Monday, January 21, 2008
Tom Udall Statement: Honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
"Eight years ago, John Lewis -- a great civil rights leader in the tradition of Dr. King -- invited me to visit Selma, Alabama, on the anniversary of that city's famous freedom march. Standing on that hallowed ground, I couldn't help but feel moved by all that leaders like Dr. King accomplished. But I was also reminded how much has been left undone.
"My father served in the Kennedy and Johnson Administrations when this country broke nearly a century of silence and passed piece after piece of landmark civil rights legislation. My dad's main contribution to the movement was threatening to evict the Washington Redskins from their stadium unless they allowed black players. To this day, some Redskins fans will tell you my dad did more to keep the team competitive than any coach. I can still remember the hope in my dad's voice when he would talk about civil rights around the kitchen table. Dr. King made us all believe we could change the world. And with his inspiration, we have.
"But Dr. King's vision remains unfulfilled.
"Dr. King fought for the right to dissent. High government officials, unrestrained by law, sent Dr. King tapes of his own phone calls in an effort to scare him into committing suicide. But he had the last word. Not only did he continue to speak out; his case led to laws that protected future generations from government abuses.
"And yet, this year, some politicians have called for weakening the laws that protect our liberties. They have worked to pass laws that will make it easier for future government officials to harass future Dr. Kings.
"Dr. King fought to protect the poor. He died while supporting a strike for sanitation workers, because he knew that no civil rights movement could be complete without securing the rights of workers. Yet today millions work full time and still live in poverty. More than twenty percent of African Americans and 34 percent of Hispanic Americans lack health insurance. And our laws too often prevent workers from receiving the union representation they want and need.
"Finally, Dr. King fought to stop war and encourage international cooperation. Yet today our brave soldiers are bogged down in a war that never should have been waged.
"Dr. King achieved great things, and it is fitting that we honor him today and everyday. But he only brought us to the mountain top. We have not yet reached the Promised Land.
"As long as Americans fear that their liberties will be violated, we have not reached the Promised Land.
"As long as children die because they cannot afford to see a doctor, we have not reached the Promised Land.
"And as long as our leaders continue to pay for their policies with the blood of American soldiers and Iraqi civilians, we have not reached the Promised Land.
"As we celebrate the life of Martin Luther King, Jr. let us continue that long march to freedom that he began so many years ago. Let us feel the "fierce urgency of now" and renew our commitment to that brighter world that Dr. King helped us imagine.
Click for more on King and his legacy.
What You May Not Know About Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Note: Rep. Tom Udall (NM-03) will offer remarks and State Treasurer James Lewis will deliver the keynote address during King holiday celebrations at the state Capitol today at 1:00 PM. The event, organized by Santa Fe's chapter of the NAACP, will also feature music and other speakers who will highlight King's support for higher wages and better conditions for working men and women.
From the War on Greed campaign and Brave New Films: Today we honor Dr. King's birthday. We all know him because of his historic impact on civil rights, but many don't realize that later in life he fought just as passionately for the rights of workers and against the entrenched institutions of injustice.
"Equality means dignity. And dignity demands a job and a paycheck that lasts through the week."
The War On Greed is exactly this kind of fight. The livelihoods of families have been directly attacked by the actions of buyout billionaires like Henry Kravis putting Wall Street's special interests ahead of his 800,000 employees... and pocketing $51,000 an hour in the process.
The first step must be taxing these buyout billionaires at a fair tax rate. It will not solve all the problems, but it is a strong and forceful beginning. With the presidential campaigns underway, it is the perfect time to force this issue into the campaigns the way we did with Wal-Mart and Iraq for Sale.
As our friend Rev. Yearwood, leader of the Hip Hop Caucus, has said: "We are facing a lunch counter moment for the 21st century."
Please join us at our virtual lunch counter by signing the petition to presidential candidates demanding they pledge to close the loopholes and tax the tax dodgers. Buyout billionaires are a menace to our economy. People are hurting, badly, and we must take beginning steps to bring the issue of corporate greed and economic equality to the nation's attention.
Wednesday, January 02, 2008
Photo of the Day: Rose Bowl Parade Protests
Protesters advocating impeachment of U.S. President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney carry a giant copy of the Constitution as they follow at the end of the 119th annual Rose Parade in Pasadena, California January 1, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Avery (UNITED STATES)
Also see these photos of the Rose Bowl protests on Flickr.
Tuesday, January 01, 2008
Times Square Ball Drop: Corporate Logoland
Is is just me, or is New York City's ball drop at midnight one of the most boring, ugly public celebrations of the New Year in the world? Every December 31st we are forced to endure prolonged, televised views of the huge, tawdry corporate advertising screens that now define Times Square, the crowds penned in place like beasts by hundreds of police barriers, the strobing, garish lights and that dumb ball traveling down the pole with a corporate logo at the bottom. Then there's the anti-climactic finish consisting of a paltry fireworks display that compares unfavorably with those in our smallest towns on the 4th of July.
That's bad enough, but it's made even worse by the vapid, clownish acts of the media talking heads, the often horrible musical performances, the new car models spinning on turntables like objects of worship and those awful hats worn by crowd members that advertise Pontiacs or whichever "official product" is being hawked in any given year. Don't forget the screeching multitudes who've been denied alcohol, bathrooms and nourishment -- and have been standing in the cold for up to 14 hours to assure their places close to the cameras so they can grab their 15 seconds of fame. Perhaps the most irritating thing is that they seem to believe it's worth it. They even seem thrilled to see Michael Bloomberg or Rudy Giuliani or A-Rod bragging how NYC is the center of the universe with the most impressive New Year's Eve celebration on the planet.
"Green" Ball Fall
This year we're told that the infamous ball is now "green," and uses LED bulbs for illumination, thus cutting electric usage to less than that of ten toasters, providing more than twice the brightness of last year's version and having the ability to generate 16 million colors. Yowsa. One small, unmentioned complication in this energy efficiency demonstration project? Those dozens of outrageously lit advertising signs and brightly shining buildings that line the square, pulsating 24/7 and sucking up electricity like monstrous energy sinks.
My favorite TV coverage of New Year's Eve occurred during the change of centuries, at The Millenium. At least that year we got to see diverse and often fascinating broadcasts of celebrations around the world, from Australia's Aborigines to the major cities of Europe to the Pacific Rim. I thought almost every single one of them was more compelling, beautiful and dramatic than the ones we get a glimpse of each year in Time Square. Beautiful civic or natural backdrops, better fireworks displays, exotic effects and music, diverse symbolism and traditions. And -- unlike the penned, cop-heavy, vigorously searched and "managed" crowds in New York -- celebrants in other nations are still permitted their champagne toasts in the streets and party hats without corporate logos. Lavish ad boards are rare or nonexistent in the vicinity of the celebrations.
Then again, too many Americans might feel lost if they were too far away from a corporate logo or a "Homeland Security" agent, even on holidays (holy-days). I guess it's only fitting, after all, that a corporatist, "growth" obsessed, consumer culture like ours focuses on an ad display like the one in Times Square to convey the feelings of the nation as a New Year dawns. At least for now. But as we all know, big changes are on the way .... one way or another.
Sydney and Seattle (above). London and Paris (below)
Angel Fire skiers with torches and a beach in India:
Johannesburg and Hong Kong:
Click on photos for larger versions.
Monday, December 31, 2007
Here's to a Progressive Twenty Oh Eight!
Auld Lang Syne ala Jimi
Check out 2008 New Year's Webcams from around the globe.
Top Whatever Lists for 2007
Top 10 Signs Your Country May Be Going Fascist
On the last day of the year it's traditional to review what's gone on in the previous 12 months. I've compiled a bunch of "best of" and "top ten" lists from a variety of sources. What have I missed? Do you have any additions?
Most Overrated and Underrated Cultural Events of 2007, Prospect Magazine UK
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Ball of Confusion
(That's what the world is today, hey, hey.)
When I was having my coffee this morning and reading the newspaper (really), this is the song that popped into my head. It came to me that our predominant cultural mental state these days can only be characterized as confusion -- as in a lack of clarity, an inability to make sense out of what's going on and ascertain what the next step should be. Everyone I talk to seems to be in this mode. You can see expressions of the confusion everywhere.
What really happened to Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan? Who did it and why? What does it mean? What can we do? What impact will her death have on us all?
You can see it in the presidential primary. No clear favorite. Voters moving restlessly from candidate to candidate with little faith that any one of them can handle what's been set in motion and what's coming up.
What is the Bush machine really up to here and abroad? Why don't the Democrats seem to have a grasp of the true emergency nature of the crises? Why won't they carry out the will of the people? Who can we trust? Who can we believe?
Bush and company have put us into such a black hole on every front that it becomes almost impossible to imagine solutions to the enormous, evolving problems he's created. Too many seem to be in total denial of what's happening, clinging to consumerism, celebrity gossip and day to day trivialities to shield them from the scary realities piling up. The rest cast about searching for strategies that might prompt real change, or seek leaders who might come from nowhere to give us some answers, show us a way, inspire us to courageous acts. None of these seem to be in sight, even on the far horizon.
Meanwhile, the ball of confusion becomes more frenzied and roiling with each passing day. Sometimes all anyone of good faith can do is bear witness and attempt to gather strength to weather the worsening storms. I can't even being to fathom the violent and fierce confusions that 2008 may bring us, can you? We're already dazed and confused from so many problems coming to a head -- in synchronicity. Who's to say what the aftershocks and consequences will be to all the tumoil boiling up today? Conspiracies within mysteries within distortions ... Is there any light at the end of this tunnel?
Friday, December 21, 2007
What's Going On?
Politically, quite a bit, considering the season. But it's this very season that has me drifting off into winter solstice reveries as I ponder trying to write something about politics today. I'm feeling especially corny this holiday season, and grateful to be here in the midst of the peaceful, loving celebration that has evolved from the bustle and chaos of some Christmases past. Funny, this year I'm less connected to the holiday routines of the season, but more connected to the underlying human emotions that originally created the rituals. It feels freeing, and good.
Anyway, instead of trying to write about reality when my heart isn't in it, I thought I'd catch up a bit and give you a compact rundown from the past few days, links and all:
• Democratic NM-01 candidate Jason Call dropped out of the race after AFSCME unanimously voted to endorse Martin Heinrich.
• Democrat John Adams also withdrew from the NM-01 Congressional race, but he's decided to run in NM-03 instead. Former Indian Affairs Secretary Benny Shendo of Jemez Pueblo has officially entered the NM-03 Dem primary race.
• Check out A Swirl of Solstice at the Santa Fe Children's Museum on December 22nd from 5:00-7:00 PM, including their luminaria labyrinth, and what's happening during .
• The Santa Fe New Mexican has hired two reporters -- Kate Nash and Sue Vorenberg -- from the soon-to-be-gone (maybe) Albuquerque Tribune.
• Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) and mainstream Americans want Cheney impeached.
•The EPA rejected California's Clean Car auto emission standards, which means New Mexico's recently adopted version also will be disallowed. Gov. Bill Richardson issued a statement that says, in part, "The Bush Administration's rejection of the California Clean Cars program shows a complete lack of legal, moral and policy leadership on climate change and threatens to close the door on the single most aggressive and effective means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions."
•1000 Friends of New Mexico and others are questioning the propriety of Bernalillo County Commissioner Tim Cummins' vote to adopt TIDDs for SunCal development because he's developing an industrial park bordered on three sides by SunCal land.
• Nambe Pueblo is studying a wind power project that would be the largest in New Mexico, producing up to 300 megawatts of electricity
• Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid may ask for a one-month FISA act extension so our sloganeering presidential candidates don't have to deal with it during the height of the early primary season.
• The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) will be in both NM-01 and NM-02 this election cycle. They're outraising their Repub counterpart by a large margin.
• PNM's credit rating was lowered on the last day of the utility's PRC hearing on a request for a monthly fuel adjustment clause and a $77.3 million increase in electric rates.
• Governor Bill Richardson has expressed his skepticism about the wisdom of allowing proposed oil and gas drilling in the Galisteo Basin.
• The New Mexico Court of Appeals has ruled against Citizen Action's suit to force the removal of Sandia Lab's mixed waste landfill. Activists may appeal to the NM Supreme Court.
• The State of New Mexico won't seek federal funding, if any is offered this fiscal year, for abstinence only sex education programs.
• Bush got his blank check on war funding to the tune of $70 billion in the $555 billion government spending bill, when the House approved the Senate's version of the legislation by a margin of 272-142. Voting for the measure were 78 House Dems, while 41 Dems voted no, including Rep. Tom Udall (NM-03). On the Senate side, the timelines for Iraq withdrawal were stripped out of the main bill by a margin of 70-25, with Sen. Jeff Bingaman voting against it.
• Frank G. Hesse, M.D., raised the issue of provider shortages as the New Mexico Legislature gears up to dealing with health care reform in January.
• The Albuquerque Metropolitan Arroyo Flood Control Authority's tumbleweed snowman alongside I-40 gained national recognition in a new book about the history of the snowman.
Phew. That's a whole lotta news ....
Thursday, November 22, 2007
You may celebrate Thanksgiving in the traditional way, replace the turkey with veggie vegan something, protest the holiday's origins or just plain ignore it and watch football or travel down to the Bosque del Apache to see the cranes instead. Any way you roast it, I hope you'll enjoy another experience of Arlo Guthrie's T-Day song, Alice's Restaurant, as you mark the day in your own way.
Here's a video of Arlo from 2005 performing the entire song in concert. When was the last time you heard the 18-minute plus saga about what happened to young Arlo and his hippie friends in Stockbridge, MA on a Thanksgiving long, long ago? The video above is the film's original trailer from 1969, when many of us were suffering through an earlier quagmire war -- but with way fewer gray hairs on our heads, during an eran when Thanksgiving herb meant something other than parsley, sage, rosemary or thyme.
Fore more to ponder, here's the 2007 version of 21 Reasons to Give Thanks by the Think Progress Report:
21 Reasons To Give Thanks
- We're thankful for our country's troops.
- We're thankful the minimum wage has been increased for the first time in a decade.
- We're thankful MC Rove has more free time to work on his dance moves.
- We're thankful Congress has "wasted time" trying to end the war in Iraq.
- We're thankful radio stations don't play "Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran."
- We're thankful for journalists like Molly Ivins, who was never afraid to "raise hell."
- We're (not) thankful for wide stances.
- We're thankful to Michael Moore, whose documentary SiCKO started a national discussion on health care reform.
- We're thankful people don't call us Buzzy, Cookie, Brownie, or Scooter.
- We're thankful we can now call Al Gore the "Oscar-winning, Emmy-winning, Nobel Prize laureate" former vice president of the United States.
- We're thankful Andy Card and Alberto Gonzales won't visit our bedside if we're sick in the hospital.
- We're thankful not all Dick Cheney's cousins think like he does.
- We're thankful to be considered one of the "ten most dangerous organizations in America."
- We're thankful that visiting the Mall of America isn't really like visiting Iraq.
- We're thankful President Bush isn't giving out any more back rubs.
- We're thankful for 12-year olds who can take down Rush Limbaugh in a fight.
- We're thankful our Halloween costumes aren't very "original."
- We're thankful no one (except the birds) gets hurt when Dick Cheney goes hunting now.
- We're thankful for "phony soldiers" who have the courage to speak out about the war in Iraq.
- We're thankful the "Commander Guy" has only 425 days left in office.
- And last but not least: We're thankful to The Progress Report readers for their tips, energy, and support.
Thanks to You
Finally, thanks to all the readers, commenters and guest bloggers from here and places far away who've driven our daily page hit stats steadily up, up, up since I started this blog back on July 15, 2004 -- some 3,386 posts, 5,617 comments and 313,890 visitors ago and counting. The posts in the early days were rather sporatic, and the visitors few. At the time, I think Joe Monahan was the only other political blogger in New Mexico. Now there are many local bloggers focusing on a variety of angles and targeting a number of niches. By all accounts readership and participation across the board is still growing rapidly.
With a presidential race picking up steam, competitive U.S. House and U.S. Senate contests already garnering national attention and legislative and local elections on the horizon, I can only imagine what the traffic stats will be for New Mexico's blogger community in the coming months. Let's hope we have some election results we can really be thankful about when election day 2008 has come and gone and our troops can finally come home. We've all suffered much too long within the Bush regime's distorted version of reality. Let's hope the worst of our national nightmare ends next November and that next Thanksgiving we can truly be in a hopeful, celebratory mood. Only we can make it happen. Peace.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Anne Kass on Peeling the Paint: Justice for All
I had the opportunity to attend the swearing-in ceremony for Charles W. Daniels to the New Mexico Supreme Court Friday. It was a moving and inspiring ceremony.
Justice Daniels told of being a share-cropper's son in Arkansas where, as a small child, he played with a black child names James. When it became time to start school, James went to the dilapidated schoolhouse down the road, while young Charlie Daniels was bussed miles away to a white-school. He was taught the Pledge of Allegiance and began to recognize the disconnection between the words “with liberty and justice for all” and the reality of his experience. He talked about his dedication to making the promise of “justice for all” a reality. His talk was truly moving.
During his remarks Justice Daniels addressed the issue of equal rights for women. He mentioned that Fred Hart, who was Dean of the New Mexico School of Law when Justice Daniels was a student and professor there, opened the doors of the law school to women and minorities. (I made the same observations when I was a student at the UNM School of Law.)
Justice Daniels said, after some years, when almost half the law school classes were comprised of women, "... the good 'ole boys discovered that the paint didn't peel off the walls when women appeared in the courtroom as lawyers or judges." While he continued his remarks, I found myself thinking -- That's right, the paint didn't peel off the walls, and THAT'S the problem. The paint should have peeled off the walls.
The paint of property law that allows for the private ownership of everything needs to be peeled off the walls of the halls of justice, starting with laws that allow for the private ownership of everything, including other human beings. Today, one manifestation of this notion is in the form of incarceration and deportation of undocumented workers only trying to survive while their exploitative employer-owners go unpunished.
Property law also allows for private ownership of DNA genetic codes and private ownership of cures and treatments for terrible diseases. In many of these cases, the underlying research has been paid with public dollars. There are many layers of property-law-paint that need to be peeled off the walls.
The same holds true for many layers of criminal-law-paint which dictates grotesquely disproportionate imprisonment of people of color for drug offenses and which makes the penalties for shoplifting severe while providing no penalties at all for the looting of the national treasury by corporations such as Halliburton.
Justice Daniels was correct. The “good ol’ boys” have learned they have nothing to fear from either women or minorities entering the law. They have simply co-opted them. Women and people of color have been allowed and even encouraged to join the ranks of lawyers and judges but only on the condition that they walk, talk, and look just like the “good ol’ boys” who wrote the rules and laws in the first place.
Women and people of color have not changed the system. They have accommodated themselves to a very rigid system. They are the ones who have changed, become assimilated. And that's why, although a relatively small number of women and people of color have risen to positions of much prestige and power in the law, the status and circumstances of women and people of color, in general, remain virtually unchanged.
If Justice Daniels has any hope at all to make good on his promise to make the national promise of “justice for all” a reality, the first thing he needs to do is peel paint -- lots of paint -- off the walls of the halls of justice. I enthusiastically support his intentions.
This is a guest blog by Anne Kass, who posts periodically on DFNM. Guest blogs provide our reader with an opportunity to express their opinions and may or may not represent our views. 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 side of the page.