Friday, March 31, 2006
SJC Dems Abandon Feingold Censure Hearing
UPDATE: Here's a video clip of Sen. Feingold using a post from blogger Glenn Greenwald to question John Dean about the similarities of the excuses for warrantless wiretapping used by John Mitchell of Nixon's White House and Bush's. Also the entire hearing is supposed to be re-aired on CSPAN tonight at 6:50 MST.
The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Sen. Feingold's censure resolution was held this morning. One of the witnesses who urged the Congress to act now to uphold the rule of law was John Dean, who served on Nixon's staff during the Watergate era. Too bad most Dem members were AWOL. According to CNN:
Nixon White House counselor John Dean asserted Friday that President Bush's domestic spying exceeds the wrongdoing that toppled his former boss from power, and Sen. Orrin Hatch snapped that Democrats were trying to "score political points" with a motion to censure Bush.
"Had the Senate or House, or both, censured or somehow warned Richard Nixon, the tragedy of Watergate might have been prevented," Dean told the Senate Judiciary Committee. "Hopefully the Senate will not sit by while even more serious abuses unfold before it."
Testifying to a Senate committee on Wisconsin Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold's resolution to censure Bush, Dean said the president "needs to be told he cannot simply ignore a law with no consequences."
If Congress doesn’t have the power to define the contours of the President’s Article II powers through legislation, then I have no idea why people are scrambling to draft legislation to authorize what they think the President is doing. If the President’s legal theory, which is shared by some of our witnesses today, is correct, then FISA is a dead letter, all of the supposed protections for civil liberties contained in the reauthorization of the Patriot Act that we just passed are a cruel hoax, and any future legislation we might pass regarding surveillance or national security is a waste of time and a charade. Under this theory, we no longer have a constitutional system consisting of three co-equal branches of government, we have a monarchy.
Shameful: Almost every Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee DID NOT attend today's hearing:
Joe Biden, DE (no word on whereabouts)
Dick Durbin, IL (back home "meeting with constituents")
Dianne Feinstein, CA (claims "scheduling conflict)
Chuck Schumer, NY (office closed this morning)
Ted Kennedy, MA (his office said he was "out of town"
Herb Kohl of Wisconsin was there briefly and said nothing. The ONLY Dem on the committee who spoke on behalf of censure was Patrick Leahy of VT. The words cowardly and disloyal come to mind. More than 70% of Democrats around the nation support the censure. With voters in general, it's about 50-50. What are these Senators afraid of? It's bad enough to have to fight the Republicans on presidential lawbreaking, but to have top Dems standing in the way of the constitutional inquiry of one of their own is truly morally bankrupt, in my opinon.
I hate to say it, but these Senators are starting to look like the Democratic Wing of Republican Party. There is just no excuse for this. If Dem insiders want to ensure a low turnout of progressive and base Dems in the November mid-term elections, they should keep on mocking the passionate and courageous Dems like Murtha and Feingold and whining about their "devisiveness." I guess any Dem brave enough to speak out on the blatant and dangerous abuses of the Bush administration in any meaningful way is judged to be "devisive" in the same way that Republicans deem any Bush critics "unpatriotic."
The Beltway status quo is a stubborn and unrelenting force for inertia. Long-term, entrenched power always is. If you need more evidence on that, check out the new "Real Security" initiative " unveiled by Dems earlier this week. It's almost surreal that the plan makes not one mention of illegal NSA domestic spying, torture or distorted intelligence. Instead, it transparently equates supporting freedom and justice in the world with increased military strength. Trust us! We'll do the same thing Bush is doing, only more competently!
If we can't do better than this, expect millions of core Dem voters to stay home come November. I'm sure the poobahs at the DCCC and DSCC will be flabbergasted, but still unconvinced that their mincing blandness is to blame. To say they take the votes of the Democratic base for granted would be putting it mildly. If we don't get something better to take door-to-door to potential voters this Fall, it's gonna be a long, hard slog indeed. If we make that slog at all, that is.
Finally, here's a post that contains some of the best writing I've encountered that lays out the reasons the Democrats should be lining up en masse to sign on to Feingold's censure resolution. Wake up Democrats -- there IS no Congress if Bush is allowed to continue down this path. Either Democrats must live up to their oaths of office or they are, as the post says, as bad as the Republicans who are worshipping their new monarch.
If and when Americans wake up to the fact that their constitution and democracy have been totally trashed, I hope that many put the blame squarely on the Dem apologists who fiddled with shallow "strategists" and "pollsters" while America burned.
If you'd like to make your feelings known on how Dem committee members acted today, click away:
Patrick J. Leahy, RANKING DEMOCRATIC MEMBER, VERMONT
Edward M. Kennedy, MASSACHUSETTS
Joseph R. Biden, Jr., DELAWARE
Herbert Kohl , WISCONSIN
Dianne Feinstein, CALIFORNIA
Russell D. Feingold , WISCONSIN
Charles E. Schumer, NEW YORK
Richard J. Durbin , ILLINOIS
Worth a Thousand Words
Bush's trip to the Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza in Mexico's Yucatan this week has provided a wealth of visuals worth, as they say, a thousand words. Without further ado, here are a couple of my faves. Supply your own captions:
Next, check out the Mad-TV video Bush Slump, courtesy of Crooks and Liars, for more Bush visuals, this time with music. It's good to have some laughs amidst the horror that is Bush Country.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
'Left Hand of God' Author to Speak at UNM Sunday on Reclaiming America from Religious Right
The Network of Spiritual Progressives is sponsoring the appearance of Rabbi Michael Lerner, author of the best-selling book "The Left Hand of God: Taking Back Our Country from the Religious Right," this coming Sunday, April 2nd, at 2:00 PM, at the UNM Continuing Education Building (click for map and directions). The event is cosponsored by Ecumenical Voices for Democracy, the grassroots group that has been holding quarterly events designed to counter the antidemocratic efforts of the right-wing Christian coalition.
Rabbi Lerner's talk will focus on reclaiming American from the religious right. Click for a PDF flyer with more information. This event will also be webcast live from the Auditorium on the UNM Communication and Journalism website. If you will be listening to Lerner in the auditorium, please come on time as seats will be given on first-come, first-served basis. The event is free.
Michael Lerner has written a spiritual document for a new kind of social change movement that could challenge the globalization of selfishness and speak to our highest human need to connect to a life of higher purpose than the materialism and me-firstism of the competitive marketplace.
For more information:
Sam Washburn, 505-323-6162, firstname.lastname@example.org
More on the author
Acclaimed author Howard Zinn describes Michael Lerner as "a rare voice of sanity and intelligence in a nation where our moral values have been corrupted by the greed of the market and ambitions of the empire. He gives eloquent voice to our yearning of the spiritual and rational in the quest of peace and justice."
Jerry Ortiz y Pino, in his column in the Alibi called Looking to the Left, says "Anyone interested in seeing American politics transformed from its current malaise should read the book-or at least come out to hear Lerner speak.It should be mandatory for all serious Democrats to attend." Whether you are Democrat, Republican, Independent, politically neutral, or simply from another country, this is a significant event for one and all.
You can learn more about Lerner's book here.
Get Your Gear and Help Veterans' Peace Groups
Pass it on: Giving voice to the majority of Americans who now support the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, Bring Them Home Now! has created a 39 cent postage stamp (approved and licensed by the US Postal Service!).
The stamp features the symbol of the growing "Bring 'Em Home Now!" movement – a yellow ribbon transposed over a peace sign – providing millions of Americans with a unique way to show their support for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.
Take the pledge to send in your tax returns with the "Bring 'Em Home Now!" stamp and let the government (and everyone else) know where you stand -- and at the same time donate funds to the peace movement. Click to visit the store.
All proceeds from the sale of the stamps (as well as t-shirts, buttons & stickers featuring the popular "Bring 'Em Home Now!" designs) benefit citizen groups working hard to end the war and bring our troops safely home, including Military Families Speak Out , Gold Star Families for Peace, Iraq Veterans Against the War, and Veterans for Peace.
By participating, you proudly say: "I support the troops. Let's bring them home now! And let's take care of them when they get here."
Time to Enter 2nd Annual DPBC Chili Cook-Off
Gov. Bill Richardson congratulates Eric Griego (R) on his
team's First Place Ribbon in the traditional Red Chile
category at last year's cookoff.
Sign up now for the 2nd Annual Democratic Party of Bernalillo County Chili (or Chile) Cook-Off 2006, to benefit the County Party. The Chili Cook-Off will be held at the Alice Hoppes African American Pavilion on the Expo New Mexico grounds just off Gate Three (San Pedro and Copper NE) on Saturday, April 22nd from 11:30 AM through 2:00 PM.
Registration forms and rules/regulations are available at the DPBC headquarters and will be available soon on line at www.bernalillodems.org.
Chili Categories: Registration Deadline:
Registration Deadline:April 19th, 2006. Please mail or deliver entry form with check to DPBC, 130 Alvarado NE, Suite 400, Albuquerque, NM 87108
State Wide Candidates: $200.00
County Candidates (including Judges): $75.00
Everyone Else: $30.00
Questions: Terri Holland, Executive Director, Democratic Party of Bernalillo County, 256-1855 or Email email@example.com
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Dems Confront Rubber Stamp Republicans
If you haven't yet checked out the national blog Firedoglake, it's well worth a regular visit. Right now, they're conducting a fun campaign to support the Dems who are calling out Republican members of Congress for being Rubber Stamps for the Bush administration.
Firedoglake is organizing a Rubber Stamp Rebellion of sorts, urging readers to purchase rubber stamps that say "Republican Rubber Stamp Congress," and have them sent to a collection point in DC. When they've received a goodly number of these, they'll present them to a certain big-name Republican member of Congress -- no doubt to one of the worst Rubber Stamps of all. They're not saying which one just yet, but I have a hunch. And they'll do it on Friday, when the Senate Judiciary Committee hears Senator Feingold's censure resolution. I just ordered my Rubber Stamp, and I urge you to do the same ASAP. This post tells you how.
This morning, House Dems were also calling out the rubber stamp nature of Congressional Republicans. A series of one-minute speeches by Dem Reps described the many incompetent and ill-conceived actions by this administration, and criticized Repubs for refusing to hold Bush accountable. Are they fulfilling the constitutional role defined for Congress as a co-equal branch of government? No way. Providing congressional oversight of the executive branch and its policies? Not this bunch.
Those scheduled to speak on the House Floor this morning included: Jim McDermott, Donna Christensen, Rahm Emmanuel, Diane Watson, Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Frank Pallone and Louise Slaughter. And Crooks and Liars has video. Dems used this Rubber Stamp in admonishing their Republican colleagues. UPDATE: More videos are now available at the House Dems website.
You know you want to join in Firedoglake's rebellion and have your own Rubber Stamp Republican Congress doohiggie sent to the so-far anonymous Republican Rubber Stamp Head Honcho, don't you? Just do it!
Rosenberg Son to Speak in ABQ & Santa Fe
Robert Meeropol (photo right), the son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, will give a lecture on "McCarthy Era Lessons for Bush's America" following a 5:00 PM potluck Sunday at the Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice. He'll also sign copies of his memoir, "An Execution in the Family." The event is free but bring an item to share if attending the dinner.
On Monday, Meeropol will speak at The Forum at the College of Santa Fe at 7:00 PM. For more information contact Mark Behr at 505-310 0769.
Meeropol's parents, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg (see photo left), were executed by electric chair in June of 1953, during the Cold War, for their conviction in what was called the "trial of the century" for conspiracy to commit espionage. The case was prosecuted by the infamously unethical and self-serving Roy Cohn, the right-hand man of Senator Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy was eventually discredited for his Communist witch hunts and censured by the Senate. Robert was 6 at the time of the execution and his brother, Michael, was 10.
For information about the Rosenberg Fund for Children, founded by Robert Meeropol, go to http://www.rfc.org. You can read more about Meeropol's New Mexico appearances here, including background information on his speech. More about Meeropol can be found at Wikipedia, which also has extensive information about the Rosenbergs and their controversial trial and execution.
According to an article in the Albuquerque Journal:
Meeropol warns of echoes from those times, of dangerous similarities. He will speak about those parallels in Albuquerque on Sunday.
"If you look back to the 1950s and the anti-Communism scare, what you find is the public was told there was an international Communist conspiracy out there to destroy our way of life. Therefore, concerns revolving around national security had to take precedence over civil liberties, and civil liberties had to take a back seat. We were at war."
Back then, Meeropol said, policy was propelled by fear, and so it is now: "Pull out the word 'Communist' and plug in the word 'terrorist.' ''
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Give Now to Madrid Campaign & Help Take Back the House
Patricia Madrid with Joe Wilson (L) and John Edwards (R).
SPECIAL NOTE: The Madrid Campaign has confirmed that Patricia will be the special guest at our DFA-Democracy for New Mexico Meetup on Thursday, April 6, 2006, at 7:00 PM, at the Social Hall of the First Unitarian Church at Carlisle and Comanche in Albuquerque. Please RSVP if you plan to attend.
As you may know, March 31 is a very important day for the Madrid campaign. It's the end of the first quarter, when financial reports must be submitted that show how campaigns are doing with fundraising.
The Madrid campaign is in an all out push to get as many contributions as possible by that critical deadline. You are urged to give today, even if it's a few bucks. Let's show the Republicans that Patricia Madrid has the support of ordinary people. Many modest donations add up quickly, as we saw in the Dean campaign for president.
While Heather Wilson has been raking in thousands from Washington lobbyists and special interests, 72% of Madrid's contributions have come from New Mexicans committed to electing a representative that will fight for people -- not powerful Washington interests. During the final quarter of 2005, the Wilson campaign raised nearly $600,000 -- 45% of her total contributions -- from "political action committees" funded by lobbyists, politicians and other special interests. Check it out.
A recent New York Times article includes analysis of the Madrid-Wilson race that should keep Wilson campaign advisers up nights. More and more people, including moderate Republicans and Independents, are turning against Bush's conduct of the war in Iraq, and many of them are deciding to vote for Democratic candidates for Congress to support a change in direction for the nation.
The Madrid-Wilson race has been deemed one of the key contests in the 2006 mid-term election. This week's Time Magazine includes commentary on this key race, and many other political analysts are stressing its importance to Dems in their quest to take back the U.S. House.
What if the Democrats recapture the U.S. House in November? Think about the sweet consequences! Here's a small slice of who'll be leading when Democrats win back the House:
- Nancy Pelosi: a progressive, becomes Speaker of the House of Representatives
- John Murtha: a veteran and anti-war champion, would become chair of the House subcommittee on defense appropriations. He would be in charge of the budget for the war in Iraq
- John Conyers: who forced a national debate on the Downing Street Memos, would be chairman of the House Judiciary Committee
- Henry Waxman: who would be chairman of the Government Reform committee, has a bulls-eye on war profiteers like Halliburton
- Barney Frank: who has led efforts to rein in out-of-control CEO pay, would be in charge of the Financial Services Committee
- David Obey: who led opposition to the Republican budget, would be chair of the House Appropriations committee protecting Medicaid, food stamps, veteran's benefits, student loans and more
- Charles Rangel: who predicted the Medicare debacle, would be chair of the House Ways and Means committee protecting Social Security
- George Miller: a big advocate for working people, would be chair of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and could bring a vote to raise the minimum wage.
Six of these eight are either members or founders of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. And if we gain control of the House, we gain control of issuing subpoenas, launching investigations and more.
Madrid has already gained the support of progressive organizations like Emily's List and Senator Russ Feingold's Progressive Patriots. We can win this seat IF we all work hard on this race, starting NOW. You know what to do!
SATURDAY: Albuquerque March & Rally to Support Social Justice for Immigrants
Passing this along on the email trail. You can do the same:
There are few times in life when we can actually fight for what we believe is right. As many of you know, last week around the nation rallies were held to protest the new immigration reforms.
Albuquerque will have its chance this Saturday, April 1st.
If you believe immigrants do not deserve the right to fulfill the American dream and live freely in this nation, then you do not have to do a single thing. But if you feel that something is not quite right, then it is your time to stand up and fight for your values, traditions, friends and family.
I urge you to pass this information to everybody you know. We can only make a difference if we stay united and if we truly believe in this. Please invite everyone you know !!!!
Recuerda a César Chávez (1927-1993)
"Social Justice for Immigrants"
MARCH & RALLY
Saturday, April 1, 2006
March begins at 11AM -- Bring your banners!
Edith & Roma, Downtown
Rally and Celebration 12 Noon
3rd and Marquette, Downtown
Celebrate the memory of César Chávez and the diversity of Albuquerque with speakers, entertainment and food provided for purchase by local vendors.
CO-SPONSORS--- Recuerda a Cesar Chavez Memorial Committee, Blue Collar Union Local 624, City of Albuquerque's Cultural Services Department and Human Rights Office, Center for Economic Justice, Lo Maduro de La Cultura, National Hispanic Cultural Center, UNM Chicano Studies
CONTRIBUTING ORGANIZATIONS--- Central NM Labor Council, Hispano Round Table of New Mexico, MANA de Albuquerque, National Union of Hospital and Healtth Care Employees District 1199, NM Federation of Labor AFL-CIO, UNM Africana Studies, UNM El Centro de la Raza, United Food & Commercial Workers
SUPPORTING ORGANIZATIONS--- Albuquerque Center for Peace and Justice, Albuquerque High MEChA, Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce, Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), Centro de Igualdad y Derechos, Dolores Gonzalez Elementary School, Enlace Comunitario, Longfellow Elementary School, NM Progressive Alliance for Community Empowerment, Nuestros Valores Charter School, SAGE Council, Santa Barbara-Martineztown Neighborhood Association, Southwest Network for Environmental and Economic Justice, SouthWest Organizing Project, UNM Center for Latin American Resources and Outreach (CLARO), UNM Family Program, UNM MEChA, UNM Peer Mentoring for Graduates of Color, UNM Raza Graduate Students Association, UNM U.S. Peace Corps, West Mesa High School MEChA, Young Women United.
For more information call: 3-1-1 Citizen Contact Center; Lucille Cordova 277-6414; Bonnie Rucobo 924-3380; Chuy Martinez 768-3531; Michael Casaus 417-5288; Rodrigo Rodríguez 489-7404; or Eduardo Hernández Chávez & Ysaura Bernal-Enríquez 256-1523
The League Seeks Deputy Director Candidates
From Keegan King, The League of Young Voters NM:
The League of Young Voters/The League of Young Voters Education Fund is seeking applicants for the position of Deputy Director in Albuquerque. Click for a PDF with more information and a job description. Please pass this along to folks who might be interested in applying.
Monday, March 27, 2006
Celebrate Cesar Chavez' Birthday Thursday in Santa Fe
From the NM Department of Health:
The Department of Health has been coordinating a series of Cultural Celebrations, focusing on different cultural groups and emphasizing the importance of understanding the ways that cultural beliefs influence health, health care access, and health care delivery. Each celebration has had its own special flavor appropriate to the culture that is celebrated. All, however, focus on health.
The upcoming celebration is for Hispano/a culture, focusing around the birthday of Cesar Chavez, his life’s work, and the impact of his work today. The celebration will be held on Thursday, March 30, 2006, from 10:00 AM to 1:00 PM in the Harold Runnels Building in Santa Fe.
We hope you will attend and encourage your colleagues, family, and friends to participate as well. We would like to see many community members, Department of Health and other agency staff, and elected officials participating in this celebration.
We will have speakers, cultural performances, educational booths, and artists displaying and selling their work.
The celebration will open with the DeVargas Middle School Mariachi band at 9:30 AM, and the program will begin at 10:00 AM
Speakers will cover the following topics (beginning at 10:00 AM):
(1) Cesar Chavez, his life and the impact of his work, then and now, (Sam Baca and Rick Nahmias)
(2) Environmental Health, particularly issues directly affecting the Hispana/o community
(3) Integrated Pest Management (Fabian Chavez),
(4) Latina health in rural areas (Elaine Montaño) (invited), and
(5) US/Mexico Border Health issues (Dan Reyna).
And the following entertainment:
(1) Mariachi band from De Vargas Junior High School (starting at 9:30 prior to the event)
(2) Spanish guitar and singing (Sam Baca and Fred Sandoval)
(3) Los Niños de Santa Fe y Compania
(4) Spanish Guitar and singing - Nacha Mendez (play at the end)
A feast of traditional foods, prepared by Department of Health staff and local restaurants will follow the activities. We are looking forward to an educational, entertaining, and exciting celebration, and we hope you and your colleagues, community members, contractors, family, and friends will be
able to join us.
If you have questions, please contact me, Doris Fields, in the Human Resources Bureau at (505) 827-0608.
Udall, Bingaman Report From Iraq
An article in Sunday's Albuquerque Journal by Michael Coleman of the paper's Washington Bureau reported on separate trips to Iraq made last week by New Mexico's Rep. Tom Udall and Senator Jeff Bingaman. Their assessments of the current situation there were less than reassuring. Excerpts:
... Rep. Tom Udall told reporters during a conference call from Baghdad on Saturday that the U.S. military should pull its troops out of Iraq by the end of this year.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman, making his second trip to Iraq since the war began, told The Associated Press on Friday that he saw some progress on this visit, but not nearly as much as he had hoped.
Both Bingaman and Udall voted against the initial Iraqi invasion under President George W. Bush.
Udall said Iraq's failure to organize a legitimate, functioning government has severely hampered the country's economic and democratic progress.
"It's been a letdown for the Iraqi people, and it's made the American people very impatient," Udall said. "You can't make progress with a lame duck government."
The congressman said he hopes the Defense Department will "redeploy" American soldiers from Iraq by year's end, preferably to other locations in the Middle East. He said American troops need to remain in the region in places such as Kuwait to provide a ready response to other threats.
"We want to let them know we don't want instability in the region," Udall said.
He said President Bush made a tactical mistake last week when he conceded that U.S. troops will likely remain in Iraq at least until the end of his presidency. The president's declaration allows Iraqi leaders and soldiers to dither while Americans do much of the heavy lifting required to secure the country, rebuild its infrastructure and improve its economy, Udall told reporters.
"What incentive does that give them to step forward?" Udall asked. "I don't see that incentive."
... "You see areas where significant movement is being made, but it's not being made to the extent it should be," Udall said, noting that oil production in Iraq is still significantly lower than it was before the U.S. invasion.
After dining with top Iraqi officials from the country's feuding parties Saturday night, Udall said he was encouraged that they seemed intent on reaching agreement on a new government structure.
"None of them told us they are going to be deadlocked and will walk away," Udall said.
Instead, he said the Iraqis pleaded for patience from the U.S. government.
"Iraq hasn't really known democracy for 1,000 years, and this is hard work," said Udall, who will also visit Kuwait and Jordan on this trip before returning to Washington on Monday.