents the paradox of being genuine as a consumer. I adore gift-giving, but there's a delicate balance between being generous and partaking in the mass rush to buy something, anything, to put under the tree. I want us to be better balancers. I want us to make sure that our everyday choices are represented in our holiday choices. I want us to remember that these holidays are about people and personal connections, and I want us to savor every moment of being with loved ones and being in a moment of memory.
In class today we handed back grades for a recent project. I get all touch-feely in my write-ups, giving them a page on everything I liked about what they did and offhand things they inspire me to ponder. One group today received this line: "You guys actually like people, and it shows." How simple is that: do you like people or not? Because if you genuinely do, then everything you attempt will be softer, kinder, more intimate, more human. And if you don't, well... isn't that how we ended up with so many impersonal boxes surrounded by seas of asphalt, surrounded by isolated subdivisions where people drive into garages and lock their doors behind them? How did things get so bad, if not for the fact that we stopped liking each other as much as we once did?
This Thanksgiving, this Christmas, I want to focus on how much I like people, how much I love my friends and family, how much I love feeling good about goodness, and how recognizing and praising small community victories makes me better equipped to lash out in outrage and action against all that's so wrong. I want to be still with how much I like people, and then let that simple fact wash over me and help influence everything I try to do in this time when more than ever, we need people who are just willing to try.
Monday, November 21, 2005
I often find myself pondering what the real difference is between me and my conservative friends and family. For instance, today I got this email from one of them:
RED FRIDAYS ----- Very soon, you will see a great many people wearing Red every Friday. The reason? Americans who support our troops used to be called the "silent majority". We are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for God, country and home in record breaking numbers. We are not organized, boisterous or over-bearing. We get no liberal media coverage on TV, to reflect our message or our opinions.
Many Americans, like you, me and all our friends, simply want to recognize that the vast majority of
By word of mouth, press, TV -- let's make the
If every one of us who loves this country will share this with acquaintances, co-workers, friends, and family. It will not be long before the
The first thing a soldier says when asked "What can we do to make things better for you?" is...We need your support and your prayers. Let's get the word out and lead with class and dignity, by example; and wear some thing red every Friday.
IF YOU AGREE -- THEN SEND THIS ON -- IF YOU COULD CARE LESS -- THEN HIT THE DELETE BUTTON --- IT IS YOUR CHOICE. WE LIVE IN THE LAND OF THE FREE, ONLY BECAUSE OF THE BRAVE
First, let me say that if I were to send a message back, I would love to ask my dear relative if she’s ever seen Fox television. Surely she would feel really good to know that she is represented by an entire news network that is immensely popular…considering her current belief that she has no representation in the “liberal” media.
So, let’s think about the notion of “support."
What is really meant by this word that is used so much by just about everyone? There’s the usage in these sorts of messages, by pro-war people, and there’s the usage by anti-war people as almost a mantra.
In general, I think the term “support” is used politically to bolster ones opinion about WAR. Regarding pro-war and anti-war people, my personal belief is that almost all conservatives are pro-war people, and that liberals go either way.
I think anti-war people use the term “support” defensively, to signify that: they don’t hold soldiers responsible for warmaking, that they want them all to come home safely, that they want them to have proper pay and health care. EVEN if the war is wrong itself.
And, I think pro-war people use the term “support” to signify that: they support the troops while anti-war people don’t and that being anti-war is unpatriotic. And there is a strong subtext that being anti-war can be equated with being liberal…which is untrue, but that’s another issue.
Regarding pro-war people:
Many use these sorts of arguments to impugn the morality of those on the other side of the fence. They do it as a way to claim ownership of “true” morality, to make their own interpretation of the meaning of patriotism “right”, with its huge religious subtext.
Note how the author of the above message says it:
"Americans who support our troops...are no longer silent, and are voicing our love for God, country and home..."
"If every one of us who loves this country will share this ... It will not be long before the
Notice how the author claims anyone who "loves" this country or "supports" our troops.
Where does this type of terminology leave those of us who are not of a certain persuasion? OUT IN THE COLD. It makes us immoral, regardless of what religion we profess.
And many liberals buy into it, hence the defensive mantra of “I Support the Troops” and the increasing exhortations of Democratic Party leadership that Democrats need to talk about their “faith” more often.
Regarding anti-war people:
Let’s be clear, many of us do care about the health and wellbeing of the troops. But some of us don’t care, and some of us dislike the people who serve in the armed forces. There is diversity among us.
For those of us who do care, we really need to step up and work to mitigate the conditions that many veterans live in, often due to the experiences of their service. Sure, we’re anti-war but we live in a war-making society that requires some of us to be soldiers. This is a structural reality.
We’re all hurt by it, and some troops are hurt in very special ways. It’s our duty and responsibility to care for these people, and our government is very poor in this area.
We need to really understand what we say when we say that we support the troops, and we need to push back at the pro-war people. Who really supports the troops? Is sending young people barely out of puberty off to KILL other humans on the other side of the planet caring for them, supporting them?
STOP being defensive and realize that if there is a moral high ground, we’re on it. We don’t need to talk more about our “faith”, we do need to talk about what support really means.
New York Times today has a great article on where things stand in the town that precipitated the recent Supreme Court ruling upholding the right of local governments to seize private property by eminent domain for private economic development.
It appears that all the hoopla surrounding the court case has called attention to the injustice of taking from the poor to give to the rich.
Development has stalled, and many served with eviction notices are going about their lives in defiance -- even putting money into re-roofing!
Sandra Day O'Connor's parting gift of a hearty and robust dissent opinion to the 5-4 ruling has spawned a flurry of state law-making around the use of eminent domain. At least she's making us stop and think about the legitimate use of this formidable power, especially in the light of the atrocities committed in its name in the years of urban renewal. Will the new conservative court be able to do the same?
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Someone's gotta say it. As of this afternoon, Marjorie and I have finished all the requirements for our master's degrees. We're done. Theses approved. On our way toward... something else. A chapter closing, a new one opening. Done.
My final push can be solely credited to listening to Death Cab for Cutie's "Soul Meets Body" 5,000 times over the last stretch of writing. And how about deciding to restructure the entire thing after my defense and less than a week before the final version was due? Ahhh... I love those tough decisions that wreak havoc on your sense of sanity. But it's a better paper now (not that I'll be able to stand looking at it again for a while...). Time to move on.
Back to everything I've been neglecting: old friends, family, pets, my living space, my cooking habits. And of course, this little old blog (which we just found out is being used as a recruiting tool for the CRP program, hilariously!).
Welcome me back, little old blog. I hope you missed me. I'm here to stay.
Recently re-elected Mayor Bloomberg just spent $10 million compiling information about NYers interests in an effort to get beyond race and party politics to the interests that unite them -- that can be targeted and exploited.
This is a historic event for a few reasons:
- It's the most money ever spent on polling.
- It's the most extensive polling ever done.
- It signals a shift away from "identity politics" toward "interest politics."
This goes beyond issues, beyond identity, beyond class or race, to group people based on not only what they care about, but what interest group their values put them in. This is really about re-categorizing people based on interest versus identity, interest versus values, interest versus ideology.
The strategy capitalizes on the idea of a "values voter" and mega-sizes it, parses it, and then ruthlessly targets it for political gain. Of course, that was the point of gathering the data: targeting voters.
Taken in another context, this could signal a radical shift in the political landscape, as well as a potential shift in focus of social and cultural theories. It's been coming for a while now. Seminal theorists in identity politics have argued for the last ten years that the debate should move beyond whether race or class is more important to an understanding that each informs the other to create groupings that overlap based on values. Both Republicans and Democrats have started realizing the importance of values and framing the message around them. That's not so new. What is new is a new grouping of people that categorizes them topically.
Here's what they came up with for Bloomberg:
The New York Times reports that a private firm compiled a vast database after phoning thousands of households, and some of the categories that emerged were as follows (and if anyone knows where to find all of them, please let me know, because this is PROFOUNDLY interesting and important):
- "FANS": Fearful and Anxious New Yorkers -- "lower" and "middle-class" voters interested in security who depend on New York functioning normally -- with social services and a service-based economy that can't survive under stress
- "MIDDLE MIDDLES": Middle-class people who believe that success is all about bootstrapping. Strong, independent leaders who "made" their own success do well with these voters.
- "CULTURAL LIBERALS": Voters who believe government should support the arts, so fiscal responsibility in other areas is important in order to have enough "left over" for cultural activities.
- "HOMEOWNERS": Voters who care about economic security of property values, aesthetics around neighborhoods, interest rates, and taxes.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the political sphere, where politicians must eventually go beyond selling the problem to selling a particular solution. We can see a foreshadowing of how well that worked with the Bush Administration's desperate attempts to sell the public on the wisdom of occupying Iraq for the next ten years, after selling us so successfully on the need to invade in the first place.
This trend raises the issue for me of whether it's such a good thing for our politicians to know so much about us -- down to the magazines we read and where we buy them. On the one hand, they're supposed to represent us, so they better know what we're interested in, right? But if they're just going to use the information to target us in a marketing campaign -- "I care about what you care about" while artfully skirting the equally true message "I would try to solve this problem in a way that is diametrically opposed to what you would have me do, and which might actually hurt you in the long run, unintentionally and in more and more cases, intentionally" -- then shouldn't we be scared? Shouldn't we stop answering those surveys? What's the right balance between respresentation and exploitation?
Information is the new currency. It buys you elections now. Who will be "interested" next?
If you're kicking yourself for missing the new Wal-Mart movie that was shown last weekend at the Guild, you have a second chance (don't you love it when life gives you second chances?)!
Tonight, 7 pm
SWOP office on 10th and Park (near Java Joe's)
With great discussion afterward about the horrible labor practices by America's largest employer.
Don't miss it again!
Monday, November 14, 2005
From the Sage Council:
Stand With Us!
March to Give Homage to the Petroglyphs
As the City of
SAGE Council asks your participation in a March to Give Homage to the Petroglyphs, to commemorate those who have fought this 10-year struggle and to acknowledge the difficult work of sacred sites protection here and elsewhere.
WHEN: Sunday, November 20th, 2005
TIME: 1:00pm - 4:30pm
WHERE: The March begins at
The March will culminate with a rally at the Petroglyphs with speakers, prayers and song.
Code of Conduct
This action is our way of offering respect, honor and homage to the Petroglyphs.
We ask that people remember this is a spiritual event that is open to all people
of any race as long as they come in peace.
- We will respect the diversity of all people who join us giving homage to the Petroglyphs.
- Families are encouraged to join us.
- No Drugs or Alcohol is allowed.
- No violence – don’t engage in confrontations or arguments with bystanders not involved in our effort to give homage to the Petroglyphs
It will be cold!
Bring warm clothing, chairs and good walking shoes.
Elders and Disabled Allies
There will be a limited amount of parking right near the rally site. Please let us know if you will need this information.
Transportation will be provided back to
See www.sagecouncil.org for a map, and other information.
See you all there I hope.
Friday, November 11, 2005
I was about to be really disappointed when I discovered that the photo I posted yesterday wasn't a REAL church sign but rather a digitally rendered one.
That is, until I went to the site and started playing around with what I would put on a church sign if given the letters. Well, who needs plastic when the world has gone digital?
The fruit of my efforts (and see for yourself here! It's so fun!):
I'm part of an e-mail list of facilitators in New Mexico. An update from Africa shows the still conflicted professional efforts to work in disadvantaged countries. The kinds of role play and education workshops described below are innovative attempts to empower local communities to solve and resolve problems by strengthening their skills and knowledge of what's possible. At the same time, the trip described below was a few months -- dropping from the sky, helping with a few workshops, and hopping back in a plane to a plane to a plane and landing again in New Mexico.
Still, the work toward peace in countries on the edge or at the center of war is hugely important. Why NOT share knowledge with people who might benefit? But if you do, how best to engage as an American? As a white person? As a Westerner? Keep these questions in mind as you read.
[W]e are having a great time in East Africa. The work has gone really well and been very rewarding. ...
In September I conducted the two workshop in Uganda that brought me to Africa. One was with 60 educators from the area of Entebbe -- outside of Kampala. The people were so warm and enthusiastic. My hosts and my co-trainer were both extremely fun to be around and also very professional and organized. The workshop focus on conflict resolution and mediation in schools and the wider community. The role plays were a highlight (the enthusiams and acting beats any I have seen in the U.S.).
The second workshop was organized by The Muslim Women's Desk Empowerment Initiative. I was one trainer/facilitator among a host of local education specialist. We had one day with students and another with teachers - both from Muslim founded schools. I have a very positive, eye opening experience working with the African Muslim community.
I also connected with a Ugandan woman, Stella Sabiiti, who is well known regionally and internationally as peacebuilder trainer. She is a close friend of Mary Margret Golten. I invited her to conduct a half-day training on African traditional Methods of conflict resolution at our workshop in Entebbe. As a result of this experience, she invited me to co-train with her at 5 day workshop in Western Uganda near the border with Congo. We were working with local community leaders who are working to become peacebuilders and mediators in their region. The Rwenzori region had suffered from armed rebel insugency from 1996-2001 and many people had been displaced. They are now integarting them back into their communities.
The workshop was a great success, and it was extremely rewarding to watch and learn from Stella, who is a very dynamic and special woman.
I have also been fortunate to set-up a workshop in West Pokot (rift valley area) of Kenya in late November. It all sounds exciting I am sure. Of course it has had its challenges, but they have really been minor thus far. I am thankful.
When I have not been working I have reaped some of the rewards of what this land has to offer - lots of wildlife, Gorilla treking in the Mountains near Rwanda, whitewater rafting on the Nile from its source at Lake Victoria, etc.
Africa is of course a socially, economically, and politically tough place. There are many things that are frustrating to see. War continues in Northern Uganda and people are suffering in many ways. Unfortunately, the Lord's Resistance Army (rebels led by the now infamous Joseph Kony) are now targeting foreigners who are part of humanitarian efforts in the North. This hit close to home when two days ago a young Brit, who owns the lodge I have been staying at, was shot by rebels while driving on a remote road in the North.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
The Onion: Thursday, November 10, 2005
U.S. Immigration Fence?
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) proposed legislation that would call for the creation of an $8 billion, 2,000-mile fence on the U.S.-Mexico border. What do you think?
Luke Hurley, Tree Surgeon
"Building a fence along the border is a great way to keep fat, out-of-shape Mexicans out of our country."
Small world these days, ain't it?
An m-pyre reader and rising grammatical star just called today's NY Times article buried in the technology section to my attention. They think blogs are the communique mode of choice in the Paris riots. Go bloggers! Go internet! Go technology! Take over the world! (Frankenstein rolls in his grave...)
Similarly, technology shortens the distance between two points, geographically and chronologically. I'm talking Iraq & America and Then (when he was a spy for Iran) & Now (when we fly him in to talk to Condi). That's right, lynchpin diplomat Ahmad Chalabi, who passed faulty information that helped Bush justify our invasion of a sovereign country and was later discredited and accused of selling intelligence to another country who hates us -- Iran -- dropped by yesterday for a little visit and gets high-level access to our government (why not? I mean, Karl Rove gives away secrets for free, and he gets to keep his high-level access and classified security clearance...we can't be hypocrites in EVERYTHING...)
And technology links global capitalism with two other important global phenomena: global warming and global terror. Our own champion wordsmith, President Bush, coins the phrase "Global Terror" only to be surprised that terror, too, can be outsourced, and it appears everyone's doing it. Paris, Annan, London months ago (although isn't it interesting that no one talks about that anymore?) ... no place is exempt.
Interesting that both "Global Terror" and "Global Warming" are controversial yet observable, highly destructive yet slow-building, and stoppable yet slipperty to solve. Interesting, too, that the causes are hard to trace directly; similarly, the solutions are hard to argue for.
The solutions most often proposed don't really get to the heart of the matter. Even if you believe in global warming, it's hard to give up your car or advocate for the U.S. to sign the Kyoto Treaty (ahem). Instead, let's recycle a little more and maybe if we're really wild and crazy, carpool occasionally with whoever drives the biggest car. Likewise, if you're worried about global terror, you won't agitate in the streets to stop the World Bank or the IMF, support your senators when they try to get the U.S. to stop developing and stockpiling the biggest military arsenal in the history of the world, or wonder outloud whether the presence of our troops in Iraq is helping or hurting the cause. You won't even stop driving so goddamn much even when gas hits $3.00 a gallon and you start to sweat that oil maybe did have something to do with this war. Instead, you stay silent, allowing Bush to declare war, send our soldiers to kill people and get killed.
Hmmm... Most of us won't give up our SUVs or attend a peace rally, but we will silently endorse killing people.
That's global terror, alright.
Some Kenyan official was on NPR last night raving about how terrorism is a foreign problem. Surely it can't happen there. Right.
But it did raise a flag for me. Wouldn't it be an interesting strategy to adapt what Maggie analyzed below -- reasons why America and France can both expect to be hit by chaos and violence -- to learn from countries who AREN'T currently experiencing terrorist attacks?
You could look at all the factors that we don't share and try to do more of what they do to keep terrorists from targeting them (or less of what we do to piss people off). I'm thinking Switzerland might be an interesting case study. They've got capitalism, so we wouldn't immediately lose our genial libertarian friends in this analysis, and they haven't been to war ... ummm ... let me demonstrate my ignorance, here ... in a really long time? ever?
So what do the Swiss do right?
- Neutrality vs. world bullying and outright attempts at world domination. They have that going for them for sure.
- Chocolate. Cause even the hardest of suicide bombers has to love chocolate, right? We're all human, afterall.
- The Alps. Make tough border crossings. Hard to angle planes in for attack landings. Plus, everyone's having so much fun skiing, no one's focused on planting slope-side bombs.
- Open border policies. If you can make it across, you're welcome across. Actually, I don't know that that's true, but it sounds good.
- A good economy balanced with social programs that help everyone to have a high quality of life and equal access to opportunity. That used to describe America, too, but I think we can all admit that's no longer true.
- Watchmaking. No, I'm not talking philosophy or religious ideology. This is really about focus on the details and the system and the balance between the two.
- Regular spottings of Big Foot. "Saskwatch" is scary. Let's be honest. Even the terrorists are terrified. Who needs neighborhood watches when you've got big foot wandering around? Who needs the FBI, CIA, and IRS spying on everyone, for that matter?
- Stop terrorizing the world. Economically and militarily.
- Be more like Willy Wonka and less like Freddy Krueger on the world stage. More chocolate, less blood.
- Move to Europe to be close to the Alps.
- Open our borders and embrace the children born here from workers who help our economy.
- Balance capitalism with socialism -- all for one, one for all. We can do it! Together! Cue the singing!
- Less intelligent design, more human design that's intelligent. We need to balance our emphasis on what's natural and what's human and stop forgetting about all the people suffering on the poor end of the spectrum.
- Capture, stun, transport a couple Big Feet and let them loose in Yellowstone. Stand back and watch peace flourish forever.
Wednesday, November 09, 2005
Hi Folks: Life has been so hectic lately that I've barely had time to think about blogging...so, thanks to my fellow M's for keeping the Pyre burning!
There is certainly lots to comment on lately.
First, Maggie pretty much hits it on the head regarding the unrest in France right now. One thing you got to say about France, when radicalism rears its head there it does it in force. I will be very interested to see how that nation addresses the rights of immigrants and their children after this. I'm hoping they will offer anglos in this country some ideas about how to shift toward a more humane and open perspective on difference. Not that the reactionaries in this country would take note.
Obviously, we have some incredibly reactionary tendencies in this country. Case in point: the idea being floated around by Republican Senators to end "birthright citizenship" for babies born in the U.S. to an undocumented mother.
HELLO: While the folks in Kansas want to deny it, we *are* biological beings. I was born into this world with no choice as to who my parents were or where I would live. Vast numbers of children are born to undocumented workers in this country (workers who right now are rebuilding the gulf coast states) and they grow up here. Taking away THEIR birthright citizenship essentially makes them people without a country. We ALL have to speak out on this issue--it is one of the most profound issues we face as a nation.
Moving on, yeah, check out those people in Kansas. If I were a Kansas liberal, it would be pretty tempting to get the hell out of Dodge...but I'm hoping they will stay and fight. They need to organize. That's what it is: they've been out-organized. We've all been out organized. They did it with a long-term strategy, and we need to dig in and do the same. All of the children born in this country deserve it.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
For a country used to congratulating itself for being one-of-a-kind in the best of ways, for celebrating everything that's “uniquely American,” the recent riots in
Due to global decisions by powers that be, strikingly similar populations everywhere are subjected to discrimination and poverty by those with power. Most depressing, it takes "straw on the camel's back" moments that incite explosions in segregated neighborhoods for anyone to really take notice. As we watch France handle its own "Katrina will now make us talk about race in this country" moment, it'll be interesting to listen to their conversation, consider its lasting impact, and compare it to our own.
Similarities between us and France abound (to the heated denial of many a Freedom Fry eater, I'm sure). Here's what we both are:
- Countries famous for turning a blind eye to our race problems
- Countries with massive unemployment among our minority population
- Countries with residential segregation
- Countries with extreme neighborhood-by-neighborhood disparities, depending on the color of who lives there
- Countries where blatant stereotyping by the dominant group toward minorities and male youth in particular is common
- Countries with heavy-handed policing within its minority neighborhoods
- Countries where rampant discrimination, poor housing, and few job opportunities for its people of color are common
They can't because our cities, our dominant societies, won't let them be. Those are our choices.
For every conservative commentator who believes that Katrina "proved" how out-of-control urban African-Americans are, or how unfit for proper French society North African immigrants are, we can only hope dozens of average countrymen are seeing fellow citizens pushed to the brink, pushed beyond what us "average" (read: dominant) folk could ever take, have ever been asked to take. Recognizing those different starting points helps us understand each other's breaking points.
From there, and only from there, can true change begin.
Technorati tag: paris riots
Thursday, November 03, 2005
Besides the obvious reasons to be anxiously looking forward to next Tuesday, otherwise known as The Day I Am Done With My Thesis, I'm also relishing the opportunity to have the time and mental capacity to get back to writing m-pyre-worthy analysis. Not that cute little quips about Winning's Coffee aren't worthy, but they're not exactly hard-hitting. This story, though, caused even me - overstressed, barely reading newspapers these days me - to erupt in a fit of outrage.
Seems that former FEMA head Michael Brown has been properly busted for being the complete piece of shit that he is. About damn time.
In what is nothing short of a remarkable public reckoning featuring some very private e-mails, Brown is exposed at his core - as a spineless, spoiled, heartless, out-of-touch bureaucrat. You know, a classic unqualified political appointee (in BushWorld, breeding Arabian horses somehow qualifies you to be FEMA director) absolutely unable to handle the real responsibilities of his job. In the midst of the House proceedings gauging the federal response to Katrina, Rep. Charlie Melancon (from a district just south of New Orleans) decided to expose Brown in all his glory, and expose him straight from the horse's mouth: by posting personal e-mails written by Brownie during the Katrina tragedy. Check them out - they're truly breathtaking.
Here's what we learn:
- Brownie's compassion and responsiblity about his role in the hurricane relief effort include the questions, "Can I quit now?," "Can I come home?," "Is there anything specific I need to do?," and the heartfelt, "I'm trapped now, please rescue me." Never mind that he was the one in charge of rescuing people really in need of help.
- In the midst of thousands of people losing their lives - and tens of thousands losing their homes - Brownie's real concern was, you know... fashion. "Tie or not for tonight? Button-down blue shirt?" A few days later, a staffer advised Brown to "Please roll up the sleeves of your shirt, all shirts. Even the president rolled his sleeves to just below the elbow. In this [crisis] and on TV you just need to look more hard-working." And when Brown was later complimented for looking "fabulous" on television, he responded, "I got it at Nordstroms. ... Are you proud of me? If you'll look at my lovely FEMA attire, you'll really vomit. I am a fashion god." Brings a whole new perspective to "heck of a job, Brownie..."
- These comments, of course, need to be considered against the deadly serious e-mails he was receiving but choosing not to respond to: e-mails with subject headings like "Medical Help" and detailing water and food shortages, the situation in the Superdome and Convention Center, and how to get relief to trapped residents. No comment on those e-mails from Brownie... must have been too busy shopping online at Nordstrom's for the appropriate Katrina relief attire.
It's easy sometimes to talk about leadership with a grand 'ol sweeping gesture, as if our only real heroes are all dead. I think what Katrina showed us - and continues to show us, as these e-mails reveal - is our modern dilemma of having real heros at work in our schools, or in hospitals, or in rescue efforts while juxtaposed with the absolutely worthless individuals placed in positions of power. In the context of the newest Supreme Court nomination, this lesson rings all too clear.
How did we sink this low? And more importantly, how do we find a way to rise above the criminal mediocrity of this administration?
Technorati tags: fema, michael brown, brownie, katrina
This time, in the dead of night. This time, Montano Bridge. Yessirree, boys and girls. Following through on his campaign promise, Mayor Marty has managed to re-stripe the Montano Bridge to 4 lanes. He's working on striping the rest of Montano from the bridge west to Coors. Silly historic neighborhoods are still in his way on that one, but they, too, will soon fall to his will. Nice summary in the Trib yesterday, with timeline of historic events.
Is it any wonder that two of the most controversial decisions Marty's made in his 100 years or so in office -- oh, sorry, just feels like that -- let's see 1, 2, 3, 4 for term 1, then 5, 6, 7, 8 for term 2 after 4 years of Baca and now 9 for term 3, my bad! -- okay 9 years in office revolve around serving Westside growth?
Hmmm... Is it just coincidence that Mayor Marty served as the Westside representative when he served in the NM legislature?
- Or that he's suspiciously tied to development interests on the Westside and along arteries connecting Westside residents to eastside business centers?
- Or that he was the Mayor in office when the 30-year controversy surrounding an additional bridge crossing in the North Valley ended with bulldozers clearing 100-year old cottonwoods to start Montano Bridge's construction?
- Or that it was on his watch that the 2-lane bridge that the neighbors, environmentalists, and Corp of Engineers finally agreed to was actually constructed to be wide enough to 4 lanes (even though that meant the EIS performed was thereby invalidated, making the Bridge illegal)?
- Or that one of his first moves after coming back into office was promising to re-stripe to 4 lanes?
- Or that he declared that intention publicly less than a month after a coalition of neighborhood residents and businesses came together for a community visioning workshop to decide the future of their area?
Cause let's be honest people, who cares about residents? Who cares about neighborhoods? Not Marty! Well, okay, maybe he cares a little bit for the residents who live on the Westside who serve as his political base. Maybe they make the cut.
The simple truth is that Mayor Marty wanted what Mayor Marty wanted, and that's unfettered expansion of Albuquerque's Westside. Let's not muck up those waters with any other claims. He may say we need to get past this whole east vs. west debate, but as any traffic engineer or any resident living anywhere NEAR 4th and Montano will tell you, expanding roads only INCREASES congestion. The more capacity you provide, the quicker it will fill. Widening Montano Bridge throws lighter fluid on the flames of Westside growth pressures. That's the truth.
Thanks, Marty, for your visionary leadership and unthinking quickness to move on what you know is wrong in the dead of night.
When the traffic gets even worse, and the Westside sprawls even more, we'll all know who to thank.
P.S. Yes, a tiny little piece of my bitterness comes from needing now to revise the entire first chapter of my thesis. Had he waited and done things LEGALLY, I might have had time to graduate first... But my bigger bitterness is for the loss of quality of life and sense of place for the neighborhoods surrounding 4th and Montano, whose struggle to gain control over their own community just got that much harder.
This thing is making the rounds in Cyberspace, but I find it strangely calming and therapeutic.
No sound. Just visual. You can also use it to get out some aggression, if that's what you need most.
House Republican Measure Would Cut 300,000 Food Stamp Recipients
The Washington Post is reporting House Republicans are pushing a measure that would remove nearly 300,000 people off food stamps. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the number includes 70,000 legal immigrants. 40,000 children who would lose eligibility for subsidized school lunches. The food stamp cuts are one several measures included in a congressional budget cutting-package. Others include a $5 billion reduction in state child-support enforcement, and a cut of almost $400 million in foster care programs. The Post notes these cuts would be more than offset by the $70 billion in tax cuts Republicans will be pushing in the coming weeks.
Now, I know the Democrats are busy (or should be) on multiple fronts right now -- escalating deaths in Iraq, PlameGate at the White House, etc. -- but they better be doing something about this, too. This is precisely the type of low-down, dirty legislation passed while the American public is looking the other way. How on earth can you cut social programs at the PRECISE moment that inequities unveiled during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita started a national conversation about the government's role and responsibility in assuring equal access and opportunity to a decent quality of life for all Americans? How can they get away with this?
It is blantant and undeniable that this Republican legislation furthers their ideology of rewarding the wealthy for their moral/economic virtues while punishing those with inferior work ethic (because if you're poor, it's your fault, this being the land of opportunity and all) -- regardless of the reality that these are the WORKING poor who can't get hired at better jobs because racism and discrimination are real, alive, and well in all areas of the country.
Democrats -- pay attention and STOP THEM. Do you really want to make the victims of Katrina and Rita victims AGAIN, but this time of Congress?
Isn't it time to send a different message that not only will we help in times of disaster, we recognize that MOST times for these families are times of disaster, and we'll work to AVOID disaster together as a nation?
This makes me so unbelievably angry.
Republicans have got us chasing down each crisis so that we're distracted and ineffective, and they can do what they want -- with the war, with ANWR, with the Supreme Court, with social services... It goes on and on, but it must stop somewhere!
I loved the Democrats going on the offensive in enforcing a closed-session Senate until an agreement was reached to review intelligence information. That was great. And if they're ready to do it every day for that, why not for a lot of this stuff? The country is ready for a larger discussion about government responsibility and accountability. Well, at least, I know I am.
Wednesday, November 02, 2005
As I sit at here at Winning's, sipping coffee and working on Draft 4 of my thesis, there's something funny going on: the Community and Regional Planning program is taking this place over!
Right now, there are four CRP graduate students here (three of whom are frantically getting ready to defend) and three CRP professors. All supporting community-based coffee, of course.
Here's where we were but a year ago: Maggie hoping against hope that the worst nightmare wouldn't come true.
Seems like longer, doesn't it? Time goes by slowly when you're in a funhouse of torture and eroding freedoms.
Surely recent events will continue to snowball toward his early removal. I'll go out on another limb and hope that a worse monster's not waiting in the wings to take over where Bush left off.
CAVEAT: I am not anywhere NEAR the resident authority on either Free Trade or South America and am very much hoping Marjorie will have time to talk about this next week once her masters degree is over (YEAH, MARJORIE!!), but I wanted to be sure to call attention to key quotes from today's New York Times article about the upcoming summit of Western Leaders:
Bush Faces Tough Time in South America:
- Polls show Mr. Bush to be the most unpopular American president ever among Latin Americans...
- [T]he feeling among many Latin Americans is that the United States is coming with little to offer other than the usual nostrums about free trade, open markets, privatization and fiscal austerity, the same recipe that has vastly increased social inequality throughout Latin America during the past decade. ...
- No country on the continent has suffered more economically in recent years than Argentina... .After an economic and political crisis in 2001 and 2002 that led to the collapse of its currency and the biggest debt default in history, Argentina is now the fastest growing country in South America, despite ignoring the guidance of the Treasury Department and the International Monetary Fund.
- "There is just a lot of skepticism and mistrust, because the United States continues to regard Latin America as a region we can take for granted, that has to go along with us on whatever we do," said Michael Shifter, an analyst at Inter-American Dialogue, a research group based in Washington. "But Latin America has changed and is behaving very differently on the world stage."
- A "countersummit" by groups opposed to free trade, globalization and Mr. Bush is scheduled to begin Wednesday. ... Mr. Chávez, the current hero of the Latin American left, said he would attend.
- "Bush is a torturer, a violator of human rights and a murderer, who does not respect United Nations resolutions, international treaties or the sovereignty of peoples, as in the case of Iraq," said Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who is one of the protest organizers. "He is not welcome in Argentina, and he should be repudiated."
Another war for ANWR brewing in the House and Senate this week. Time to dust off your letters and speaking points and contact your representatives and senators.
Here's what I sent to Srs. Domenici & Bingaman and Sra. Wilson:
Please protect our nation's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Your vote can go down in history as helping to resist the short-sided, selfish, and false efforts to drill in an irreplaceable wildlife preserve for questionable gain. We will destroy millions of acres of pristine wildlife ecosystems to extract an unsustainable resource that we should be pressuring our industries and oil companies to give up. For what? For a few years' gain?
Support instead research of renewable energies. Put pressure on oil companies to do what they are already capable of doing: providing alternative fuels for our industries, our automobiles, and our energy needs. This is not the time to lie again tot the American people about what we need.
What we need is freedom from ALL oil, not just foreign oil. We need to be free of pollution from greenhouse gases that worsen storms like Katrina and Rita that killed so many people and changed the lives of millions -- perhaps forever.
Take the long view and be thanked by the American people and especially New Mexicans, who even now are being poisoned by oil and gas exploration and extraction in your own state.
Your vote this week will decide the fate of the Refuge. It's no time to be sitting on the sidelines. Please help support the voice of reason and the voice of valuing our natural, irreplaceable resources.
Please vote to protect ANWR from greed and short-sightedness.
Feel like there's nothing you can do to counter the recent devastating changes to the Supreme Court? Does it make you nervous that we're moving from diversity to all white, all male, all Ivy League, all Catholic Supreme Court?
Here's the least you can do: Sign moveon.org petition today:
TO: Your Senators
FROM: (Your Name and Email)
SUBJECT: Stop the nomination of Samuel Alito
The nomination of Samuel Alito poses a grave threat to the protections Americans count on, including basic workers’ rights, women’s rights, and civil rights. We call on the Senate to stand up for all of us and reject the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Here's what I had to add:
This time of war is precisely the time to protect our freedom, and one of the tenets of freedom is our civic freedom of our bodies and the basic protections of the citizen from government oppression. Sam Alito is on the wrong side of these essential freedoms that must be protected at all costs. Diversity must be protected on the Supreme Court. Sam Alito is the wrong symbol of justice and the wrong nominee for our country at this time. His nomination must be denied.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
Well, that certainly mixes things up. The first Supreme Court vacancy went to a white Catholic judge who went to Harvard College and Harvard Law School. The second, chances are, will be filled by a white Catholic judge who went to college at Princeton and law school at Yale.
At this rate, a WASP male from Stanford is going to look like a diversity pick.I also find it disturbing that the drive for diversity has been so quickly, so blithely abandoned: Been there, tried that, now we can pick who we REALLY want. Diversity at the expense of quality is no virtue, but quality without diversity is nonetheless a vice.
Questions of Trust in the Briefing Room -- laying clear the case against McClellan as lying mouthpiece for the administration. Also shows the increasing frustration of the press, who (now are starting to) refuse to be megaphones to the lying mouthpiece for the administration.
After three weeks of telling the world that Harriet Miers was the best possible Supreme Court nominee because she is a woman who was not an Eastern Ivy Leaguer serving on the appellate bench, McClellan made the case yesterday that the second-best possible Supreme Court nominee is Samuel Alito -- an Ivy League-educated man from New Jersey who has been on the appellate bench for 15 years.
Worse, McClellan personally vouched for White House officials Scooter Libby and Karl Rove, saying that they had nothing to do with the leak of a CIA agent's identity and that anybody who did would be fired. Libby was indicted in the case on Friday, Rove has been identified as a leaker but remains on the job -- and McClellan says that, on advice of counsel, he can't say a peep about the whole thing.
Instead of explaining himself, McClellan appealed for understanding.
The indictment of Scooter Libby on Friday was not just an embarrassment for the White House -- it also raised serious questions about the way President Bush's inner circle does business.
But rather than addressing any of these questions, Bush and his aides are stonewalling. Rather than taking steps to rebuild their credibility, they are trying to change the subject. Rather than apologize, they are refusing to admit anything is wrong.
And yet something is wrong. Their credibility is damaged. And the questions won't go away.