Friday, April 24, 2009

Feminists fall in love, too

Maggie says:
Feministing is one of my daily reads. As such, I've come to admire and respect founder Jessica Valenti, now a published author and fixture on the college speaking circuit. Valenti has been engaged for several months now, and has written in several places about the process of being a feminist and planning a wedding, something that seems to many to be an oxymoron. In this piece for the Guardian, Valenti offers an eloquent recap of the process for her thus far, and the response her engagement has elicited from some conservatives ("You've Never Met a Bridezilla Like a Feminist Bridezilla") to fellow feminists who believed Valenti had compromised her values by wanting to be married (she "seem[ed] to find flaws with patriarchy, but fail[ed] to find a way to bring it down"). The value in having this discussion in multiple mediums is enormous, and digging into feminism, romantic partnership, and structural conditions is something that I could do all day long. What these serious discussions come down to is the same bottom line that fluffier wedding-based reads bring up for me: do what makes you and your partner happy. That's it. That's all.

Being a feminist and planning a wedding embodies much more than whether or not you're wearing a white dress (I am) or changing your name (I'm not) or being given away by someone (both my parents, thank you). Being a feminist and planning a wedding is about your relationship and your partnership, and incidentally how you choose to celebrate (raucously and tenderly all at once, for us, and with donations to a same-sex marriage fund in lieu of favors, because we feel extraordinarily lucky that we're able to marry at all). Trevor and I are equal partners through and through, and I think our wedding celebrates that fact. Our campaign logo is fun and memorable, but is quite literal in the statement that it makes. Adams Hanger '09. Separate entities joined on a ticket. Distinct identities embarking on a journey together. (Remember a Council Between Equals?)

I like the kind of wedding that celebrates how stubbornly independent the two of us are, while not diminishing for a second that we're also madly in love with each other. I like the kind of marriage that kind of wedding will kick off. And maybe I do have a set of 12 glasses on my living room floor right now with an etched family monogram that will never be ours, sent by someone who didn't quite get it. These things will happen, and if I get fed up enough I can call my future mother-in-law, who never changed her name, for advice. That small hassle, though? Totally worth it. Because I get to marry the only person who's ever made me excited about the idea of marriage, and because he's every bit as equal-opportunity and well-adjusted and unpossessive and excited to be married as I am. Is he "garnishing his testicles" for "letting" me keep my name, as someone wrote about Valenti's fiance? Hardly. Trust me.

It's funny to me how much we can fuss about the way other people decide to get married. If we're going to fuss about it, let's fuss about those who aren't even allowed the option. That's the real deal. Me? I'm just a feminist co-hosting a big 'ol beach party and shacking up with her favorite guy for the rest of her life.

Congrats, Jessica. And you know what? Congrats, me! (Us, I mean us.)

Happy Friday, everyone.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Federal land grabs in the name of border security

marjorie says...

I'm from an East Texas farm family, on both sides. My parents raised us in a larger town about 20 miles away from the small town they both grew up in. Growing up, we'd visit both sets of grandfolks every week, out in the country where they lived. My dad's folks and my great-grandfather lived out on land that had been farmed in my family since the 1800's.

I spent a lot of time out there, as did the rest of my siblings and cousins, and by the time I was grown knew very well the history of my family on the land. And I feel attached to it now, even though I don't own it. I'm glad its there and that I have the freedom to roam it. I know I can hike through the woods if I want to, explore the creek bed when its dry, hang out by the pond, or climb the hill for a view of the whole thing--it's all still there, and accessible.

It would really tick me off if the U.S. Department of Homeland Security told me they were going to build a massive, towering steel wall through the middle of it--without even an opening to allow access between the two sides.

I can only imagine how Eloisa Tamez feels, considering thats exactly what's happening to her in the name of border security. The land in question has been in her family since the 1700's, as part of a land grant. Apparently, the Feds are constructing the border wall in Texas through private property, and people like Tamez are losing a big part of their heritage.

Here's an article I wrote about Tamez--her situation came to my attention because she got served a condemnation notice while at a conference yesterday here in Albuquerque.

For the article, I snapped a picture from a slideshow she had on a laptop, showing the border wall that's been constructed to the perimeter of her property--she's one of the last hold-outs in her community and says she's going to fight it to the end.

The Feds don't want all the land to the south of the fence. They just want a quarter acre for their wall. Tamez can hang on to the rest, they say.

Any of you who are familiar with rural environments probably recognize that barbed wire fence in the picture. It won't be so easy to bend the wire to squeeze through or hop over that massive monstrosity of a border wall, will it?

As many in East Texas would say, it ain't right, folks.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Grassroots and the tea parties

marjorie says...

LP at FBI Hop has a couple really interesting commentaries about the nature of the "tea parties" happening this week to protest the Obama administration's deficit spending. The "tea parties"are being generated from the right, spurred by the rant of a FOX "newscaster."

Since I don't have FOX, and wouldn't watch it if I did, I have to take LP's word for it that in promoting the protests FOX refers to them as "...efforts from grassroots organizations on the Right."

The point of LP's musings is that the protests can hardly be considered grassroots since they're pushed by the national conservative organizational infrastructure, including FOX. LP points us to Think Progress for more details about the lobbyist/think tank organizations behind the events, Americans for Prosperity and Freedom Works.

Think Progress calls the work of these two organizations "astro-turfing." You know, making fake grass! Apparently, they do things like plant "single moms" to ask questions at events, and create amateur looking websites to create the impression of movement at the base. How ingenious.

Here are some of the things the two groups have been doing:

Freedom Works staffers coordinate conference calls among protesters, contacting conservative activists to give them “sign ideas, sample press releases, and a map of events around the country.”
Freedom Works staffers apparently moved to “take over” the planning of local events in Florida.
Freedom Works provides how-to guides for delivering a “clear message” to the public and media.
Freedom Works has several domain addresses — some of them made to look like they were set up by amateurs — to promote the protests.
Americans for Prosperity is writing press releases and planning the events in New Jersey, Arizona, New Hampshire, Missouri, Kansas, and several other states.

The word grassroots is finagled over by people a lot. But what is it really? At its most pure, it's from the roots, or bottom up--in terms of ideas, initiative and action.

National think tanks and cable news channels aren't grassroots. The question is, do they have a base at the local level? And by that, I don't mean a fan base. I mean people at the local level who make decisions through an open decision making process, which then flow upward. Is there accountability between the national and local organizations?

So what about the tea parties? Could it be that there's a symbiotic thing happening between FOX news and it's core audience--the organized Right? Is there a national infrastructure being propelled by local infrastructure? Just how are all of these tea parties being organized? Here in New Mexico, who organized them? Reading through the article by Heath Haussamen, I can't tell. It's as though they simply exist. Which takes us back to LP's point.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Radical: the death penalty itself, or getting rid of it?

marjorie says...

Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White has started a new political action committee intended to "repeal the repeal" of the death penalty. In addition to a petition drive to get enough signatures to put it on the ballot, White's Pac will conduct a public information campaign to:

“aggressively combat the misinformation campaign waged by the radical opponents of the death penalty and educate the public on the issue and the circumstances surrounding its repeal.”


There are several ways to interpret the word "radical."

One, it means to get at the root cause of something. In this respect, its interesting usage. The death penalty is one of the elements at the root of a criminal justice system gone awry in the United States. We have the largest per capita percentage of people behind bars in the world, which is an utter travesty. The death penalty bolsters a mindset in this country of vengeance no matter the cost--in this sense its one of the underpinnings of a social orientation that perpetuates this massive prison complex. So getting rid of it can be considered radical, if indeed we're talking about root causes.

But somehow I figure Darren White is using the word pejoratively, to suggest that the positions of death penalty opponents are somehow extreme, or beyond the pale.

Which is kind of odd. Because I can't think of much that is more extreme than killing people.

Friday, April 03, 2009

A little cat and mouse to round out the session

marjorie says...

Political theater is how John Fleck termed Gov. Bill Richardson’s recent machinations regarding whether or not he’ll sign a bill to open legislative conference committees.

I’d describe it more specifically as a Shakespearean game of cat and mouse.

The opening of conference committees to the public has been near and dear to the hearts of good government advocates and the press for many years. And the governor has repeatedly said in the past that he’d sign such a bill, confirming it again at the news conference he held on the last day of the session.

But then, in a March 23 reply to an e-mail sent by NMI’s Heath Haussamen, he indicated he wasn’t sure after all about what he’ll do, because of a “loophole” in the bill that he finds problematic. That provision would allow conference committees to be closed again by a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.

That commentary by the guv was followed in short order by three classic responses.

First: Earnest exhortation by advocates for him to sign the bill, presented in a piece by the Santa Fe New Mexican’s Kate Nash.

Then: Brave dismissal by Steve Terrell, also with the New Mexican, who in his Roundhouse Round-up blog said he didn’t care to speculate about why the governor would threaten to not sign the bill. Terrell just simply doesn’t believe it, he said.

And finally: The double-dog dare by Haussamen. In a hold-on-to-your-britches bromide, Haussamen speculated that the governor is now weighing what political deals he can strike behind the scenes, using the conference committee bill as a bargaining chip. It’s “sinister,” Haussamen said.

“This is New Mexico politics at its most slimy, folks,” he opined.

OK, then.

The governor’s next move was to let loose with the meme that the media cares, but the public doesn’t, this time in an e-mail to Haussamen in reaction to that bromide. The evidence that the public doesn’t care, supposedly, is shown by the fact that his office hasn’t received many e-mails or snail mail on the topic.

“I’m just saying,” the governor continued with the theme to Trip Jennings at a bill signing at Winrock Mall in Albuquerque.

And then, at yesterday’s ethics bill signing, he bemoaned for the news cameras the lack of public input before expansively inviting the advocates at the table to express their opinions on the conference committee bill. He then received an outpouring of “spontaneous lobbying.”

My perpetual desire to want to like the guv has me looking a little sideways at the whole thing.

Could all of this be a simple case of a little payback to a press corps that has roundly excoriated him this year? Or, are we indeed witnessing grand political theater designed to position Richardson in the spot in which he’s most comfortably situated to sign the bill?

It’s an amusing game, for sure. And one that the press thrives on. But it causes a lot of heartburn for the public, which may not be swamping his office with tons of mail on this issue because he’s promised plenty of times in the past to sign it. Supposedly because he, himself, thinks it’s important.

As someone who’s got just one foot in the press corps, I hope the guv doesn’t see this as a triple-dog dare. More like a “time out.” In this case, I’m closer to that earnest lot of folks out there, who just hope the game doesn’t get away from the big guy in Santa Fe before he signs the bill.
Cross-posted on NMI

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Joe...where's your blogroll?

marjorie says...

Joe Monahan let's the Journal have it today for alluding to the content of his site, and even using it to produce their own news stories, but not mentioning that he exists.

...the Alligators don't understand why the dead-tree editors refuse to mention in their printed editons that the Gators can be found at ...

You know, I feel Joe's pain. But you know what the rest of the local blogosphere wants to know?

Where's your blogroll, Joe?

It's clear you know there's a there out there.

Funny guy.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Matt, Barb...Stop it!

marjorie says...

I haven't had my coffee yet!

hmmm...but could it be true?

(scratching my head more)

Oh no, Matt, er..LP, say it isn't so!

marjorie says...

Over the past year, I've watched in admiration as LP over at FBIHop pulled off blogging at the same time he fed his news bits to the NM Independent.

Matt announced on his blog this morning that the gig is up over at FBIHop, that he's shifting to twitter, and continuing at NMI. He's also on Facebook. In his farewell post this morning, he writes:

"...maintaining this blog at the level which it deserves is just not possible for me, nor is it fair for the readers. I do not want to do this, to put it bluntly, half-ass.

I could just blindly cross-post things I write, but it wouldn't work. What I write for NMI does not necessarily relate to what the mission of New Mexico FBIHOP is.

I can relate to this, of course. As many of you may have noticed, my own blogging here at m-pyre has slowed since taking up that gig, because--you know--I do on occasion have to unplug and have a life. Hmmm (scratching head), maybe that means I'm a little "half-assed" over here at m-pyre! But then, part of the central mission of m-pyre has been that this is an outlet, not a job--which, yes, I realize isn't always fair to our dear family members, er, wait..."readers."(Speaking of my two fellow M's --seems a baby M is making her way into the world this very week).

Maybe Matt is just ahead of the curve in this world of electronic opinion sharing.

But I have to admit, I don't quite understand where I'm to go to get his bromides. Matt, can you really put all those in a few twittered words?

I don't know if I should cry or wait, because in my un-technological la la land I simply don't realize twitter and facebook are good enough.

Well, Matt has explained twitter to me, so maybe he'll explain this to me as well. In the meantime, here is his twitter page.

(Hmmm...isn't today April 1??)