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Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Chickens Come Home to Roost

Chicken_2Bawk, bawk! Cluck, cluck! Enron's top crooks, Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling, were convicted today on numerous counts of fraud, conspiracy, insider trading and lying. Reuters has the details.

DarkSyde at Daily Kos has this to say in reminding us how close these criminals were with Bush:

Lay is known to be a very close personal friend of current US president George W. Bush, and was one of the largest contributors to his presidential campaigns. His contribution history is $651,760 to Republicans, $61,960 to Democrats, and $62,150 to special interests (Source: Breakdown by Candidate or PAC). He served on the Bush-Cheney Transition Advisory Committee and was rumored to be the early top contender for Secretary of the Treasury until his untimely fall from grace and credibility.

Skilling was a long time idea man and Enron power broker who served a couple of stints at CEO. He is a well known political cash cow with a campaign contribution history of $162,750 to Republicans, $9,750 to Democrats, and $50,783 classified as special interests (Source: Breakdown by Candidate or PAC).

If only these two stars of the Republican Culture of Corruption could be sent to one of those black hole prisons we're secretly operating in Eastern Europe. Let's hope they are sentenced to many years, even if it's likely to be in one of those Prison Hilton's reserved for rich, elite criminals.

May 25, 2006 at 12:46 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (1)

Surprises From the Past

Cahokia'1491': Ken Wright has a thought-provoking review of the book '1491' over at NewWest. He calls his piece 'Out With the Old New World, and in With the New Old World.' The title is descriptive of the surprising, even shocking, revelations and theories being produced by recent archaeological, anthropological and other scientific research about the state of the environments and civilizations of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus. In a nutshell: civilizations much more advanced than originally thought; environments heavily managed by natives in creative and sustainable manners; all massively impacted by a widespread epidemic of germs from the Old World that preceded most of the European arrivals by many years. (Above, reconstruction of the Native American city of Cahokia near present-day St. Louis, c. 1250 AD.)

DisobedienceUnseen Photos: I also recently took some time to study dozens of photos produced by photographers for the Birmingham News of Alabama during the early days of the civil rights movement. These often moving depictions of racial and civil rights battles from 1956-65 didn't see the light of day until February of this year. In all, the negatives of five thousand unpublished photos stashed in a closet for decades were discovered in 2004 by an intern at the newpaper. Many of the photographs were reportedly suppressed by the paper in an effort to cover up embarrassing truths about the city’s race relations:

Why weren't more of the photos published 40 or 50 years ago?

"It was difficult for people to see," said Horace Huntley, director of oral history at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and professor of history at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "People were embarrassed by it. The city fathers were embarrassed by it."

The National Press Photographers Association provides more background on the found photos along with similar finds elsewhere.

May 25, 2006 at 11:26 AM in Books, Visuals | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tonight: Dede Feldman On How Much Iraq War Is Costing NM

From the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County (DPBC):
Our regular Third Thursday meeting scheduled for this Thursday has been moved to Thursday, May 25, at UNM Law School, Room 2401, 6 PM.

State Senator Dede Feldman will address the question: How Much is the War in Iraq Costing the State of New Mexico? Some alarming trade-offs are being made with the health and safety of New Mexicans in the proposed federal budget. Click for map of meeting location. All Democrats welcome!

May 25, 2006 at 09:31 AM in Democratic Party | Permalink | Comments (2)

Terry Riley on 'We The People' Tonight

WE THE PEOPLE May 25, 2006
PROGRAM: Activist, Are You? Terry Riley, Albuquerque Activist fighting the good fight for Paper Ballots and the Minimum Wage. Let's talk Clean Elections

Watch us every Thursday 7-8 PM on Albuquerque Community Cable Channel 27. CALL-IN 505- 346-1633. HOST Mickey Bock. mickbo@earthlink.net

May 25, 2006 at 09:30 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Will Dems Fight Even If They Win Back Congress?

Cowardly_1Glenn Greenwald considers this question in view of the Democrats' continuing weak-kneed acquiescence to most things Bush, including the appointment of the dangerous and dishonest General Michael Hayden to head the CIA. From the enthusiastic votes of four Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee for the man who carried out illegal domestic  wiretapping and phone record gathering, you'd never know he was an integral part of anything controversial or unconstitutional, would you?

The Democrats, rather than taking their duty as an opposition party seriously, are all too willing to toe the Republican line to avoid any intimations that they're "weak on national security." I guess the only way they can think of to show they're "strong" on national security is to praise a person who directed the NSA's illegal and unconstitutional acts and who continues to use distortions to justify it.

It's becoming a Democratic tradition to turn a blind eye to the unacceptable acts of any part of the executive branch that Bush decides can ignore the rule of law. Meaningful Congressional oversight? Not this bunch. They think being strong on national security means appeasing Bush and company regardless of how far they go to strengthen an imperial presidency.

Three Democrats on the committee voted against Hayden and should be thanked: Russ Feingold (D-WI), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Evan Bayh (D-IN). Said Feingold, "I am not convinced that the nominee respects the rule of law and Congress's oversight responsibilities." I guess the four doormats listed below could care less.

Add the names of these Senators to the Democratic Hall of Shame for voting enthusiastically for Hayden and offering praise for his nomination:

Diane Feinstein (D-CA)
Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)
Carl Levin (D-MI)
Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)

SpaceApparently speaking from some weird plane in outer space, Levin said of Hayden, "He has shown some independence and some backbone and a willingness to say no to power. You've got to have someone in this position who speaks truth to power." Rockefeller, echoing the statements of Republicans on the committee, bloviated that Hayden has "the necessary independence that is essential to restoring the C.I.A.'s credibility and stature."

As Greenwald says:

Gen. Hayden ought to have been seen as the most defiant and inflammatory nominee possible for the President to have made. He was, after all, the Director of the NSA at the time it implemented its illegal warrantless eavesdropping program as well as its massive data-collection schemes, and he is a True Believer in the theories of presidential power which hold that the President has the right to violate the law. And he wasn't nominated to be the Agriculture Secretary, but the Director of the CIA -- probably the very worst position you would want someone to occupy with that history of surveillance lawbreaking and that system of beliefs regarding the rule of law.

What was most important to the four Democrats who were cheerleaders for Hayden? Standing up to the abuse of executive power or protecting their behinds against the reliable craven right-wing noise machine? Their cowardly votes say it all. At a time when the nation needs brave and honest leaders willing to put their jobs on the line to protect the constitution, we instead seem to be infested with an abundance of self-serving hypocrites. Even within our own Party.

May 24, 2006 at 01:56 PM in Democratic Party | Permalink | Comments (5)

Election Reform Groups Endorse Gonzales for NM Secretary of State

Dscn1237
Stephanie Gonzales speaking at 5.4.06 DFA-DFNM Meetup

From Verified Voting NM and United Voters of NM:
A statewide coalition active in election reform announced its support today for Stephanie Gonzales in the Democratic primary race for Secretary of State. Verified Voting NM and United Voters of New Mexico joined in selecting Gonzales as their favored candidate, saying she has more ideas and positions than her rivals on how to improve the election process and make it transparent and accountable to the citizenry. The coalition also noted her strong management capabilities, as evidenced in her experience as former Secretary of State, Deputy Secretary of State, and as Director of the Rural Development Agency and later, the Child Support Enforcement Division.

“Ms. Gonzales has endorsed voting by hand-marked paper ballots counted by optical scanning machines as the most trustworthy electoral system currently available,” said Paul Stokes, UVNM coordinator. “She has also underscored the importance of conducting automatic audits of vote counting as an effective means of strengthening accuracy in election results. Both have been major objectives of United Voters of NM and Verified Voting NM during the past two legislative sessions.”   

Robert Stearns of VVNM noted that Gonzales has pledged to work with County Commissions to expedite the switchover from electronic voting machines that can’t be checked to the auditable and recountable  paper ballot system, as passed into law by the  2006 Legislature with Governor Richardson’s support.

Click for info on Verified Voting New Mexico and United Voters of New Mexico.

You can get more information on the Stephanie Gonzales campaign at her website. She lays our her 8 Point Plan for improving the Secretary of State's office here (pdf).

Editor's Note: Verified Voting NM and United Voters of NM are local grassroots activist groups that were heavily involved in interaction with New Mexico's election reform task force and lobbying for a variety of bills to make the election process more effective, efficient, transparent and accurate. They were instrumental in the drafting and successful passage of the legislation that mandated the use of a voter verifiable paper ballot system statewide. The bill was passed by the NM Legislature and signed by Governor Richardson earlier this year.

May 24, 2006 at 11:12 AM in Candidates & Races | Permalink | Comments (4)

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

First Up: Las Cruces Sun-News Endorsements

Newspapers around the state will soon be publishing their endorsements for candidates running in the June 6 New Mexico primary. The Las Cruces Sun-News seems to be first out of the box with their endorsements of Democratic candidates in contested primaries:

Geno Zamora for attorney general, Stephanie Gonzales for secretary of state, Jim Baca for land commissioner and Thomas Buckner for auditor in Democratic primary races for statewide office.

Follow the link to their article that explains why.

UPDATE: The Silver City Sun-News and the Hobbs News-Sun also endorsed Geno Zamora for attorney general.

May 23, 2006 at 06:19 PM in Candidates & Races, Democratic Party | Permalink | Comments (5)

Mistrial Declared in Vigil Corruption Case: What Next?

Vigil_1The Albuquerque Journal, Heath Haussamen and Joe Monahan have the scoop on the yesterday's declaration of a mistrial in ex-NM Treasurer Robert Vigil's corruption trial. One holdout juror from Roswell refused to budge from his not-guilty mindset and put the feds in hot water on what to do next. We're hearing retrial, but the question is, when? It's expected that U.S. Attorney David Iglesias will push for a date before the November mid-term election, keeping the issue of Democratic corruption in the daily news cycle until voters go to the polls.

What does the mistrial mean for ethics and campaign reform in New Mexico? I agree with others who assert that pressure will only increase to reform our state's antiquated and toothless campaign and corruption laws. New Mexico is one of only five states that doesn't put a cap on campaign contributions, and one of 11 that lacks a state ethics commission to enforce standards. The result of this laxity is frequently on display and produced both the Vigil-Montoya and Serna scandals.

EthicsIt's shocking to realize that many of the "gifts," "donations" and "contributions" that skew New Mexico politics are not illegal in any way. In essence, the system sanctions what amount to unlimited, legalized bribes that permit monied, self-interested power brokers to dominate the political scene. The narrow interests of highly paid lobbyists, powerful financial and real estate magnates and other elite and connected players repeatedly trump the needs of ordinary citizens and the common good. On both sides of the political aisle.

Big money in politics is always suspect. Unregulated money in a political system that also lacks strong transparency requirements and anti-corruption standards is the worst of all possible worlds. This is what we currently have in New Mexico and it must end. Now.

Governor Richardson has recently come out strongly for ethics and campaign reform, and has appointed an interim task force to come up with proposed legislation to attack corruption. Let's make sure it isn't another smokescreen created to give the impression that something's being done while the status quo continues unabated. Clearly we need to significantly strengthen controls on money and influence peddling in government. We need a powerful and comprehensive program to stop the corruption in its tracks and keep in there. And if we don't get it NOW, we need to hold New Mexico's Democratic leaders and officeholders strictly accountable, and -- yes -- communicate our wrath at the ballot box.

Let's all keep up the pressure by contacting the Governor, Attorney General, legislators and other office holders to urge timely and comprehensive reform. Let's attend the meetings of the ethics task force in droves, to push real change. Let's strongly support the efforts of Common Cause, which has been working long and hard on this issue in New Mexico and across the nation. If we don't do it, who will? We need to hold some feet to the fire and keep them there until we get some genuine reform. No ifs, ands or buts.

May 23, 2006 at 01:47 PM in Ethics & Campaign Reform | Permalink | Comments (3)

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: DFA Endorses Lamont vs. Lieberman

From Jim Dean of Democracy for America:

Joe Lieberman: George Bush's favorite Democrat?  Support Ned Lamont!

Lamont_1 For years, Joe Lieberman has supported President Bush on issue after issue. He supported Bush's crusade to dismantle Social Security and he folded on the nominations of Justices Roberts and Alito. Lieberman voted for the invasion of Iraq and he continues to stand in the way of real solutions that will bring our troops home. He has even supported attempts to label criticism of the war as unpatriotic. Last winter, he said, "It is time for Democrats who distrust President Bush to acknowledge that he will be Commander-in-Chief for three more critical years, and that in matters of war we undermine Presidential credibility at our nation's peril."

On Friday, Connecticut Democrats said, "Enough." The Connecticut Democratic Convention was the first opportunity for an open vote between Joe Lieberman and upstart challenger Ned Lamont. With the process heavily stacked toward insiders, Lamont was expected to collect just a handful of votes. Instead, he shocked the establishment and won more than twice the number of votes he needed to qualify for the August primary ballot.

Ned Lamont has won the support of DFA members across Connecticut and now he's won a place on the ballot to challenge Joe Lieberman. When he's elected in November, Ned will oppose the Bush administration's misguided policies and he'll stand with other Democrats for clean government, universal healthcare, and a moral foreign policy. I urge you to join me in supporting Ned Lamont today!

Joe Lieberman has won strong support from Republicans. Vice President Cheney calls him "a fine U.S. Senator." Republican Congressman Chris Shays and Fox News Commentator Sean Hannity have both endorsed him. Even President Bush loves Lieberman—there are rumors he has been considered for a post in Bush's cabinet. Is that the kind of Democrat that we want in Washington?

Ned Lamont won't have any Washington Republicans fighting for him. He's only going to win through thousands of grassroots donations from DFA members like you. We need to show Ned that the grassroots will stand with him. With your help, our goal is to raise $25,000 from 500 donors today. Can you make a donation of $100, $50, $25 or even $10 to make it happen?

Ned will be a progressive voice in the Senate. He'll speak out against the destructive Bush administration policies that threaten our moral and economic future, our civil liberties, and our nation's security. He has opposed the Iraq War since the beginning and he'll advocate a new direction in Iraq. Let's make it happen.
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Editor's Note: For more information on Lamont's shocking support in the Connecticut Democratic Party delegate vote in this Democratic primary race, check out the coverage on MyDD and watch video of local news coverage of this story. I just gave another $10 to the Lamont campaign via DFA and I strongly encourage you to donate a few bucks. We need to display our grassroots and netroots strength and put our money where our mouth is for this race and others where progressives are challenging entrenched, "Republican-lite" Democrats in name only.

May 23, 2006 at 11:15 AM in Candidates & Races, Democratic Party, DFA | Permalink | Comments (3)

Monday, May 22, 2006

40,000 Signatures Against Iran War Delivered to White House

RumsfeldhouseAnti-Iran war sentiment is growing rapidly as information is revealed that we may already have troops and/or operatives on the ground in Iran. On Thursday, May 18th, more than 40,000 petition signatures were delivered to the White House against war with Iran.

Following the delivery of the petitions, a march to Donald Rumsfeld's house was led by Ray McGovern and Cindy Sheehan. Four people were arrested trying to deliver a message to the Secretary of Defense. Click for Quicktime video of the events shot by Truthout. Go here to access other the video in additional formats.

May 22, 2006 at 02:27 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (0)

Ward 31 Dem Picnic Rocks

Patriciamadrid
Patricia Madrid (center) arriving at Ward 31 picnic.

From Shay Rose, Democratic candidate for NM State Representative, District 28: Albuquerque's Ward 31 had a great District 'meet and greet' at High Desert Park in the Northeast Heights this past Saturday. There was a band, food catered by Garduno's (red and green enchaladas, rice, beans, taquitas, chips and salsa); plenty of cold water and sodas to drink and lots of NE Heights Democrats meeting their candidates. Tom Solomon (Vice Chair Ward 31A) and Kooch Jacobus, Adam Romero, Charles Penney and several others did a fine job organizing this event. About 125 ward residents were in attendance.

Amyshayana
Amy, Shay, Ana

Shay Rose's Campaign provided a cake (chocolate with cream cheese filling, blue rose buds and a minature campaign card on each piece of cake) and a watermelon tent (the only candidate to do this as others had campaign materials only). Not that I'm bragging but food always brings people by! All candidates were recognized on stage by Kooch and received an enthusiastic welcome.

Amybarbmikemarvin
Amy, Barb, Mike, Marvin at the Shay Rose booth

CD1 Congressional candidate Patricia Madrid visited with fellow Democrats, gave a rousing speech from the stage and took questions from the crowd. Others who spoke and picnicked at the event were Ray Powell, running for State Land Commissioner; Gary King, candidate for NM Attorney General; Judge Clay Campbell, running to keep his seat as District Judge in Division 12 of the 2nd Judicial District; and Karen Montoya and Moises Gonzales, both Dem candidates for Bernalillo County Assessor. Shay Rose (House District 28) and Barbara Scharf (House District 31) were the only legislative candidates that spoke, although Janice Saxton (House District 22) was there hanging out in the crowd. Other candidates sent representatives in their place -- just not quite the same tho!

Raypowell
Ray Powell (center in cap) visits with picnickers

By all accounts, a wonderful time was had by all. Other wards are encouraged to hold similar events to provide an opportunity for Democrats to meet, mingle and nurture our network while having fun at the same time. (Click on photos for larger images.)

Claycampbell
District Judge Clay Campbell appraises the scene.

May 22, 2006 at 11:40 AM in Candidates & Races, Democratic Party | Permalink | Comments (2)

Rally Against North Valley Walmart

From the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County e-news:
RALLY against corporate greed! TAKE A STAND AGAINST WALMART!

Please join your neighbors in the North Valley to protest a proposed WALMART Supercenter. Help us spread the message that WALMART is bad for America, and bad for our community. Our fight against WALMART will be long and hard, you can help take this important first step. Labor, environmentalists, educators, small business, community leaders, elected officials and candidates encouraged to attend!

Date: May 25, 2006, 5 - 6:30 PM (public meeting to follow)
Place: Desert Springs Church, 705 Osuna NE
(Corner Osuna & Vista del Norte)
   
Contacts: Victor Raigoza, 453-1897; Al Mund, 344-9950

May 22, 2006 at 09:47 AM in Events | Permalink | Comments (0)