Thursday, February 28, 2008

Week keeps getting away from me

Maggie says:
Man... We've been trying to early-vote for the TX Dem Primary every night this week, and it keeps getting pushed back on us. Tonight we were finally going to be able to do it, but I just realized that tonight's also our last chance to see "Porgy and Bess" at The Dallas Opera. I've never seen it before, so obviously we're jumping on it! This puts early-voting off until the last possible day, tomorrow. Those of you who know and love me know that of course I would put off "early" voting until the last moment. It's classic.

But in other news, we are hosting some diehard politicos from New Mexico Sunday through Wednesday here in Dallas. They're leaving the Land of Enchantment for four precious days to volunteer their time to the Obama campaign in the run-up to next Tuesday. Round of applause for them, yes? And man, it's going to be a close one here...

So stories and news and fun tidbits to come from me... But in the meantime, thanks to Marjorie for keeping the pyre burning!

Albuquerque Journal: Hang'em High Guv

marjorie says...

I am really, really shocked by the Journal editorial today (I know, one day I am going to stop being shocked).

In arguing for clemency for Elton John Richard, the Journal asks:

"...He is not the kind of person most imagine when it comes to having someone do hard time for making a bad call that had tragic consequences. What will be gained by having Richard do two years in the pen? Will he reform his criminal ways while his son turns 5, then 6? Will he kick a drug habit or learn a trade? Or will he sacrifice two years with his family, his military security clearance and job and his reputation while other cocaine-using Bronco-stealing inhabitants of the Albuquerque area realize if they run, they can automatically switch places and become the victim of their crime?"

And what kind of person does the Journal think we imagine?

Most of you who know me know that its a rare day that I advocate sending anyone to prison. But this is too much.

Come on folks. If your house was being broken into, what would you do? After you had gotten your gun or other weapon of choice and called 9-11, what would you do? Would you yell to the person that you had a gun and hope he went away. Um, yeah. Would you then chase him a quarter of a mile and shoot him dead? Um...no? No. Most of us would not because we are not a particular variety of human: the macho over-zealous gun-wielding man.

Was Daniel Romero not a beloved child to grieving parents? He did not deserve to be chased down a quarter of a mile and shot in cold blood for attempting to steal a freaking Bronco. Even if he did have a health problem called drug abuse. But seemingly the Journal editorial crew thinks he did.

The Journal editorial is basically an endorsement of hang'em high vigilante-ism, and if the Governor follows suit we might as well all get ready for a return to the wild west.


Buckley vs. Vidal 1968

marjorie says...

In light of the conservative patrician William F. Buckley dying yesterday, I thought I'd post these two clips of a classic debate between Buckley and our own part of the high class, Gore Vidal.

The first clip shows their opening comments on the upcoming presidential election between Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon. It's really a classic conservative versus liberal moment, one late 60s debate in the continuum of our long war of ideas. The second clip shows them together debating Vietnam, and its the part that made this debate go down in history. Vidal tells Buckley to shut up when he interrupts and then calls him a crypt-o-nazi. Buckley follows that up by threatening to punch him in the face and tells him to go back to his porn!




Tuesday, February 26, 2008

We're not a nation of vigilantes

marjorie says...

The notion that this guy deserves clemency harkens to the days when it was considered fine to hang a person on the spot for horse theft. There's a reason that this nation is based in the rule of law. The victim in this case is Daniel Romero, who was chased a quarter of a mile, gunned down and killed. He did not deserve to die for trying to steal a car. Do we want vigilante justice in this country? Thats what all these people urging for clemency are suggesting. If its ok for Elton John Richard to shoot people, its ok for anyone else also, not just ex-marines with blood lust.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Hello again: Failure of ethics reform lies at the feet of Legislators

marjorie says...

There he goes again, blaming public interest advocates for the failure of state legislators to pass ethics reform given that an "...overwhelming majority of the public supports ethics reform."

One thing very clear to me is that public advocates make convenient, and easy, targets. For politicians, and for Monahan apparently (carrying some water, Joe?).

But, last time I checked, advocates aren’t responsible for passing legislation. Legislators are.

Think about what Monahan is saying here:


“…lobbyists are hired by clients to get results and if you are not getting them, the client is entitled to ask why. We linked to Common Cause and suggested they and other leading ethics advocates might want to review their lobbying tactics.”


It’s pretty twisted really, considering that the topic is ethics reform. Frankly, I don’t like the fact that the Roundhouse is beset by swarms of lobbyists “…hired by clients to get results.” There’s a reason that the public overwhelmingly supports ethics reform, and it isn’t the fault of a non-profit public advocacy organization that the state legislature refuses to pass these bills. Here's a thought: maybe it’s the influence of those private lobbyists we should be pointing at instead.

Joe goes on to suggest that legislators might be more amenable to ethics reform if just one reform was introduced each session, because “The public and press has a hard time concentrating on the myriad of ethics proposals floating around the Roundhouse.”

Forgive my incredulity at that statement.

Let me see a show of hands from those who don’t understand these concepts:

  • Campaign Contribution Limits
  • Public Financing of Elections
  • Ethics Commission


Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past decade in the United States understands perfectly well what this reform package meant. Granted, I have just a touch of the political animal in me, but I did not need to be educated by Common Cause or any other group to know what these mean…they’ve been consistent themes in every national election for many years now, with broad public debate. Combine that with the rampant corruption that is glaringly hard to miss in this state, and I don’t think you have to do a lot of public education on these topics. Perhaps this is why there is “overwhelming” support among the public, and why the press has not seemed to have any difficulty with the topic either.

The fact is that there have been many incremental steps toward pushing forward ethics in government. If you want to refresh your memory, simply click on Common Cause’s website. And the latest ethics reform package, which was very clear and pretty darn simple actually, was one more step in the right direction.

As much as I’m disturbed by attempts to shift blame onto a very strong and admirable public interest group, I have to say that part of me is actually pleased that there is such a need to make excuses when it comes to the failure of ethics reform this year. As if there might be consequences.

Joe says that we can’t blame this group of legislators because “…not many passed in the 80's and 90's when other leaders ran the Roundhouse. This is more difficult than just voting out a couple of legislators.”

But we’re not in the 80s or 90s. We’re now in an era of “overwhelming public support” for ethics reform. We can say the same for health care reform, as the most obvious example. If meeting the expressed needs of the majority of this state’s population is the job of the state legislature, then this legislature as a whole failed miserably.

There are plenty of legislators on board with ethics reform, along with the Governor, the Secretary of State, the Attorney General and the State Treasure. We should all thank them for sticking with the public on these issues.

If blame is our dish, then let’s serve it up where it’s deserved--to those state legislators who don't want to get it, along with those who grease their wheels. And then let's hold them accountable to those who hire them...at the ballot box.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Oscar night, at last!

Maggie says:
Tonight is so much fun for me... I've been writing here and there about my Oscar picks, but realized I hadn't put them all together yet. So if I were an Academy member, here's what my ballot would say:

Best Supporting Actress: Amy Ryan. Wow.

Best Supporting Actor: Javier Bardem. DUH, and not just because of my huge crush.

Best Actress: Tie! I'm completely torn between Julie Christie and Marion Cotillard, and yes, I know how lame that is. Although honestly, if I were filling the ballot out this minute I'd vote Cotillard.

Best Actor: Daniel Day Lewis. What a monster, and a monstrous performance.

Best Adapted Screenplay: No Country for Old Men.

Best Original Screenplay: Juno.

Best Song: "Falling Slowly," from Once.
I adored this movie, and this is the best weaving of song and plot I can remember.

Best Documentary: No End in Sight.
While I was moved by the heartfelt ending of Sicko, No End in Sight was masterfully done, and remarkably effective.

Best Director: Eek! Yes, I'm lame again. I continue to love the brilliance of the Coen brothers, but also think Paul Thomas Anderson redefined himself this year. The Co-Bros probably win out for me, though.

Best Picture: No Country for Old Men. Loved it... it's the one that'll keep haunting people years from now.

I'm still humming 'Visions of Johanna'...

Maggie in awe of Bob:

Friday, February 22, 2008

Bob Dylan tonight!

Maggie says:
I'm pumped... tonight we're going to see Bob Dylan at the Dallas House of Blues. I've never been able to see him before, and in a small venue like this it should be great. I mean, even if he's terrible, which I've heard time and again he is now, it's still Bob Dylan in a small venue. Swoon!

PS: I have Bob Dylan: The Other Side of the Mirror: Live at the Newport Folk Festival 1963-1965 at home, which I intended to watch pre-concert but couldn't get to it. Maybe instead, watching it post-concert will let me make the full circle backwards. I can't wait to see the crowd reacting live to Dylan plugging in for the first time.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Oscar actress update

Maggie says:
In my rush to see all the remaining Oscar-related films before Sunday's ceremony, last night I watched Away from Her and Gone Baby Gone.

Away from Her is the story of an older couple struggling with the progression of Alzheimer's in Julie Christie's character Fiona. Their decision to move Fiona into a residential care facility is one is led by Fiona herself, not wanting to decline in her husband's presence any further. What unfolds between the two of them, and the secondary characters is this new chapter in their lives, is a very real story full of immense sadness, but also truth and beauty and humor. Kleenex required, trust me. Julie Christie was nominated for Best Actress for this film, and I'd love to see her win. We had a Julie Christie v. Marion Cotillard debate after watching this. Right now, I'm pulling for Christie because of the freshness and truth to that performance, but you know how blown away I was by Cotillard's performance in La Vie en Rose as well. Either would be a fine choice, but Christie is really tremendous here.

I have a soft spot for Boston films, and Gone Baby Gone is no exception. Ben Affleck's directorial debut is very good, touching on a variety of really compelling themes and asking some pertinent questions that keep sinking in for me. The cast is great, all of them. They've been given meaty stuff to chew on, and the touch here is right-on. Amy Ryan, who was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, is absolutely riveting in the role of Helen McCready, an unfit mother who cares more about her drug habit and friends than her daughter. Helen is thrust into the spotlight and a police investigation when her daughter is abducted, and Casey Affleck is the detective hired to tap into the seedy neighborhood element of the crime that the police can't access. This is the kind of role that Ryan - a stage actress who also has a Tony nomination under her belt - must have loved sinking into. Helen is the kind of terrifying woman you'd cross the street to avoid if you had the choice, and Ryan nails her. She's just scarily good here, and she's my new pick for Best Supporting Actress.

Dallas for Obama

Maggie says:
The Barack Obama rally in downtown Dallas yesterday was amazing. I'm not really talking about the candidate himself, though. Yes, he was phenomenal, actually much better than I expected, to be honest. Obama confirmed my decision to support him for the Democratic primary, where shockingly, my vote will actually mean something on March 4.

What really got me yesterday, though, was the people. I was floored by the crowd, by the diversity, by the high spirits, and by the sheer optimism of the nearly 20,000 people who came out to hear this man speak yesterday. We waited in line for hours - folks taking vacation days like I did, folks coming off their shift and still wearing hospital scrubs, folks wearing their uniforms to go straight to work after the event, school-kids playing hooky or there with an organized group, families towing kids and grandkids, retirees holding hands... The group had it all.

17,000 people made it into Reunion Arena to hear Obama yesterday. 2,000 more were stuck outside. Most of us waited in line for at least three hours prior to sitting down, but you didn't see a grimace anywhere. You saw grins, and heard chants, and took part in conversation, and felt good about the world.

When I think about who I'm supporting and why, to me it's all about the other people who believe in this candidate. I've attended my fair share of political events over the years, and I have never seen a crowd as diverse as yesterday's. I cannot overstate what that means to me personally and politically. If we believe - and I think we do - that resting all our hopes on one man is dangerously naive, and that we should instead rest our hopes on the millions of people maintaining hope within themselves that change is possible, well then... I saw it yesterday. There's no question about it. There is one candidate in my mind who can unite people beyond their entrenched positions and spark people out of their disengagement, and it's Barack Obama.

Here's a sampling of the text messages I sent out while in line yesterday, with a couple of photos. For more, go to my flickr page or shoot me an e-mail.

  • "DART train on the way here full of Obama '08 gear!"
  • "Doubt I'm going to get in with this crowd... but the energy is out of control here."
  • "This crowd gives me huge hope for Texas!"
  • "I'm seriously tearing up watching all the people go by, so many different types... A group of enormously jacked Af-Am guys just went by in shirts that all said HOPE."
  • "Entire family in rodeo gear - rhinestone Obama's on everything! - just went by. 4-y.o. boy in Obama chaps!"
  • "Prep schoolers in plaid!"
  • "We haven't moved but the line has doubled behind us. Huge grins, amazing diversity. Decision to support Obama ringing true. Tens of 1,000s now waiting."
  • "Line moving out here, but too slow to know for sure - energy is phenomenal, and the diversity is amazing! Happy to be out here even if I don't get in! What's the scene like inside?"
  • "I think I just saw O's shadow waving from a police-escorted SUV. Crowd acted like it was Elvis. Line inching forward - we'll see!"
  • "I'm so optimistic right now... even for me!"
  • "I'm in!!! Far away, but direct view!"
  • "Emmitt Smith rocks."
  • "Hilarious - Obama was making fun of TX for having to deal with Bush being sent back here. Boos so dramatic he started cracking up laughing at the podium. He's great."
  • "The DART train back is like a Cancun party bus!"

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Here's the Thing

Mikaela says:
As Americans, we don't like to be smart or for other people to be smart. We don't even think it's important!

Apparently, certain politicians don't want us to be eloquent, either. They want us to focus on how they can "solve problems."

Yet seeing how our country is seemingly inexorably deadlocked on certain reportedly black and white issues -- abortion, taxes, the proper role of government, gay marriage, the proper role of our military around the world, etc. -- there is no clear majority for any side of these controversies, so how are we to "solve" these non-solvable problems?

Guess what? It all comes down to persuasion. With reason, yes. With factual feasibility, yes. With common sense and empathy, absolutely. Creativity & listening go a long way, too.

But what is a politician to do? There are minefields all around. We parse every word, every vote, every choice, every relationship. To some extent, that is what democracy looks like.

And yet.

There are those who say that the best presidents are those who were able to articulate a vision that inspired us, embody leadership in a way that unified us. Americans don't want to think, I'm sorry to say. They want to pick a leader they can trust and follow. Dangerous, yes. But has it ever been different? We're animals. Following the leader on some level is an unavoidable instinct. Sometimes it's our best chance to avoid danger and make our way to safety -- all of us, not just the ones the packleader likes or agrees with or has no history of conflict with.

I keep asking, who will lead? Beyond the issues, beyond the individual dangers, beyond individual egoes and agendas and vendettas that span the globe?

Hillary can't see the forest for the policy trees. Obama speaks to the forest and asks those trees to march on Dunsinane (Macbeth, anyone?). McCain has a list of enemies a mile long that he can't wait to pay back.

Leadership, people. Leadership. I agree that the ability to solve problems is a good quality, as is management. Very important to the job of President. But if we're going to move forward as a country, we've got to pick a person who will rally us to follow.

I'm suddenly nervous about urging us to go for charisma. Reportedly Hitler was quite the speaker, quite the leader, inspiring his country on unprecedented levels. I think we're well-situated to uncover quickly the dangerous ideas couched in fancy rhetoric, despite the source. If there's anything we're good at as a country -- in all our political camps -- it's sniffing out a rat.

Then again, look who's president.

Still, as a good pragmatist, I believe strongly there are no right or wrong ideas, there are just good and bad consequences of ideas. Where will Hillary's rhetoric lead us? Where McCain's? And Obama's?

Who do you believe can best lead us to a place of unified action to make our economy, our global relations, our social consensus stronger?

Presidents are part of just one branch of government and the symbolic heads of our country. Just. They cannot solve our problems. They can only inspire us to solve them ourselves.

The Onion's Political Dictionary

Mikaela says:
I really love smart humor that just ... gets it right in a way that all my doing jumping jacks in front of a blind man to get his attention just can't match.

So check out the full list here, but this is a taste of what you'll find:

  • corruption: The most effective and efficient way to produce results in government.

  • [American] democracy: A moderately representative plutocracy.

  • election worker: A male or female at least 70 years of age.

  • hope: An intangible object within every American that is destroyed every four years in November.

  • likability: The degree to which each candidate is able to hide the extent to which he or she is full of shit.

  • lobbyist: A better-paid legislator.

  • platform: A list of the subjects that candidates are willing to discuss.

  • political consultants: Individuals who are very savvy politically, but don't have enough hair to run for office themselves.

  • political philosophy, liberal: An ideology steeped in a proud tradition of ineffectual whining.

  • voter apathy: The reason most American politicians are able to achieve and maintain office.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

armageddon

marjorie says...



I had to steal this picture from Erik's blog, of a shot taken during a summer storm last week on a hill in Rio. Kind of reminds me of todays conversation, for some odd reason.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Periodically? Just say monthly, Barack

marjorie says...

Thanks to Feministing for pointing me to this clip of Barack referencing Hillary's "periodic" bouts of "feeling down." There is also an interesting debate on the Feministing post about whether or not this constitutes a sexist approach.





So what does he mean exactly? That Hillary gets crazy when she's pms'ing? My personal opinion is that it shows a latent sexism that is prevalent throughout our society, just as racism is prevalent. If he didn't say it on purpose, then it is simply a classic sexist perspective leaking to the surface. If he said it on purpose, its gender-baiting just as blatantly as any Clinton race-baiting. If you think this isn't serious, let me point you to a comment that my sister made in this post, regarding my niece, who will be voting in the March 4 primary in Texas:

"Imagine my shock when having lunch with my 20 year old daughter Lauren...talking about her getting to vote for the first time....and she comes out and says she could not vote for a woman because "they are too emotional, too compassionate" ....I was horrified..I could'nt believe what I was hearing!.......thank goodness she is voting democrat!"

It also brings to mind what SWOP intern Emma Sandoval, who is near my nieces age, had to put up with on live television from one of our school board members. He charged her with being emotional when she referenced a certain perspective as ludicrous, and this wasn't the first time I have seen him do it...he also used this language at a school board meeting.

We deserve better.


Who Abandoned Africa?

marjorie says...

I am a big admirer of those who use art to not only generate awareness of social issues but to raise money or organize people toward ending social injustices. I've been looking forward to seeing the cradles all assembled, and maybe even bidding on one, when the Cradle Project finally comes to fruition. I hope the City will find some way of solving the issue of space, as this is an incredibly ambitious charity art project that will be quite powerful for those who experience it. Not to mention, it has the potential for raising a lot of money for children in Africa who are suffering from HIV/Aids.

As I was reading about the space issue this morning, I was struck by Naomi Natale's comment, regarding her desire to keep the installation at the railyard: "It's a dramatic site— an abandoned space to represent Africa herself, which is an abandoned land."

Of course, I have to ask...it is? And if so, abandoned by who?

While I'm sure she didn't intend it to come across otherwise, I think its important to point out that Africa is rich in culture, tradition, and community. Just as the U.S. was not "empty land" when the Europeans arrived, nor is Africa empty now. Rather, it's full of hard-working social activists and families trying to improve their living conditions, and trying to create a democratic system based in the rule of law.

If it is "abandoned"... it's in the sense that it's been abandoned by the people who went into Africa and changed its socio-political landscape forever. The colonizers. Us.

In the post-colonial age our government has seemed content to wash its hands of Africa. In recent years, we failed to act in Rwanda, barely have acted in Darfur, and seem content to watch brutal human rights abuses in a raging low-intensity Congolese war to control immense natural resources. To name just three that come to mind.

The difference in how we prioritize our involvement in the Middle East and Africa is instructive for surfacing our true geopolitical motivations. One is seen as integral to our energy needs, and look at how we fight for control in that region. The other does not come even near being of the same strategic importance, and we treat the dire poverty there as an afterthought. We need to examine our values, and our history, and commit ourselves to truly living our rhetoric. The history of the West demands that we not abandon Africa.

As much as I admire and look forward to the Cradle Project, charity is not sufficient. At the same time, there are serious questions about the ethics, not to mention the many unforeseen consequences, of how we involve ourselves in promoting solutions. The answer is to take the lead of the many Africans who tirelessly work for social justice and human rights. And we need to devote as many resources to the efforts of those Africans at the forefront of the social justice struggle there as we do to our futile attempts to control Iraq.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Dispatches from Tanzania

Maggie says:
My parents are on a safari in Tanzania right now. After some initial concern about the travel through less-than-stable Kenya to get to their location, they arrived safely last week and have been living out their wildlife photography fantasies since. They have a GPS phone that is free to use for text messaging, which is their main point of contact with the family. Needless to say, my parents are not text messaging aficionados, but I've so enjoyed these texts that I thought I would share a few on the blog. With their lack of punctuation and all-caps style, they could even be poetry. And that last one gets political - I love it!

HI NAIROBI TOUGH CANCELED FLIGHT FINALLY IN TANZ BEAUTIFUL EXCITED HAPPY LOVEALL

HELLO CONGRATS ON FANNY WILL BE ANXIOUS TO SEE ALL PERFECT HERE LOVE YOU

HELLO SITTING ON PORCH WAITING FOR ELEPH IN AM RODE IN WILDEBEEST MIGRATION YOUR DAD IN HEAVEN ANTI BUSH DOMINATES GROUP MISS ALL

Insomniacs unite!

Maggie says:
Most of my life, I am a super-mellow, carefree, smile-on-my-face kind of person (thanks Dad). Sometimes, though, my take-no-prisoners, focused, awesome-under-pressure side comes out in full force (thanks Mom). More often than not, these moments happen for me in the middle of the night. I've always been a night owl, and still can't kick the rush of accomplishment or indulgence I get when I'm engaged but everyone else is sleeping. I've found that these moments can be broadly categorized into two areas: Deadline Maggie and Middle-of-the-night-inspiration Maggie.

  • Deadline Maggie: This is the me that Mikaela can identify with the most. We went through this together so many times in grad school it boggles the mind to try and remember it all. But I see lots of coffee, Frontier food, a computer lab or a studio space, and no one else there but Mikaela and me. Just the two of us left, making it all right for the next day's deadline. And of course, kicking ass on said project.
  • Middle-of-the-night-inspiration Maggie: This is the me that Marjorie can identify with the most. We both get eyeball-deep in weird side projects or struck with fantastic impulses late at night, and can find ourselves still in the thick of them through morning without quite realizing where all those hours went. This is when a lot of writing happens, a lot of organizing and rearranging happens, a lot of mental lists get checked off, and a lot of big ideas are born. Somehow, things can seem plausible and get finished in the middle of the night that seem far too daunting in the light of day.
Tonight, it was inspiration me. Tossing and turning. A downstairs office shut off from humanity because its piles of clean yet now-hopelessly wrinkled laundry, Christmas decorations (!), and boxes were blocking the doorway. Yikes. But in the middle of the night, anything's possible.

The room is now spotless. Bare seating areas and surfaces, bare floor, everything folded, the closet organized. We've had a big home improvement weekend (that's my gorgeous new rug below), so it's fitting that I'd finally get to it at 2 a.m. Sunday morning. I wonder when Trevor will get used to my strange insomniac cleaning fits. They certainly don't happen any other time.

Another reason my head's racing this weekend? Keeping up with a new little sister for Switters, he of the literary namesake and the burned tail. The new kitten's name is Fanny, and she's the craziest, cutest 1-pounder in this zip code. She's never even seen the downstairs office before (also known as "Switters' Clubhouse"), so she's in for a big treat when she wakes up.

Good rest-of-the-night, everyone. :-)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Dystopian Red-Light Cameras at Bay

marjorie says...

I'm glad to see that the legislature re-directed the money collected from the red-light cameras away from operating the program. Many of my friends and colleagues have bemoaned the hoopla over the cameras, making the point that there are many more important things for the population to be up in arms over...such as: health care, child-poverty, corrupt politicians, etc. Not to mention, our privacy was shot all to hell a long time ago and is getting even more compromised by the minute. I can see their point. At the same time, I'm glad to see what appears to be an overwhelming distaste among our population for what feels like an invasion of our privacy.

The division on whether or not these cameras are good points to a classic ideological divide: those who think government is an embodiment of good and inherently trustworthy. These are the rule of law folks who think anyone who ends up in jail must belong there. And then there are those who think government and laws, like any system, is flawed and easily corruptible. As such, individuals easily and almost randomly can get the short end of the stick. The first group has less of an issue with privacy I think. Those in the latter think privacy is paramount, and are glad to see the cameras near gone. We don't like big brother watching us, and even though we know cameras are literally everywhere these days an official government program doing it really disturbs us. If we are indeed on an inexorable march toward a dystopian future, let's slow it down as much as possible.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

At least The Onion never disappoints...

Mikaela says:
Okay, so This American Life managed to suck the humor out of the funniest newspaper I've read, in trying to understand how the newsroom distinguishes the simply silly from the really hilarious, and manage to build an enduringly funny paper in the process.

The best part of the show was hearing new (read: young) reporters describe simultaneously trying to emulate their heroes, still on staff, while also poo-pooing them for offering more of the same (which they grew up admiring).

Still... it was short and a little flat, and well ... disappointing.

Whatever, I'm over it.

Why?

Because check out how much the Onion rocks:


3' by 4' Plot of Green Space Rejuvenates Neighborhood

Notorious for its abandoned buildings, industrial warehouses, and gray, dilapidated roads, Detroit's Warrendale neighborhood was miraculously revitalized this week by the installation of a single, three-by-four-foot plot of green space.

The green space, a rectangular patch of crabgrass located on a busy median divider, has by all accounts turned what was once a rundown community into a thriving, picturesque oasis, filled with charming shops, luxury condominiums, and, for the first time ever, hope.

"Sitting in the middle of the park, it's like all of the troubles of city life just melt away," said homeowner Samantha Hodge, who every day gazes at the narrow green space between two lanes of traffic and is filled instantly with calm. "A week ago, I was ready to call it quits and never come back. Nowadays, I couldn't imagine living anywhere else."

Despite the overwhelmingly positive influence of this simple patch of lawn, a number of Warrendale residents have come to regard its popularity as a double-edged sword.

"Everywhere I look now, well-dressed moms are pushing babies in designer strollers, high-end coffee shops are opening their doors, and fancy galleries are replacing old neighborhood bars," said mechanic Kevin Miles, who was evicted from his tenement apartment after his rent tripled almost overnight. "I used to know everyone who lived here, but now it seems like half the people are college kids or vacationing Europeans."

Added Miles: "I never thought I'd say this, but I miss the old decrepit Warrendale."


I want to know: Who on that staff went to planning school?

V-Day! Support the work of Enlace Comunitario

Valentine's Day became something I can get on board with when activists proclaimed it V-Day, a day to stop the violence against women.

Domestic violence, a term pointing to violence performed by an intimate partner, is a crisis for the female half of the population. New Mexico ranked 3rd in the country for Domestic Violence in 2003. Then there is sexual violence more broadly.

Celebrate Valentine's day in its traditional way, but please also take a moment to consider how domestic and sexual violence damages women and children, then do something about it.

One thing you can do is support the work of a great local organization, Enlace Comunitario. Enlace provides counseling and legal services to immigrant women seeking to end abusive domestic relationships and also supports the social justice efforts of the greater immigrant community. I know that the need for the work of Enlace far outstrips the resources. Consider making a donation.

Also check out this list of crisis and support resources in New Mexico.

Happy V-Day!

Happy Valentine's Day

To love... and all the crazy things we do for it.

Sex toy ban update

Maggie says:
Via Alterdestiny, I received a pleasant surprise this morning when checking in with all my favorite blogs:

Court overturns Texas ban on sex toys

You might remember back in March 2006 when I got pretty over-heated (too early for that pun?) writing about the wave of sex toy bans going through state legislatures with alarming passage rates. To me, nothing could be more indicative of damaging gender politics than legislation banning the sale of devices that hurt no one and exist purely for women's pleasure.
March 2006: Our right to bear batteries

But rejoice! In my state anyway, such hypocrisy is no longer on the books. Are Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and Mississippi next?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Spotted in Dallas

Maggie spies: The winning Obama-taking-Texas strategy!

Scene: Office building elevator in the underground parking garage. Me, using the remote car lock as I walk to the elevator, which makes my lights flash. Young guy approaching the elevators behind me.

Guy: Hey, can you tell me what your bumper sticker means? I can't figure it out.

Me: Oh, it's Inauguration Day.

Guy: Oh! 1.20.09... now I get it. So... you plan on getting someone out of the White House?

Me: Well I think that's inevitable, don't you?

Guy: Guess so. Man, it's looking like it's not going to be Ron Paul, huh?

Me (grinning): Um, no, not going to be Ron Paul.

Guy: I was counting on him! All my friends were Ron Paul supporters too. We love that guy. Who are you voting for?

Me: At this point I'm an Obama supporter.

Guy: Yeah, me too.

Me: Really?

Guy: Yep. We all figure, Ron Paul or Barack Obama.

Whoa! I'm floored by the complete lack of logic in that shift of support, but still! So should I issue a priority memo to Obama's Texas campaign about how they can take Texas via Ron Paul?! I mean, the memo's already in the "outbox" along with Marjorie's Super Tuesday endorsement we never saw, but still... ;-)

Place through primaries

Maggie says:
Soaking in the "Potomac Primary" returns last night, it occurred to me how much I've enjoyed following the Democratic and Republican races this year. Before you offer a resounding, "Duh!," I'll add this: beyond the dramatic horserace aspect of the fight to the finish, it's the journey through the states that's brought me back to my love of campaigns.

When the new year began, I speculated on the natures of Iowa, New Hampshire, and South Carolina, and how much I enjoy seeing those play out every election year in the kick-offs. My caveat at the time was that I thought this would be the last year we'd get to revel in the hokiness of "first" states in the same way. So imagine my delight that since then, we've gotten to revel in every state's hokiness as the parties select their candidates. It's so fun for me to dig into all these state's histories, leanings, tendencies, populations, weirdness, current events, and turnout... with the results as the cherry on top!

The opportunity for me as a political junkie pales in significance, of course, to the opportunity for the candidates to have their voices heard in a variety of states, and the opportunity for the voters in those states to have their voices heard with their votes. It's been a hugely significant political year in every way possible, not least of which is that our abnormally long decision-making process this year is offering us a glimpse of a more equitable way forward for all states the next time we do this.

I'm looking forward to a system that allows more of us to say more as the standard, not the accident. And in the meantime, my results-watching self is happy as can be Blue Highway-ing my way through each primary, sinking in to tiny town stories, state slogans, and demographic shifts.

PS: Blue Highways is an old favorite read. For a rather ancient - September 2000! - book review I wrote, go here.

Hillary and the Misogynists

marjorie says...

Misogyny, of course, is alive and well in the world as it always has been, but the reaction by much of the mainstream media toward the Hillary Clinton campaign perhaps shows it more clearly to the masses. We can only hope. Feministing compiled the highlights, in case some of you have missed the unending stream:

Chelsea edition
Acronym edition
Misogyny-wear edition
Cheek-pinching edition
"Gender expert" edition
Shock collar edition
Hitchens is an asshole edition
Ironing edition
Accessories edition
Management edition
Laughing edition



And then today Feministing provides us this tidbit to remind us that we still live in a world littered with sexist pigs:

Rape: They just don't make it like they used to


"Last week, after a debate over legislation that would amend the state constitution to say that it does not guarantee the right to abortion or require funding for abortion, Tennessee state Sen. Doug Henry said,

“Rape, ladies and gentlemen, is not today what rape was. Rape, when I was learning these things, was the violation of a chaste woman, against her will, by some party not her spouse. Today it’s simply, ‘Let’s don’t go forward with this act.’ ”

Sigh.

Michael Pollan on Democracy Now

Mikaela says:
Be sure to check out the interview with m-pyre favorite Michael Pollan on Democracy Now today....

Then go and read his books, if you haven't already. His interests span a huge range, and they're all incredibly well-written and thoughtfully approached.

  • Second Nature (an addition thanks to Erik's gentle chiding, in the comments below)

Monday, February 11, 2008

Memo to Alligators: Shine your light on Gravy Train Ethics

marjorie says...

In his piece this morning, Joe Monahan suggests that the failure of ethics legislation should be laid at the feet of Common Cause and other folks promoting ethics in state government. But that’s completely backward. Let’s be clear: failure of ethics legislation lies at the feet of state legislators who refuse to give up their gravy train. The public overwhelmingly favors ethics legislation. Albuquerque Journal polls in 2007 indicated a whopping 88% of Democrats, in fact, favored the three priorities included in the bills this session.

When it comes to ethics...these aren’t new issues, they’re old issues. We all know this.

What *is* new is unwillingness on the part of the public to condone a corrupt political system any longer. Monahan should rethink what is essentially a pot-shot at Common Cause, a non-profit organization that has worked steadfastly to move forward the long overdue and greatly needed ethics reforms initiatives. In fact, Monahan might want to expand his pool of “alligators” to include a greater cross-section of New Mexico’s political class. There are plenty who understand what we have here is a conflict between the ethics of the public and the ethics of the gravy train.


**Update** Check out what the rest of the blogosphere has to say about Joe Monahan:

Barb @ DFNM: "Too cowardly to speak their piece in public, too many of the most status quo/reactionary legislators, hangers on and lobbyists for elite special interests are content to leak unsourced material by taking on the personae of the much cited Alligators over at Joe Monahan's place. It's a convenient ploy that can be used to try and gain political advantage -- whether or not such Alligators really exist in terms of a specific issue. Who's to say where the gossip and spin are really coming from and why?"

Parnelli Gonzalez @ Clearly New Mexico: "This wouldn't be the first time that Blogger Joe has carried water for the status quo crowd. Notice the Monahan m.o. at work. His "alligator" accuses citizen advocates of "asking for too much all at once", and then immediately pluralizes the complaint into "critics say." Opinion polls show overwhelming public support for substantive ethics reform now - not at some murky future time when certain self-appointed potentates of the legislative process deign to pass some pale palliatives and then call it reform."

Then Coco in her DukeCityFix post asks "Who is Monahan's Alligator?"

(I think I can give you an answer...it would be "The Man.")


Then, tonight, LP @ New Mexico FBIHOP weighed in tonight about Monahan and his imaginary minions, touching on Monahan's biased commentary: "But this is just one of many issues where Monahan (and his alligators) have done nothing but toe the line of the status quo. They are so used to the way things run and have run in New Mexico for so many years that any potential changes is seen as bad. They don't want any change from the way things have "always run" in the state -- or else their analysis will have to change."

Head's Not in the Game

Mikaela says:
I've got other things going on with me this week. I'll leave the heavy-duty political stuff in the capable hands of my comadres.

Instead, I'll just leave you a hint of where my mind is this week...

The Roman poet Seneca wrote:

"Anyone can stop a man's life but no one his death; a thousand doors open on to it."

Today I ask you, what purpose for rising waves of fear?

Instead, let us light a flame in the darkness to remind us that our energy is better channeled into the eternal vigilance of our own kindness, the transmutation of anger to understanding, the push of breath from where it hides in our belly to sustaining actions that connect us to all that is good in others, the power of working side by side, the reassurance of two hands clasped across a chasm of mistrust. May this light guide us to all that is good in us and surround the sacred spaces we create when we come together in the spirit of community.

Lobbying Swarms, plus the Obama/Clinton Class Divide

marjorie says...

Looks like Maggie and Trevor had some fun in Vegas. Let's hear all about it...please! In the meantime, let me point you all to some tidbits.

First, there's my bit here about the lobbying swarm we witness every time we go to the Roundhouse. The best
Lobbying Swarm Anecdote to date (for me anyway), and I quote myself (ha!):

"The TIDD Greenfield Reform bill, known as HB 451, was heard last Wednesday in the Taxation and Revenue Committee. During the comments section of the hearing, a lobbyist named Daniel Weaks lobbied against the TIDD Reform Bill on behalf of Bernalillo County. Then Representative Elias Barela, who co-sponsored HB 451, called Weaks back and asked him to disclose that he is also a registered lobbyist for SunCal Corporation. SunCal, of course, is the massive California corporation lobbying hard for the creation of tax-payer funded TIDDs to subsidize their development on Albuquerque’s west side. And on the same afternoon he was lobbying against TIDD reform on behalf of Bernalillo County, Weaks was lobbying heavily for approval of SunCal’s TIDD appropriations request, which promises SunCal over $1 Billion in tax revenue over the coming decades."

I link to it in my lobbying piece (which I know you're going to read), but you all
must also read this bit that came out in the Sunday Journal about the incestuous relationships at the Roundhouse. And you know what? It isn't just Kiki Saavedra who has a son lobbying him up there. I'll let you figure this one out. Ok, here's a hint.

And the final bit on Lobbyists, I just have to quote Barb, on the sad news that the Domestic Partnership Bill failed (for now) and the very few Democratic defectors who crushed it:

"Funny how the concepts of "sanctity" and "Catholic morality" are only in play when crushing measures that seek to correct civil liberty travesties, but not when you're greedily grabbing taxpayer money to fund the follies of your cronies."


Moving along to the Obama/Clinton Class Divide...


Here's an interesting bit pointing out that one obvious line that Super Tuesday voters fractured on was Class. As the author puts it, Latte Liberals voted for Obama whereas Dunkin Donuts Democrats went for Hillary. But before you get your "I'm where I'm at through merit alone"
panties in a wad, check out how m-pyre dreamboat David Sirota explains this thing Obama-ites don't want to hear.

And what do I say about the class divide? Well, I think Sirota's analysis that Obama isn't really able to go ultra-populist (thereby becoming more appealing to working people) because it would alienate him among white voters as running a race-based campaign...is quite compelling. In fact, I'm quite sure that is the case. But...

At the same time, latte drinkers like David Sirota can explain the numbers away all they want...but the numbers remain what they are. And I don't feel like Hillary Clinton has been on a populist bandwagon more than Obama. Neither is on par with John Edwards in that regard. We often hear in organizer/activist circles that the working classes vote against their own best interests. I agree with that largely, but at the same time, its also just a touch patronizing...and we shouldn't be so hasty to roll that argument out. It's just a touch convenient.

Happy Monday folks!


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Maggie does Vegas

Vegas as seen through two Red Bull vodkas

Friday, February 08, 2008

Friday frivolity

Maggie says:
Another Friday, another excuse for fun blogging.

Tonight I'm flying to Las Vegas (for the first time!) to celebrate my hometown best friend Heather's 30th birthday. Some context: As left as my politics lean, I dress quite a bit more conservatively than Heather or, say, the rest of Vegas. So Heather's been pushing me to amp up the flash a little bit for this trip, and she doesn't know it yet, but I think she's going to be very impressed with her old friend.

Let's review what's in my Vegas bag and you can judge for yourself (and by "bag" I mean messy pile of things currently on the floor that will be assembled in my lovable, last-minute fashion right before racing to the airport).

  • Friday night: Black sequin miniskirt, fun gold top, gold strappy heels (although admittedly there is a much safer pink shirt on call just in case the sequins + gold is more than I can handle)
  • Saturday: Casual brunch clothes and comfy things to wear to and from the spa, where Heather has convinced me to sign up for a decadent "Spiced Rum Stone Massage" with her. Whoa!
  • Saturday night: Supposedly after all the spa-ing, we're going to be revved up rather than over-relaxed. Hmmm. Heather has us going to a club that is so not my thing you know I really must love this NC girl. And I do. So for Saturday night I have a silver sparkly dress (consecutive nights of sequins alert!), a little blue shrug that won't provide much of anything except shoulder coverage, and totally gorgeous blue shoes.
  • Sunday: Something to crawl over to brunch in, which I imagine will feature a table full of bleary eyes and sallow complexions.
  • Oh, and!!!! New Digital Camera! My ancient tried-and-true one lost a component recently that the Best Buy guy was sorry to inform me isn't even made anymore, so I have an exciting new one to break in the Vegas way (along with all my sequins, of course!).
I'll be back in Dallas Sunday evening, where I'll rejoin the serious among you, don some denim and cotton, and steady myself for a week full of voting, speeches, polling, and if we're lucky, maybe even some Super Tuesday results from New Mexico!

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, February 07, 2008

m-pyre Eye on Texas!

marjorie says...

As my dad loves to tell me, Texans don't register by party. He thinks this is superior, even when I tell him I think its kind of silly. But the more I think about it, the more it makes sense. Because Texans are, simply, TEXANS. No need to go by any other name. Ha!

So, when the primary rolls around on March 4, any registered voter can go vote for who they want, and then they become "affiliated" with that party for the rest of the year, i.e. a Democrat or a Republican. At the end of the year, they go back to being TEXAN, in all their individual glory.

As you can see, I find this pretty amusing.

But, it can also make for a pretty interesting primary. As many of you know, old yellow dog Texas is now overwhelmingly red. If I were living in Texas, the primary is the only place I'd think I had a real voice since in November the Democrat will surely lose. And this year, given the close nature of the Democratic race, the historic choice of candidates, and the large delegate count at stake...I'd be pretty rev'ed up about it.

So get ready to vote Texas!


**And check it out...they've already pointed this out in Texas:

"The rollercoaster ride for the Democratic nomination now makes a sharp turn toward Texas as Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama scramble to court voters who haven't cast meaningful presidential primary ballots in a generation.

"A state that was once considered an afterthought now becomes the biggest prize left in the nominating process and could determine the nominee for Democrats.

"It's really unchartered territory," said Austin media strategist Chuck McDonald, an aide to former Gov. Ann Richards. "For decades, we have had the presumptive nominee come through here and make a victory lap. It was all hugs and kisses, sweetness and warmth."

"The customary love fest now gives way to a fierce Democratic battle that could be staged from the skyscrapers of Dallas to the orchards of the Rio Grande Valley. Like Texas itself, the state's Democrats are diverse; about half are black or Hispanic."


Lucky for us, one-third of m-pyre is on the ground in the Big D and m-pyre friend Erik is in the Austin area, not to mention there are a whole bunch of m-pyre relatives in East Texas to keep us posted. We're counting on you all to keep us in the loop. Maggie has already gone for Barack, Susan has already said its got to be Hillary. My burning question: how many of the TEXANS who routinely go Red will decide to be affiliated Democrats for a year? Something tells me y'all won't be able to help yourself.

Insider politics nightmare

Maggie reports:
With news of Romney's departure (which we called on Super Tuesday night along with the rest of the country), I repost this from Political Wire, which should scare the hell out of you:

Back to Smoke-Filled Rooms

The Wall Street Journal points to a wonderful scenario for political junkies* but a "nightmare" for Democrats: "The party's bigwigs, rather than its voters, may end up choosing the presidential nominee."

If neither Sen. Barack Obama nor Sen. Hillary Clinton "manages to pull decisively ahead in the next few weeks, the nomination could depend on the convention votes of 796 party leaders, or superdelegates, who are free to ignore the preferences of Democratic voters."

A new site has already been set up to track the superdelegates in the case of a brokered convention.

*Note to Political Wire: this political junkie doesn't find this to be a wonderful scenario at all

Spotted in Dallas

Maggie spies:
Last night during The Bravery show at The Granada, we found ourselves in the midst of a concert that couldn't quite decide what it wanted to be.

Dazzled by the bouncing Ill-Fitting Corduroy Blazer Brigade in front of us, we were jarred back to the stage by this question from lead singer/Robert Smith impersonator Sam Endicott:

"So did anyone follow Super Tuesday yesterday?"

Ummm.... yes, we did in fact follow Super Tuesday.

"That shit is fucked up!

You guys should take it seriously... because our country's been really messed up."

Well okay! Wasn't expecting the Super Tuesday theme there. But with that, he dedicated "Every Word is a Knife in my Ear" to our esteemed prez.

The W dedication isn't what sold me, though. It was hearing "An Honest Mistake" live... a perfect performance of the best '80s anthem ever to be recorded in 2005. Love that song.

The more I learn, the more my head aches

Maggie says:
I've spent some time going through the great writing on NM blogs (see DFNM, HH, and FBIHOP) about the Super Tuesday disaster, and have some new questions/comments/concerns about the whole mess. My caveat is that I'm not a party person, don't know the internal politics of the NM Dems, and also, am not even a NM resident anymore. But bear with me as we all try to get our heads around what happened on Tuesday. Here's what's troubling me:

1. Bill Richardson's Role. Richardson's chastising letter to the state Democratic Party is arrogant to the core. He kicks Colón and the State Dems around in ways that you know I think they deserve, but he shouldn't come away clean on this one, either. Here's the thing: changing around the primary this year - turning it into a "caucus," moving up the date to Super Tuesday, etc. - was Richardson's pet idea. So to absolve all responsibility for how it turned out is outrageous.

Says Big Bill: "In 2004 Governor Richardson--through his personal efforts and those of his organization--ensured a successful first caucus--well organized, well funded, well-executed. This year, his political organization was devoted to his Presidential run and his personal time is now devoted to the Legislature. The New Mexico Democratic Party and New Mexico Democrats were wholly responsible for this caucus in the absence of the Governor's time and his organization."

Remember yesterday when I wrote that I feel badly for the Dem volunteers because they were expected to operate in a "framework set up for failure"? Well, the arrogance of Richardson's letter makes me wonder about some framework failure for the upper party folks, too. That Richardson demanded changes the party might not have been able to execute doesn't take away their egregious errors with low turnout projections and faulty Primary Day logistics, but it does make me wonder if there was any way Super Tuesday could have ever succeeded, mostly because of...

2. The Money. The funding aspect of the primary is very troubling to me, and I'd love more answers. First, how common is it for a state party to pay for its own primary? I did some really basic Googling on how primaries are paid for, and it appears that many primaries in other states are paid for by the state itself or by the county, and they do it in various ways. In Maryland, for example, it looks like the counties foot the bill and the state reimburses them. In Missouri, the cost of the primary is covered up front by an Election Fund earmark from the state legislature. I'm wondering why the New Mexico Democratic Party paid for the "caucus," whose decision that was, how much money was raised, etc.

What's troubling to me about this funding method is that what should be the realm of the public - an election - takes on tones of privatization. This is especially problematic in a contested election year like this one. I can hear a protest that a primary election is not in the public realm, but I'm going to disagree with that because to me, the spirit of an election should always embody civic trust and the public good. Again, I'm sure many will disagree. Going forward with the privatization line of thinking, though... we've seen commenters on several blogs suggest that we should be giving money to the State Democratic Party if we want a better outcome, and this is hugely troubling to me. What happens, say, if Candidate A gives huge amounts of money to the state party paying for the primary? What happens in my view is that New Mexico's delegates are up for sale. Already, the outcry about the missing Rio Arriba County ballot boxes centers around the fact that the folks responsible are involved with the Clinton campaign. An election fund controlled by the state would help protect the integrity of primary elections and ensure that basic tenets of a fair voting process - reasonable waiting times, a convenient voting location, fair distribution of voting locations, votes that are counted accurately and timely - are the rule instead of the exception.

Tawdry internal party politics is exactly what keeps many people away from politics, and many only register with the party in order to have their voice heard during the primary. These voters should be respected, too. Everyone deserves a fair voting process, even folks who want nothing to do with internal party machinations and have no idea how their Super Tuesday Caucus is paid for. That goes back to the public trust... something, I'd hope, the New Mexico Democratic Party cares a lot about.

And as for the figurehead of that party? Richardson should have known better than to call for speedy electoral changes in a state that, let's face it, doesn't have a good track record of running elections. Given the funding/execution framework of how Super Tuesday would be run, he should have ensured that the party had the appropriate funding and manpower to pull it off. Instead, the entire country is still wondering what's going on in New Mexico. So am I.

Suddenly I'm not sure what's worse: state party mismanagement of Super Tuesday, Richardson's arrogance in creating changes that he should have known couldn't be executed properly, or a private entity entrusted with something as important to the public realm as an election like this one.

Help me out here with some answers.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

New Mexican voters deserve better

Maggie says:
The more I'm reading about the NM Democratic "Caucus" yesterday, the more I feel like those responsible should be deeply ashamed of themselves. I was kidding last night during the live-blog about Secretary of State Mary Herrera being at fault, and I realize that yesterday's primary wasn't a state-run election, but my gut reaction about fundamental top-to-bottom problems is telling. I have nothing but low expectations for electoral smoothness in New Mexico, and at this point my knee-jerk Herrera reaction comes from something very real, namely disaster after disaster in Bernalillo County when she was Clerk. It shouldn't be so difficult to allow New Mexicans to vote and then have those votes counted. But when it comes to running elections, New Mexico is shockingly behind every other state in the country, and the sooner it really understands that, the better. It can be funny sometimes, I get that and laugh/groan at it too... but it's also not so funny all the time. It's downright embarrassing.

I hope the New Mexico Democratic Party will do a lot of soul-searching after this debacle. I'm going to start with Chair Brian Colón, who by some incredible lapse of judgment actually believed that only 40,000 Democrats would turn out yesterday. During the most contested - and arguably exciting - Democratic primary we've ever had. In a state with razor-thin margins, always. In a state "led" by a man who was until recently a contender in the race. That's just an irredeemable error on his part. Final tally from yesterday? 131,573 voters. You know, only 91,573 more than he expected.

Journal: "Colón tried to put the best face on the voter stack-ups: Asked whether he had been getting reports of long lines at numerous locations, he said, 'I'm hearing (of) high participation.'"
And he said it with a grin, right? Let's just go ahead and call that the worst euphemism of the year. Making light of the kind of voting chaos that went on as the clock ticked by yesterday (with people in lines for hours in the cold, by the way) isn't meant to be grinned at.

Another issue: the fact that polling places didn't open until noon yesterday. Are you kidding me? My jaw dropped when I read that. We start with all the indicators for high turnout that every seventh-grader in the state could have seen except for the Democratic Party Chair, factor in that when it came down to it, the party decided to accommodate only 40,000 voters, and then not have the polls open until noon?

Oh wait, one more fun fact: let's combine the hell out of precincts until we end up with, say, one voting location for the entire City of Rio Rancho. You know, the third-largest city in the state?

Ridiculous. FBI HOP has all the dirt on what happened in Rio Rancho, and it's bad. Reader Hilary is right: that's disenfranchisement, folks.

I take Hilary's comment about the volunteers running the operations yesterday to heart: they were "battle-worn in a way I've never seen before." And why wouldn't they be? They were asked to perform yesterday in a framework set up for failure.
This takes me right back to Barb's writing from Democracy for New Mexico that I pointed out this morning. She really does sum up this entire disaster perfectly:
"The unpaid county and state officers worked like dogs, as did the paid state party staff. You can imagine which party members weren't around to help in any way. They all hold offices or are candidates or are "name" politicos or big Dem donors. No sign of them anywhere work was being done, or where a few pizzas or donuts might be welcome. Very troubling, to say the least. I wonder what the former presidential candidate and all his pals did all day and into the night. After all, a Caucus was originally his idea."
Shame on everyone at the top who let last night happen. New Mexico deserves much better than this. And the longer there's an empty results box beside New Mexico's name, the rest of the country knows it, too.

The morning after

Maggie yawns:
Thoughts? Deep reflections? Gut reactions?

I see that NM is now counting provisional ballots, with only 120 votes separating Obama and Clinton. Roll the deja vu....

Karlos' report from CA last night has me interested to see the fallout from those late-night court orders and how those numbers play out.

Obama's support in the Mountain West and Middle America is really something... more impressive than Clinton's East Coast big state wins, in my mind. That's how you win a general.

Now we cheer on the Republican implosion, and look to Louisiana, Nebraska, Washington, Maine, DC, Maryland, and Virginia...

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Super-fantastic Super Tuesday live-blogging

Here's what we have for you tonight:

  • M3: You know them, you love them
  • Your handy Super Tuesday guide
  • Food and drink flowing in at least one and hopefully all three locales
  • Special appearance by a charming... What do we call him? m-mate? m-guy? Hmm.
  • Some fresh voters!
  • Some jealous haven't-gotten-the-chance-yet voters
  • A smattering of smarts (by the way, I'm dying to hear that in a Boston accent... "a smattuhing of smahts")
  • m-pyre readers from far and wide (please?)
  • More feistiness than one comment thread can handle
  • General group yearning for a country we're not so ashamed of
Oh! You need an electoral map of tonight's offerings? Done:

One tip.... as we learned last time, when we all chime in at once Haloscan gets a little clunky. If you're commenting and the box flashes that the conversation has been updated, copy what you've written, update the box, then paste it back in to publish.

Maggie's homemade Super Tuesday guide

Maggie says:
So once again I've shown my true nerd colors by creating a fun election night tool. This is nowhere near as glorious as the Election Night 2006 spreadsheet, but I only had an hour!

I tried to create a fairly organized spreadsheet to help lay out what we might expect tonight. I reviewed batches of the latest polls, read through some anecdotal stuff, and used a little gut feeling to come up with how each state is looking. What's interesting doing this is seeing how many states I've marked "Likely Clinton/Toss-up"...those states show strong Clinton numbers up until the last month, when Obama began surging. None us will know the extent of that surge until tonight. Anything can happen.

The spreadsheet is organized into two pages - one for Dems and one for Repubs - and follows a timeline of when polls close so that we can move down the list as the night progresses. I'll try to fill in the "Outcome" field online as the night goes on, but I might be having too much fun live-blogging and just mark them on my printouts instead.

Since the delegate-counting is going to be extremely complicated tonight, I've also linked to two sources that do a good job breaking down each state's delegate count. Because every state does it differently, from each other and intra-state by party, I didn't clutter up my spreadsheet with that info.

Have fun tonight... you know where we'll be!

Today's the day! (Or is it?)

Maggie says:
Check out the CNN instant poll right nowthat is no longer on their website. I can't believe that today's Super Tuesday and we're still all so up in the air about what will be decided by tomorrow morning. What a political season. Truly one we'll always remember.

Quick Vote

Super Tuesday will decide the nominee for:

Republicans - 36%
Democrats - 12%
Both Parties - 28%
Neither Party - 24%

Total Votes:222,521

I voted "Republicans" in the quiz, for the record. If McCain sweeps through these states, it's hard to imagine that Romney will be able to effectively rebound with an angry conservative base. And then we really get to watch some Republican heads roll! As for the Dems, I think barring a huge surprise somewhere, they'll continue to be neck-and-neck in nearly every state. Of course, we've already seen in this race that surprises are very possible. Remember, it's not about who wins the states, it's about the delegate counts - especially given the fact that most states for Dems are not winner-take-all. I don't envy the graphics folks on TV tonight as they try to convey these numbers on the fly... This actually could be a fascinating study of how dramatically the Republicans' winner-take-all state policies will speed up their party's coronation. And hey, I'm all for hastening the impending implosion of the Republican Party. ;-) I'm also going to be watching turnout really closely tonight, and seeing how the Dem candidates fare in the quiet states we don't hear very much about. That includes, of course, New Mexico.