Wednesday, November 23, 2005
Now Can We Impeach Him?
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Sound Off: A Party Out of Order
Picture this: A large, long meeting room dominated by a raised stage at the front where the Chairman of the Democratic Party of New Mexico and other Party officers sit or stand at a lectern high above the crowd of State Central Committee (SCC) members at their 11/19/05 meeting. The only microphones in the hall are at the lectern and in front of the officers. No provision is made for members in the hall to be heard if and when they are allowed to raise questions or make motions.
The Chairman announces, in a series of admonitions, that Robert's Rules of Order will be employed to control the procedings so that the views of both the majority and the minority will be protected. Hmmm. He introduces a "parliamentarian" he says will ensure that these rules are followed. Even at this early point in the meeting, it seems clear that formalized control of speakers and top-down authority will trump any rights of the members to express their views, propose actions or ask questions. The Chairman and other Party functionaries have established an intimidating physical environment coupled with threats of an intimidating enforcement of nitpicking rules to set the stage for a meeting of what used to be called the People's Party.
According to State Democratic Party Rules, it's the SCC that is charged with reviewing, analyzing and approving the Party's budget and spending, and it's designated as the governing body of the Party generally. The Rules state that, "The State Central Committee is the supreme governing body of the DPNM when regularly convened . . . It shall have general supervision and control of the political affairs of the party." Moreover, "It shall have the authority for appropriation of state party funds." The Party Rules also stipulate that "the Chairperson and the Treasurer shall present a financial report and proposed budget for the Committee's consideration."
Given such clearly delineated powers, you'd think a significant focus of those organizing any SCC meeting would be to ensure that members of the Party's "supreme governing body" have a chance to be heard, literally and figuratively. You'd be wrong.
Over many years, the so-called leadership of the DPNM -- Party officers, powerful elected officials, candidates -- has become accustomed to calling all the shots at SCC meetings and in almost every decisionmaking circumstance. Meanwhile, the SCC has been effectively demoted to the minor role of rubberstamping the decisions that come down from on high, and has generally been kept out of the loop as the Party retreated from anything but surface adherence to principles of transparency, accountability and inclusiveness. The Party Rules have not been changed to reflect this, but it's how the Party has been functioning -- as a top down, secretive collection of insiders.
Enter many new faces who were elected to the SCC after Kerry's loss in the 2004 presidential election, many of them grassroots activists of one persuasion or another. I, myself, am included in this new crop of SCC members. We showed up ready to rock and roll, return the Party to its roots and resurrect the Party's former bottom up power structure. As you might expect, we weren't exactly welcomed with open arms. Generally, we were treated like a rag-tag bunch of mouthy peasants who didn't know our place in the centralized scheme of things.
We started making noise, proposing changes, getting active, asking questions, studying the Party Rules and demanding they be followed. Having worked so damn hard since the early days of the presidential primary campaigns and continuing through the Congressional and Presidential races, volunteering, knocking on doors, phonebanking and donating money, we were dedicated to fixing the things we saw as broken within the Party. Unfortunately, many in the higher echelons of the Party saw this, and continue to see it, as a threat to the status quo, to their little kingdoms of influence, power and money that keep Party business running as usual, with the usual suspects in charge.
After learning alot about how the Party operates and what levers of power we could possibly use to implement change, we organized as an ad-hoc group called NM Grassroots Democrats. Not progressives. Not liberals. Core Democrats on the ground. We organized, held meetings, sent a letter to the other SCC members around the state, made phone calls, built a listserve, raised money and created materials for a table to attract support at the SCC meeting in Santa Fe last Saturday. We paid $150 for a literature table at the SCC meeting, the same amount charged to candidates.
Over several months, we developed a series of motions and inquiries to raise at the SCC meeting that addressed some of our primary goals. Most of these had to do with pushing the DPNM to follow its own rules. They included getting members named to the Rules Committee with a meeting scheduled within two months, reinstituting a meaningful platform process that encourages the input of ordinary Democrats around the state, following rules in getting resolutions approved, ensuring that accurate meeting minutes are kept and distributed in a timely manner, getting the required affirmative action committee back into action and obtaining budget and spending information in a format that allows the SCC to make informed financial decisions, as delineated in the Party rules.
Real radical, huh? You'd think so by the reception we got at the SCC meeting. Even though our group provided the Chair with copies of our proposed motions and inquiries before the meeting and made a concerted effort to follow Robert's Rules in presenting them, we were stymied at every turn by the Chair. It was evident that Chairman John Wertheim and the powers that be were hell bent on rushing through the meeting, calling votes on committee reports before any debate or discussion could occur and confusing those trying to participate with often incorrect applications of Robert's Rules. The so-called official parliamentarian was never allowed to weigh in.
To make a motion or ask a question, we had to jump up from our seats and try to get the chair's attention without benefit of a microphone or run up to the front of the room, below the towering stage, to beg a microphone from the table. This often resulted in the individual being rudely chastized, criticized, humiliated or ruled out of order while they stood alone at the front of the room with Chairman Wertheim looming above. Despite the Chair's statement that he would help participants navigate the complicated fine points of Robert's Rules, we were usually refused an answer when we tried to ask how best to get our motion or question addressed. Clearly, the plan was to isolate those who dared to try to speak, portray them as "troublemakers" who were disturbing the conduct of business and shoot them down using unevenly applied parliamentary procedures.
The Chairman would make a pronouncement and if a speaker tried to respond with a question, watch out. A couple of the more persistent questioners were even threatened with removal from the hall by security unless they immediately fell silent. Ah yes, real democracy in action. Which brings to mind this quote from Major Roberts, who wrote Robert's Rules:
"While it is important to every person in a free country to know something of parliamentary law, this knowledge should be used only to help, not to hinder business. One who is constantly raising points of order and insisting upon a strict observance of every rule in a peaceable assembly in which most of the members are unfamiliar with these rules and customs, makes himself a nuisance, hinders business, and prejudices people against parliamentary law. Such a person either does not understand its real purpose or else willfully misuses his knowledge."
Despite all this, we did manage to get a number of our motions approved in between the protestations of the Chair and the congratulatory appearances of candidates and elected officials, flowers for the departing Executive Director and the rushed committee reports. We found that rushing into a motion before the Chair could get a protest out was the best method. It worked much better in the earlier portion of the meeting, before the Chair knew what was coming. Later, the only way to get a complete sentence out was to get your hands on a microphone and bellow to the crowd despite the Chair's threats to have you removed.
End result of this long litany of undemocratic conduct? Creating more mistrust, anger and disappointment in the Party's rank and file members. Discouraging participation and action. Stifling energy. And for what? You have to ask what the Party is hiding, don't you? What are they afraid of? In a political environment rife with corruption and dishonesty on the part of the now resigned Democratic Treasurer and other Dems, you'd think that transparency, responsiveness and conducting businesss according to the Party's own rules would be paramount. Guess again.
--This is a personal Sound Off by Barbara Wold, SCC Member and Chair of Precinct 462. Sound Off is a regular feature of the blog that allows individuals to voice their views on timely issues and controversies. Click on the Email Me link on the upper right-hand side of the page if you'd like to submit your own Sound Off.
Monday, November 21, 2005
Sirota Nails It (Again)
Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) is one of the Clinton administration leftovers that irks me no end. He's a "centrist" DLC apologist to the core and heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). Recall that this was the organization that pushed the ad showing Osama bin Laden and Heather Wilson in the 2004 CD1 campaign of Richard Romero. I remember that Romero's polling numbers dove precipitously directly afterwards. These guys know their stuff. Well, they know the self-serving conventional wisdom of Beltway operatives anyway. Cookie cutter blather!
Experience the Rahm Emanuel take on Rep. John Murtha's call for troop withdrawals from Iraq, courtesy of David Sirota:
And when it comes to defense-related issues, there literally is no member of Congress more informed and more pro-military than Murtha. That's why his announcement yesterday demanding an immediate withdrawal from Iraq was so important: because if someone like Murtha says its time for a withdrawal, then any Democrat in America should be able to say it's time for a withdrawal.
Yet, in response to Murtha's announcement, some Democrats seemed to leap at the chance to embarrass themselves, and publicly flaunt just how nauseatingly spineless they are. And there is no better example of this than Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) in today's Washington Post. Here is the excerpt -- try not to projectile vomit all over your computer screen when you read it:
"Murtha's Democratic colleagues reacted warily to his remarks, while Republicans pounced. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (Ill.), head of the House Democrats' campaign effort, said, 'Jack Murtha went out and spoke for Jack Murtha.' As for Iraq policy, Emanuel added: 'At the right time, we will have a position.'"
Remember, this is the same Rahm Emanuel who likes to talk about how tough he is, and who likes to have his friends go out and talk about the hardness of his testicles. His comment is not tough -- it is classic try-to-have-it-both-ways prevarication that reinforces the image of Democrats as governed only by crass political tactics and not conviction. And worse, it is a total insult to America's troops.
Couldn't have said it better myself.
SAGE Council Interview on Petroglyphs Airs Tonight on KUNM
Listen in to KUNM 89.9FM tonight, Monday, November 21st, from 8:00 PM to 8:30PM for an interview with the Sacred Alliance for Grassroots Equality (SAGE) Council's leadership and a reflection about the historic struggle to stop the extension of six-lane Paseo del Norte through the sacred petroglyphs on Albuquerque's West Mesa.
Yesterday afternoon nearly 400 people joined a march to give homage to the petroglyphs' survival for over 2,000 years now. By tonight's interview, a decision will have been made by the New Mexico State Cultural Properties Review Committee as to whether the road will be allowed to move forward.
This interview is part of "Espejos de Aztlan," a weekly radio program highlighting the courage, strength and beauty of community organizing efforts such as that of SAGE in New Mexico. Espejos has been on-air since 1979 and is part of the Raices Colectiva which conducts programming on news, culture and music from a Latino perspective on KUNM 89.9.
NM R.A.I.N. Presents Forum to Contrast Religious Right
From New Mexico R.A.I.N. and Equality NM:
The New Mexico Religious Alliance for Inclusion and Non-Discrimination (R.A.I.N), composed of leaders of New Mexico's Faith community will host a forum on December 8th where the subject will be "Living Faith." Members of New Mexico's clergy will give a historical and theological presentation on scripture to debunk the prevailing information used by the religious right to justify hate and discrimination against members of the Gay Community in the United States. The forum will feature various elected officials including Representative Danice Picraux, Councilor Martin Heinrich, and Senator Linda Lopez.
The forum will be held at St. Michaels and All Angels Church (601 Montaño Rd., NW) in Albuquerque on December 8th, 2005 from 7-8:15 PM.
"At our first meeting, we had over 300 people. The momentum is growing and we are beginning to change the direction of the debate. No longer will people have to suffer discrimination in silence or in the name of the Lord. We are making RAIN in New Mexico and people are paying attention," stated Rabbi Joe Black of Congregation Albert.
New Mexico R.A.I.N. was formed out of the exclusionary and hate filled debate that dominated the last US Presidential Election. A single religious position has dominated media attention and leaders of NM's faith communities are expressing a different point of view: the belief that faith and religion is based on 4 major tenets: Tradition, Scripture, Reason and Experience and not discrimination and exclusion.
"We will present the facts without bias or individual interpretation. We want to counter the hate filled debate carried out in the name of faith. We would like to show that our faith traditions are meant to unify and not divide. We strongly feel that targeting of specific groups for discrimination is in contrast to the Biblically mandated principle that we are all created in the image of God."
The organization has membership from throughout the state and includes lay and ordained members.
For More Information Contact:
Ellen Novak RAIN Co-Chair
Rev. Lee Albertson, RAIN Co-Chair (505) 265-5749
Rabbi Joe Black
Rev. Brian Taylor
Sunday, November 20, 2005
Sunday (Sunny) Bird Bloggin
I confess. We got another bird. Actually, it's mostly Mary Ellen's doing, but I have to admit I was won over as soon as I saw the baby sun conure. A couple who bred and hand-fed the conure brought it over to our house last week so we could take a look, and that was that.
We don't have any photos of Sunny yet because we left our camera with someone at yesterday's SCC meeting (much more on that next week). Instead, I thought I'd supply a couple of generic shots of sun conures so you can get an idea of what they're like. Sunny, at about three months old, looks alot like this:
He or she still has many of its downy gray baby feathers, and its much more colorful adult feathers are coming in willy nilly. There's alot of color variation in sun conure feathers as they age, and also between individuals, but here's what young adults generally look like:
Sun conures usually get more orange feathers as they age. Including their tails, they're about 12 inches tall at maturity. Quite beautiful, don't you think? At the moment, Sunny is still quite shy and defensive in his/her new environment and tends to hiss at us and make loud growly sounds when we approach its cage or try to get Sunny to "step up" onto a stick or our fingers. This reaction should fade quickly as Sunny gets grounded and begins to trust us.
Sun conures are highly intelligent, curious, inquisitive, active and playful. They enjoy spending the day outside their cage, romping on a play gym or stand, swinging on ropes, playing with humans, cracking nuts and nibbling fruit. We'll be working with Sunny many times a day to gain the bird's trust and demonstrate that interaction with the new humans can be fun. Awk! We'll keep you posted.
Saturday, November 19, 2005
SAGE Organizes March to Give Homage to the Petroglyphs
From Laurie Weahkee, Executive Director:
Stand With Us! As the City of Albuquerque commemorates its tricentennial, a celebration of our multicultural heritage, it simultaneously begins construction of the Paseo Del Norte road extension through the Petroglyph National Monument, a Native American sacred site.
SAGE Council asks your participation in a March to Give Homage to the Petroglyphs, to commemorate those who have fought this 10-year struggle and to acknowledge the difficult work of sacred sites protection here and elsewhere.
WHEN: Sunday, November 20th, 2005
TIME: 1:00 - 4:30 PM
WHERE: The March begins at Pueblo Montano Park at the entrance to the bosque open space, off Montano just east of Coors.
The March will culminate with a rally at the Petroglyphs with speakers, prayers and song. Transportation will be provided back to Pueblo Montano Park. Restroom services available. Please dress appropriately. Click for a map and more information. Invite your friends and family!
Watch "Earth to America" Comedy Benefit Sunday on TBS
From NRDC's EARTH ACTION:
NRDC board member and Stop Global Warming Virtual March founder Laurie David has created "Earth to America" -- a televised star-studded evening of comedy and music to raise environmental awareness.
Sunday, November 20th, 6:00 PM (Mountain Time)
TBS (Comcast Channel 43)
"Earth to America" will feature Tom Hanks, Steve Martin, Will Ferrell, Martin Short, Ben Stiller, Ray Romano, Jack Black and Larry David. Jason Alexander, Stephen Colbert, Rob Corddry, Al Franken, Eric Idle, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Kevin Nealon, Conan O'Brien, Wanda Sykes and Robin Williams are also scheduled to appear. In addition, country music superstars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill will perform.
The show will be taped this week at "The Comedy Festival" at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. In addition to the comedy and musical entertainment, "Earth to America" will honor environmental heroes, including NRDC senior attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
"Earth to America" began as "Earth to LA," a bi-annual Los Angeles fundraiser produced by Laurie David to benefit NRDC; the show has raised millions of dollars over the past several years. As Laurie says, "Comedy can be a very powerful tool to entertain and to educate, and that is the goal for Earth to America."
About NRDC: The Natural Resources Defense Council is a nonprofit environmental organization
with more than one million members and online activists, and a staff of scientists, attorneys and environmental experts. Our mission is to protect the planet's wildlife and wild places and ensure a safe and healthy environment for all living things.
For more information about NRDC or how to become a member of NRDC, please contact us at:
BioGems -- Saving Endangered Wild Places
A project of the Natural Resources Defense Council
Friday, November 18, 2005
Coss for Santa Fe Mayor Campaign Meeting This Saturday
Editor's Note: David Coss is running for Mayor of Santa Fe. He was endorsed by the Democracy for America (DFA) Santa Fe Meetup group at their last meeting.
Come to the Campaign Meeting!!
This Saturday, November 19th at 4 PM,
CWA Hall, Casa Solano, 901 West Alameda, Suite 25B, Santa Fe
Please bring your completed nominating Petitions. We are trying to see where we are on the number of signatures on the Petitions. If you want to get a few more signatures before then, download and print this PDF Petition file
The Dam Is Breaking
Democratic Rep. John Murtha, the top Democratic hawk in Congress, the senior Dem on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and a Viet Nam-era Marine vet, made an impassioned speech yesterday about the abject failure of the Bush-Rumsfeld Iraq policy. He then introduced a resolution for troop redeployment "as soon as is practible." Excerpts from speech:
The war in Iraq is not going as advertised. It is a flawed policy wrapped in illusion. The American public is way ahead of us. The United States and coalition troops have done all they can in Iraq, but it is time for a change in direction. Our military is suffering. The future of our country is at risk. We cannot continue on the present course. It is evident that continued military action is not in the best interests of the United States of America, the Iraqi people or the Persian Gulf Region.
. . . I believe we need to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis. I believe before the Iraqi elections, scheduled for mid-December, the Iraqi people and the emerging government must be put on notice that the United States will immediately redeploy. All of Iraq must know that Iraq is free. Free from United Stated occupation.
. . . My plan:
To immediately redeploy U.S. troops consistent with the safety of U.S. forces. To create a quick reaction force in the region. To create an over-the-horizon presence of Marines. To diplomatically pursue security and stability in Iraq
I really believe this is a tipping point folks. If Murtha can make the case this bluntly and demand immediate withdrawal of our troops, how can anyone in Congress with a conscience, a brain or any trace of real patriotism not do likewise, regardless of Party?