Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Red, Blue and Green Quilt

marjorie says...

Skateboarding...Office Cubicles...Quilts. It's just that kind of week at m-pyre.


The piecing of this quilt is very unusual, which is why it currently holds the record for most coveted (by others) quilt I've ever owned. What do you think? Did the woman who made this 60 some odd years ago have any clue how admired her work would be today? Nope...I think she needed a quilt and wanted it to be pretty...

One M at work

Maggie says:
Here's my version of the work day. (Can you tell I still can't stomach Obama v. Clinton v. McCain and am posting anything but the election?)

Click for enlarged pictures and captions.

And yes, the juxtaposition of my bare workspace (I didn't photograph two big, blank, white walls) v. the colorful clutter of my living space is noted.


Bonus pic: Coffee mug/supply holder love to The A Store in Albuquerque and the Newseum in DC.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

And then there's the love of office supplies...

Mikaela confesses:
Not only are the m-pyre girls nerdy about grammar, some of us also drool voluminously over office supplies: the grown-up school supply rush. Remember the feeling opening a new box of crayons?

Well, magnify that by two, baby, and get a load of my new cubicle corner space-saver... from my new favorite internet porn -- oops, I mean office supply -- site.

My cubicle is my domain. And man, am I ensconced within an inch of my beige fabric walls!

Because I'm a virgo and buying all of this with my own pinched pennies, I'm keeping meticulous track of comparison prices, of course! Get a load of my little Excel spreadsheet...


Bring it, Dilbert! Eat your little heart out! (Sorry for the grainy phone camera shots...)



When I said cubicle? Yeah, not kidding.



Check out the too-cool-for-school lava lamp (White Elephant gift from my last place of employment), considered a real favorite by my neighbor and a total safety hazard by our HR person, and the magnetic white board markers stuck to my top hanging file drawer, just behind my chair. With erasers built into the cap! Oh, yeah, daddy...

Big Bucks versus the Grassroots

Marjorie says...

Many m-pyre readers probably aren't paying attention to New Mexico's Second Congressional District, or CD2. But most of you do know that New Mexico is electing an entirely new slate to the House of Representatives this year, since each and every one of our current three congresspeople decided to run for Domenici's Senate seat.

Money is a big factor this year. Not only do we have a super rich liberal in CD1 trying to buy himself a seat in the House, we have five of the seven candidates in CD2 making huge loans to their own campaigns. Read Heath's analysis of the money in CD2 here.

And then check out Barb's write up here, describing Bill McCamley's response to the mega-bucks being thrown around by his competitors in CD2.

McCamley loaned his own campaign $47.50 in a ceremony today, which he said would "...almost pay for our campaign’s next tank of gas as we take our message of fixing Washington for the middle class across the Second District."

Like a number of races this year, both big and small, this race has me on pins and needles: can the grassroots push back at the big bucks?

(and maybe a better question...are you part of the pushback?)


Monday, April 28, 2008

Another wrongfully convicted Dallas County man freed!

Maggie says:
Kudos to Unfair Park, again, for being on top of this late-breaking news:

After Tomorrow, Make That 18 Dallas County Men Freed After DNA Testing

Two weeks after Thomas McGowan became the 17th Dallas County prisoner released following DNA testing, 55-year-old James Lee Woodard becomes the 18th. On July 17, 1981, Woodard was sentenced to life in prison for the sexual assault and strangulation of a woman found near the Trinity River on New Year's Eve 1980. If he is indeed released tomorrow, as expected, Woodard will "be the longest-serving wrongly convicted man in the nation to be exonerated by DNA testing," according to the Associated Press.







Who do we have to thank? You guessed it: The Innocence Project of Texas. Again. Who I am strongly considering donating my "stimulus" check to, by the way...

Linkage: m-pyre on Thomas McGowan here.

Waning moon

Maggie says:
In this never-ending campaign, I think we're all struggling with our personal ebbs and flows of interest and energy regarding the race for the Democratic nomination. I think we all have moments when we're devouring analysis and loving it, followed right up by moments when we just can't read anymore or watch anymore or even hear their names. That's me right now, so I apologize for not adding to the discussion at this time. I will say that before PA Primary Day, I was really intrigued by an Obama article and added it in my "To Blog About" folder. Check it out for a new angle on the significance of this election historically, and imagine what I thought of it. ;-) Maybe I'll write about it soon, and I'm sure I'll be ready for more come Indiana and North Carolina next week.

The American Prospect: Obama-ism Without Obama
Obama's campaign shows how a democracy-minded reform movement and community organizing have transformed the Democratic Party. Like Reagan, Obama is as much a product of a movement as the creator of one.

In other news, I've been planning some travel, being a transit planning nerd, watching sports, thinking about food and food politics, and continuing my love of Dallas people-watching, which though it doesn't translate seamlessly into a love for Dallas itself, is at least a start.

Happy Monday, everyone.

Convoluted pickings

marjorie says...

Carter Bundy (AFSCME's political director and Clinton supporter) wrote an interesting column on Heath Haussamen's site about the "four wrongs" in the Democratic primary process. He says the caucus system is exclusionary (and has helped Obama by excluding core Clinton supporters), and that the delegate allocation system is inconsistent, giving delegates in some states more weight than others (he seems to suggest that Obama has benefited from this also). The other two wrongs are the superdelegate system (I think most of us probably agree with him on this one) and the "holding grudges" tendency some might have when their candidate doesn't win. I'm curious about what our political gurus here on m-pyre think about what he says regarding the caucus and delegate systems skewing the election in favor of Obama. Had there been simple primaries across the board, and delegates strictly allocated on numerical totals, would Clinton be the clear winner today? Regardless, from my perch up here on the hill watching it all, it looks pretty convoluted.

Looks like even the process of picking superdelegates gets convoluted, though the instructions seem to be clear as day. Is this kind of discord happening in other states? Carter's point about grudges is well taken...

All this aside, I was glad to see Laurie Weakhee chosen as New Mexico's unpledged superdelegate, and believe folks can take her at her word when she says she's undecided. Laurie has a lot of integrity and means it when she tells the Journal that:


"My first loyalty is really to the Native American agenda. I'm really going to be listening to both candidates to find out what their positions are ... how hard they're willing to go to bat for the Native American people."

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Thinking on Race

marjorie says...

I've found myself in the midst of conversations with friends and family about the youtube clips of Reverend Wright, and notice an odd resistance on my part to even engage in the conversation.

Reflecting on this, I think much of it is that I don't want to justify what I consider a manufactured propaganda campaign, one thats really intellectually dishonest, against Barack Obama. We've been set up to have a conversation about something really important in the context of something really corrupt. On the one hand, its a moment when on a national "all-together" level we witness in those youtube snippets statements that touch on some real bona fide truth. So the conversation could be welcomed. But on the other, the distortion and the mainstream media framing of the clips so twist the truth of who Reverend Wright is and the nature of his sermons as a whole that having a real conversation that cuts through the B.S. is...well, pretty darn frustrating.

The only thing I really need to know about Reverend Wright is that for decades he's been the pastor of one of the largest African American congregations in the United States. As in, 8000 people. To drive the point home that he isn't an isolated figure, but rather a venerated and central one, he got a standing ovation, a long one, at an annual NAACP dinner in Detroit last night, one that big-wig politicians routinely make a point of going to. If we're going to say Reverend Wright isn't "patriotic" we better get ready to say African Americans in general aren't. And going down that route would lead us down a twisted path straight to our own mirrors. If we're honest.

Any person subjected to the manufactured vitriol he's been subjected to over the past couple of months deserves to defend himself. Despite what many say--that he should be keeping his mouth shut--I don't blame him. And I recommend that you all watch the interview he did with Bill Moyers, which was aired Friday night.

Speaking of Race, did folks catch New Mexico In Focus on Friday? Gene and David took on the subject of Race and it was quite good. David's conversation with Laura Gomez and Estevan Rael-Galvez was really compelling and informative about the history of race in New Mexico.

Then Gene and his panelists touched on the controversy about the anti-racism training that was advertised at Sandia Labs. For those of you who didn't notice the hubbub, a flier circulated among lab employees described a diversity training using classic anti-racism language, and it really offended some white Sandia labs employees who had never been told (or noticed) before that they were inherent beneficiaries of white privilege. I felt you could cut the tension with a knife when Gene's panel discussed it...or rather, as each got their moment to give their position. There was no discussion. And that in many ways encapsulates as far as it often seems to go when this topic comes up in mixed (as in, white folks are in the house) company. It was quite enlightening...do go see for yourself.

Gene brought up the question about whether or not the language used was the problem, and I was glad he took the conversation in that direction. Language is tricky, and Margaret Montoya did a good job of picking up on that and pointing out what to me is obvious. If the workshop had been targeted to those who are already persuaded--then a flier of that nature would not have stood in the way of the workshop and its larger goal, which was to promote diversity in the workplace. But when you target a group that isn't persuaded, and has never been exposed to anti-racism lingo, you're probably not going to get very far with a flier full of that lingo. In other words, if you want to educate uneducated white folks on race--if thats your goal--you probably want to first get them to the workshop. And to do that you'll have more success if you don't distribute a flier saying that white people are inherently racist. Save that for the workshop, where you can explain the structural meaning behind that concept.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bill & Hugo

marjorie says...


Sunny spring days, the Dead, & some wheels in 'burque

marjorie says...






Just in case you missed this on the Fix...Albuquerque's the set. It makes me want to get my roller-blades out. Yes, I'm a skier/rollerblader. Next year I may start a snowboarding journey (my niece Mylah tells me thats next on the agenda). But something tells me I'll never be a skate-boarder. Looks like fun doesn't it?

Hat tip to Soy James.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wearing your bleeding heart on your sleeve -- or your t-shirt

Mikaela says:
Sometimes I'm filled to overflowing with appreciation for my friends. Like reading comments on m-pyre ... sometimes you just think to yourself, man, I'm so glad I'm part of this crew!

Today, my friend who shall remain nameless sent me picture he saw a white guy wearing at Trader Joes. You'll see how perfect that is here in a second. My friend says:

My first reaction was "that is oddly funny" and secondly, "I can't believe that (white) guy has the balls to wear it in public". Somehow I think there are so many things wrong with the shirt from a politically correct standpoint but other than calling hillary a 'ho' I couldn't think of how it is wrong in the larger sense. So I figured I would email it to you to get your reaction/analysis.

I'm returning the favor here on m-pyre. Dying of suspense?

Okay, here's the shirt:


Here's my response:

Yep, that does make you pause.

I guess I don't like the outright gender slam, but it's catchy, alright.

I'm not as bothered by calling Hillary a ho as calling all women hoes, and she's just the figurative head, as though all men can be in the club, but forget it if you're a woman.

I'd rather his t-shirt read, "Not Brown: Still Down" with just a pic of Obama. That would be better.

Having solved that little puzzle, I feel better, too.

Hope you all will share your reactions, and t-shirt improvement suggestions, too!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Innocence Project reviewing 400 cases under DA Watkins

Maggie says:
Bethany has a great update on the Dallas County exonerations over here. Do read.

If you don't have anything nice to say...

Mikaela can't resist saying:
I was trying to wait until I had a positive post about ... something. A snippet about a new Jewish lobbying group that's pro-peace to counteract the overly-powerful AIPAC seemed promising.

Or Carter's continued work toward Middle East diplomacy, if nothing else -- keeping the lines of communication open and letting people know we're not all ignorant asses...

[But my cynical mind could only focus on this and this and, depressingly, this.]

So really? I got nothing.

Instead, go look at this and revel in my continued schadenfreude at our lovely President's slide to historical legacy as villain.

Obama should've worn the tight T

Maggie laughs:
This headline exemplifies why the Jezebels are my friends. Last night during Obama's speech, Trevor and I commented on the guys behind him right away. I believe Trevor asked who the "A & F triplet douchebags" were. :-)

Enter:



The best line from this piece? "Right, Barack has spent no time with people from different demographic swathes than his own narrow biracial Hawaiian Indonesian-reared Harvard Chicago Marxist one."

Not a good night for Obama. He looked off and exhausted, while Clinton looked fantastic and gave one of her best speeches yet (calm voice! no yelling! inclusive and not angry!). Absurdly, I watched MSNBC commentary and the Clinton speech on the elliptical in our gym while our building manager, an immigrant medical student and new fan of all things political thanks to this election, hung out and traded analysis. Through my sweating and attempts to maintain conversation without breaking into haggard gasps, I deduced that he thinks the U.S. needs a woman in charge, he'd love a Clinton-Obama "Dream Team," and that everyone should be paying attention to the Republican VP selection since McCain is likely to die in office if he's elected. (!)

On to Indiana (cue Mellencamp) and my beloved Tarheel State, where I hope our favorite NC commenters will keep us updated with all things political there... and maybe some barbecue updates from time to time, too. Ooh, how about a photo of Obama eating eastern NC barbecue? Can someone make that happen for me? And maybe send some eastern NC barbecue in the mail? Thanks.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

TGIT

Maggie says:
Thank God It's Tuesday. Primary Tuesday. Another One. That Will Be Over Soon. So We Can Move On.

Clinton in single digits = Victory for Obama. Can he do it? Polls all over the place. Time will tell.

Thank God It's Tuesday.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Our poet Mikaela

Maggie says:
Our latest offering from the m-pyre Public Relations Department is more Mikaela goodness. Check out Mirage, the UNM Alumni magazine, for a great article on New Mexico poets, including Mikaela. The roundtable discussion is facilitated by V.B. Price and features Mikaela, Karen McKinnon, and Levi Romero. In a really interesting discussion, the poets discuss why New Mexico is such a natural place for word-lovers, the differences between the spoken word and the written word, and the personal process of each poet. Mikaela, as usual, stands out for her eloquence, insight, and passion. We're so proud!

Mirage: Poetic Expression

"The magic is that [poetry] forces each poet to synthesize, not describe everything. What is the essence, the one image that’s going to communicate your perspective? When we share those multiple perspectives, it’s a powerful experience. A lot of people
write books for the same reason, but you can’t read a whole book. You can read one poem anytime and get a complete thought, a complete moment from somebody else."

Danica wins

Maggie says:
I don't know much at all about cars, and I know even less about racing them. I know that in the U.S. there's Indy racing and Nascar racing, and that men in my family are Nascar fans and I am not, and that I really don't get it. I know that Indy racing is more like European Formula 1 racing, where drivers are the equivalent of playboy demigods and where races sometimes go through tiny Italian towns and cars can end up looking like that wrecked Bond car from this weekend. But that's about it.

Yet I do know about Danica Patrick, because she's the first woman to become a real competitor in either... league? (Are they called leagues? I have no idea.) And this weekend, Danica Patrick won for the first time. Hearing that, and watching the clip this weekend, I found myself incredibly excited at this accomplishment, and thrilled for her. Who knew racing could do that to me?

Danica represents so much of what's tricky about the intersection of sports and gender. I want her to be treated just like a man, and to perform on par with them through nothing but her own talent. Surely her win on Saturday was exactly that, and I do like the way racing is clean competition in that more body mass or strength doesn't seem to be advantageous. As I said, I'm thrilled for her. But...

On the road to Saturday, we've spent years watching Danica sex it up in marketing campaign after marketing campaign. She has shiny dark hair and sparkly lip gloss and great legs... but so do lots of women. Yet how many of us can do what she just did? The need for sports marketing to point out that she can compete, and she's hot, is so pervasive. I wish Danica didn't have to "go there," to be the pinup who can drive like the boys, but I wonder what another road would have looked like for her. If she wasn't willing to sex it up for ads and endorsement deals, could she be a "star" in the same way, have made enough of a living to stay in the game until she won? I have no idea, but I know that the inherent messaging of that kind of marketing is that her presence in the sport is more valuable because of what she looks like, that as women we are all what we look like. That's troubling, obviously, but what's the line? Female athletes (and no, I'm not going there with the 'is-racing-a-sport?' debate, just broadening here) have an impossible line to balance with their appearance: they're either lesbians or sex kittens. And to be fair, I'd want to look great in advertisements if I was an athlete, too... yet I definitely wouldn't appear in the 2008 IndyCar Series media guide in a bikini like Danica did. What's a girl(racer) to do?

I think back to something like the famous tennis Battle of the Sexes and I pine, in a way, for the simplicity of it. I love how pure Billie Jean King's win was, how awful Bobby Riggs was, and how King set out to win for women everywhere. And she did. Without wearing a Billie Jean King-branded sports bra and tennis skirt combo.

Is honesty easier in women-only sports? I think of the juxtaposition of the women playing golf today, where there is an enormous cross-section of women, just like in the real world. When stepping out of that role, what kind of pressure is put upon them to "represent," and what does that say about men and women regarding how we receive them? Is it fair that I love smirking at Anna Kournikova for not being great at playing tennis even though she was famous for looking great in a tennis skirt, when I know that means I also don't give Maria Sharapova enough credit as an athlete, simply because the marketing of Maria as the new Anna annoys me? That's me being unfair. It also occurs to me that maybe more than a win for women everywhere, Danica's win is a win to shut up her male critics and the men who follow the sport. And that's plenty valuable for all the other women trying to be racers right now, and for those to come.

Here's what I want to know: Now that Danica's kicked male ass and proven her skill, will we see more, say, motor oil ads with her name on them and less bikinis? Only time will tell. But Danica: you go, girl. Seriously.

Rich guy having a fit

marjorie says...

The New York Times editorialized today that the Supreme Court should not strike down the "Millionaire's Amendment," a federal campaign finance law that's triggered when a candidate for the House of Representatives spends more than $350,000 of his own money. The amendment allows his opponent to then raise triple what is normally allowed from individuals.

Jack Davis, a wealthy man who ran for office in 2006 in New York with his own money, is challenging it, saying that it "it “chilled,” or discouraged, his speech, and that it deters wealthy people from running for office or spending their own money on their campaigns."

The New York Times notes that Davis was able to spend as much as he wanted, and adds this classic comment: "The amendment simply adds to the total amount of speech by making it easier for less-wealthy candidates to be heard."

The NYT is dead-on. Indeed, money does equal speech in a world in which media is largely profit-driven.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The New Mexico Independent

marjorie says...



Mikaela and Maggie asked me several times last week if I was going to tell m-pyre readers about a new project I'm involved with. Knowing me the way they do, it didn't surprise them that I said probably not, because I figure people can make the connections on their own. Plus, I'm kind of shy (yes, it's true! Maggie told me I was weird. that is true also).

Not to mention, the New Mexico Independent is going to emerge as an important voice in the landscape of the state all on its own. But, I've changed my mind. I think you all will want to know about and read the Independent starting right now. You can watch the Director, David Alire Garcia, and the News Editor, Trip Jennings, discuss the site here.

The majority of the staff are long-time journalists who many of you will recognize. Matt from FBIHOP is a fellow blogger on the team, and Heath Hausseman is also there. Heath is a journalist who is reporting online these days from his own website...he's a bit of a pioneer in the state in so far as he jumped from the print world to the web, and showed the potential for "real journalism" in an online format. Heath wrote a blog discussing the launch of the New Mexico Independent, its mission, and his own participation here. He's correct, of course, when he identified me as openly progressive. At the same time, I'm a reluctant Democrat -- something you can verify repeatedly in the archives of m-pyre, my occasional hyperbole aside. In an ideal world, there would be more than two parties, because two can't begin to really reflect the diversity of opinion and subject position found in the United States. Those of us who join in order to participate in primaries often end up feeling co-opted. I figure this is the case on both sides of the equation. A recent post I wrote about Clinton and Obama gets across well my perspective in this regard. Ultimately, when it comes to structure and accountability in government, our issues transcend the party system. I largely agree with the saying that the two parties are simply different sides of the same coin.

When it comes to politics, the distinction between "progressive" and "Democrat" is an important one to make. When one's politics become largely centered around the unending cycle of electoral campaigns, the horse-race can obscure the real issues at hand. This is very clearly playing out right now between Clinton and Obama, with a willing media feeding the spectacle. On the other hand, I've often found that being progressive doesn't preclude being in agreement with Republicans. Hess Yntema's tenure on the Albuquerque City Council comes to mind for me as the best example. I agreed with Hess plenty.

Print media is consolidating and downsizing, and I figure that's largely due to the for-profit subscription/advertising based model not being able to figure out how to make an online jump. We saw this painfully just a few months ago with the demise of the Tribune. The Independent is a project of the Center for Independent Media, a non-profit seeking to forge a new path in media creation online, and it couldn't come at a better time.

The media is an essential part of what makes a democracy function. Like any project, the NMI will continually evolve. I think your perspectives on what we write (here on m-pyre as well as what I write for the NMI) add important depth and quality to the issues at hand, as well as the deeper question of diversity of voices. I hope you will all participate--after all, one of the things that make the online world vibrant is that you can.

Friday, April 18, 2008

This Man IS Torture

Mikaela says:
Talk about a steady drip driving you mad...

Our drip of a President is the water torture that just won't end.

In his latest pontificating to the Pope (couldn't resist), he HAD to have been talking about himself, right???

Courtesy White House Watch, who got it from Dana Milbank:

This is Your President, both what he actually said (in red) and what he meant to say [but couldn't quite work up the moral courage]:

  • In a world where some [i.e. me] invoke the name of God to justify acts of terror and murder and hate, we need your message that God is love. [Except in Iraq, or Afghanistan, or Guantanamo, or the extraordinary rendition countries that we let do our dirty work for us, or Israel, who like us can do whatever they want and claim the moral high ground, or -- coming soon -- Iran]
  • In a world where some [read: me] treat life as something to be debased and discarded, we need your message that all human life is sacred. . . . [Except minority prisoners, or people in Iraq, or people in New Orleans, or in countries whose need is more expensive than the good PR we'd get out of helping]
  • In a world where some [okay, okay, me again...] no longer believe that we can distinguish between simple right and wrong, we need your message to reject this dictatorship of relativism. . . . [For example, when I say we can torture but no one else can; we can have nuclear capabilities but no one else can; we can manipulate the capitalist market but no one else can; we can give government handouts to corporations but not to families; we can make sure government policies benefit the rich not the poor... I could go on, but I know your time is more precious than mine.]
  • In a world where some [this time, just my most intimate advisors -- the only people I let talk to me] see freedom as simply the right to do as they wish, we need your message that true liberty requires us to live our freedom not just for ourselves, but in a spirit of mutual support. [This would really help me to stop invading other countries for America's gain. The neocons are really putting the screws to me on this one.]

Holy cow. What a hypocritical idiot. I'm glad all those people are praying for him and his family. They need it.

I hope they're also praying for all of us who have to put up with this asshole, and those who will have to clean up his mess for generations to come.

Not that I'm bitter. It's just that I'm out of "other cheeks." I'd rather turn over a new leaf.

Robert Reich for Obama!

Maggie says:
I'm thrilled that Robert Reich just announced he's endorsing Barack Obama for president.

Reich is someone I greatly admire, both for his work in The American Prospect, his reputation as Bill Clinton's first Secretary of Labor (despite?), and his advocacy work, teaching, and political thinking since. Reich's memoir of his Clinton years, Locked in the Cabinet, remains for me one of my favorite cabinet reads (I'm a sucker for those). In that book, Reich opens up about how painful it was for his values - and the values, he thought, of the new president - to be sacrificed to Republican wolves in the name of "welfare reform" during the first administration. Reich is a true believer, and couldn't stomach what politics was doing to his life's work, especially since his name was stamped on it. The behind-the-scenes tales are riveting.

I also have a personal connection to Reich. My former employer in Boston, the boundless Barry Bluestone (the nicest labor economist you'll ever meet), was best friends with Reich and Robert Kuttner, Reich's co-founder of The American Prospect. Reich was in and out of Barry's Cambridge living room and our offices spreading endless charm everywhere he went. His famous 4'11 frame gives off twice the energy you'd think it could, and his compassion and core values are equally endless. Reich's great politics and charm were on full display in his run for Massachusetts governor before I left Boston. Although Reich lost the primary, his candidacy was full of classic Reich-isms.

I bring up the personal here to add value to this endorsement as I see it. Reich is a really great American, someone who's true to his heart in his work, who wouldn't reprise his tenure as Secretary of Labor because he didn't believe in what he was being made to do. That same core has led him to endorse Obama today, and that means a lot to me.

Notes Reich: "We have three terrible traditions that we've developed in American campaigns. One is outright meanness and negativity. The second is taking out of context something your opponent said, maybe inartfully, and blowing it up into something your opponent doesn't possibly believe and doesn't possibly represent. And third is a kind of tradition of distraction, of getting off the big subject with sideshows that have nothing to do with what matters. And these three aspects of the old politics I've seen growing in Hillary's campaign."

And also: "[Obama] offers the best hope of transcending the boundaries of class, race, and nationality that have divided us. His life history exemplifies this, as do his writings and his record of public service. For these same reasons, he offers the best possibility of restoring America's moral authority in the world."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

What innocent men look like

Maggie says:
Once again, I'm connecting newsreels with faces. When I think of girls forced into marriage, I can now picture Najoud. And when I hear of wrongly convicted prisoners finally exonerated through DNA evidence, I can now picture Thomas McGowan, along with James C. Giles, James Waller, and Charles Chatman. These three other men were also wrongfully convicted in Dallas County and have all been exonerated within the last two years. They came out to the courtroom yesterday to greet McGowan as free men.

From left to right: James C. Giles, Thomas McGowan, James Waller, Charles Catman

Thank goodness for the Innocence Project of Texas, who is behind so many of these exonerations. Their work is beyond incredible. Kudos to Unfair Park for keeping the story in the news. Unfair Park's photo essay - of McGowan's first meal as a free man in 23 years (chicken-fried steak!), of fellow free man James Giles giving McGowan a $100 bill to get started on the right foot, and of McGowan with his attorney, made me tear up over here.

How do we ever repay these men?

Monahan's ethics contest winning entry

marjorie says...

Joe Monahan launched a student contest a couple of months ago regarding ethics legislation. To refresh your memory, on Monday, February 25, Joe wrote:

We'll award a $500.00 first place prize and a $150.00 second place prize to the students who submit the best lobbying/PR plan to win legislative approval to limit campaign contributions in NM. A panel of esteemed Alligators will be our judges. We'll share the winning plan on this blog and with the state's political leadership.
Joe announced the winner last week but didn't share the results on his website. Instead, Common Cause followed-up with the student who agreed to let his winning essay be posted on the internet. You be the judge.

The main recommendation I take away from the essay is that the legislature is already ethical, that we have nothing to worry about, and that at the most the State legislature should spend next year examining what "ethics" means. So, in other words, no lobbying/PR plan is necessary. Nor was one provided. Since Joe awarded this essay the prize, should we infer that this is what Joe believes as well? And could that be the reason he publicly urged donors of Common Cause to rethink who they give money to?

Remember the 2006 corruption case that brought down both the current and former State Treasurer? The former treasurer, Michael Montoya said he took the bribes because he needed the money:
Montoya said in the plea agreement that when he took office, he was using his entire salary to repay large campaign debts. Soon after, he said he began taking bribes to cover his living expenses. He said he found it was easy to get bribes from people who wanted to keep or obtain business with the state treasurer's office.
And to bring it full circle, here's a blog post by M.G. Bralley about one of those people who may have given the bribes. Be sure to look at the other activities he's been involved with over the years.

I just thought I'd offer up those tidbits as a refresher about what "ethics reform" attempts to address...

While you're at the Common Cause website, check out the matching grant they received for their work to expand public financing of electoral campaigns throughout the state. This means that between now and the end of the year Common Cause will get one dollar for every dollar donated.


**I have been taken to task by M.G. Bralley for misrepresenting what he said above. He has a good point--no bribery has been proven against that individual, and no charges brought, despite Montoya's statement. Thanks for checking me MGB. (By the way, m-pyre readers, the photo essays on Bralley's blogs are always interesting--you should all check them out).

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Three things

Maggie asks:
Is this troubling to anyone else? All in a day's news cycle in Texas:

1. DNA evidence frees the 16th Dallas County inmate since 2001 (that's one county, folks... Texas has 254)

2. Texas wants permission to execute prisoners convicted of child rape (incidentally, yesterday's freed man, Thomas Clifford McGowan Jr., was convicted on rape and burglary charges 23 years ago)

3. BREAKING: The Supreme Court just upheld Kentucky's use of lethal injections. Kentucky is the case that has temporarily blocked Texas' bloodthirsty use of the same... until now.

Gender and consent, from Yemen to West Texas

Maggie says:
Since we're talking gender, marriage, and consent thanks to the lovely "Yearning for Zion" case, I thought it appropriate to add a face and a personality to our abstract discussions.

Meet Nojoud Muhammed Nasser, who is without a doubt one of the cutest 8-year-olds I've ever seen. But don't let Nojoud's innocent face fool you - this girl is as tough and strong as they come. Here's Nojoud's story: She lives in Yemen, where females are not especially celebrated (Yemen ranks 138 out of 140 on the list of "Best Places to be a Mother"). Despite this egregious ranking, Yemen has actually made some progress on the child marriage front: the average marrying age of girls has climbed from ten to fourteen over two generations. Given this progress, Yemen hasn't seen fit to issue a minimum age to marry as long as there is parental consent, although in 1999 they determined that marriage "contracts" could not be legally consummated until the female was "mature."

None of this helped Nojoud two months ago when her father, a mentally unstable panhandler, sold her to a 30-year-old man for marriage. Nojoud described her father's actions this way: "He beat me and told me that I must marry this man, and if I did not, I would be raped and no law and no sheikh in this country would help me." Well, the marriage happened, and shockingly, Nojoud's "husband" did not follow the law and wait until his "bride" was mature enough for sex. He raped Nojoud, repeatedly. She is eight, which is a fact that hits home when you read childlike quotes like this one: "Whenever I wanted to play in the yard, he beat me and asked me to go to the bedroom with him."

I bring Najoud up because she is, in fact, an enormous success story. Actually, she's a heroine for all of us. See, eight-year-old Najoud took herself to court - the first minor to do so in Yemini history - and sued her father and her husband for divorce, charging sexual and domestic abuse. Both men were arrested, although her father has since been released.

“I asked and begged my mother, father, and aunt to help me to get divorced," Najoud told the Yemen Times. "They answered, ‘We can do nothing. If you want you can go to court by yourself.’ So this is what I have done.”

Najoud won her case in that she is being protected and will not have to return to her husband, but it is unclear how or if the husband will be prosecuted. Charmingly, he had this to say from jail, where he is still being held: "It is not a matter of loving her, I don’t, but it’s just a challenge to her and her uncle who think that they can put me in jail and also the judge has no right to bring me here. How did she dare to complain about me?"

Najoud's case helped spur a push for additional marriage protections at the national level, but that attempt failed. In other words, nothing will prevent Najoud's little sister, all of six years old, from experiencing the same horror Najoud did.

Coming back full-circle to "Yearning for Zion," I wonder this: how different might things be if the abuse call that was placed to authorities could be authenticated? The ability to judge the sect by U.S. laws (when they do pay taxes and don't maintain their marriages are legal) would be stronger if one of their own was asking for it, just like Najoud did in Yemen. Until we get that verification, I'm afraid this feels far too much like a witch hunt, even if most of us hope those children never see the inside of that compound again. On the other hand, is waiting for one of those girls to overcome extraordinary pressures and reach out to the authorities the opposite of Big Brother - is it shamelessly negligent?

I'm really not sure. But I know that Najoud is an amazing little girl. And I hope the girls of "Yearning for Zion" have a chance to one day feel her power, too.

ps: Kudos to Jezebel for bringing my attention to Najoud's case.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Polygamy, and social responsibility to children

marjorie says...

The video segment in this ABC interview with polygamous women inside the Zion ranch is pretty fascinating. This case really brings into stark relief the question of parental rights versus those of children, and to what extent society should act to protect children.

Let's face it, this group of people is being judged based on a larger group's social norms regarding marriage and sexuality. What is and isn't abuse is debatable for many. Personally, I think it's tragic that young girls are being raised in this manner. It's pretty telling in the video clip when one woman won't answer the question asked: are 14, 15, 16 girls being married to older men? She refused to answer, at least in the clip shown. And it makes me cringe. I have a gut reaction to think that no child should be indoctrinated in the manner pursued by this group.

But is a young woman who freely chooses this lifestyle being abused simply because these values were inculcated in her from infancy? Given an answer of yes, if she never left the group over the course of her life would she ever recognize the abuse? In the face of the seeming happiness of the women shown in the video clip, I can see that my attitude is subjective, reflective perhaps of an impulse toward cultural hegemony that in theory I reject.

This particular instance is a hard one...and there are going to be some very tough legal questions for the Texas courts to deal with. It's clear to me that this group has to reject the imposition of marriage on young teenage girls in order for it to continue to exist. It's an adjustment they have to make if for no other reason than that they live under the rule of law of the United States. The teenage years are a time of growth and change, and young people need the space in which to make their own decision about what their future will look like. One of the ways that our society has decided to provide this opportunity to young women is to prevent them from being forced into marriage. And at 14, 15, 0r 16, force is what it is.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Obama and the working classes

marjorie says...

Here's a clip of Obama on the Charlie Rose Show in 2004, courtesy of Talking Points Memo, in which he addresses why the working classes vote based on single issues, such as guns and religious values, rather than their economic interests. This is the same topic he addressed at the fundraiser in San Francisco, which is causing him so much grief at the moment.





In this clip, Obama gets closer to saying what Democrats should cop to, which is that when it comes to the elimination of high-paying manufacturing jobs in this country the Democrats share responsibility with the Republicans. They might not be as bad, but that doesn't change the fact that Bill Clinton ushered in the NAFTA/IMF/WTO era and continues to be one of it's biggest champions. Not to mention, while labor solidly sticks hell or highwater with the Democrats, the Democrats themselves haven't done much to improve the ability of Labor to organize, to collectively bargain successfully, or to go out on strike. In truth, and Obama says it here, the Democrats haven't offered much on the jobs front lately and working people are smart enough to know it. Instead, the D's are simply better at mitigating the pain of job loss.

As to whether or not Obama's comments show he is an elitist, I think this is a ridiculous line of attack. He isn't from rural America so he approaches the topic of describing how rural, working class Americans feel about politics from an outsider's vantage point. Doing that is always like walking into a potential minefield: the tone isn't just right, this particular word is all wrong, etc. We always like to pounce, don't we? Difference is not a bad thing, and particularly in this case we should welcome it. The ease with which George II and Bill Clinton, two white men with accents, can assume an "everyman" persona when they need to relate to the white working class should give us a clue. If anything, we should be pleased that Obama isn't an opportunist in a similar vein.

As for Hillary Clinton, she doesn't quite have the rural, gun-toting good 'ole gal role down if you ask me. Of course, she's actually an urban, high-powered attorney who has always had the best of life, including eight years living in the White House. She's also a multi-millionaire. So her current shtick in Pennsylvania is way over the top. Not to mention, she's not doing the Democratic party as a whole any favors. A big part of me really wants Hillary to recognize that Obama is the likely winner of this nominating contest. I don't blame her for continuing to try for it, but given the close nature of the race and the fact that she's the underdog, she probably ought to ditch the negative attacks on Obama. But instead, she's taken a nose-dive into the gutter. For more on this, check out Barb's commentary on DfNM.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mikaela's Book(s)...Yes, you heard me right!

marjorie says...

While I'm at it, I also want to give a huge Shout Out to Mikaela who just this year became officially found on Amazon.com. Not once, but twice. Working with an impressive group of collaborators, Mikaela has edited two books published by UNM Press that show-case some of the fabulous writers in Albuquerque.

¿de Veras? Young Voices from the National Hispanic Cultural Center comes out of the summer creative writing class Mikaela has taught and mentored for many years at the National Hispanic Cultural Center. The class combines a couple of Mikaela's loves: teaching and young people. And this book highlights some of the incredible youth voices that have come out of the program. Here's how it's described on the UNM Press page:

"For one month each year, the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque brings together New Mexico teens for a creative writing program that immerses them in a process of reflection and creativity while encouraging them to explore their identity as people, as a culture, as a region, and as a society. These students unite their varied experiences, backgrounds, and beliefs to form a supportive community of respect through conversation and writing. ¿de Veras? features a collection of poems, essays, and stories written in the Voces program between 2002 and 2006 that represent the diversity of perspectives and individuality of voices of the young creators. These writings reflect the authors' courage to examine their lives, their neighborhoods, their families, and their cultures. What emerges is their amazingly perceptive, sometimes damning, yet always-honest insights."


A Bigger Boat: The Unlikely Success of the Albuquerque Poetry Slam Scene stems from the vibrant Slam community here, which hosted the national slam tournament in 2005 (and our team won the title that year while they were at it). As we've noted before, while she doesn't slam, Mikaela writes beautiful poetry. On occasion she shares it with us here on m-pyre. She's one of the people who work hard behind the scenes on behalf of Albuquerque poets (This is one of the reasons I don't really think the scene here is an unlikely success. All of these folks really love poetry and it shows). From the UNM Press page:

"A Bigger Boat chronicles the Albuquerque Slam Poetry scene's growth and success at the 2005 National Poetry Slam competition, which it hosted and won. This collection of poems and personal memories explores Slam from the voices of the poets who began developing the Albuquerque scene in 1990 to poets who witnessed and celebrated the 2005 hometown victory.

"Despite Slam's big city origins and arguments that smaller urban areas could not garner enough community interest to host national events, the Albuquerque event proved skeptics wrong. The swell of excitement so exceeded expectations that Danny Solis urged fellow organizers, "We need a bigger boat!"

"The editors of A Bigger Boat gathered the works of well-known local and national poets to provide a window into the world of competitive poetry, where verse meets performance."

Congratulations Mikaela...your work is always inspiring!

¿de Veras?
is in hand on Forrester Street, and there's a reception planned for May 4th. At the NHCC, Mikaela?

A Bigger Boat is due late April, and a reception is planned at the Harwood Art Center on April 27, 11:30-1:00.

Congratulations Dr. Erik

marjorie says...

Time for an "inside m-pyre" commercial break.

Congratulations DR. Loomis. !

Yes, by night he's our Alterdestiny blogosphere buddy, where he by turns amuses us endlessly or really makes us think. By day he's the history professor who won't let his students swallow hook, line and sinker the status quo spoon fed mythology of American history. And as of yesterday, he gets to flaunt his smarty-pants letters. And he did it with "distinction." You go Erik!

We love you! And congratulations!

Smoking Gun

Mikaela says:
From Democracy Now headlines:

Report: Top Admin Officials Approved Assault, Waterboarding of CIA Prisoners

ABC News is reporting senior Bush administration officials personally discussed and approved how top al-Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the CIA. The group agreed on controversial interrogation techniques including physical assault, sleep deprivation, and waterboarding. The officials were all members of the Principals Committee on the National Security Council. They included:

  • Vice President Cheney,
  • former National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice,
  • Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and
  • Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as
  • CIA Director George Tenet and
  • Attorney General John Ashcroft.


It’s the first time senior White House officials have been linked to an explicit group authorization of the CIA interrogation program.

One top official recounted Ashcroft was the lone cabinet member to raise doubts. The official quoted Ashcroft as saying,

“Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly.”

In the summer of 2004, amidst the controversy over the Abu Ghraib photos and the withdrawal of a controversial memo approving harsh interrogations, the Principals Committee again approved new techniques on a CIA prisoner captured in Asia. Condoleezza Rice is said to have provided decisive support, reportedly telling CIA officials,

“This is your baby. Go do it.”

Will anything come of this? A deliberate, calculated decision by the White House to controvert international law, leaving our military and operatives vulnerable to retaliatory action by every country in the world -- especially the ones that already hate us.

Now is the time to take this administration down. And out. Powerless as they deserve. Preferably in jail.

Your-Thursday-is-my-Friday Frivolity

Maggie says:
There is no way that I can be a deep thinker right now, but thanks to Marjorie and Mikaela, everyone can skip right over this post to some really yummy, brainy writing instead. Why can't I be serious, you ask? Well, the impending Adams sibling takeover of Dallas, of course!!!

American Airlines tried and failed to thwart our birthday celebration plans. We conquered. So here's a little of what you can expect from our crew the next four days:

  • Mavs game mischief (throwing pretzels at Jessica and Tony, perhaps?)
  • A little Southfork action for a certain "Dallas"-obsessed brother-in-law
  • An extravagant sushi birthday dinner, followed by drinks at the best people-watching spot in town
  • Encouraging my sister's loves for gambling and horses, all in one place
  • Shopping for the girls
  • Beers on the patio for the boys
  • Taking the crew to my favorite brunch spot with perfect, spicy Bloody Marys
  • More dinners. More drinks. A whole lot of laughing.
  • Celebrating the fact that my brother will actually be crossing the North Carolina border for a weekend (this is huge! In my five years in New Mexico he never visited.), and that his baby momma is actually leaving the Eastern Time Zone! (Yes, we really need to get them out of state more, if only because Grandma Babysitter would be thrilled.)
  • Having four extra people on hand to try and get Couch #2 up our stairs into the living room
And I mean, really... who wouldn't want to cheer on their 30th birthday in these?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Good Question

Mikaela reposts, courtesy Dan Froomkin's White House Watch:

Senator Kennedy (D-Mass.): "A year ago, the president said we couldn't withdraw because there was too much violence. Now he says we can't afford to withdraw because violence is down."

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.): "Where do we go from here?"


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Blind White Feminism

Mikaela says:
I've had great discussions with Marjorie and others in the past about what the most meaningful divisions among us really are. Is it race? Is it class? Is it gender?

On a macro level, it's the identity politics debate that Obama and Clinton candidacies have surfaced lately.

On a micro level, it's a debate that's been playing out in fits and starts over a people of color yoga class at Out ch'Yonda.

The hubbub began when a Saturday morning yoga class went from being open to all to being explicitly for women of color. I'm pretty sure men were "excluded," too. White women who had been going were angry, upset, and rather petulant about the switch. Other white women wrote shaming emails saying that the petulant white women should pull it together and see themselves and their privilege. Women of color deserved a space where they could be themselves without being constantly in that dichotomizing space of difference. Others took up every other position on the left's spectrum.

An article posted Friday on Alternet is also written by a white woman who takes her fellow white feminists to task for consistently refusing to acknowledge and learn from their blind spots. It made for thoughtful reading, and I'm sharing it in that spirit here. I appreciated the sense of openness to new perspectives and important issues to the layers of identity possible for women, particularly in the areas of prisons, borders, and safety.

I think this is a complicated issue, and I go back and forth from feeling to rationalizing to sensing to understanding and back again. Most of all, I value that continuous journey. So like a woman!

Still, I appreciate the moments when I'm called again to re-examine my standard operating procedure, look around to see how my perspective might differ from those I consider my allies, and consider how I might adjust strategy accordingly.

The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo

marjorie says...



Today is one of those times when I wish I had HBO. Tonight's HBO documentary by Lisa Jackson, herself a survivor of a brutal gang rape, will be hard to watch I'm sure, but rape as a weapon of war is something more people need to understand. From the HBO website :

As many of the interviewees attest, systematic rape is an effective way to destroy the fabric of society. Yet those in power, as well as powerful nations like the U.S., are doing little to prevent this outrage. "Is there something about sexual violence that makes us all turn away?" asks Jackson. "In what inhuman context does rape become intentional, programmatic, a weapon of choice? Where are the voices of the women themselves? If they tell their stories, will others listen?"

Monday, April 07, 2008

Husbands=Housework?

Mikaela says:
Courtesy Slate, a new study says that having a husband means more hours of housework, whereas for men, having a wife means saving an hour of housework a week.

Note, however, that things are better now than they were 30 years ago in terms of the balance of work between wives and husbands. My inner Virgo kind of loves that everyone (except single men -- ahem) is spending at least 10 hours doing housework, despite all our "advances" in cleaning technology. Hear that, Swiffer??? I shake my fist at you, holding your amazing duster in my other hand!

Anecdotally, does the graph below hold true for you all?

Ho Hum Generation

Mikaela says:
I'm guilty of the apathy the media accuses our generation of having.

I heard about the most recent memo to come out that Bush's Justice Department wrote to outline what kind of torture would legally be allowed in Iraq, thereby shielding those who authorized it. I didn't follow the story. It was just one more outrage, one more example of what our White House, our government, our military was willing to unleash on another country because it is not "First World," not "Free" like we supposedly are, not Democratic enough to escape the torture of its citizens by our hands.

If we look back at the Holocaust and blame the German people for not standing up for the wholesale slaughter of its fellow Jewish citizens -- and we blame Americans at the time for not doing more to save a people we knew were dying by the thousands every day -- should we not blame ourselves right now for not doing more to insist that our government, and our military, 1) stop torturing Iraqi citizens and imprisoning innocent people and 2) investigate and prosecute the military and government officials who okayed what can only be illegal activity by our soldiers?

It is not enough to blame our relative comfort for our blindness and complacency. This human travesty is being conducted in our names by those we allow to represent us. It must end. Waiting for a new President will not be soon enough.

From Dan Froomkin's White House Watch:

The Abu Ghraib Memo

More fallout from what I'm calling the Abu Ghraib Memo.

The New York Times editorial board writes: "It is must reading for anyone who still doubts whether the abuse of prisoners were rogue acts rather than calculated policy. . . .

"When the abuses at Abu Ghraib became public, we were told these were the depraved actions of a few soldiers. The Yoo memo makes it chillingly apparent that senior officials authorized unspeakable acts and went to great lengths to shield themselves from prosecution."

Tom Dickinson blogs for Rolling Stone: "The administration wanted to give itself the permission to commit felonies and war crimes. And it listed them. . . .

"This is premeditation of high crimes . . . forget misdemeanors."

MSNBC's Keith Olbermann had law professor Jonathan Turley talk about the memo on his show last night.

Olbermann: "It was written for the Pentagon the month the U.S. invaded Iraq. A year after, the kind of torture that the memo authorizes comes to light in Iraq. Does that chain of sequence blow the administration's 'it was a few bad apples at Abu Ghraib' argument out of the water?"

Turley: "It does. . . . It destroys the idea that these were just hicks with sticks . . . What they were doing is strangely similar to what is laid out carefully in these memos."

Olbermann mentions the new Vanity Fair story suggesting that White House lawyers, including David S. Addington, gave interrogators at Guantanamo a "green light" for torture.

Turley: "Right. It is really amazing, because Congress, including the Democrats, have avoided any type of investigation into torture, because they do not want to deal with the fact that the president ordered war crimes. But evidence keeps on coming out. The only thing we don't have is a group picture with a detainee attached to electrical wires. Every time we see more evidence; we have more and more high ranking people at the scene of this crime.

"What you get from this is that this was a premeditated and carefully orchestrated torture program. Not torture, but a torture program."

Tom Teepen writes in his Austin American-Statesman opinion column: "In another era -- Nixon's, not so distant to those of us in Generation Ex -- a memo declassified just the other day would have been accounted a 'smoking gun' and the nation would have been abuzz with speculation about whose heads would roll and how far.

"Nowadays, ho hum."

Why Was It Classified?

Steven Aftergood of the Project on Government Secrecy wrote on Wednesday that the government's ability to keep the memo secret for five years "exemplifies the political abuse of classification authority."

Now, Aftergood writes that J. William Leonard, the nation's top classification oversight official from 2002-2007, agrees with him.

"'The disappointment I feel with respect to the abuse of the classification system in this instance is profound,' said Mr. Leonard, who recently retired as director of the Information Security Oversight Office, which reports to the President on classification and declassification policy.

"'The document in question is purely a legal analysis,' he said, and it contains 'nothing which would justify classification.' . . .

"'There is no information contained in this document which gives an advantage to the enemy,' he said. 'The only possible rationale for making it secret was to keep it from the American people.'"

The Other Memo

Dan Eggen and Josh White write in The Washington Post with more about a still-secret memo mentioned in a footnote of the Abu Ghraib memo: "The Justice Department concluded in October 2001 that military operations combating terrorism inside the United States are not limited by Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. . . .

"Administration officials declined to detail what domestic military operations were being contemplated at the time, and the legal status of the secret memo is now unclear. Although the memo has not been formally withdrawn, the Justice Department yesterday repudiated the idea that there are no constitutional limits to military searches and seizures in a time of war, saying it depends on 'the particular context and circumstances of the search,' according to a statement."

False Platitudes & Dirty Words

marjorie says...

Happy Monday. But let's back up a few days first. There's some excellent blogging about the Rick Davis speech here in Albuquerque last Friday. Rick Davis, in case you were wondering, is John McCain's campaign manager, and he was here to speak to the Republican National Committee gathering at Santa Ana Pueblo (John McCain was at the commemoration of MLK's assassination in Memphis Friday, apologizing for being against the creation of an official holiday for MLK. Rightly so, he was roundly boo'ed during his speech).

Ali at Clearly New Mexico, who was actually present during the Davis speech, goes deep in her brilliant nugget of a blog, reflecting on the serious contradictions that often occur when privileged interest groups target outsiders. A lack of self-awareness combined with plenty of self-interest creates a lot of false platitudes and rampant tokenism. Sadly, what she describes is true from left to right…but I figure the Republican National Committee is at the top of the heap given the obvious demographics of that party.

Barb over at DfNM gives us a run-down of who we’re really dealing with here: Rick Davis…the ultra big-money lobbyist running the campaign of the supposed “money out of politics” maverick politician. Now there's a contradiction. Or, maybe just a clarification.

Barb has a great picture of a chart used during the Davis presentation. It purports to show that the American public increasingly views Obama and Clinton as pesky (here comes the dirty word) “liberals,” and states that this makes them well-left of center. By Republican logic, does this make “conservatives” well-right of center? That aside, Barb gives a great breakdown of the liberal values we know are pervasive in our society:

Davis might be surprised to learn that polling continually shows that the majority of Americans agree with the core values held by LIBERALS. They're strongly for ending the quagmire in Iraq. They're demanding universal health care in no uncertain terms, and schools that turn out well-rounded, articulate human beings rather than test automatons. They want greedy, bottom-line obsessed financial institutions and corporations reined in to serve humans instead of the other way around. They want to be paid a living wage. They want to switch to renewable energy and clean up the environment. They want unrigged justice and a level playing field for all. And they want to keep the lobbyists like Davis as far from the political process as possible.

In his speech, Davis identified five groups of voters that the R’s need to target: youth, Face-book independents, Latinos/Hispanics, Wal-Mart Mom’s, and something called a “Rehab Republican.” Are these the voters that the Republicans think are most likely to forget about our economy in crisis, the one that is losing jobs by the minute while hemorrhaging billions to Iraq? I don’t buy it—all five of those demographics, in fact, probably get it better than most. Youth and “Face-book independents” are pretty savvy free-thinkers, Latinos/Hispanics have long demonstrated they have solid liberal values, Rehab Republicans are disaffected for a reason, and those Wal-Mart moms are generally part of a group most impacted by the serious problems we’re having with the economy.

You know, I heard Jim Scarantino say on New Mexico InFocus last Friday that he believes New Mexico will go for John McCain (did I hear that right?). Well, if there was ever a moment when an election was the Democrats to lose, this would be the one.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Outta here

Maggie says:
Thanks to a fabulously attentive significant other, my need to escape the Big D and return to my natural element - sandy and freckled - has been noted. I'm so lucky that way. I'm unlucky, however, in that I lost my passport and am currently confined to our borders, making early spring spontaneous getaways a little tougher. But the fabulously attentive significant other has a plan!

Beach + US border + Quick, short getaway + Rain in Florida = South Padre Island, TX


Have a good weekend, everyone!

Harvesting Sunshine, Creating Jobs

marjorie says...



This is pretty killer! Recognize anyone?

From New Mexico Youth Organized:

April 4 marks the 40th Anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination. To commemorate the event, staff and volunteers from New Mexico Youth Organized (NMYO) will travel to Memphis, TN this weekend for the Dream Reborn conference. Dream Reborn is an effort to honor the legacy of Dr. King by simultaneously addressing the issues of climate change, job creation and civil rights.

NMYO Executive Director Keegan King explained, "Green jobs-blue collar jobs in green sectors of the economy-can create pathways out of poverty for young people. This goes to the core of Dr. King's teachings about equality for all. By providing job training for such things as solar panel installation, manufacturing, water treatment, recycling and sustainable agriculture, we can develop promising career paths right here in Albuquerque." Over the weekend, NMYO and thousands of others will delve deeper into the concepts behind green jobs and their connection to civil rights, as well as how to get training programs started in cities across the country.

For more information about New Mexico Youth Organized and their campaign to promote green jobs, check out their video at http://clearlynewmexico.com/page/community/post/jd/Vj5 or go to 1skynewmexico.org.