Friday, April 17, 2009
WaPo: Bill Richardson, at Peace In the Political Desert
The Washington Post today features a longish story on Governor Bill Richardson based on an interview conducted recently in Santa Fe that examines Richardson's response to being "politically exiled" from service in the nation's capitol. It also includes some audio sound bites and a couple photos, including the one above. The piece starts out:
If all had gone according to plan, Bill Richardson would be at center stage in Washington, wheeling, dealing and glad-handing around the globe -- as president, or at least as secretary of state.
But Richardson remains the Democratic governor of New Mexico, barreling across the vast high desert here, the wind howling and the sand flying as he races to build a legacy and rebuild his career. The nation's most prominent Latino politician is stuck in virtual exile, term-limited from office in two years with no easy next step.
The Governor expresses his acceptance of the situation,
"The end-all, be-all for many in politics is Washington," Richardson, 61, said last week over breakfast at the adobe-walled governor's mansion here, in his first extensive interview since withdrawing as President Obama's nominee for commerce secretary.
"I've been there, I've done service in the Congress, Cabinet, the U.N.," he continued, adding: "I don't miss it one bit. I really don't. I wish them well. I'm satisfied with what they're doing. I don't have to be part of it to feel satisfied. I really don't. This is hard convincing people because they know me, but I've found the ultimate job in being governor. I really have."
As to the ongoing federal grand jury investigation into how campaign donor CDR won state contracts:
The governor said he is "very confident that we did nothing wrong," but he complained that the inquiry "just drags on."
As to his life now:
Richardson acknowledges having been "disappointed" about withdrawing. But here in Santa Fe, he enjoys what many might consider an idyllic life. He wakes up in a sprawling house in the desert hills with stunning views of this old Spanish colony. He works out, plays tennis and shoots skeet. Riding his horse, named Toby (after the country singer Toby Keith), has become his passion. "It's kind of a sense of solitude," he said. "It's the one time I can get away from BlackBerrys and cells."
On Bill and Hillary Clinton:
Questioned about his relationship with Bill Clinton, Richardson let out a deep belly laugh and nearly spit out his breakfast.
"Nonexistent. He's ticked off with me," he said. "I still have his picture here. I still enjoy my service with him. I don't bear grudges, but he apparently does, but that's okay. That's politics."
But the man who says he is at peace outside Washington still talks regularly with Hillary Clinton about foreign policy. He held two fundraisers for her to help retire her campaign debt and counseled her before her visit to Mexico City last month. Richardson also continues to serve as a kind of ad hoc diplomat with difficult governments.
Describing his still-frenzied pace:
Richardson does not like to waste time. On this day, he made the 67-mile trek between Santa Fe and Albuquerque four times, racing to build his legacy. He signed energy bills offering tax credits for renewable energy, as well as legislation that creates stricter accountability measures in public schools. He attended the home opener of the Albuquerque Isotopes, the minor-league baseball team ... Richardson also visited the Albuquerque soundstage where a crew was filming the movie "The Book of Eli."
On his future:
Soon, back on the road, Richardson pondered his future. He has been knocked down, but he knows it is possible to return in a blaze of glory. "You know, I've got years ahead of me," he said. "I'm not a long-range planner."
The entire piece is well worth a read. It includes quotes from pollster Brian Sanderoff and former State Senator John Grubesic, as well as mentions of the Governor's bolo tie and his Mickey Mantle commemorative cuff links.
(Photo By Craig Fritz For The Washington Post)
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Val Kilmer Donated to Nader for President, Even After Obama Clinched Nomination
Update: Also see Matt Reichbach's post at NMI for more on Kilmer's Naderista tendencies.
By now we've all heard about the periodic noises coming from actor Val Kilmer -- who resides on a 6,000-acre ranch near Pecos, New Mexico at least part of the time -- about the possibility of his entering the gubernatorial race here next year. It's not entirely clear whether he'd run as a Democrat or a third-party candidate.
The latest word on Kilmer's political ambitions came in a January 20th article in The Hill. Kilmer agreed with a reporter that "he was giving a 'strong maybe' for a run for governor" and said, “Actually, they’ve asked me to run for governor. People seem to want me to.” He didn't specify who “they” are. The article notes that, Gov. Bill Richardson "publicly declared his support for a potential Kilmer candidacy last year."
Nobody really knows how serious the Doors-Batman actor is about jumping into the race to challenge current Lt. Gov. Diane Denish as Gov. Bill Richardson ends his second, and last, term. What we do know is that Kilmer has been registered to vote as an independent (unaffilated) in Santa Fe since 1992, but that he's never voted in New Mexico. You might say his bona fides in terms of New Mexico politics are questionable, at best.
$4,000+ to Nader: Now we also know that Val Kilmer donated more than $4,000 during the 2008 presidential cycle to none other than Ralph Nader, the perennial green and/or independent candidate for president. Even worse -- if you're planning to win the hearts and minds of New Mexico's Democratic voters -- Kilmer made contributions to Nader even after Barack Obama had clinched the Dem nomination.
Yesterday, I was noodling around at www.newsmeat.com, which includes a federal campaign contribution search engine, and happened to punch in Kilmer's name. Turns out Val donated last August to both the primary and general election campaign funds of Nader for President:
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Self Employed/Actor Ralph Nader (IND)
NADER FOR PRESIDENT 2008 Lost
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Self Employed/Actor Ralph Nader (IND)
NADER FOR PRESIDENT 2008 Lost
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Self Employed/Actor Ralph Nader (IND)
NADER FOR PRESIDENT 2008
Los Angeles, CA 90067
Self Employed/Actor Ralph Nader (IND)
NADER FOR PRESIDENT 2008 Lost
When the $1,700 refund is figured in, it looks like Kilmer's donations to Nader totaled $4,600, at least $600 of which went to his general election account.
Think about it. In a year when Democrats were fighting so hard to take back the White House, someone who says he'd like to be our governor was busy writing checks to support a candidate running against Obama. In the general election cycle. Inexcusable, isn't it? At least to me it is.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Santa Fe's Soulcatcher Studio Premiers Obama Photo Exhibit
Intimate and compelling images, aren't they? From Soulcatcher Studio: Soulcatcher Studio, in Santa Fe at The Lofts, is deeply honored to present the world premiere of Callie Shell's exhibition, Barack Obama: Road To The White House. Shell has spent the past two years photographing Obama as a contract photographer for Time magazine.
Shell's book, President Obama: The Path to The White House (Time Books) is currently on the New York Times Bestseller List. Previously she spent eight years at the White House as the official photographer for Vice President Al Gore.
More than any other photographer, Shell has been able to capture the private side of Barack Obama, behind the scenes and unguarded, in places where almost no one gets to see him. In the process she has become what one Obama staffer called “a member of the family.”
It is estimated that to date Shell has captured nearly 400,000 images of the Obama campaign and the events that surround it. This exhibition includes several previously unpublished images, along with many images that have become known around the world.
You can access the online exhibition here.
Visit us in Santa Fe at The Lofts. Open Tuesday - Friday, 10 AM to 5 PM, Saturdays by appointment. Sign up for our free monthly Email newsletter featuring artist news, special offers and much more. Just send us an Email at email@example.com that includes your full name and put "mailing list" in the message header.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Top Ten Bush Moments
There are so many to choose from, it must have been an ordeal to narrow it down to just ten. Adios, Georgie!
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Santa Fe's Campaign Trash Goes to Washington for Inauguration
During a time of slow political news (and my own laziness), I thought I'd give you a chuckle with this nugget. Who knew that some of Northern New Mexico's campaign trash would end up at the Green Inaugural Ball in Washington in the form of "couture" recycled fashion? According to an article in the New Mexico Business Journal:
The “Campaign for Change Couture Collection” — the newest collection of high-fashion garments made from recycled materials by Santa Fe artist and environmental educator Nancy Judd — will be featured at the Green Inaugural Ball in Washington D.C. on January 17. The collection will also appear at a reception in the nation’s capitol to honor the New Mexico Congressional delegation on January 19.
Garments in the collection are fashioned from discarded campaign materials that Judd, a dedicated Obama volunteer for six months, collected by “dumpster diving” behind the Obama campaign headquarters in northern New Mexico following the presidential election.
You can learn more about Judd's Campaign for Change Collection, as well as what she calls her Recycle Runway project, at her website. Recycle Runway is dedicated to the ingenious re-use of items tossed in the trash to create cleverly made, high fashion outfits that are displayed to get people thinking about creative recycling. Can't argue with that.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Bravo Jane Hamsher of firedoglake and Hillary Rosen
There's a difference between being inclusive in political dialogue and honoring a dishonest bigot as a spiritual leader on an historic day when the whole world is watching. As Jane says, this is an incredibly cynical move on Obama's part. If you think this kind of political gamesmanship to piss off progressive Dems so he can proclaim his "openness" to the right will be limited to GLBT issues, dream on. Your issue is gonna be next. Don't say we didn't warn you. By the way, firedoglake has been giving this issue heavy coverage, as befits a liberal blog.
Hillary Rosen is spot on here. This isn't about whether someone supports gay marriage or not. It's about having someone pray for the nation at the inauguration who uses homosexual bigotry to create fear and hatred, and destroy the humanity of GLBT Americans. It's not a policy dispute -- it's about human dignity.
I wonder what Roland Martin (or Obama) would feel if an incoming president invited someone to pray who was known for referring to African-Americans as niggers whose relationships were equivalent to child molesters and incest perpetrators. Sorry to use the N word, but I think in this case it's appropriate for use in an example.
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Slap in the Face to Gay Americans: Obama Picks Rick Warren to Lead Inaugural Invocation
Above is an ad recorded by the porcine Rick Warren in support of Prop. 8. As John Aravosis says at AmericaBlog, "If you watch the video, in addition to invoking Obama's name to justify homophobia, Warren talks about how (he claims) gays are only 2% of the population. And how we shouldn't let 2% of the population decide what we do on this issue. Gee, wonder how he feels about Jews, who are also 2% of the population. Watch the video, and prepare for your head to explode.
Update: Have complaints to share? Email Parag Mehta, Obama's LGBT liaison on the transition team, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to share your missive to the team in the comments.
Enough. Enough. Enough. I've been silent or muted in my criticism of some of Obama's less than stellar cabinet picks and other appointments -- and there are many to complain about if you're a real Democrat or progressive. I've held back on criticizing Obama's reticence to say anything powerful or real during his transition about Wall Street's wholesale sacking of the U.S. Treasury thats been going full tilt the last few months. It made me angry that it was Blogojevitch who went to Republic Windows in Chicago and stood with the fired workers -- and not Barack. But Obama's lastest bone-headed decision takes the cake, and I find it completely intolerable.
As reported in a Politico article, Obama has picked the awful, money-grubbing, "evangelical," anti-GLBT preacher, Rick Warren, to give the invocation at the presidential inaugural. Could he have made a worse choice? Warren and his multi-media Saddleback Church racket were front and center in enthusiastically supporting California Prop. 8, which negates California's constitutional protections for same-sex marriage. In opposition to a recent California Supreme Court ruling, Prop. 8 returns the state's gay population to second class citizenship, something every single Democrat -- if not every real American -- should be opposing vocally if they wish to maintain a claim to be supportive of equal rights for all.
This isn't a theocracy last time I looked. Yet here's Obama rewarding a preacher who believes the entire population should be forced to live by his personal church's teachings. Warren has compared gay marriage to "legitimizing incest, child abuse, and polygamy." I can't tell you how much this disgusts me.
I wonder how Obama would have felt if Clinton had picked a Ku Klux Klan functionary to give the invocation at one of his inaugurations. You know, to bring people together, racist or not, so we can rise above "partisanship." I also wonder what the results would be if, even today, we allowed California to put African-American rights -- or maybe mixed racial marriages -- to a referendum vote.
I have to agree with Joe Solomonese on this one (see full text of his letter at the end of this post):
“Your invitation to Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration is a genuine blow to LGBT Americans,” the president of Human Rights Campaign, Joe Solomonese, wrote Obama Wednesday. “[W]e feel a deep level of disrespect when one of architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination."
This isn't the first time Obama has dissed GLBT citizens. Last summer gay groups complained, but were rebuffed by Obama, when an "ex-gay" singer led Obama’s rallies in South Carolina.
The Real Problem: Dem Politicos Have No Spines
Here's the real problem at the root of the issue: Democratic candidates and officeholders refuse to publicly support gay marriage, even though almost all of them support it in private -- or at least when they're raising significant sums of money and getting lots of volunteer hours from GLBT voters. Instead, they fall back on the copout of supporting "civil unions" or "domestic partnerships," which do not -- let me repeat that -- do not give couples the same or even a similar array of civil rights that are bestowed on straight married couples.
Like the other Dem parrots, Obama has said he opposes same-sex marriage, but he also claimed he opposed Prop. 8. Not surprisingly, Prop. 8 supporters used Obama's statements against gay marriage in their radio and TV ad campaigns to bolster their credibility. Heckuva job, Obama. Sorry, the integrity of "separate but equal" treatment of certain classes of citizens went down the tubes long ago, as Obama well knows.
Here's what others have to say about Obama's choice of Warren:
“It’s a huge mistake,” said California gay rights activist Rick Jacobs, who chairs the state’s Courage Campaign. “He’s really the wrong person to lead the president into office.
“Can you imagine if he had a man of God doing the invocation who had deliberately said that Jews are not going to be saved and therefore should be excluded from what’s going on in America? People would be up in arms,” he said.
The editor of the Washington Blade, Kevin Naff, called the choice “Obama’s first big mistake.”
“His presence on the inauguration stand is a slap in the faces of the millions of GLBT voters who so enthusiastically supported him,” Naff wrote, referring to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. “This tone-deafness to our concerns must not be tolerated. We have just endured eight years of endless assaults on our dignity and equality from a president beholden to bigoted conservative Christians. The election was supposed to have ended that era. It appears otherwise.”
People for the American Way also issued a statement critical of Obama's choice of Warren, saying it was a "grave disappointment." Excerpt:
Pastor Warren, while enjoying a reputation as a moderate based on his affable personality and his church's engagement on issues like AIDS in Africa, has said that the real difference between James Dobson and himself is one of tone rather than substance. He has recently compared marriage by loving and committed same-sex couples to incest and pedophilia. He has repeated the Religious Right's big lie that supporters of equality for gay Americans are out to silence pastors. He has called Christians who advance a social gospel Marxists. He is adamantly opposed to women having a legal right to choose an abortion. Rick Warren gets plenty of attention through his books and media appearances. He doesn’t need or deserve this position of honor.
Speak Up Dem Officeholders!
I hope other Democrats and progressives, including our new members of Congress, speak up and encourage Obama to rethink his selection of Warren to lead the inaugural invocation. To do less would be siding with the forces of backwards, narrow thinking and hate-filled bigotry as we move towards the second decade of the 21st century. You can't claim to be a leader in the push for enlightened change and do otherwise, at least in my book.
The complete text of the letter sent to Obama by the Human Rights Campaign:
Let me get right to the point. Your invitation to Reverend Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at your inauguration is a genuine blow to LGBT Americans. Our loss in California over the passage of Proposition 8 which stripped loving, committed same-sex couples of their given legal right to marry is the greatest loss our community has faced in 40 years. And by inviting Rick Warren to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table.
Rick Warren has not sat on the sidelines in the fight for basic equality and fairness. In fact, Rev. Warren spoke out vocally in support of Prop 8 in California saying, “there is no need to change the universal, historical definition of marriage to appease 2 percent of our population ... This is not a political issue -- it is a moral issue that God has spoken clearly about." Furthermore, he continues to misrepresent marriage equality as silencing his religious views. This was a lie during the battle over Proposition 8, and it's a lie today.
Rev. Warren cannot name a single theological issue that he and vehemently, anti-gay theologian James Dobson disagree on. Rev. Warren is not a moderate pastor who is trying to bring all sides together. Instead, Rev. Warren has often played the role of general in the cultural war waged against LGBT Americans, many of whom also share a strong tradition of religion and faith.
We have been moved by your calls to religious leaders to own up to the homophobia and racism that has stood in the way of combating HIV and AIDS in this country. And that you have publicly called on religious leaders to open their hearts to their LGBT family members, neighbors and friends.
But in this case, we feel a deep level of disrespect when one of architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination. Only when Rev. Warren and others support basic legislative protections for LGBT Americans can we believe their claim that they are not four-square against our rights and dignity. In that light, we urge you to reconsider this announcement.
Human Rights Campaign
Also see my later post on this topic.
December 17, 2008 at 06:34 PM in 2008 General Presidential Election, Civil Liberties, GLBT Rights, Minority Issues, Obama Transition, Progressivism, Public Policy, Religion | Permalink | Comments (17)
Monday, December 15, 2008
It's Official: Obama-Biden Win New Mexico's 5 Electoral Votes
Not that there was any real doubt, but the formal electoral ballot ritual is now complete in New Mexico, and we have a winning ticket. Today at noon, New Mexico Presidential Electors -- Chairman Brian S. Colón, Democratic Party Vice-Chair Annadelle Sanchez, Democratic Party Treasurer Tom Buckner, Democratic Party Secretary Christy French and Secretary Alvin Warren of the state Indian Affairs Department -- gathered to submit their electoral ballots to elect President Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Secretary of State Mary Herrera welcomed New Mexico's Presidential Electors, who met in Santa Fe to fulfill their statutory and Constitutional duties to the electoral college system.
Chairman Brian Colón expressed his excitement, saying "I am deeply honored that we were able to take part in such a historic moment and I am proud to have cast my vote to officially elect Barack Obama and Joe Biden. I want to thank Secretary Herrera for her help during this process and for her work, along with the 33 New Mexico County Clerks, who ran a smooth and professional election in November."
The Presidential Electors were nominated by Chairman Colon and confirmed by the Democratic Party of New Mexico's State Central Committee. Because Barack Obama and Joe Biden prevailed in the State of New Mexico, the state's Democratic Party nominees became Presidential Electors. Electoral ballots were passed out to the Presidential Electors, who in turn officially represented New Mexicans' vote for Barack Obama and Joe Biden.
A similar process took place today in all 50 states as 538 members of the Electoral College convened, most at their respective state capitals, to formally cast the ballots that will put Obama in the White House. The states then send the electoral votes to the president of the U.S. Senate for the official count next month. If all goes according to plan, Obama should end up with 365 electoral votes to Republican John McCain’s 173. Onward to January 20th!
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Angela Chavez Guest Blog: The Day That Hope Won
This is a guest blog by Angela Chavez, who is in her second year at the University of New Mexico School of Law, where she participates in MALSA and NLLSA. She is also a Regional President of the Hispanic Bar Association’s student division.
Prior to entering law school, Ms. Chavez worked for the Democratic Party of New Mexico, Governor Bill Richardson and Senator John Kerry. She is the current National Committee Woman for the Young Democrats of New Mexico. Angela was raised in Socorro. She is recently engaged to Joshua Adkins.
We will all remember where we were the day that hope won and the country elected Barrack Obama. I was in Albuquerque's South Valley poll watching. Many of my law school colleagues joined me in watching polls across our beautiful state. Below is a narrative of my experience. I hope to see even more volunteers for re-election in 2012!
I didn't have to go outside of the library of Harrison Middle School to know that it was a cold Fall day in the South Valley. Yellow and orange leaves blew through the door announcing each voter.
Some of the voters were viejitas with carefully applied lipstick. Before voting, they unwrapped their scarves to reveal that their hair was still perfectly curled despite the wind that you could hear through the windows. The viejitos came too. One man with brittle silver hair carried a thermos in his calloused hand and wore a black and blue flannel jacket. I imagined that the thermos was full of coffee and that he was on his way to work, or maybe to rake up the leaves that were piling up in his yard. The familiar smell of mentholato followed him out the door.
Many of the voters were young moms. They carried babies wrapped in soft blankets. Tiny red noses peaked out of the blankets, reminding me of the cold. The older kids wore puffy jackets and resembled waddling marshmallows with arms and tiny gloved hands.
An older mother came in with her teenaged daughter. Her daughter was wearing a polo shirt from a local restaurant. Her smile revealed sparkly braces and dimples framed by rosey cheeks. The young girl was so excited to vote that she didn't seem to care about the stain on her uniform. The mother was proud to announce, "It's my daughter's first time." My eyes felt warm and I had chills because I was trying to hold back tears.
My tears were prompted by pride and hope. I was proud to see that the cold did not keep people from voting. The continuous stream of female members of my own generation gave me a strong sense of solidarity. I felt like a member of strong brigade armed with the power to vote. Each vote cast by my sisters in arms was a vote for our future, a future that we would all share regardless of which political party prevailed. I felt like my generation recognized and accepted our responsibility to look forward and act now.
My hope came from the realization that our collective voice was growing and that in this election, the voice calling for change and better tomorrow was going to be too loud to be ignored any longer. This was going to be the election that defined our generation. By voting, we chose to define ourselves rather than allowing ourselves to be defined.
This is a guest blog by Angela Chavez. In addition to being a law student and one of the hardest working Democratic activists we know, Angela does a spot-on imitation of the infamous Sarah Palin -- as you can see from the photo at left taken this Halloween. (Had to use it!) Click on photo for larger image.
If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link on the upper left-hand corner of the page.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
The Luxury of Serendipity
It's somewhat disconcerting to have time to poke around the web at a leisurely pace and be entirely serendipitous instead of obsessively scanning for info I might need to cover. It's a relief to realize that if I post only once or twice a day instead of six or seven, I no longer feel guilty, traitorous to the cause. I'm even tempted to visit -- dare I say it -- nonpolitical websites and blogs, or read a novel, or sit out back and stare at the sky.
I'm finally absorbing the fact that it's okay to take a deep breath and relax. The rats are leaving the ship of state, and they won't be back anytime soon. New Mexico's Congressional delegation is True Blue. Democrats gained important House and Senate seats in the New Mexico Legislature. Our extraordinary Bernalillo County Clerk and her team remain intact. All is well (at the moment) in Blogville.
In that spirit, I offer a time-wasting list I stumbled on that reveals 50 things you might not know about President-Elect Obama -- including these:
- His favorite meal is wife Michelle's shrimp linguini
- He owns a set of red boxing gloves autographed by Muhammad Ali
- He can speak Spanish
- His favorite book is Moby-Dick by Herman Melville
- His desk in his Senate office once belonged to Robert Kennedy
- His favorite films are Casablanca and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
- His favorite music includes Miles Davis, Bob Dylan, Bach and The Fugees
- He took Michelle to see the Spike Lee film Do The Right Thing on their first date
- He enjoys playing Scrabble and poker
- He would have liked to have been an architect if he were not a politician
- His favorite fictional television programs are Mash and The Wire
- His favorite artist is Pablo Picasso
- He keeps on his desk a carving of a wooden hand holding an egg, a Kenyan symbol of the fragility of life
- His late father was a senior economist for the Kenyan government
I love Casablanca and One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest too, in case you're wondering.
I bolded the one about wanting to be an architect because I know it will tickle Mary Ellen (the architect) when she reads it. Seems a really, really significant number of people have informed her over the years that if they weren't a XXXXX, they'd like to be an architect. They usually add, "Except I have trouble with math." I wonder why Obama left that out.
PS: I can vouch for the fact that the lives of most architects bear no resemblance to how they're usually shown in the movies or on TV. The firm's PARTNERS are the architects who live like that. The rest just work their asses off for not enough pay, like the rest of American's working stiffs, though most of them do seem to love the work -- except when everything cool has to be cut out of the building because of cost over-runs, or the lawsuits kick in.
Thought for the Day: Second Class Citizenship
Courtesy of the pioneering Kate Clinton, lesbian standup comic extraordinaire. I saw Kate perform a bunch of times, and even emcee, at the now defunct Wimminfest -- an annual music-comedy-art-dance and more event held for years at the KiMo and the historic hotel that used to be called La Posada in downtown Albuquerque. She was always fabulous, and brave in the early days of the gay rights movement. Back when downtown Albuquerque still had angled parking places on Central, the long Wimminfest weekends in May filled the otherwise rather empty streets with lesbians galore (and some straight feminists) from all over the country. Quite the scene.
Of course we never contemplated marriage back then. Licenses issued by the state were considered tools of the establishment to be avoided at all costs. We weren't part of the mainstream -- we were rebels living risky lives outside the lines. We weren't thinking ahead to the time, decades later, when we'd be worried about visiting our partners in the hospital, getting joint health care coverage with COBRA, inheriting one another's survivor benefits from pensions or Social Security or making sure our families had adequate legal protections.
Now most of us are smack dab in the middle of the mainstream in most ways, but without the civil rights taken for granted by other citizens of the republic. It's a crime, literally. We work hard for Dem candidates, expanded civil liberties and wide-ranging progressive causes, but too few politicos return the favor.
I'm still waiting for the day when some prominent Dem politician or officeholder outside of San Francisco or Boston will have the nerve to state the obvious, flat out: civil law providing for gay marriage is the only equitable solution to the current injustices experienced by 8-10% of the American population. Hey Barack -- why don't you start? Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich, Ben Ray Lujan and Harry Teague -- what about you? What about the Dem caucus in the New Mexico Legislature? Is it acceptable to you that so many fellow New Mexicans and Americans are treated like second-class citizens? Speak up for what's right. Our time COULD be now. Now that would really be the Change We Need.
Want to help? Sign the Courage Campaign's pledge to help repeal California's Prop 8.
Guest Blog: He Absolutely HAD to be a 'Community Organizer'
This is a guest blog by Hakim Bellamy, an Albuquerque poet, freelance journalist and community organizer who currently works for the New Mexico Office of African American Affairs, and who serves as Poetry Coach at South Valley Academy.
My good friend over at SouthWest Organizing Project (www.swop.net), Tomas Garduno, articulated this entire article for me the eve of the election on VOTE LIKE A ROCKSTAR: The After School Special which aired on Channel 27. In talking about the work that SWOP does in the community he said, “Groups like SWOP have been doing the work in the community long before Senator Obama made it popular to be a ‘community organizer.’” In that one sentence he beat me to the punch. Not the punchline or the story line even, but the fist extended into the air as WE, the community organizers, stand and be recognized for the work we did to make this historic candidacy possible and the work we’ll continue to do long after Senator Obama is president-elect.
What do I mean? I mean to say that the Obama Campaign was brilliantly strategized. Hats off to Chairman Dean, Axelrod and Plouffe! Their brilliance lies in the fact that they did not try to reinvent the wheel. At the same time, they did not parachute campaign either (as I might argue that the Republicans have been very effective at doing in the past). Meaning, they don’t just drop into your town every four years to stump issues and plant seeds of fear, desperation or misplaced nationalism. Only to ransom your vote and then leave right after they’ve won the race, never to be heard from again until the next election cycle ... though they supposedly get regular input from their constituency in order to represent you? That was the old “successful” model, now reminisced as the “last campaigns of the 20th century,” while the Obama Camp has ushered in the “1st campaign of the 21st century.”
How so? Because they were smart enough to realize that they needed to use people already on the ground in “real American” communities all across the nation. But these people already in the trenches and fighting the wars AT HOME, aren’t easily swayed by perfect smiles, shiny shoes and fancy-shmancy check signing pens. These people have a certain disdain for those with authority and from government, who have often said they have come to “help,” only to leave the place worse off than they found it (kinda like parachute campaigning). These are people who have already enacted change in their communities on a local level and have a history of holding public officials accountable. People who have already had change they could believe in, because they are the agents of change in their communities. They have seen it, lived it and on a national level, waited for it for a very long time.
Why Obama? Because he is the first candidate that knows where we, these people, are coming from. He had to be one of us. He needed our buy-in to give his campaign legs in the community and, in order to get that, he needed us to believe. His story was one that folks in groups like SWOP, Common Cause, New Mexico Youth Organized, NM Hip Hop Congress, Young Women United and many others could believe in. Primarily because we lived it and we can smell when someone is falsely depicting or trying to capitalize off of our “everyday.” It’s like when you’re from the streets and you hear someone talking about said “streets” and three sentences in, you know for sure that they have never spent a day on the “streets” in their life. That’s not gangsta at all.
Why has it worked? Because we already had networks established. We have our own grassroots ground games. We already cultivated an organized, informed and active base of citizens who will get up out of their homes and do what it takes to carry their neighborhoods, communities, families and schools forward. Tapping into these networks was essential for the Obama Campaign to get to this point. We are the ones out registering the record numbers of voters, convincing our gang-banging cousins to register, walking our neighbors with felonies down the path of re-enfranchisement. We are the opinion leaders in our social circles and personal relationships talking the issues with those we care about because their future is important to us. And that carries more weight than billions of dollars in TV commercials. It means more when it comes from someone you have suffered side by side with in the same economically depressed neighborhood for the past 8 years than from someone flown in from Boston to canvass your block for the past 8 weeks.
The Obama campaign understood this. Why? Because Obama understands this and quite frankly, “birds of a feather ....” So stand up and take your bow community organizers. No matter what race, sex or nationality you are, one of ours has made it to the eleventh hour of the presidential race because of you. Because of us. We’ve been the change we wanted to see in the world for some time and now, finally, the world is starting to look like us. Our work is not in vain, and as President–Elect Obama will realize on November 5th, neither was his. And maybe, just maybe, you, me and Tomas will all have to get bodyguards and paparazzi protection because after Tuesday, it will be DAMN sexy to be a “community organizer.”
This is a guest blog by Hakim Bellamy, who is a two-time National Champion in the Poetry Slam scene. Hakim’s poetry and journalism have been published internationally as well as his radio journalism on KUNM 89.9FM out of Albuquerque, NM. He is currently working for the New Mexico Office of African American Affairs and is a board member for Poetic Justice Institute and Black Cowgirl Productions as well.
He is most proud of being the Poetry Club coach at South Valley Academy. His poetry has been published in Albuquerque inner-city buses as a winner of the RouteWords Competition (2005). His poetry has also been published in the Harwood Anthology (2006), the Earthships Anthology (2007), Sin Fronteras Journal (2008), A Bigger Boat published by UNM Press (2008) and Looking Back at Place (2008). In January, Bellamy was recognized as an honorable mention for the University of New Mexico Paul Bartlett Re Peace Prize for his work as a community organizer and freelance journalist. Hakim has written for the Alibi, Local-iQ and numerous webzines. He currently is regular writer for The District and BOOM Magazines.
**If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page.**