There's a huge debate raging just under the radar in Albuquerque at the moment, about what amounts to massive corporate tax subsidy schemes called TIDDs. You can read about TIDDs here, here, and here...some of which was written by me.
In a nutshell, TIDDs use something called "Tax Increment Financing" to subsidize the payday of big corporations to the tune of not millions upon millions, but billions of tax revenue for decades to come. We're talking State Revenue, City Revenue, and County Revenue.
It's really amazing and, as ever, New Mexico is setting the bar for this particular form of corporate welfare higher than any other state has managed to do so far. We're pretty good at that here in the Land of Enchantment.
Want to see the scope of what we're talking about for Albuquerque/Bernalillo County? Here is a map provided by Councilor Michael Cadigan's office:
Yep, that's the Atrisco Land Grant in red. And Suncal Corporation wants you and me to give them 75% of future Gross Receipts and Property tax generated in that big red area for decades to come. Not just City revenues, but State revenues and County revenues too. Why?
Big Developer: Well, so we can conduct our development business, duh.
Me: Huh? (Scratching head, perplexed look on face)
Question: Do we really need to pay big developers to develop prime empty land on the fringes?
Answer: uh...NO. They are going to do it anyway.
What are the ramifications for the rest of us if they get our tax money? Well, I can write a book, so I urge you to read some of the other posts I've linked. But in a nutshell...the rest of us non-Tidd residents are facing increased taxes over many decades to meet the collective needs of our community, which are many.
Councilor Cadigan is introducing a bill next Monday, December 3, at the City Council to roll back the legislation allowing this to happen. If you agree that these TIDDs in the greenfield areas are bad, please call your Councilor and urge him or her to support the bill. Also, go to the meeting on Monday and speak during public comment. See you there!
Want to know more but can't wrap your head around all the jargon in the written pieces?
Watch a debate on KNME's "In Focus/The Line" (Channel 5): tonight at 7pm, and again on Sunday, at 6:30am.
Friday, November 30, 2007
Tonight is the premiere of the movie about last year's Albuquerque Poetry Slam Team preparing for the National Poetry Slam in Austin, TX, chosen as one of three Governor's Cup Short Documentary films.
It's being shown as part of the Santa Fe Film Festival, and it's free!
WHAT: Governor's Cup Winners, as part of the Santa Fe Film Festival
WHEN: TONIGHT, 7:30 pm
WHERE: Armory for the Arts, 1050 Old Pecos Trail
TIX: Free, available through the Santa Fe Film Festival
Three winners were chosen from over 200 applications to the competition last spring: Ramona Emerson, Thomas Tischler, and the team of Armando Kirwin and Daniel Dinning.
Funded by Comcast and the National Geographic All Roads Film Project, each winner received a $5,000 budget toward the creation of their film, plus use of the state’s production equipment, and trainees from the Film Technicians Training Programs statewide.
The All Roads Film Project is a National Geographic initiative to provide a global platform for indigenous and under-represented minority-culture storytellers around the world to showcase their talents and teach a broader audience about their cultures. Comcast Corporation generously donated $20,000 towards the Governor’s Cup.
- THE POET AND THE WIND, by Armando Kirwin and Daniel Dinning, follows three New Mexico poets as they prepare for and compete in a national poetry slam competition.
- A RETURN HOME by Ramona Emerson. This documentary follows Navajo artist B. Emerson Kitsman as she begins a monumental project while trying to adjust to her return to reservation life. Ms. Emerson, a member of Navajo nation, received her Bachelors degree in Media Arts from the University of New Mexico in 1997 and was one of the first two graduates of the program. One of her subsequent films, THE LAST TREK, was shown at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York and Washington, DC.
- SIGNING A DREAM by Thomas Tishler. Mr. Tischler is a graduate of the New Mexico School for the Deaf and Gallaudet University. He has been profoundly deaf since birth. Mr. Tischler’s documentary is about Robert Huizar, a football coach at the New Mexico School for the Deaf, and his work to bring New Mexico’s six-man North All-Star team (deaf and hearing) to a state championship. SIGNING A DREAM is currently a work-in-progress.
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Okay, after reading Maggie's recommendation for the mortgage crisis, the next on my list is Naomi Wolf's End of America, her historical exploration of the steps toward establishing fascist control over nations -- Italy, Germany, Russia, Czechoslovakia, etc.
She argues we're on a fast pace to establishing the first 10 steps.
- Invoke a terrifying internal and external enemy = Islamic Fanaticism / Terrorism
- Create a gulag = Abu Gharib / Guantanamo / CIA secret prisons
- Develop a thug caste = Blackwater mercenaries
- Set up an internal surveillance system = Patriot Act & domestic spying
- Harass citizens' groups = Infiltration of anti-war groups and others by FBI, police groups
- Engage in arbitrary detention and release = no fly lists, terrorist watch lists, etc.
- Target key individuals = Valerie Plame, whistleblowers, etc.
- Control the press = embedded journalists, retaliation ag. reporters, muddying the news w/ false info
- Dissent equals treason = popular newsbite about civil rights defenders, war protestors, etc.
- Suspend the rule of law = John Warner Defense Authorization Act of 2007, allowing President to declare martial law for an "emergency" and send in national guard troops from one state to another -- military force to control a civilian population, even over the objections of that State's leadership. (Sounds like freedom to me!)
You can listen to her talk to Amy Goodman about her book yesterday on Democracy Now, or read the summary version of her steps in a Guardian article (which includes a great explanation of how this threat is not just from the right, but that all administrations in power will be tempted to abuse what they can control once the system has been established). Or buy her book at Amazon.
Or all three.
Why is it important? Because these are threats we've faced before -- maybe will always face -- and there are things each of us can do now at this crucial moment to avoid what's only unavoidable if we do nothing to stop it...
The Patriot's Task:
NAOMI WOLF: Well, the patriot’s task is, first, wake up. I mean, all around the world, democracy activists who are familiar with these same ten steps are sort of waving their arms at us, going, “No! You know, recognize this.” You don’t make it easier for the President to declare martial law, as we just did with the 2007 Defense Authorization Act. You don’t make it easier for the President to lock up political opponents in a cell or strip people of habeas corpus. No, you don’t make it easier for the President to have a paramilitary force like Blackwater, composed of hand-selected torturers and murderers from countries like Chile and Nigeria and El Salvador, where they're trained to torture their own civilians. You know, you don’t set them loose in Illinois and Southern California and North Carolina. No! Bad idea! So, first, you wake up. You see the blueprint.
Finally, we have to -- we started the americanfreedomcampaign.org. It’s a democracy movement to restore the rule of law. We're calling for lawyers across the country and citizens to call for hearings, special prosecutor, identify the crimes, impeach and prosecute, and save the country.
Here's a founding father's take on tyranny. You can judge for yourself just what it is that Bush & Co. really want for themselves:
"The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands ... is the definition of tyranny." -- James Madison
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
Although I haven't yet properly steeled myself for the cinematic gut-wrench of family dysfunction that will be "Margot at the Wedding," and will probably avoid doing so until after next month's heart-warming perfect family Christmas in NC, my Noah Baumbach crush endures. For some time now, I've been afraid that smarts simply weren't enough to bridge Baumbach's high internal pain threshold with my can't-help-it romanticism. But this classic New Yorker piece brings back Squid for me all over again.
The Zagat History of My Last Relationship
(Via Saleem, my long-time pal and source of endlessly great writing. I mean really, Saleem, a New Yorker piece from 2002? You work wonders over there in Japan.)
Maggie passes on:
Also via Salon, on party politics:
- John Edwards in NH yesterday
Labels: election '08
Maggie passes on:
Via Salon, I came upon this gem from the campaign trail:
- Barack Obama in NH, responding to a question from someone who introduced himself as "a former student from the author of 'Coming of Age in Samoa'"
Labels: election '08
If, like me, you'd rather scan David Brooks (ugh) than the business section, grimace through Fox News (ugh) rather than financial channels, and "Marketplace" is the only NPR programming you turn off in favor of CDs in the car, then this is the report for you:
The Mortgage Crisis: Economic and Fiscal Implications for Metro Areas
Don't fear the official-sounding title, because in plain language that liberal arts types like myself can follow, this new report lays out what happened in our economy to get us here, which places are being hit the hardest and why, what various places can expect in 2008, and what we can do about it. After reading this report, I finally feel like more than a casual observer to the whole mess. I've followed everything in the press, of course, but this report actually makes me feel prepared to take part in something more than a casual discussion about what's happening in communities around the country with these foreclosure rates.
The report was developed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, an organization I've long admired for their ability to get to the place of the matters of the day in a surprisingly partisan-free manner. It's a shockingly effective organization, actually, and I wouldn't be surprised to see an initiative soon on place-based negotiations for new mortgage terms. Plus, if you're a place nerd like me, you'll love all the data in the report comparing metro areas nationwide, so you can infer your own meaning to the stats and apply place lessons to all of it. Planning is everywhere!
All that said, here's the press release if the 17-page report is still a bit much. It's okay, I understand. :-)
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Wanna know where my heart is? If the world were peaceful, and structural issues had already been addressed, I'd love to spend all my time and energy on this:
For community. By community. Planning for public space together.
What could be better?
Well, here's your latest and greatest chance, courtesy Claude Morelli with the North Valley Coalition:
You are Invited…
Ditch Trail Design Workshop
WHAT: Public design workshop for “Ditches with Trails”
WHEN: Thursday, 6 December 2007, 4 to 8 PM
Friday, 7 December 2007, 10 AM to 2 PM
Saturday, 8 December 2007, 9 AM to 4 PM
WHERE: Shepherd of the Valley Presbyterian Church (1801 Montano NW)
AGENDA: The purpose of this event is to envision trails along irrigation ditches and drains in
, discuss opportunities and challenges, and develop a conceptual design for the “North Valley Demonstration Trail”. Bernalillo County
The North Valley Demonstration Trail has received funding from Senator Dede Feldman and Senator John Ryan. It encompasses the Griegos Drain between Chavez and Griegos Roads.
The Design Workshop is being sponsored by the Ditches with Trails Project and managed by the
and Recreation Department. The Ditches with Trails Project is a community and agency effort to evaluate the feasibility of formalizing trails along irrigation ditches and drains in Bernalillo County Parks . An Action Plan is being developed that will incorporate the results from this workshop. (Please visit www.ditcheswithtrails.org for more information.) Bernalillo County
Alta Planning + Design, a national firm specializing in trail planning, will lead the design development. Local facilitators, Kate Hildebrand and Ric Richardson, will facilitate the workshop. Albuquerque-based planning and engineering firms, Sites Southwest and Gannett Fleming, will assist with the design process.
The agenda has been structured to be flexible and make the most of your time. We have selected the consultant team carefully to provide you with the best available resources. Your participation and insight are critical to the success of this project.
We hope you will join us.
Please RSVP to Celia Stevens, 822-8200, email@example.com, Sites Southwest.
For more information contact Mike Rose, 503-230-9862, firstname.lastname@example.org, Alta Planning + Design.
Language, hearing and vision assistance will be available — for details, please contact Becky Alter, 314-0433, email@example.com, Bernalillo County Parks & Recreation Department.
Monday, November 26, 2007
Marty Chavez sure is playing dirty awfully quick isn't he? I just got an email from his campaign in which he tries to lump Tom Udall in with the two Republican contenders for the Senate seat, because he voted to cut funding for national labs that are major players in the nuclear weapons production that our country can't seem to stop engaging in. It's a long email, in which he essentially calls Tom Udall a Washington insider aligned with Republicans. Please. You know, I expect dirty politics...I really do. It never seems to end.
But I just want to say...
If cutting funding for nuclear weapons development and maintenance makes me a Republican...maybe I ought to go switch parties tomorrow.
Here are some charts I got from the Los Alamos Study Group's website. They're from 2004, but seem to correspond to the latest figures I've seen regarding the work that the two major national labs in this state do.
You know, here's the deal: These two labs are "non-profits" and like other non-profits they develop programs and go after funding. They get to *choose* over time what direction they will go in. They are chalk-full of hard-line nuclear old-schoolers, who have chosen to butter their bread with nuclear weapons. This is just a fact.
But the times demand they shift their priorities...they can't blame the American public, which includes New Mexicans, for wanting to reduce the amount of resources we spend in this area. It's a moral imperative...actually. Not to mention, New Mexico is well on the road to diversifying its economy beyond being what amounts to a U.S. military colony...we'll survive without being the main source of nuclear weapons in the world, believe it or not.
Oh, and btw...this type of perspective is the reason I'm a DEMOCRAT *not* a Republican. Maybe Marty ought to rethink his party affiliation.
**Furthermore (yes, first thought of the morning. sigh) ...you know, in a particularly nasty bit in his letter, Marty says this: "Well, throwing people out of work and endangering our national security is not the "message" New Mexicans want to hear..."
Well, Marty, something tells me the U.S. is always going to meet its "national security" objectives, which overwhelmingly favor maintaining a global military empire. But more and more people (i.e. times are changing) are coming to the conclusion that eliminating our dependency on oil (i.e. alternative energy r&d) is the road to national security.
Get a grip, Marty. This is hardly about "jobs" or in your rhetoric, "throwing people out of work." But it does lead us to a great question: just what is your position on our nuclear weapons arsenal? I more and more fear you're basically a Liebermanite.
For more discussion of the letter, see DfNM.
Here's another good one. I love it when a former Mayor tells it like it is about the current one.
Dang, it's all over the place. We're behind the times here at m-pyre. We do our best, really we do!
Saturday, November 24, 2007
Such lazy times over here. In classic Southern-girl-from-a-large-family fashion, I cooked enough food to fill up every m-pyre reader plus their entire family. Sigh. So here we are after the fact, lazily listening to Weekend Edition and devising a plan of attack for all the leftovers in our fridge:
- Braised Greens
- Chestnut and Pancetta Stuffing
- Sweet Potato Casserole
- Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes
- Squash Casserole
- Apple Cake
- Pumpkin Pie
Yesterday we strolled around the neighborhood watching the shoppers watch the merchandise, took in a pro hockey game, and celebrated all the perfect nothingness of this weekend with (what else?) leftovers. We have three big plans for the rest of the weekend: eat, catch "I'm Not There" at the Magnolia, and check in on a table we've been eyeing for the abode.
Oh, I didn't mention that Maggie's first solo Thanksgiving was eaten on the couch? It's true, and was one of those rare life moments where as soon as it begins to happen you just know that you're creating one of those quaint and romantic stories you'll tell a thousand times. And besides, who needs a proper table and chairs when you have food like this, companionship like this, and snow falling from the sky?
Furniture will come with time. But for me this holiday, what matters can't be found in any store with prices slashed for the holidays.
(That said, time to jump in the shower and go and check on my table that might be slashed down for the holidays!)
Thursday, November 22, 2007
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
Oh, my. Have I been waiting for this! Scott McClellan's tell-all about his years as Bush administration mouthpiece is being released in drips and drabs. (See Froomkin's bit toward the bottom of this page.)
The latest is his unequivocal implication of the VP & our hero President in the criminal leaking of an undercover CIA agent's identity, blowing her cover, erasing years of contacts, and endangering the lives of all her contacts.
What I haven't seen yet is the lawyerly assessment of what should be done to said administration officials who broke the federal law that I believe was instituted by Bush Sr. Libby got the axe for lying to federal investigators, not for leaking in the first place.
Could leaking be an impeachable offense? Could it warrant immediate criminal charges? Immediate removal of Bush & Co.?
Any legal eagles out there? What's the fallout?
I am so tired of there being no consequences for the illegal activities of our government, when they've sent 8 times more "little people" to jail in the years since 1970.
Break the law; lose your elected position. Shouldn't that be part of our democracy, too?
Ex-Press Aide Links Bush, Cheney to Plame Outing
Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has implicated President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney in misleading the public on the outing of ex-CIA agent Valerie Plame. As White House spokesperson, McClellan repeatedly claimed senior aides Karl Rove and Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby were not involved in revealing Plame’s identity. But in a forthcoming memoir, McClellan writes: “I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president’s chief of staff, and the president himself.”
U.S. Prison Population Rises Eight-Fold Since 1970
A new report on the U.S. prison system has found the number of Americans in prison has risen eight-fold since 1970, with little impact on crime but at great cost to taxpayers and society. The report issued by the JFA Institute recommends shorter sentences and parole terms, alternative punishments, more help for released inmates and decriminalizing recreational drugs as steps that would cut the prison population in half. The report concluded that putting more people in prison is financially wasteful, disproportionately burdens the poor and minorities, and has limited impact on recidivism and crime rates. Approximately 2.2 million people are now in American jails or prisons.
One of my favorite pastimes is finding new recipes and tinkering with them to make them my own. I thought it might be fun to share one now and then on m-pyre. And after all, is there a better holiday to talk food on the blog than Thanksgiving? Here's one of my favorite recipes that was inspired by the incomparable Heidi Swanson, and it's perfect for Thanksgiving tomorrow. Heidi is a fantastic writer, thinker, photographer, forager, activist, and cook. Her cookbook Super Natural Cooking is one of my favorites - and I admittedly have a lot of cookbooks and a lot of favorites - but the soup on the cover is the perfect spring/summer soup, one that I made for Marjorie before packing up my tiny one-bedroom apartment and flying the NM coop. Heidi is a fantastically creative cook whose food exemplifies what I care about when it comes to eating: do it as local as possible, as organic as possible, and do it to celebrate the true flavors of your ingredients rather than masking them with unnatural additives. The key for me is to use the best, freshest ingredients as possible. It's as simple as that.
For these potatoes, I started with a Heidi recipe and tweaked it for my tastes over time and many yummy dinners. So only start with my recipe - keep tweaking until it suits you!
Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes
These potatoes are to-die-for creamy and so packed full of flavor and nutrients you forget there's not even butter in them. I'm a total kale and chard nerd, too, so I love the punch of green.
- 3 pounds potatoes, cut into large chunks (I like using a mix of small red and brown potatoes rather than only large gold ones. Peel or unpeel to suit your tastes - if unpeeled the dish will be extra-rustic, and of course better for you, too.)
- Sea salt
- 4ish tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4ish cloves garlic, minced
- 1 bunch kale, large stems stripped and discarded, leaves chopped (wash them a few times over - dirt can hide easily in greens like these)
- 1/2+ cup warm cream
- freshly ground black pepper
- 3-5 shallots, depending on their size and your taste, thinly sliced
- Parmesan for garnish if it's lying around
Heat most of the olive oil in a large pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, chopped kale, a big pinch of salt, and saute just until tender - about a minute. Set aside.
Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or fork. Slowly stir in the cream a few big splashes at a time. Keep adding cream until you get a thick, creamy texture. Season with salt and pepper.
Dump the kale on top of the potatoes and give a quick stir (if you stir too much the potatoes will turn greenish, so just kind of lightly blend it in). Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with remaining olive oil and parmesan.Yum!
PS: Next time I'll take a photo of the dish, but I was unprepared this morning!
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
ACLU sent a brilliant email today. Maybe you all have been getting and hoarding these for years, but it's the first time I've received one like it.
It's the talking points for those uncomfortable moments when your family turns to you -- the lone, or perhaps most vocal liberal -- to explain just what such lefties mean when they say ..... (fill in the blank).
Here's the ACLU's take:
On Thursday, many of us will gather around the table for Thanksgiving dinner. If your family is anything like mine, people will gossip, they’ll talk sports and, sooner or later, current events will crop up.
So, what do you do when Uncle Harry blurts out that he’s been watching "24" on television and thinks torture and indefinite detention might be necessary every now and then . . . or when your Aunt Lola says the government can spy on her all they want, she has nothing to hide . . . or when someone remembers you’re the card-carrying ACLU member in the family and asks you why the ACLU hates Christmas so much.
You could demur and say “I don’t think we should get into politics over the holidays.” But in my experience, ACLU supporters like you and me really aren’t the demurring types.
So, chances are, sooner or later, you’ll take the bait and, when you do, you need to be ready with the best arguments. So, here you go. Straight from the Executive Director of the ACLU, your Turkey Day Talking Points:
- [On Torture]: Tell them torture is flat out wrong, everywhere, and all the time. Tell them waterboarding, which Dick Cheney seems to have no problem with, has been considered torture since the Spanish Inquisition.
- [On Torture]: Point out that by justifying and using torture, the United States is turning its back on a long tradition of humane detention and interrogation practices. Our nation was once a shining example for the rest of world, helping to draft the international treaties and laws that banned torture after WWII and offering refuge to victims of atrocities perpetrated by other governments.
- [Still on Torture]: And tell them that, on top of all that, torture doesn’t work. It makes people tell their tormentor anything he wants to hear. And tell them that by justifying torture we increase the likelihood that people all across the world -- including American soldiers -- will be tortured.
- [On Illegal Detention & Govt. Spying]: Tell them that ending warrantless spying isn’t about whether you have anything to hide, it’s about whether we should let the government listen to our phone calls, read our emails and invade our privacy without a court warrant. It’s about checks and balances. Thanksgiving is about the joy of getting together, but one of our most fundamental rights as Americans is the right to be left alone.
- [On Illegal Detention & Govt. Spying]: Remind them that America is a nation of laws and that no one, not even the President, is above the law.
- [On Christmas]: If the subject turns to the “war on Christmas” that Bill O’Reilly and his cronies claim the ACLU is waging, tell them that the real threat to religious freedom in America is a government that uses taxpayer dollars to promote one religion over another. Religion is the business of families and churches, not government bureaucrats and politicians.
- [On Christmas]: And tell them that though folks like Mr. O’Reilly and his ilk make hay every December by claiming that the ACLU is against Christmas, we work year-round to ensure that everyone in America has the freedom to practice their own religion (or no religion at all) and to keep the government out of religion.
- And should you get the one question I find the most exasperating of all -- "What can I do about any of it anyway?" -- I’m sure you’ll know what to do. Tell them to sign up at www.aclu.org/join and get involved!
- Then tell them to pass the cranberry sauce and stop hogging the stuffing.
- [On Being Gay in America]: Americans should be free to marry whoever they want -- one at a time.
- [On Being Gay in America]: Americans should be free to be clergy -- as long as they follow the strictures of the religion, refraining from sex if that's required. It's what you do, not what you're refraining from, that should matter. (That goes double for pedophile priests.) And yes, I do believe that religions should move to allow priests to marry, to allow women to serve, and to pay men and women equally for the same work. Amen.
- [On Global Warming]: Yes, it's real. Yes, there's a lot you can do about it.
- [On Racism and Prejudice in America]: Yes, it's real. Yes, it's pernicious and pervasive. Yes, there's a lot we can do about, starting with seeing it everywhere you look, then letting it bother you until you're ready to do something about it.
- [On the Widening Wealth Gap in America]: It's the rich, the in debt, and the can't get credit. Yes, there are a lot of things we can do about it. Let's start by redistributing our federal budget to help those who really need it and could benefit themselves and our economy if given the chance.
- [On Eating Turkey]: Sure would be better if we knew this turkey lived a good life, reveling in its turkey-desires, before giving up the ghost to be our bountiful dinner. There are such sustainable farms. We should support them. Next year, I'll buy. Pass the locally-grown, organic mashed potatoes, please!
Oh man, I'm looking forward to Thursday! Anyone else? (Sarcasm, people. It's sarcasm.)
Monday, November 19, 2007
Check it out: m-pyre friend Karlos Schmieder discusses media coverage of gentrification and displacement in the Bay Area tomorrow morning on the radio:
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
8:30am-9am on KUNM
If you miss the show, follow the links here to listen online. Counterspin, of course, is the fabulous radio show of FAIR, also known as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.
Karlos was SWOP's communications guru before leaving us for the Bay Area, where he is now at the Youth Media Council. The YMC just released a media analysis called Displacing the Dream. From their website, they describe the report thusly:
"As of 2006, Oakland and San Francisco had each lost 20-25% of their African American populations. Displacing the Dream exposes the failure of Bay Area newspapers to adequately cover the crisis of gentrification and displacement facing the Bay Area today.
"What did newspaper coverage of housing and development include? Whose voices were heard and whose got left out? What does it all mean?"
I'm really looking forward to reading this report (something tells me my arguments just got bolstered). In the meantime, Karlos breaks it down nicely on the show...be sure to check it out.
This opinion piece by Harold Meyerson has finally explained for me in a succinct way what is at stake in the Writer's strike. I sort of knew all this, but now it's clear. The writers simply want a piece of a pie that they've helped bake.
And it looks to me like the show in fact can't go on without the writers.
Meyerson makes the point that as technology and productivity have increased in this country, the "corporate elites" have taken pretty much all of the profit. This is why this strike is important. On the one hand we have the diminishing of our manufacturing base and its unions along with it, which underpinned our huge (and disappearing) middle class for decades. While the Clintons and their other free-trader cronies (my word of the day) chortle and declare that our workers can be re-trained, they do little to nothing to strengthen the right to collective bargaining...which is apparently what is needed in order to get a slice of the pie. As ever. In this sense, this strike is very important, in so far as these writers represent the white-collar sector that the Clintons, et al, think all our former manufacturing workers can be retrained into.
I know, fall foliage is much better than this...and yes, my one-dimensional mind is showing. Nonetheless.
It's a late foliage season thanks to global warming, so my weekend adventure included gorgeous hues of gold and orange and red where I expected to see bare branches. Fall is my favorite season; it just doesn't get any more beautiful than autumn colors in the trees. These were all taken in the yard and driveway of our hostess Jean in Guilford, CT. I was too enamored during our long drives to get out the camera for scenic landscape pics, but it's hard to beat this yard. Our New Haven weekend was picturesque and loads of fun, although the football score was not as fun as the tailgating might have you believe. Don't tell, but... I think I'll take leaves and laughs over football any day. Enjoy!
(Click on these for a full-size peek into the marsh... as a NC swamp girl, I'm a sucker for swampy marsh land... it's always so strangely beautiful to me.)
Sunday, November 18, 2007
Yep, the notorious international terrorist Luis Posada Carriles is *still* drinking mojitos in Miami. As noted on m-pyre repeatedly over the years, Posada is living a comfy life in the United States (now in Miami along with his other anti-Castro cronies) regardless of the fact that he bombed a Cuban airliner in 1976 that killed 73 innocent people.
I fully understand that the United States is the land of hypocrisy, with or without Luis Posada Carriles living in Miami. But for me, and for many others, this instance is a gross embodiment of decades upon decades of destructive U.S. policy toward Latin America. Our role in the destabilization of Latin American social movements as well as the overthrow of democratically elected governments in that region is well documented. Really, in this regard Posada must feel he is owed the right to live in Miami...because this country has been his patron. And this is not being disproved, is it?
This past Friday, a Senior Analyst with the National Security Archives testified before the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Organizations, Human Rights, and Oversight about the role of Posada in the bombing of the Cuban airliner. See a summary of Peter Kornbluh's testimony on the National Archives Website below. Read it and weep, or whatever you do when you get angry. Or, you could call your congresspeople and tell them to give Posada the boot. If we are truly a country that stands against attacks on civilian populations (also known as "terrorism") then it has to be across the board.
"Kornbluh argued that the declassified records demonstrated that Posada had concrete foreknowledge of the bombing; was in possession of a surveillance report on Cuban targets that included the doomed plane; received coded messages immediately after the plane went into the ocean from the men who placed the bombs; and was quickly identified by multiple FBI and CIA sources in Venezuela as one of two masterminds of the attack that claimed the lives of all 73 passengers and crew.
"Kornbluh called Posada “one of the most prolific purveyors of political violence in recent history” and said that the evidence in the plane bombing was “more than sufficient” to have detained Posada for acts of international terrorism under the Patriot Act. Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales refused to designate Posada as a terrorist and a judge dismissed immigration fraud charges against him last spring. Posada now lives freely in Miami, as does Orlando Bosch, who the CIA and FBI both identify as a co-conspirator in the plane bombing. “The United States now finds itself in the frankly inexplicable position of having not one but both men who our own intelligence agencies identified as responsible for bringing down a civilian airliner living free and unfettered lives in Florida,” Kornbluh told the Committee."
Friday, November 16, 2007
Only because I probably cannot go would I risk letting you all in on the secret, thereby potentially advertising myself out of a seat!
They're back, new place, new shoe, same hilariousness...
114 Morningside NE
Cash only. $15
Missed this in April.
The Onion points out that This American Life has gotten progressively (or unprogressively, as it were) less diverse in its presentation of everyday Americans, focusing lately on white, upper-middle class, liberal stories.
The completed work is expected to be an indispensable source of information for years to come about the thoughts and tastes of bespectacled cynics prone to neuroses who are actually doing just fine.
What kills me about this is I heard it from an interview w/ Ira Glass on The Sound of Young America. He says it's true, and it's bad. I appreciated that he didn't equivocate, didn't try to explain it away, didn't make promises he couldn't keep. Just said, it didn't start that way, and they've lost their way a bit.
I hope this goads them into action, because one of the best things I love about their show is that they have historically taken on subjects that don't get attention anywhere else. Their story about Harold Washington, for example, is amazingly good, with personal interviews of folks who were his friends and watched how racism undermined the City's ability to get things done, and how Harold's finesse won Councilors over, as well as interviews with folks who didn't vote for him because he was black and who later did because he was a good mayor.
Or the story about why supermarkets in two Chicago neighborhoods sell milk at different prices -- higher in a black neighborhood, with fewer product choices, and lower in a white neighborhood with obscene diversity of crap to buy. (Can't find the link right now, but I've written about it on m-pyre before...)
They've had stories talking in depth to a latina gang-banger about why she was happy being in a gang -- and then followed up with her later after she chose to get herself out and take a different path.
They did two stories on a young Afghan-American who decides to return to his fatherland -- literally (his father is governor of some province) -- to help with the rebuilding and again when he decides to come home -- realizing that he's irrevocably an American after all, and coming to terms with that vertiginous new perspective.
Perhaps because I've listened to all twelve years of programs in the last year (!!!) -- backwards -- I don't have the same critique as the Onion leveled with typical irascible wit. If I had listened the opposite way, maybe I would. Which is all to say, TAL has not lost me yet, and I'm preeminently winnable. :)
Thursday, November 15, 2007
The top is circa 1950s. The back is later, maybe 60s/70s.
At the Mavericks home-opener we were treated to fantastic center-court seats, four rows up from the floor - great stuff for this NBA first-timer. Directly across the court from us, right on the floor, were two couples:
- Jack Nicholson wannabe + Half-naked boot girl. Man was in his 60s, thinning hair that was died pitch-black, dark sunglasses on during the game, expensive-looking conservative clothes. His date was over 30 years his junior, long dark hair that was flipped around a lot, wearing the tiniest dress I ever imagined would appear at a basketball game, with tight leather boots that went above the knee. Legs crossed the entire game, showing inches of thigh visible even across the court, and a whole lot of boot.
- Wishing they were the first couple. This couple was sitting behind the first couple, but were with them, and were a bit younger. The man was taking trying to look younger to new heights with an inappropriately awful and youthful haircut and outfit. Weathered face topped by bleached-blond, spiked hair; tight, expensive jeans topped by an embroidered black velvet jacket that was apparently not intended to be ironic. His date was in her early 20s with an equally tiny dress, showing as much cleavage as her friend did leg.
- At half-time... the couples decided to leave. But rather than exit directly behind them, the men stood up and walked their dates, hand-in-hand, all the way around the court, exiting into the lobby behind us. Mouths agape from every seat, and the men loved it. Now that's a half-time show.
PS: I'm off to New York and Connecticut for a long weekend... pictures and anecdotes upon my return, if we're lucky.
Labels: spotted in dallas
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
During Marty's online town hall last night, I asked my question on "free trade" twice, both times making the point of asking him specifically how he would vote on NAFTA type agreements. He didn't answer me specifically.
Look at the breakdown of votes in 2005, in both the House and the Senate, on passage of the Central American Free Trade Agreement. I want to know if Marty Chavez would join the 10 Democratic Senators who voted for CAFTA (which sadly included Jeff Bingaman) or would he vote with the 33 Democrats in opposition?
Tom Udall? In the House, he voted NO along with the vast majority of Democrats. Things seem to change in the Senate. Can we count on Tom to stick with his principles once elected?
How would the candidates for the three open house seats vote? Let's ask them.
As you can see below, the defecting Democrats could have swung the vote in opposition to CAFTA. This is why it's important to nominate the right candidate in our primary.
I also want to know what the candidates in this race think of the broader issue of neoliberalism, as embodied by the policies of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and their *pernicious* outcomes in developing countries.
From the Washington Post's Vote Database on the 109th Congress passage of CAFTA in 2005:
Senate: Passed with a Republican majority, 54-45, with 1 not voting.
Democrats: 10 Yes Votes, 33 No Votes, 1 not voting.
Republicans: 43 Yes Votes, 12 No Votes.
Independent: 1 Yes vote.
House: Passed with a Republican majority, 217-215, with 2 not voting.
Democrats: 15 Yes Votes, 187 No Votes.
Republicans: 202 Yes Votes, 27 No Votes, 2 not voting.
Independent: 1 No Vote.
Labels: election '08
There was a story in yesterday's Journal about how local Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) have become responsible for providing "extras" like field trips and art & music teachers, school supplies, books, etc. because the Albuquerque Public School (APS) system no longer provides them.
As an aside, PTAs would be more accurately called Parent-Principal Associations, because teachers are often discouraged or simply not allowed to participate by their principals, who want to assert themselves prominently in the middle of that communication chain...
Anyhoo, the quote left out of the article, according to my sister, was that the worst consequence of this system is the disparity in education it causes because of the segregation endemic to our neighborhood system. Not all neighborhoods are the same. Neighborhoods with low-income average have a harder time raising money through their PTAs. This means neighborhoods with poorer families have poorer educations. From the beginning, these kids are at a disadvantage, and over time, this means a high school graduate from Valley is behind those graduating from La Cueva or other Heights schools whose PTAs can command thousands more per year for computers, science fairs, etc.
Again, this is a systemic issue that should be addressed ideally through investing more in our public education system -- making sure that money gets to the schools and the classrooms throughout the district. At the very least, the money raised through PTAs should be pooled across the district and redistributed equitably to all schools. Every wondered why some schools have better facilities that others? Better playgrounds? Better arts programs? Better computer labs?
This is why.
On a national level, this is being played out with the question - to bus or not to bus. By effectively ending enforced busing, we're dismantling the mix of race and incomes in our schools, a known recipe for disaster when it comes to education. As I've said before, this is an intentional sabotage of public education because those in power don't believe it is the right of every child to have an education, or certainly not an equal education. Just educate them enough for the menial labor that will keep the poor poor and not knowing they could have access to upward mobility.
It's disgusting, and here in Albuquerque, the problem could be quite easily addressed. What are the mayor and APS doing about it? Giving more money to the head administrator while not supporting teachers' raises, that's what. Such a mess. Don't we owe our kids more?
Today's Daily Lobo features a shakeup for UNM's GPSA President Joseph Garcia. He'll face a recall vote in December.
Some say he's incompetent; others say he's shaking things up and making GPSA relevant as an organization, a student voice for affairs at UNM, and a center of leadership in the state!
Who's right? You decide (and let us know which way you're leaning...)!
Follow the debate here.
Marjorie decided once wasn't enough and participated in Marty's "Town Hall" last night. According to Duke City Fix, Marjorie asked "the night's most pressing question about NAFTA."
Thanks to DCF, the video and transcript of the event is here.
Any thoughts, Marjorie?
I hope in the midst of all the bloglandia madness folks are taking some time to get out and enjoy this fabulous Fall weather. Tom and Marty will be waiting when you return. I love this time of year. Back home it means we can finally actually go outside without having a heat stroke. In New Mexico, it's more about really feeling the seasons change. That's one aspect about New Mexico that I love. I went for a nice hike with Sandrita (that's her in the picture) this past Sunday, along the South Crest Trail in the Sandias, and couldn't help but reflect on how lucky we are in Albuquerque. It's still amazing to me that this urban center has such a huge wilderness smack dab in it. In other places I've lived, any trail within an hours drive of the city would have been literally overrun with people. Not here. Once on the trail we saw maybe five people the entire 5 miles in that we went. This must be due to the incredible natural environment of New Mexico. Our landscape is grand, all we have to do to get beautiful views is walk out our front doors. But I'm telling you, up close and personal is much better.
Yes, this post is directed at my urbanite house-to-car-to-work-to-car-to-house computer-centric friends. Go for a hike. It will do you some good (This goes for Maggie and Erik also. I know it's rough, but there are some good urban parks over there. Karlos, its still not as good but I know San Fran has some bad ass places).
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
Great article today from the Washington Post reporting on a recent study by the Pew Charitable Trust showing how much harder it is for black versus white children of middle class parents to stay middle class in America.
Nearly half of African Americans born to middle-income parents in the late 1960s plunged into poverty or near-poverty as adults, according to a new study -- a perplexing finding that analysts say highlights the fragile nature of middle-class life for many African Americans. ... Only 16 percent of whites experienced similar downward mobility.
Using a nationally representative data source that for nearly four decades has tracked people who were children in 1968, researchers attempted to answer two questions: Do Americans generally advance beyond their parents in terms of income? How much is that affected by race and gender?
The Pew reports found that in many ways the American dream is alive and well. Two out of three Americans are upwardly mobile, meaning they had higher incomes than their parents. About half the time, moving up meant not only that they earned more money than their parents, but also that they were better off in relation to other Americans than their parents were.
That growth was most evident among lower-income people. Overall, four out of five children born into families at the bottom 20 percent of wage earners surpassed their parents' income. Broken down by race, nine in 10 whites were better-paid than their parents were, compared with three out of four blacks....
Julia B. Isaacs, a researcher at the Brookings Institution who authored the three reports, noted that between 1974 and 2004, the median income for men in their 30s actually dropped 12 percent. But because more women entered the workforce, and earned much more than their mothers, median income for women more than tripled during the period, to $20,000.
"The growth we've seen in family incomes is because of the increase in women's income," Isaacs said. "Without that, we would not have seen an increase, because men's earnings have been flat and even declined."
Again, the reduction has been more dramatic for black men than whites. And income for white women, who were less likely than black women to work outside the home a generation ago, has grown faster than it has for black women. Black women earned a median income of $21,000 in 2004, almost equal to that of white women. Black men had a median income of $25,600, less than two-thirds that of white men.Overall, family income of blacks in their 30s was $35,000, 58 percent that of comparable whites.
[Sociologists] speculated that the increase in the number of single-parent black households, continued educational gaps between blacks and whites and even racial isolation that remains common for many middle-income African Americans could be factors.
Another reason so many middle-class blacks appear to be downwardly mobile is likely the huge wealth gap separating white and black families of similar incomes. For every $10 of wealth a white person has, blacks have $1, studies have found.
That's me these days. But I'm not alone! Much closer to the action, DFNM has a great round-up this morning of all things wrong with Marty - and how the blogosphere is reacting to his Senate run - in the Blog Smackdown. And over at 'Burque Babble, Scot's taking the high road with a legitimate job idea for Marty: APS Superintendent. (But I need more explanation, Scot!) One thing I do know: things have surely changed when blogs are having Marty Chavez Career Days! I love it.
Update: NM FBIHOP just posted a great run-down of all the chatter proclaiming NM the center of '08 political universe. Gotta love that, too.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Two recent rentals offer completely different movie experiences as well as a glimpse into the disturbingly wide spectrum of interests in this head of mine. I heartily recommend both: one as comfort food, and one as that gluttonous snack you eat furtively, at night, alone.
My animated movie viewing ended about the time I stopped babysitting in the early ‘90s, so it’s really saying something that Ratatouille was on my must-see list. I'll freely admit the snob appeal here, though: when an animated movie is talked up on my favorite food blogs, I pay attention. And you know that talk must have percolating at full steam to overcome my phobia of both Disney AND rats. Whew! Turns out I’m okay with vermin as long as they’re foodies at heart named Remy, set up little beds that overlook the
On a completely different spectrum, I offer up Crazy Love as an antidote if you’re feeling a little bit crazy or even completely screwed up, because I assure you that the most maladjusted person reading this blog is still a thousand times healthier than the couple in this documentary. I don’t want to spoil it, but I’ll say that last year a Times article about these two was sufficiently torrid to have me checking on the DVD release date for months. The wait was worth it, and the documentary is as riveting as it is insane in content. The footage of mid-century
Lunch Hour I don’t want to look at him. He doesn’t want to look at me either. Neither of us wants to see another Indian looking back.
Lunch furlough done,
I toss sandwich crusts
To the pigeon scratching crumbs
With stumps of amputated toes,
And my Diet Coke money
To the man behind the wilted cardboard sign
“Hungry, homeless, Vietnam Veteran.”
His face looks like a puffball mushroom
That’s been stomped on for fun.
I’m wearing lipstick and a startched white shirt—
My 16th floor ID dangles around my neck
Like a noose with my photo on it.
I don’t want to look at him.
He doesn’t want to look at me either.
Neither of us wants to see another Indian looking back.
From her award-winning book of poems, The Secret Power of Naming.
So much out there today on gender from different angles...
One is from Slate, looking at how women in Iowa are viewing gender in the Presidential race. Seems women are pissed that men seem to be attacking Clinton more viciously because she's a woman. But their own critiques of Clinton largely mirror what the men have been saying in those very attacks... Oops!
Next is from Robert Novak in the Washington Post on how Fred Thompson as ruined his support with conservatives because he blundered by bringing up that he doesn't support criminalizing young women or their doctors in trying to outlaw abortion. Seems that's just a spurious argument posed by radical pro-choice activists... as opposed to a logical outcome of, well, passing laws that make it a criminal act to get an abortion. Our mistake. Sorry for the confusion! He concludes that the only candidate social conservatives will support is John McCain, because all the others are back-peddling on the issue.
The last, and somehow my favorite, is the article in Slate reporting that coffee shops consistently take longer to serve women than men, even when you adjust for "frou-frou" drink prep. times. In fact, the young, the ugly, minorities, and women all get second-class service. Men get their coffee, lickety-split. The article goes on to say market capitalism will solve the problem, just give it some time. Yep, that's worked in other discrimination cases. Give me a break! And my damn coffee! The solution? Patronize coffee shops with all-female staff, which the article claims equalizes the service time, at least in the case of women. I'm sure the uglies still have to wait in line. Our world is depressing, isn't it? (That said, my own anecdotal evidence would suggest even in all-female server establishment, men get waited on faster and with less attitude. Even at my favorite coffee shop...)
Today is another one of those national holidays that always lead to incredibly ridiculous conversations. Veteran's Day (you didn't know today was a holiday?). The other's are Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Columbus Day.
These are all holidays that beg for critical commentary, which invariably invites charges that a person is unpatriotic or doesn't "support the troops." I don't even go there but must have a magnet on my forehead that says "Today is the day you can easily get into an argument with Marjorie. Go for it." If you find yourself in one of these conversations, here are challenges you can make to the magnetic bumper sticker crowd:
- Get in touch with your congressperson and demand more health services for Veterans with post traumatic stress disorder. Wait...better yet, stop sending our young people to a hell-hole in which they are being pitted against a civilian population.
- Go find your local homeless advocacy group and ask what you can do to help all those Vietnam Vets get off the street.
- Stop military recruitment on high school campuses, particularly those in low-income, people of color neighborhoods, that spins dreams of a better future but in reality too often leads to death or life-long mental health problems.
For a far more thoughtful piece, with links to organizations that work on behalf of vets, see Barbara's post at Democracy for New Mexico.
Saturday, November 10, 2007
Friday, November 09, 2007
Huffington Post has a great article looking at gender in the presidential campaign staffs. They do a great job analyzing power & titles and staff postions. That's all great. Go there for that.
As an m-pyricist, I'm more interested in the big picture. How many folks are where, and how much are they making? In general, what's the class distinction (or as close to that as we can come given just salary information, which for all we know is on top of $90,000 a year "day jobs") among campaign staff?
Based on Huffington Post's data spreadsheet (thank you!), here's what I see:
The first chart gives you a sense of the overall size of each campaign staff. Clinton's got the most folks, and the majority are women (surprise, surprise!). If you look below, however, you see that her highest-paid professional is still a man.Right off, you can see the dems do a better job balancing gender than the repubs.
You can see that even more clearly below, where you can see percentages compared versus number of staff. Thompson & Guiliani are the worst for gender equity among the Republicans, and Big Bill is also looking pretty shabby, which is not too surprising considering his ole boy network and infamous issues with keeping his hands off female staff. Ahem.
Still, Edwards looks even worse. What's that about? Lost all the good women to Clinton's campaign?
Huckabee looks pretty good in the graph below but laughable in the graph above. Seems when you can see your staff sitting around a table -- all of them -- it's easier to maintain a good balance.
Below you can see total jobs for the campaigns, minus a few that Huffington couldn't determine by name what gender they were. There were only a handful of these. As you can see below, we're not really talking that many folks, all told. Turns out Presidential Campaigns are not huge employers and don't drive an economy. Hmmm....
Alright, now let's look at income comparisons. As you see, the majority of folks make less than $20,000, so working for a campaign isn't all that lucrative, and the distribution of salaries isn't that great, male or female. Not too progressive, folks!
At the same time, of those making more than $20,000, more men make more than women. Women are off this chart altogether past $70,000, except for one woman working for Clinton who makes $300,000 or so. That's the highest paid woman, compared to the highest paid man, also working for Clinton, who makes over $1 million. Ouch.
You can see the percentages better here. Kinda dismal for the gals.
Broken down one more way... here' s the proportion of income the men versus the women take home (67% to a measley 33%). That's 2/3 men, 1/3 women. Equal rights, huh? Remember women generally vote in a higher percentage (in 2004, too) than men. Taxation without representation, anyone?
Now I'm really obsessed, but here's the clearest graphic showing the discrepancy of income "earned" by men & women presidential campaign staff. Just how do we stack up? A few pancakes short of a full stomach. Totally queasy now. And yet, we hunger!
Labels: election '08