Sunday, December 24, 2006

All the m-pyre girls were tucked snug in their beds...

Mikaela says:
Ah, home for the holidays. m-pyre has divided into threes and flown home to nest -- Maggie to North Carolina, Marjorie to East Texas, and Mikaela to South Florida (a test drive of a new home, sort of).

So things may be quiet on the m-pyre front, as we recharge our batteries with lots of family and Christmas cheer.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Peaceful Ramadan, Happy New Year, Seasons Greetings, to all, and to all...

a good night.

Friday, December 22, 2006

You Go, NY Times!!!

Mikaela says:
Such a great feeling to read about bravery at the beginning of this season of peace.

Read here for the most compassionate, reasonable, and open response to bigotry and fear-mongering I've ever seen. The newly-elected muslim House Representative confronts the ignorance of Virginia Representative with a wall of acceptance. It's fantastic. I've never felt more patriotic.

(From a spiritual side, I've never seen a Christian with more to learn about Christian values than Rep. Goode [all of a sudden, this is a Hawthorne morality tale]. Christians who don't listen to Jesus really exasperate me. It's about loving your neighbor, people.)

Mr. Ellison: Well, what I’d tell [Representative Virgil Goode] is that, you know, there might be a few things about Muslims that he might want to know. He might want to know that Muslims, there are about five million in the country, that they’re here to support and strengthen America, that they are nurses, doctors, husbands, wives, kids who just want to live and prosper in the American way, and that there’s really nothing to fear, and that all of us are steadfastly opposed to the same people he’s opposed to, which is the terrorists.

And so there’s nothing for him to be afraid of, and that what we should do is to tell our constituents that we should reach to each other, not be against each other, and we should find ways for common ground.

I would urge Congressman Goode to have his congregation reach out to a synagogue or a mosque and start some interfaith dialogue so that we can increase understanding among each other, as Americans of different faiths. That’s what I’d tell him.

Mr. Blitzer: Do you think he’s a bigot?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Banner Day for U.S. News

Mikaela says:
What are they thinking? The Bush Administration in its death throes reminds me of all the low-budget horror movies in which the tentacled monster clasps the hero or heroine or whoever he can reach as he falls backward over the cliff or pitches into the sea.

Having been repudiated at the polls, having the Pentagon reject "Stay the Course" or anything like it, having a special panel of experts hand us an alternative way out of the Iraq quagmire, Bush in all his wrong-headed glory is pushing for one last gasp -- send a surge of troops to die in Iraq. Soldiers aren't working... what's should we do? Send more. Sounds logical to me.

There have been certain points in my life, albeit Generation X amnesia-soaked, where I have felt poised on the fulcrum of history, wobbling in the political winds blowing from the north and the south, east and the west.

Today, it feels drafty again. This in a week in which KUNM is reporting that UNM President Harris met with the group Stop the War Machine, and when asked what UNM researchers contribute to when paid by Sandia Labs and Lockheed Martin and others known for weapons development, President Harris said he didn't know, but that the science skills and knowledge gained by students was good enough. In my mind, he may as well have said, So what if they work on bombs?

So what.

There are rare moments when public opinion can tip the balance of government policy. We saw it all the polls -- maybe. We saw it during Vietnam. Polls are showing fewer and fewer Americans find Iraq palatable. The next question is: will we act? Our politicians are still paralyzed with indecision, not quite knowing which choice history will bear out as the right one.

Today and tomorrow and into the early new year, there's a small opportunity for a few voices to tip the balance toward peace, away from empire. Who will speak? I am listening. What I hear is a circling of wind through Christmas bells.

May we choose peace. May our world become whole. May we be well.

From Democracy Now:

Joint Chiefs of Staff Oppose Sending More Troops to Iraq
The Joint Chiefs of Staff are unanimously opposing a White House plan to send up to 30,000 more troops to Iraq. According to the Washington Post, top Pentagon officials have warned President Bush that a short-term troop increase could give a boost to virtually all the armed factions in Iraq, without strengthening the position of the US military or Iraq's security forces in the long term.

Pentagon: Violent Attacks in Iraq At An All-Time High
As Robert Gates was being sworn in, a new Pentagon report revealed that attacks against American and Iraqi targets are at their highest level ever. ...The Iraq Study Group report concluded that the government is significantly underreporting violence in Iraq.

Robert Gates: Failure in Iraq Would Haunt Our Nation For Decades
  • Robert Gates: "All of us want to find a way to bring America's sons and daughters home again. But, as the President has made clear, we simply cannot afford to fail in the Middle East. Failure in Iraq at this juncture would be a calamity that would haunt our nation, impair our credibility, and endanger Americans for decades to come."

Sen. Reid Supports Temporarily Sending More Troops to Iraq
The top Democrat in the Senate has said he would support President Bush's call for sending thousands of more troops to Iraq. Incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. He spoke on ABC's This Week.

  • Harry Reid: "If it's for a surge, that is, for two or three months and it's part of a program to get us out of there as indicated by this time next year, then, sure, I'll go along with it."

Colin Powell: U.S. is Losing War in Iraq
Meanwhile former Secretary of State General Colin Powell has said he opposes the idea of sending any more troops to Iraq. He also admitted the U.S. is losing the war in Iraq.

  • Colin Powell: "So, it's grave and deteriorating, and we're not winning, we are losing. We haven't lost, and this is the time now to start to put in place the kinds of strategies that will turn this situation around."

White House Tries to Silence Ex-Official from Criticizing Iran Policy
A former Bush administration official is accusing the White House of trying to silence him from criticizing the president's policy on Iran. Former National Security Council official Flynt Leverett recently drafted an op-ed intended for the New York Times on Iran. The CIA cleared the article but then the White House blocked its publication. According to Leverett, the White House is demanding that he removes entire paragraphs that detail publicly known information about how Iran cooperated with the United States in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks and how Iran offered to negotiate a comprehensive "grand bargain" with the United States three years ago. Leverett accused White House officials of using fraudulent charges of revealing classified information to keep critical views from being heard. Leverett said "Their conduct in this matter is despicable and un-American in the profoundest sense of that term." Leverett is the former Senior Director for Middle East affairs at the National Security Council and a former senior analyst at the CIA.

U.S. Army Considers Breaking Goodyear Strike
The Financial Times is reporting that the U.S. Army is considering measures to force striking workers back to their jobs at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber plant in Kansas. 17,000 members of the United Steelworkers have been on strike at 16 Goodyear plants since October 5th. They are seeking greater job security and continued healthcare after they retire. The military relies on a plant in Kansas to make tires for Humvee trucks and other equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan. According to Duncan Hunter, outgoing chair of the House armed services committee, the strike has cut output of Humvee tires by about 35 percent. On Saturday, solidarity actions were held in support of the striking workers in over 100 cities around the country and in Canada.

Report: Blair Knew Iraq Had No WMDs
The Independent of London is reporting the British government's case for going to war in Iraq has been torn apart by the publication of previously suppressed evidence that Tony Blair lied over Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. Britain's key negotiator at the UN testified privately that Blair knew Iraq possessed no weapons of mass destruction. The official – Carne Ross told an official inquiry that at no time did the British government believe that Iraq's WMD capability actually pose a threat to British interests and that any threat by Saddam Hussein had been "effectively contained." The British Foreign Office had attempted to prevent the testimony of Ross from being made public.

U.S. Accused of Bribing UN Security Council Nations
Researchers at Harvard University are accusing the United States of using its foreign aid budget to bribe countries which have a vote in the United Nations security council. A detailed analysis of 50 years of data has revealed that the U.S. gives nations nearly 60 percent more cash in years when they have a seat. Much of the money is channeled through the UN's children's fund UNICEF which the U.S. has traditionally controlled. The current head of UNICEF is Ann Veneman – President Bush's former agricultural secretary.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A pointless exercise in reading my mind

Maggie says:
How bad is it that I've been gone for a month, and in that month been writing, reading, and engaging more than ever... just not on m-pyre? In a half-hearted attempt to jumpstart my blogging self again, here's a fun quiz* for a Tuesday afternoon.

Maggie's been hanging out at City Council meetings a lot because:
A) She has a huge crush on Craig Loy
B) It's the best comedy in town
C) She's a nerd in her job and her personal life

The best dinner party conversation Maggie recently had was:
A) The Wild Oats on Carlisle is the best place to get picked up in town
B) "Here here!" to divorce... and "Congratulations, newly engaged couple!" in the same breath
C) Little-known uses for Pop Rocks

Maggie's current opinion of Mayor Martin Chavez involves:
A) No change: Man is crazy!
B) Improvement: Man has vision!
C) Downward spiraling: Man is worse than I thought!

Which lyric from Damien Rice's "Accidental Babies" does Maggie find most haunting?
A) "Does he drive you wild, or just mildly free?"
B) "Is he dark enough to see your light?"
C) "Do you brush your teeth before you kiss?"

Maggie believes that a modern streetcar in Albuquerque would:
A) Be a much-needed first step to get people out of their cars in this *(#@!$ town
B) Be the spine of a balanced transit system in town
C) Help her get back and forth to Nob Hill bars a lot easier

How many Ms are in love?
A) None of us; we're too smart for that
B) All of us; we're too smart not to be
C) Some of us; it depends on our mood

Who does Maggie like for the Dems in '08?
A) John Edwards
B) Barack Obama
C) Dennis Kucinich

What does 2007 have on tap for the Ms?
A) Whatever Eric Francis says
B) Marriage, babies, and moves
C) Starting a commune (as soon as we can come up with a catchy M name for it)

Why should ABQ brace itself tonight?
A) Marjorie will be eating meat
B) The Journal editorial staff is resigning en masse
C) There'll be a Girls Night happening at a bar near you... ;-)

*Since planners are subjective, of course there's never one right answer... sometimes all these choices are true, and sometimes none of them are. We're obnoxious like that.

Monday, December 11, 2006

I'm not glad Pinochet is dead

marjorie says...

While its true that my first thought upon hearing that Pinochet was dead was "good riddance," I am not "glad" he's dead. Those two sentiments are not the same.

In truth, I would have preferred to have seen Pinochet brought to justice for his crimes before his death. His crimes were many: he presided over the whole sale murder of Chilean leftists, he initiated a rein of terror for those he left alive, and he was a thief. More broadly, he destroyed a democratic socialist government and paved the way for neoliberalism in Latin America. In this sense, he hurt us all...every last one of us. Speaking of neoliberalism, isn't it odd that Pinochet died very shortly after Milton Friedman, the neoliberal economist who gave him instructions? Frankly, I'd put Friedman right up there with Pinochet, along with the U.S. government, in culpability for the crimes I listed. Just because you don't have the actual blood on your hands doesn't mean you aren't responsible for your work behind the scenes.

You can never expect much from the mainstream media so don't expect good commentary now. But as you're reading all the drivel, much of which I am sure will mention the Soviet Union and Communism, keep in mind that Salvador Allende was a democratically elected socialist president of Chile. It was his government that was destroyed by Pinochet not some communist dictatorship. In fact, its the way of the right, not the left, to destroy democracies...history bears that out.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

adios to evil

marjorie says...

Augusto Pinochet died today and I'm not quite sure whether to be glad that one of the 20th centuries great embodiments of evil is dead, or whether to be disappointed that he never got what was coming to him.

And, it would be nice if our government could for once take responsibility for its own culpability in the atrocity of Pinochet's dictatorship. But as we all know, that is way too much to expect.

Friday, December 08, 2006

What You Should Be Doing Saturday: ABQ Slam City Championship

Mikaela raves:
That's right. It's that time of year again.

Saturday, 7:30 pm @ Outpost Performance Space, slam poets will battle it out for a spot on the ABQ Team to head to the National Poetry Slam in Austin (August 2007).

The best of the best will become the City Champion.

This is one not to miss. Wheat's already separated from the chaff, etc.

  • you want to check out what poetry slam is,
  • or just hear good poetry,
  • or go do something fun on a Saturday...
this is for you.

It sells out every year, so call and buy your tickets now, and get there early!
For Tickets: 268-0044

Doors open at 7 pm.

See you there.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Blind Consumption of Life Itself

marjorie says...

How do you like my dramatic title? What can I was the thing that popped into my head as I was reading Erik's great history post about Sam "The Banana Man" Zemurray over on Alterdestiny. Yes, I'm having a bit of a lovefest with Alterdestiny this week...but its well-deserved. In this post, Erik describes the life of this guy Zemurray, who in order to build a banana empire in Central America provoked insurrections, coups, and armed conflict all in the name of his own profit. Its a very instructive synopsis of how money can corrupt government, and how democracy is never a given but rather constantly in danger of being completely undermined if not simply eliminated. Erik also gives an incredibly concise description of how blind consumption of goods that are "marketed" to the public can lead to not only mass bloodshed but incredible environmental destruction. In this passage, he describes the environmental consequences of one man's determination to make money off of bananas, which had before been considered a luxury item:

"The US demand for bananas, which soon became one of the cheapest fruits on the market, also spawned widespread environmental destruction. Millions of acres of native jungle were destroyed to provide for bananas, decimating wildlife populations. The monocultures that replaced the jungle became susceptible to diseases such as Panama disease and Sigatoka disease. Today, much of that originial Cuyamel and United land cannot support bananas."

This is, of course, how the much vaunted market works. A person decides to make some money so looks for a product. Upon coming up with an idea, that product is "marketed" to the public, composed of people who probably never realized before they needed that product. And because it is generally presented completely devoid of any kind of context about how its production impacts people or the environment, the public will blindly consume it.

We see the impacts all the time. Sweatshops are a good example, or piecework at home that forces young children to work brutal 20 hour days. I saw that with my own eyes one evening after dark in India...a child sewing away on a beautiful sari. Or the food production industry in this country that abuses animals at the same time it grossly pollutes our water supply. Or the complete destruction of the ocean itself. There are countless examples, from history and from today.

This dilemma of blind consumption begs for a new way of doing business. Rather than digress on an elitist tear about the grossness of the American public, I will simply note that there is no systemic way for the public to make informed decisions about these things. Specific issue activism itself is a great thing. For instance, child labor laws are, in my mind, one of the greatest points of progress we've made as a society, and the elimination of child labor should continue to be an issue actively pressed everywhere. But we have to think broadly when it comes to how consumption decisions are made. We certainly see heightened awareness of this issue when it comes to Global Warming. And certain efforts, such as the Fair Trade movement, are a step in the right direction although not an actual solution. Our government recognized a long time ago that capitalism has to be countered by strong social welfare programs and regulations. In the face of how capitalism works, its imperative now that we construct mechanisms to counter the destructive nature of our consumption.

Vote for NM House Majority Leader

Mikaela reposts a plea from a close friend:

NM State Representative Mimi Stewart has been a great supporter of Tricklock, the Duke City Shootout, UNM's Sustainability Studies program and more initiatives I care about...

A close friend reposts a plea from Mimi Stewart:

Dear Friends,

I apologize if you got this mail from me before, but I am asking for your immediate help. I am running for the Majority Leader of the NM House of Representatives and am locked in a head to head battle for votes with my opponent through an Internet blog.

Now, I ask you, when do YOU ever get to vote for Majority Leader? The answer is now, if you will go to the following blogspot and vote in the upper right hand corner, for me, of course, I hope.

Of course, it's not the real vote, but I'm trying to win in the dominate media, which in this case is the Internet. Please ask your friends and family to do so also. Thanks so much!!


PS. The real vote will be Dec. 18 and will be decided by 41 Democratic members of the House of Representatives. Stay tuned!

Friday, December 01, 2006

When Homeowners Associations Go Too Far

Mikaela sighs:
Ah, vindication is sweet. Finally! Another good sign that all is not lost in America.

Happy Holidays, everyone. Peace to all.

From Democracy Now:

A Colorado couple has won their battle to keep a holiday wreath shaped like a peace sign on the front of their house. Last week, Lisa Jensen and Bill Trimarco received a letter from the board of their homeowners association threatening them with fines of $25 a day unless they removed the peace wreath from their house.

The couple refused and as word spread, others in their town put up peace wreaths in solidarity. Earlier this week, there was a march of people carrying peace signs through the center of town. And a peace wreath has been placed on a bell tower in the middle of the town square. The town website also posted a message saying that it wholly supported the Jensen/Trimarco wreath and "also wishes for peace on Earth."

The three-member board has withdrawn their demand, issued an apology to the couple and resigned from the association.