Friday, March 01, 2013

Sequestration Day = Citizen's Screwed, Elected Officials Safe - Time to say NO

Websters Dictionary Definition of Sequestration:

In law, a writ authorizing a law-enforcement official to take into custody the property of a defendant in order to enforce a judgment or to preserve the property until a judgment is rendered. In some civil-law jurisdictions, contested property may be deposited with a third party until it is determined to whom it properly belongs.

Breaking%20Down%20the%20Sequester%20Pie%20Chart

Image above from the BiPartisan Policy Center

Sign this petition http://signon.org/sign/recall-the-dc-535 and like this FB page. 

If the Sequester kicks in, it is because the Congress has demonstrated a persistent inability to do its job as set forth in the Constitution. Therefore they should be recalled as a body.

However, as recall elections of federally-elected officials are not permitted, we the undersigned declare this Congress and its members illegitimate, and state our intention to remove every member from office, regardless of party affiliation, in the next election.

Do your job. Or go home.

Also Go LIKE this FB page:

http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/pages/Recall-the-DC-535/543177652368994

To the people who are looking for jobs this sequestration is very real. The economy is extremely fragile. This is already having effects. It is unbelievable to have this acually going to occur, mostly this affects the poor and elderly.

The solution in my humble opinion, elect women up and down the ticket. No more men in office til they can play fair with others.

March 1, 2013 at 10:05 AM in Candidates & Races, Corporatism, Current Affairs, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (NM-03), Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, Republican Party, Sen. Martin Heinrich, Sen. Tom Udall, Steve Pearce | Permalink | Comments (3)

Saturday, December 01, 2012

Fun Saturday Lazy Research

Patchwork Nation has a fun map of the counties of our Country and an interactive method to drill down to see what a particular region is made up of these current days.

Patchwork nation rev
The categories for the interactive map above are shown below.

Patchwork nation image 1

Have fun. Click on this link to go to the patchwork site and maneuver around. See where you want to move to. Good Saturday fun!

December 1, 2012 at 11:18 AM in 2012 General Election, Business, Corporatism, Current Affairs, Visuals | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Netroots Nation 2012 Day 1

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Chum in NN12 goodie bag

Netroots Nation is always one of the most invigorating conventions to attend. This year 2012 in Providence Rhode Island is living up to the other two times that Barb and I came here together. What a wealth of information and dedicated people of all ages, and shapes and sizes. I had forgotten how many in the LGBT community are bloggers too.

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The weather is expectedly damp. 100% humidity and lots of puddles.

I have ran into many old friends which Barb and I have developed over the years as well. Like Joaquin Guerra who married the beautiful Anathea Chino, and Steve Olson who ran Udall's campaign and all the great folks of Democracy for America, and even Markos the creator of the infamous Dailykos.

The panels I have attended have been full of great information. This morning I attended "Taking the Offense in State Elections" perfect for what we have ahead of us in NM, and a panel about winning smarter. Then a great lunch with the other DFA scholars. For the afternoon I attended the Blog Content Bootcamp, and a panel on Marriage Equality Past, Present, and Future.

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Then this evening we heard from great speakers: Cecile Richards the President of Planned Parenthood, was describing how powerful the netroots was in saving the Planned Parenthood "throw it under the bus attempt by the right wing and Komen" which happened a few months back.

We heard from Bill McKibben the founder of 350.org, telling us about the severity of preventing the Keystone pipeline and other issues. We heard from the Mayor of Providence about the importance of rebuilding cities and economic viability, Tammy Baldwin running for Senate, who would be the first open lesbian in senate if she wins.

We heard from the vice president of the NEA Lily Eskelsen, describing the attack on eductaion and teachers and that whole nightmare. Lastly, we heard from Senator Sheldon Whitehouse atlking about Citizens United among other topics, and then from Eric Schneiderman, New York States Attorney General who is leading the charge on investigating the Wall Street breakdown. Wow huh!?

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My favorite impromptu art piece, made of pennies and quarters

June 7, 2012 at 09:41 PM in Current Affairs, Netroots Nation | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Alibi's Best of Burque 2012 Poet: Hakim Bellamy and Best Comedian: Sarah Kennedy

2012 Best of Burque Poet: Hakim Bellamy

From the Alibi: Bellamy is not just one of our most beloved young wordsmiths—he’s a contemporary Renaissance man, cross-pollinating his lyrical work with pursuits in film, theater, journalism, music, youth education and community activism.

Please take the time to go read and listen to Hakim's latest moving peice From OJ to Trayvon, at http://hakimbe.com/ this is a must read and hear folks.

Lettuce Sarah Kennedy!

From the Alibi: Readers love Sarah Kennedy for her casual, observational, consistently hilarious brand of humor. We agree: This lady has got to be one of the most likable people we’ve seen on stage. Check out a sample of Sarah below.

Quintessential Artists

Hakim and Sarah are both very engaged in their communities. They use their gift to tell a message. They follow issues and care, they create their art to help communicate their message of caring and love. Give it up for two local talented stars!

April 12, 2012 at 09:54 AM in City of Albuquerque, Current Affairs, Humor, Theater | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, April 06, 2012

SWOP Mailers in the News (Again)

Abq%20journal%20griego%20mailerSince January, SWOP and our friends at the Center for Civic Policy have communicated directly several times with New Mexicans about Senate Bill 9, which addresses corporate tax loopholes. Prior to the session, we sent mailers to constituents of key legislators who sit on powerful legislative committees, to let their legislators know that they supported the bill. In a victory for New Mexicans, SB9 passed the NM Legislature this year, requiring "big box" corporations to pay income taxes on profits made in New Mexico. Unfortunately, though, Governor Susana Martinez vetoed the bill.

To follow up on the session, we communicated with the constituents of the legislators who didn’t listen on SB 9, when it mattered most. One of those legislators, Sen. Phil Griego, voted ‘no’ on passing it out of the Senate Corporations Committee which he chairs. Griego has voted ‘no’ many times before, making the bill dead in the water once it made it to his committee, year in and year out. This year, enough legislators voted to let it pass on to the floor, despite Griego’s efforts. When SB 9 made it to the floor, Griego himself voted for it. We felt it was important to let his constituents know how Griego voted in committee. It’s a story not only about SB 9, but about the important steps in the journey of a bill becoming law. It’s important for New Mexicans to know not only the positions their legislators take in very public floor votes, but also in crucial votes being made in committee rooms.

Once again, the Albuquerque Journal decided to highlight our educational efforts in an article about whether or not nonprofits should have the right to speak freely about public official’s actions on key policy issues. Unfortunately, the article leaves out our history of public education, year in and year out. But it does point out the clear legal victory we achieved in 2010, when a federal appellate court upheld our right to free speech. SWOP has been sending out educational mailers to New Mexicans almost every year throughout our history, and our membership has always supported these endeavors. Transparency in government will always be opposed by elected officials who carry water for large corporations, and we appreciate your support in our right to educate New Mexicans.

April 6, 2012 at 08:48 AM in Current Affairs, Education, NM Legislature 2012 | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

2012 Marks New Mexico's Centennial Celebration-Op-Ed by Sen. Michael S. Sanchez

2012 Marks New Mexico's Centennial Celebration
Op-Ed Submitted by Sen. Michael S. Sanchez, Senate Majority Leader (D-29-Valencia)

Centennial logo

Many of you are already aware that 2012 marks New Mexico's Centennial — 100 years of statehood. As we approach our 100th birthday, I think it is important to think about a few things. Like any birthday, our centennial is a chance to look back at how far we have come as a state.

It is an opportunity to reflect on the New Mexico so many of us grew up in and the New Mexico our children and grandchildren will grow up in. We should be mindful of our history, not only because having a sense of history helps us understand how best to move forward, but also because it might help us to avoid repeating some mistakes.

Our centennial is a celebration. It is a time to pause and give thanks to those who came before us; it is a time to gather with friends, family and community to acknowledge that what makes us similar is much greater than what makes us different.

Our centennial should be celebrated like our own birthdays. Birthdays should be a time when close friends and family take a moment to be with each other in appreciation of one another.

While we must always be careful about how we spend money as a state, a celebration of 100 years of statehood is important enough to merit some funding. During the 2011 regular legislative session, money was appropriated for the centennial celebration however, the Governor vetoed the appropriation. Despite the veto, it is my hope that the administration is willing to collaborate with the legislature and private sector during the upcoming legislative session to fully acknowledge this milestone in our state's great history. This is an event that should not go unrecognized and a modest amount of money could go a long way to bring awareness of centennial celebrations to people living in and out-of-state.

We have much to celebrate on our 100th birthday:
• Our History — from some of North America's oldest inhabitants to some of the New World's
first explorers, through westward expansion of a new nation to World War II and into the new
millennium, New Mexico has as rich a history as any other state in the United States.
• Our Diversity and Culture — New Mexico truly exemplifies America's melting pot: a place where distinct cultures intermingle with one another every day, while remaining mindful of who we are and where we came from. We have always taken great pride in how the divergent cultures have blended to create the unique New Mexican.
• Our Food — It may sound cliché but I do not know anyone who leaves New Mexico for any period of time that does not come back craving a plate of enchiladas or a green chile cheeseburger. For many, it is the first stop outside of the airport.
• Our Landscape — While it is difficult for anyone to take credit for this one, the stunning natural beauty of New Mexico is what attracts so many of our visitors and what drew many residents in the first place.

During the coming year, I encourage everyone to take a moment to look back at how far we have come and to honor the fact that we are here and this is home. The vast communities that run from Lordsburg to Raton, from Farmington to Jal, from the Navajo Nation to the Mescalero Apache Reservation and all the towns and pueblos in between are why New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment. I encourage each and every New Mexican to take some time in 2012 to think about our statehood while attending some of the centennial events taking place in your area of the state. If your area is not offering any events, I hope you and other members of your community will work together to commemorate this important date in our history. After all, the centennial belongs to all of us and we deserve to celebrate. Happy Birthday, New Mexico!

December 7, 2011 at 01:35 PM in Current Affairs, Events, Guest Blogger, History | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

12/5: Norman Finkelstein to Speak on the Palestinian Occupation at UNM on Monday

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Author and Political Scientist Norman Finkelstein to Speak at UNM, Student Union Building (SUB) Ballroom A and B. Monday, December 5, 2011:  from 5:45-7:00 pm.  Doors open at 5:15 pm. 

This event is FREE but donations will be accepted and will go toward supporting future SJP-UNM educational events regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

The Students for Justice in Palestine-UNM (SJP-UNM) is pleased to announce that Norman Finkelstein, political scientist, activist and author will be speaking on the University of New Mexico campus, Finkelstein will speak about the occupation of Palestine and other developments regarding Palestine’s prospects for statehood and peace.

Norman Finkelstein received his doctorate in 1988 from the Department of Politics at Princeton University. For many years he taught political theory and has written and spoken publicly on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Finkelstein is the author of six books that have been translated into more than 40 foreign editions: This Time We Went Too Far: Truth and Consequences of the Gaza Invasion; Beyond Chutzpah: On the Misuse of Anti-Semitism and the Abuse of History; The Holocaust Industry: Reflections on the Exploitation of Jewish Suffering; Image and Reality of the Israel-Palestine Conflict; A Nation on Trial: The Goldhagen Thesis and Historical Truth (with Ruth Bettina Birn); and The Rise and Fall of Palestine: A Personal Account of the Intifada Years. 

Finkelstein has also published several pamphlets, most recently, Goldstone Recants. He is currently working on a new book entitled Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Love Affair with Israel is Coming to an End.  Finkelstein currently writes and lectures. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

This event is sponsored by the Students for Justice in Palestine-UNM (SJP-UNM) and made possible by Lannan Foundation.  Other campus and community organizations collaborating in this presentation include: the Muslim Students Association-UNM (MSA-UNM); the UNM Peace Studies Program; BDS-NM; the Coalition to Stop $30 billion to Israel; and the Friends of Sabeel Albuquerque (FOSA).

For more information, please email unmsjp@gmail.com or call 505-246-2231.

November 30, 2011 at 05:28 PM in Current Affairs, Events, Middle East | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, July 07, 2011

How to Help Family's Efforts to Save Dixon's Apple Orchard From Fire and Flood Impacts

Images Who hasn't enjoyed the magnificent fruit provided each year -- if all goes well -- by Dixon's apple orchard near Cochiti lake? We each have our favorites among the Champagne, Sparkling Burgundy, Red Rome or Red Delicious apples. The Champaign and Burgundy varieties, in particular, are precious -- having been developed over decades by the family-run operation and embued with unique qualities produced by the special soil, climate and location of the orchard. Even more distinctive and admirable has been the family's devotion to the orchard, and to making a visit to the orchard into a warm and wonderful experience, no matter what your age or circumstances.

Now all that is in danger of extinction.

As many of you know, Dixon's orchard came close to being wiped out entirely by one of the voracious arms of the massive Las Conchas fire, which is still burning virulently farther north in New Mexico. Luckily, "only" about 300 trees -- or about 10% of the orchard -- failed to survive the fire. That's bad enough, but Becky Mullane, Fred Dixon's daughter, and her husband Jim and their kids lost their residence at the orchard as well as a few other structures to the fire.

Even worse is what may happen in the aftermath of the flames, when our monsoon kicks in any day now and the burnt hills and canyon walls that surround the orchard can no longer hold the cascading water that pours down. The orchard is now in serious danger of complete destruction via flooding and serious erosion. We can't let that happen.

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Friends of Dixon's t-shirt

Red Tape
Unfortunately, the Mullanes have run into problems with the state Risk Management Division refusing to permit them to start immediately on work to mitigate the impacts of the coming downpours. Because the land is owned by the state, the Mullanes must abide by the orders of Risk Management and other state agencies in how they handle certain aspects of the emergency. At the moment Risk Management is saying the Mullanes won't be able to start on reseeding, clearing of the creek bed or stabilization of the hillside until Friday, and that might be too late. As the Santa Fe New Mexican reports:

The apple trees that survived the Las Conchas Fire sit on a flood plain directly below six miles of canyon and 20,000 acres filled with ash and soot — all ready to be flushed toward the orchard and Cochiti Lake with the summer monsoons. This watershed supplies Cochiti Pueblo, Cochiti Lake and a significant amount of the water supply for the Rio Grande Valley. 

NM Land Commissioner Ray Powell is one of the government officials who's working hard to speed up the process of prevention and mitigation:

State Land Commissioner Ray Powell has been working with officials from Cochiti Pueblo, the National Resource Conservation Service, the Bureau of Land Management, UNM and other agencies to bring help to Dixon's Apple Orchard. 

"There is a huge amount of expertise and a will to do something," Powell said, "but it all revolves around getting the resources to apply it to the land and getting those resources quickly."

How Can We Help?

Dana Rickard, a family friend of the Mullanes and manager of their promotions and weddings, is currently establishing a public donation fund. The best support the general public can offer Dixon's Apple Orchard right now, according to Rickard, is to donate $50 for a T-shirt at friendsofdixons.com

Ray Powell advises people to call local legislators and members of the congressional delegation to push for more immediate funds to protect the orchard and the watershed just beyond it. 

The family and supporters are also planning for a benefit fundraiser to be held on August 27th. To help with contributions, time, silent auction high ticket items or raffle items for the Mullane family benefit please contact Kim Duran @ kim2955@aol.com.

You can stay current with the happenings at the orchard at the familly's Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/dixons.apples

Let's all pitch in and put maximum pressure on government officials to help save this New Mexico treasure!

July 7, 2011 at 01:14 PM in Current Affairs | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, July 04, 2011

Stuart Heady Guest Blog: Pissed Off American on the 4th of July

6a00d834519ed469e2014e87cd3f38970d-800wi This is a guest blog by Stuart Heady, a freelance writer and political activist who lives in Albuquerque.

My father's line began in America with an ancestor named John, who came over from England in 1680, four hundred years ago. Two ancestors fought in the American Revolution; Peter, who died with his long rifle in his hands and his son Daniel, who survived.

Now, as the last of my line, I regard a prospect: it would be best for me to die suddenly in such a way that it doesn’t leave behind medical bills for my wife. This state of affairs exists for many people and it should really piss us all off.

My parents had an upper-middle-class lifestyle and died with good insurance coverage and a little bit left to pay the bills left in the bank. This seemed a continuation of a good run of generations. My father left the small town in upstate New York along the Erie Canal where his great grandfather had established a small livery stable business, in order to pursue an education on the GI Bill and a career as an electrical engineer. That was the post-WWII thing to do. That was moving on up. 

Now, what has become of America? Apparently the Tories on Wall Street have taken the Revolution back in a way that their musket-toting redcoat ancestors could not. Now we are moving on down. 

Muskets are not the answer. What is the answer is that we must throw off the illusions of comfort and consumer paradise we have all gotten used to since the 1950s and regain the ability of our founding generation to think clearly and speak the truth. 

Speaking the Honest Truth, Not Spin
We have adopted the principles of Edward Bernays, one of the founding fathers of Madison Avenue, and have more and more polluted our politics with the notion that there is no truth, only spin and framing, carping and belittling. The founders are still quotable over two hundred years later because they spoke in cut-to-the-bone truth and unremitting honesty. That was a political tool of the time. Sword-sharp minds, sharp debate and a true aim on honesty. Of course they were also skilled at politics and Machiavellian maneuvering, but they did not have to operate in a public atmosphere that was full of illusions and magician tricks with image and language that many people apparently can’t see.

A lot of people talk about the need for a new revolution. But does anyone seriously think you can shoot 7-10 billion people on the planet to deal with Peak Oil, resource depletion, globalization and the other mega-issues that the human race really faces in the long run of the 21st century and into the 22nd?

Wake up, pissed off America!

Create a Genuine Public Dialogue
We have the means at our disposal, in the existence of the internet, personal computers and other electronic devices coming out every year, to create a real public deliberation about the truth of our situation and what constructive solutions might work. We still have an education system, in decline though it is. While we still can, we should make use of it. We have become mentally obese just as we have become physically obese. Our ancestors didn’t come from Mount Olympus and weren’t absolute aberrations as humans. We have their DNA and their minds. They were just mentally athletic and in superb shape for exercising their intellects. We The People need to regain those abilities. 

We should quit listening to people who want our votes but who offer only to think small, to talk about irrelevancies and who seem to be in denial about what it really going on.

A lot of us can’t put words to it. We feel like horses in a corral before an earthquake. We might just kick anyone who comes close to reassure us, and kick the living crap out of them. But we couldn’t necessarily say why we feel this way. 

The dynamic issues of our world explode past the bounds of the systems we have developed over the ages for dealing with them. The political system is not an R&D system that early adopters can love. It mitigates against frivolous innovations and in so doing, moves slowly relative to those who feel that we need to be moving faster to keep pace with 21st-century realities.

For the political system to be swifter, we have to be swifter.

One could say that America is like a party barge and everyone is having a good time still, despite the fact that we seem to be getting low on the good stuff in the coolers. Nobody wants to hear that the bank seems to be moving or that perhaps it might be connected to a roar in the distance from about where that waterfall downstream is. It is such a drag to have to wake up and deal with things.

But, at least mentally, we need to consider trying on a pair of those old buckle shoes, because we need to fill them. The revolution we need is in our own waking up and becoming conscious and taking on responsibility for thinking above our pay grade, and indeed above anyone’s pay grade. We should dare go there, because there is really nobody minding the store where We The People belong.

Fireworks of the Spirit
Heat lightning flashes blink softly inside banks of clouds above waving fields of Johnson Grass on hot Central Texas summer nights with cicadas buzzing and tension in the air electric. As the black gum earth bakes under the acetylene torch sun of day, humidity rises into thickening air. 

Heat lightning passes through the masses of humans on the ground, although unseen. People discharge on contact with each other, the human system reflecting the natural system, having electric energy potential as well.

In times of stress, one must be especially careful. 

Caring means being open to the energy potential in the human environment. Anger is a fundamental motivator, as one considers injustice. It is a source of creativity. But, like fire, it can get out of control at times.  This is one of the reasons we get mad at each other and find it harder to focus on ways to move progressive change forward. As they say, “if you ain’t upset, you ain’t payin’ attention.”

Fireworks are beautiful, so this 4th with tinder dry forests and brush country, we should resolve to use the motivating force and energy of fireworks of the spirit in ways that have a beautiful impact as we go off into the future.  

This is a guest blog by Stuart Heady. 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.

July 4, 2011 at 09:37 AM in Civil Liberties, Current Affairs, Guest Blogger, History, Holidays | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Public Memorial Service for Stewart Udall Set for June 20 at Paolo Soleri Amphitheater

The Udall family will hold a public memorial for the family’s late patriarch entitled, “Stewart L. Udall: A Celebration of Life and Legacy” on Father’s Day, June 20, 2010.

The former Interior Secretary, and father of U.S. Sen. Tom Udall, passed away peacefully at the age of 90, on March 20 at his home in Santa Fe. He was surrounded by family.

"Our family was blessed to have Stewart Udall as our Father, and we were honored to share him with the people, the lands and the causes he championed for so many years, Sen. Tom Udall said in a statement released by the family. “Our Dad so loved the southwest, its people and its magnificent outdoor spaces that we thought there would be no more fitting tribute than to celebrate his life and legacy with the people he loved most, on the land he held so dear.

“On Father's Day, we invite his friends and admirers to join us in honoring our Dad through a celebration of music, poetry and personal remembrances." The celebration of life will be open to the public:

WHAT: “Stewart L. Udall: A Celebration of Life and Legacy”

WHEN: Father’s Day, Sunday, June 20, 2010

TIME: 9:30 AM MT.

LOCATION: The Paolo Soleri Amphitheatre, located on the Santa Fe Indian School Campus, 1501 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe, N.M. 87505.

March 31, 2010 at 03:31 PM in Current Affairs, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Guest Blog: Agitate, Agitate, Agitate! On Howard Zinn's Legacy, Social Movements and the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign

DanaMillen This is a guest blog by Dana Schultz Millen of Albuquerque. Since October of 2003, Dana has been the Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign.

When I first heard of Howard Zinn’s death, I was shocked. This was a man we thought would live forever; he had an energy for everything good – an energy for activism that I wanted to believe would never end. As many have expressed upon the news of his death – and I am no exception – he was a father, hero and teacher to me. Professor Zinn taught me to love history – history from the bottom-up – history that honors ordinary people. He honored the everyday heroes of our society, not the status quo elite that we were all taught about in school. Howard wanted us to question the status quo - to question injustice, and to speak out against it, wherever we found it. He taught me that history is about making a difference, about fighting to make it better, and he taught me to believe that I could make a difference – by taking action. Howard Zinn – though I never had the honor of meeting him personally – is someone I have lived with day in and day out for almost four years now, as I have worked to complete my PhD dissertation.

In one of my favorite works by Zinn – from Against Discouragement, he is invited back to give the commencement address at Spellman College in 2005 – a college that fired him in 1963 because of his civil rights movement work, which amounted to “insubordination” according to the college administration at the time. In this piece, Zinn (2005) cautioned against discouragement, and spoke about making a “good life” for the graduates:

My hope is that you will not be content just to be successful in the way that our society measures success; that you will not obey the rules, when the rules are unjust; that you will act out the courage that I know is in you. There are wonderful people, black and white, who are models. I don’t mean African-Americans like Condoleezza Rice, or Colin Powell, or Clarence Thomas, who have become servants of the rich and powerful. I mean W.E.B. Dubois, and Martin Luther King and Malcolm X and Marian Wright Edelman, and James Baldwin and Josephine Baker and good white folk, too, who defied the establishment to work for peace and justice. (p.4-5)

In the first chapter of my doctoral dissertation (in which my main research question is: How do participants in a social justice movement experience their transition toward increased social action?), I also quote Zinn, as he encourages all of us to speak out against injustice, to care, and to keep on fighting, even in a society that often frowns upon such action. Zinn observes, in an interview with Schivone:

And because there is always a tendency…to conform, not to raise your voices, not to be noticed, not to be conspicuous. It takes some courage to put yourself out there in front and become visible as a dissident - as a “troublemaker.” So there are all sorts of forces operating in favor of conformity, in favor of silence. (Schivone, 2009, p. 54)

In the end, Howard Zinn cared about social movements – and encouraged us to take part in movements of justice as a way of resisting oppression against the status quo. A review of social justice movements suggests a number of ways in which people have become politically active, and have historically resisted such oppression. Indeed, as Zinn notes, in another interview with Schivone:

Despite the tendency of populations to obey authority, we have enough historical instances where people stopped obeying authority, and as a result of stopping their obedience they made changes in society. When workers stopped being obedient to their employers and went out on strike, they were able to succeed. When in the 1880s workers stopped being obedient and went out on strike all over the country, they won the eight-hour day. When in the 1930s in the United States workers stopped being obedient to their employers and engaged in strikes all over the country, including sitting down in the factories and refusing to leave, well, then they broke the cycle – the long cycle – of obedience. They won the rights to trade unions and to changes in their conditions. (Schivone, 2009, p. 17)

Zinn, however controversial to those who still choose to think of American history as that created by “dead white men in wigs”, is careful when he defines history in one of his final books:

I don’t want to invent victories for people’s movements. But to think that history writing must aim simply to recapitulate the failures that dominate the past is to make historians collaborators in an endless cycle of defeat. If history is to be creative, to anticipate a possible future without denying the past, it should, I believe, emphasize new possibilities by disclosing those hidden episodes of the past when, even if in brief flashes, people showed their ability to resist, to join together, and occasionally to win. (Zinn, 2007, p. 12)

I am brought back to the message of making a difference, of making a good life for not only my family, and myself but for the world around me. One of the ways I choose to do such work is to be involved in the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign – a current social justice movement in New Mexico. Established in 1992, the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign has grown into a broad statewide nonpartisan coalition of community, consumer, labor, faith-based, health professional, human rights and environmental organizations; businesses; farmers and ranchers; and groups advocating for the homeless and the poor. Currently, over 145 organizations are members of the largest coalition in the history of the state of New Mexico. The Campaign’s mission is to establish a system of guaranteed comprehensive and affordable health coverage for all New Mexicans regardless of income, age, health or employment status, or race or gender, which includes preventive care and freedom of choice of provider. Through many years of grassroots organizing, educating, and public input, the Campaign has developed a homegrown proposal to enable New Mexico to establish its own self-insured health plan.

The Plan increasingly has been recognized as a viable solution to New Mexico’s growing health care crisis. It was the first of three models chosen for professional independent analysis by the Governor’s Health Coverage for New Mexicans Committee in 2007 and proved to be the only proposal that would reduce health care expenditures and guarantee coverage. If passed, the Health Security Act would change the role of private insurance to a supplemental one, as Medicare did when it was established. The Campaign believes that continuing to support a complex private health insurance system that has failed to address the New Mexico health care crisis is not a wise investment of limited resources. Recognizing that such a paradigm shift cannot occur without broad-based community support, the Campaign has focused on education and outreach activities that have included local leadership development through the creation and support of Local Organizing Committees in key areas of the state; strengthening and expanding the statewide coalition that supports the Plan; and mobilizing supporters from rural and urban areas to discuss health care reform with local and state policymakers (Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign, 2010).

I have been the Education and Outreach Coordinator of this Campaign for over six years. It has been an honor to be a part of the organizing work and the education that it has taken to build this movement. As the national health reform scene hangs in balance, the good news is that we still plan to re-introduce the New Mexico Health Security Act in the legislative session of 2011. We have work to do until then, and I urge you to join me in continuing to build our movement, and to help pass our bill then!

Reform must begin at the state level first. Indeed, states have always served as laboratories for innovation and social change. Women’s suffrage, civil rights, child labor laws and minimum wage laws were developed in the states first and then became federal law. I believe that states should be allowed to continue that role in health reform, as does our coalition. For me, this Campaign has always represented Howard’s call to keep up the struggle for social justice and social change – to make for ourselves “a good life,” by making a difference in the world.

My doctoral dissertation is titled: Resistance Against Oppression: A Transtheoretical Model of Social Action by Ordinary Citizens. This dissertation is the story of ordinary people, everyday heroes, in the state of New Mexico who fight against the status quo by fighting against the insurance industry. It is the study of our social justice movement in New Mexico. I interviewed 25 participants in the Health Security Campaign movement to learn their stories of resistance against oppression, to understand more about how they stayed in the fight and struggle of our Campaign. The methodology of my research was a phenomenological thematic analysis of interviews with participants. A phenomenological study “describes the meaning of the lived experiences for several individuals about a concept or the phenomenon” (Creswell, 1998, p. 51). I share here a number of themes that emerged from my research, as well as quotes from participants that relate to these themes.

Historical Influences and Prior Activism
Participants spoke at length about past historical influences on their lives. One participant spoke of being inspired by John F. Kennedy:

Yeah, I was inspired by JKF ... he was so charismatic that I got energized; I worked on his Campaign as a volunteer. That’s the first time I got energized in my little group of Mexican Americans. For the first time in the history of the country, we went around organizing the Chicanos. We went to a meeting place and invited two or three families and we would train them. And at the county convention we came within one vote of taking over the Democratic Party system; taking over the control of the party by one swing vote. And again they called us communist. We were “undesirable elements.” The local Daily Press smeared us.

One participant who was not involved in the 1960s-1970s movements recalled how awareness of these past movements helped his entry into the Health Security Campaign:

Some people ask why I am working for things like Health Security or other social justice issues, and I think part of it is out of guilt. There are a lot of problems in the world and I spent most of my life just focused on my work or other interests – and I was thinking recently – when I was in practice, I worked hard at that, but when I had time I would golf or go skiing, or other times I would spend time with the family. I would vote, but I never attended any political things. When I was a resident, part of that time I was in Philadelphia, and I remember commuting to central Philadelphia where I was assigned for a year, and it was a time of ... cities were burning in those times [during the Civil Rights Movement], but I thought I was doing the right thing; I was doing my job, getting ready for a career, so I just never bothered with that, and now I have more time and I feel that I should have been doing things in the past, but like many of us, I just never did. So, I have time to do it, so that’s why I’m doing it.

Moral, Ethical, and Humanitarian Obligations
The discussion of moral, ethical, and humanitarian obligations repeatedly turned to the need for healthcare to be framed as “a right versus a privilege” in the United States of America. As one participant framed it, “This is one of our big civil rights issues at this point in time – it’s the right thing to do.” Others noted that we are all responsible for each other; “an injury to one is an injury to all,” and that “our job is to make it better, right here on earth.” One participant, a citizen from a European country, remarked: “Coming from a country that has socialized medicine, where everybody cares about everybody else, I couldn’t see how caring for people could be political…to me, it’s humanitarian, not a political thing.” And another participant noted: “If you don’t address it, then you agree – silence is agreement, so you have to speak out.” She firmly believes that if one does not take action to make a difference, or to speak out, then one is in agreement with a social injustice, such as the lack of healthcare. Another participant observed, “I don’t think you get into a fight because you think you’ll win, you do it because it’s right.” This sense of moral responsibility moves this participant to continue to fight and to take action. Finally, another participant stressed:

To me it’s a moral issue. You cannot allow the system to prevent you from [action] or demoralize you because you know that the rest of the industrialized world has decent, so much more decent healthcare than we have here, and it’s so much cheaper. And I know that because I’ve lived in third world countries, not only in the industrialized world. And I come back to my own country where I was born and I can’t get healthcare. And even when I have insurance, as I said, I get lousy care. Damaging care.

The Value of Ongoing Relationships within the Campaign
One of the most salient themes to emerge from the data was the importance of relationships and relationship building to this movement. Nineteen out of 25 participants mentioned that relationships within the movement encouraged and inspired them to stay with the fight of the Health Security Campaign, to not give up. As one activist noted:

My allegiance to the Campaign is largely dedicated to my belief that [these] people are doing it with goodwill and enthusiasm and doing it effectively…these are good and noble warriors and there’s a bond between warriors when you’re going through battles because you know that you’re safer with this person by your side or that person by your side. You’re more likely to be victorious than you would be by yourself.

Indeed, participants mentioned how grateful they were for friendships within each of their respective Local Organizing Committees and how they were energized by these friendships, relying for inspiration and support on, as one individual put it, “people I never would have met otherwise, if not for this Campaign.” The importance of personal connection or personalismo in New Mexico was mentioned frequently. Personalismo is the Spanish word for relationship building and the importance of personal connection, which is vital to getting anything done in New Mexico. The word also is defined as “the inclination of Latin people, in general, to relate to and trust persons rather than institutions and to dislike formal, impersonal structures and organizations” (Roll, Millen, & Martinez, 1980, p. 159). As one participant stressed:

It’s developing relationships and then taking advantage of those, not abusing them, but taking advantage of those opportunities to try to sell your point, or a lot of times just to get an audience or get the opportunity to explain something to them…it’s networking, it’s knowing other people that can make things happen for you. [And] sometimes people will encourage you, other people, or we encourage each other – knowing that we’ve got too much invested, knowing that this is the right thing. So we tend to lift each other up a little bit and keep going, and we’re always reminded by someone that struggles are not that easy.

Righteous Anger: Fighting the Good Fight
The theme of a righteous anger against the injustice of the private insurance industry was both recurrent and significant as a contributor toward action in the Campaign. Twenty out of 25 participants mentioned anger at the injustice of this industry. This finding came up throughout my discussions with activists of all ages. Most participants spoke of the need to keep fighting the selfishness of this unjust system. One participant stressed that he “does not feel that it is acceptable for insurance companies to make money off the misery of people.” As one participant observed:

And it will be hard because we are up against an evil bureaucracy. It’s a bureaucracy dedicated to a slow burning genocide of our people. The Nazis, I know you’re Jewish, and I hate to use Nazis as a light referral like that, the Nazis put their undesirables into concentration camps. That’s what they started out with and nobody really complained about that too much, but we don’t keep our undesirables, my people, in concentration camps. They camp outside everywhere, and one of the ways you get rid of them is you weaken them with exposure. They come down with diseases and infections and they die slowly and horribly. Sometimes they’ll go into the emergency room and that’s a quick $10,000 bucks for whatever healthcare corporation is running it. I took a guy to the hospital just this week. He got a cat bite; it got infected. Well, it cost a lot of money.

How the Campaign Changes People
Many participants spoke of how the Campaign has changed them and helped them to become the activist they are. They mentioned that the process of the Campaign is transformative; it opens people’s minds to challenging the status quo and helps to bring people together. One participant noted that a lifelong value of wanting to change the world becomes real in the ongoing journey of the Campaign:

I’ve always wanted to change the world; I still want to change the world. I’m just getting a little more frustrated here and there…I just realized that’s the way to do it – keep going. [When] I realized how old this movement was [it was] a jaw dropping experience for me. Maybe in my own personality there is a kind of giving up, poor me syndrome. So when I saw that you don’t need to be like that – that you can keep fighting, it was like “Oh, yeah – that’s the right kind of thing.” But it was the moment I realized that the Campaign was old and you just kept going and going and going, that was my “aha” moment. If you guys can do it, I can do it.

Another participant sees that the experience of collective action in this movement and previous movements has made a difference in his life by transforming and empowering him. He observed:

Well, I think as you develop individual relationships with people and a real sincerity about who we are and what we’re doing, it just makes you, in a sense, try to be a better person. And you see that through others that as humble as they are or as poor as they are, they have some qualities that you’d like to be able to rub elbows with. I think that’s the beauty of organizing. And at the end of the day when you’re tired and you’re frustrated, and you don’t feel you can do this anymore, some little kid says, “Thank you, Juan”, and that just opens up your heart again. And you get over it, and you try again, and you realize that you have to do something or you’re nobody.

Keeping Hope Alive
Participants also spoke about how they keep hope alive in the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign despite setbacks and obstacles. One participant noted that optimism is inspired by the persistence and ongoing nature of the Campaign. Others mentioned that the Obama campaign has inspired them and helped them to keep going in this Campaign for health reform. As noted by one participant:

Slavery was finally abolished. Women finally got the right to vote…Obama was finally voted in as president, the first Black American president. I can still remember the first time I heard about the Health Security Act. And I thought it was a new thing, but at that time it was ten years old or something. Yeah, I’ve probably been involved in this for five years now. And I remember thinking to myself, when I realized that it was actually ten years old – “What?” I thought to myself – I was totally flabbergasted because I thought that if you present something to government to be voted in, and it is voted down, [then] you just give up and say, “Okay, it can’t be done.” But the fact that you people, whoever it was from day one, until the day I finally realized what it was – that you just kept going and going and going and never gave up, that is one of the reasons that I also keep going.

Another participant, a retired nurse, used the breath of a patient as a metaphor for the Campaign: “If people are trying [in the Campaign], that’s breathing … and there’s hope.” Another participant stressed that, “Hope comes from seeing other people committed to social justice … that there are other people out there doing the same thing.” Another noted that, “I am an incurable optimist ... I think we are eventually going to get it.”

These words of resistance from my research participants keep me going in the struggle. As heartbroken as I am at the loss of Howard Zinn – I am reminded that Howard’s legacy tells me that I must keep on fighting. This is what Howard would want for me – and from each and every one of us. Indeed, as Howard so eloquently tells us:

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we only see the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places – and there are so many – where people have behaved magnificently, it energizes us to act, and raises at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory. (Zinn, 2007, p. 270)

Thank you for everything, Professor Zinn. I will miss your sweet, brilliant, and courageous soul. May we all live so long and contribute such good works to the world. The struggle and the journey continues.

References

Creswell, J. (1998). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five traditions. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.

Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign literature (2010). Retrieved January 31, 2010, from http://www.nmhealthsecurity.org.

Roll, S., Millen, L., & Martinez, R. (1980). Common errors in psychotherapy with Chicanos: Extrapolations from research and clinical experience. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, and Practice, 17(2), 158-168.

Schivone, G. (2009, July/August). A joyful insurgency: Resistance education and the celebration of dissent – An interview with Howard Zinn. Z Magazine, 22, 53-55.

Schivone, G. M. (2009, September). The spectrum of disobedience - An interview with Howard Zinn. Z Magazine, 22, 15-17.

Zinn, H. (2007). A power governments cannot suppress. San Francisco: City Light Books.

Zinn, H. (2005, May 15). Against discouragement: Spelman College commencement address, May, 2005. Retrieved January 31, 2010, from http://www.crmvet.org/comm/zinn05.htm

This is a guest blog by Dana Millen. Since 2003, Dana has been the Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign. This Campaign is focused on creating a first of its kind universal health care system for all New Mexicans that switches the role of private insurance into a secondary one.

Dana received her PhD in Interdisciplinary Studies with a focus on Public Policy and Leadership in December, 2009 from the Union Institute & University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Dr. Millen’s dissertation is a groundbreaking study of activists in the New Mexico health reform social justice movement, the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign.

Contact information for Dana is: 505-856-8359, or dsmillen@msn.com. To check out the Health Security Campaign website, please visit: www.nmhealthsecurity.org.

February 6, 2010 at 11:26 AM in Current Affairs, Education, Guest Blogger, Healthcare, History, Progressivism | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Haiti Earthquake Resources, President Obama Urges Americans to Help

You can help immediately by donating to the Red Cross to assist the relief effort. Contribute online here, or donate $10 to be charged to your cell phone bill by texting "HAITI" to "90999."

President Barack Obama spoke to the press this morning about the horrible tragedy unfolding in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and pledged the nation's help:

I have directed my administration to respond with a swift, coordinated, and aggressive effort to save lives.  The people of Haiti will have the full support of the United States in the urgent effort to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble, and to deliver the humanitarian relief -- the food, water and medicine  -- that Haitians will need in the coming days.  In that effort, our government, especially USAID and the Departments of State and Defense are working closely together and with our partners in Haiti, the region, and around the world. 

President Obama also urged Americans to contribute to the humanitarian efforts in support of the earthquake's victims:

Despite the fact that we are experiencing tough times here at home, I would encourage those Americans who want to support the urgent humanitarian efforts to go to whitehouse.gov where you can learn how to contribute.  We must be prepared for difficult hours and days ahead as we learn about the scope of the tragedy. We will keep the victims and their families in our prayers.  We will be resolute in our response, and I pledge to the people of Haiti that you will have a friend and partner in the United States of America today and going forward.

Click to read a transcript (pdf) of the President's statement.

You can help immediately by donating to the Red Cross to assist the relief effort. Contribute online here, or donate $10 to be charged to your cell phone bill by texting "HAITI" to "90999."

Talking Points Memo is publishing a frequently updated Haiti Quake Wire with links to info about the situation as it emerges. The Boston Globe provides photos of the aftermath at The Big Picture. A diary by Dallas Doc on Daily Kos provides links to more relief efforts that need support.

More info links:

January 13, 2010 at 10:19 AM in Current Affairs, Haiti Earthquake, Obama Administration | Permalink | Comments (0)