Wednesday, November 14, 2012

General Petraeus General Betray Us Now

Remember the General Petraeus, General Betray Us MoveOn ad controversy?

From Wikipedia:
The MoveOn.org ad controversy began when the US anti-war liberal advocacy group MoveOn.org published a full-page ad in the NY Times on September 10, 2007 accusing General David H. Petraeus of "cooking the books for the White House". The ad also labeled him "General Betray Us". The organization created the ad in response to Petraeus' Report to Congress on the Situation in Iraq. MoveOn hosted pages on its website about the ad and their reasons behind it from 2007 to June 23, 2010. On June 23, 2010, after President Obama nominated General Petraeus to be the new top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan (taking over the position from retiring General Stanley McChrystal), MoveOn erased these webpages and any reference to them from its website.

Democracy for New Mexico wrote about this back on Sept. 26, 2007. Barb wrote a pointed piece back then, and the piece received a few great comments, even by the now late PlacitasRoy. Roy passed away only a few weeks ago and his rebel voice is missed.

Fast forward to now

Current Cost of Iraq and Afghan Wars: $1,393,007,867,900.00
Current Cost of Iraq War: $808,617,213,890.00
Current Cost of Afghan War: $584,390,833,930.00

It is important to remember where our hard earned tax dollars are going as we approach the perverbial fiscal cliff. The National Priorities project is still a great Cost of War tracker of this obscene number. Our tax dollars keep on flooding out of this country like a fire hydrant turned on full blast, or the Hoover damn in overflow position.

We have written about this outrage before, almost one year ago DFNM had this post "Military Budget Fraud and Waste No One is Talking About" on the obscene amount of money flooding out of our country. How is this sustainable? And to make matters worse it appears the GAO issued a report on August 1, 2012 showing little enthusiasm by agencies to make changes to the rip-off happening with War Time Contracting. For really good maddening reading see the final report to Congress on the War Time Rip-off waste.

And now we find out that General P was getting his rocks off. While the thieves and robbers are ripping us off blind. If General PP did not Betray us back in September 2007, he most certainly has betrayed us now.

And just to think of the human life's lost. And there is a business as usual theme still continuing. Why do we have such a huge debt? Why are there no jobs? Just watch the Cost of War ticker and think how and when will this stop.

Our Country is in the need of leaders now! Not cover up, go along to get alongers. The war was no issue in the past election, shameful. NO one even tried to tie the cost of war to the lack of jobs in our own communities. What is the actual monetary cost of this war every week now? This information is unattainable to my knowledge and searching. We Americans are asleep, like serious amnesia, and denial. Is anyone listening or paying attention? Let's all hold our newly elected Congressional and Senatorial leaders accountable to answer these questions. Where is this money going?

November 14, 2012 at 03:19 PM in Afghanistan, Iraq War, Military Affairs, National Security, NM Congressional Delegation | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Garamendi/Heinrich Bill Clarifies Detention Policy & Protects American Citizens' Due Process Rights

Congressmen John Garamendi (D-Fairfield, CA) and Martin Heinrich (D-Albuquerque, NM), members of the House Armed Services Committee, on December 16, 2011, introduced H.R. 3702, the Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011. The bill clarifies U.S. law by amending the Non-Detention Act of 1971 to ensure that within the United States, U.S. citizens and permanent residents cannot be detained indefinitely without trial. It is companion legislation to Senator Dianne Feinstein’s Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011.

“Every American deserves their day in court, and this legislation changes existing law to protect our due process rights,” Congressman Garamendi said. “We cannot allow our basic rights to be lost, and there is no legitimate national security reason to deny any citizen in America a trial. We can both keep America safe and maintain our liberties.”

“Detainee provisions included in this year’s Defense Authorization and retained in the final Conference Report do not strengthen our national security and are at complete odds with the United States Constitution,” said Rep. Heinrich. “It is time we restore the proper balance between individual liberties and national security.”

Section 1021 (formerly Section 1031 of S. 1867) of the just passed NDAA Conference Report would authorize the indefinite military detention of suspected terrorists without explicitly protecting U.S. citizens’ rights. Under this new law, individual American citizens suspected of terrorism may be detained under the laws of war and held indefinitely “until the end of hostilities.” The Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011 ensures that U.S. citizens and permanent residents on American soil are protected from this provision.

The bill clarifies existing U.S. law and states unequivocally that the government cannot indefinitely detain American citizens or lawful U.S. residents. The Due Process Guarantee Act of 2011 became necessary due to ambiguous language in the National Defense Authorization Act.

December 18, 2011 at 10:00 AM in Civil Liberties, Military Affairs, National Security, Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), U.S. Constitution | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bravo! Heinrich Votes Against Flawed Defense Authorization Bill

Fresh from Rep. Martin Heinrich's office:

220px-Martin_HeinrichU.S. Representative Martin Heinrich (NM-1) voted today against the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report. Since coming to Congress in 2009, Rep. Heinrich, who is a member of the House Armed Services Committee, has supported all previous defense authorization bills that have been voted on in the House of Representatives.

“Our brave men and women in uniform serve honorably every day, and it is our responsibility in Congress to ensure they receive the funding and resources they need to carry out their mission,” said Rep. Heinrich. “However, the Defense Authorization bill was used as a vehicle to authorize the military to go anywhere in the world to imprison anyone suspected of terrorism—even American citizens on U.S. soil—without charge or trial. By mandating military detention of suspected terrorists, this law places additional responsibilities on the military that they have not sought, nor have the resources to carry out, compromising our national security.”

Section 1022 (formerly Section 1032 of S. 1867) of the NDAA Conference Report would require that suspected foreign terrorists be taken into custody by the military instead of civilian law enforcement authorities. This would deny civilian law enforcement authorities the flexibility necessary to conduct effective interrogation, detention, and prosecution.  Respected bipartisan members of the national security community— including the Secretary of Defense, the Director of National Intelligence, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and the head of the Justice Department's National Security Division—oppose this provision.

“If we have evidence that a U.S. citizen is planning to or causing harm to our country, that person should absolutely be arrested, tried and brought to justice,” said Rep. Heinrich. “But instead, this law would harm our justice system and is at odds with the U.S. Constitution.”

Section 1021 (formerly Section 1031 of S. 1867) of the NDAA Conference Report would authorize indefinite military detention of suspected terrorists without protecting U.S. citizens’ rights. Under this authority, any individual—including Americans on U.S. soil—suspected of terrorism may be detained under the laws of war and held indefinitely “until the end of hostilities.”

“Since September 11, 2001, Americans have made tremendous sacrifices in both blood and treasure,” said Rep. Heinrich.  “In President Obama’s inaugural address, he asked every American to ‘reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.’  Now, a decade after the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and the recent killing of Osama bin Laden, it is time we follow through in rejecting this false choice.  America can be both safe and free.”

December 14, 2011 at 06:54 PM in Civil Liberties, Military Affairs, National Security, Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01), Terrorism, U.S. Constitution | Permalink | Comments (5)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sen. Tom Udall Calls for Thorough Review of Patriot Act, Wants Our Input

Recently, without any meaningful debate, Congress voted (House, Senate) to provide a three-month extension on several very controversial provisions of the Patriot Act -- to continue surveillance of business records, individual terrorists as agents of foreign powers and roving wiretaps. In essence, they kicked the can down the road instead of engaging in a serious, indepth analysis of the provisions and the law itself.

Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) voted no on the initial enactment of the Patriot Act, as well as the extensions of various provisions that have been passed since the Act's inception almost 10 years ago, including the latest one. Now Sen. Udall is calling for a thorough review of the law before anything more is done to extend any part of the post-9/11 legislation. Watch the video above to hear his views.

To give him a perspective on how New Mexicans view the Patriot Act, Senator Udall wants to hear our opinions on whether we should extend its reach going forward, and why or why not. Just go to his Facebook page and weigh in with your comments or questions.

For more information on the Patriot Act, visit these pages at the ACLU, Wikipedia, NPR and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, for starters.

February 24, 2011 at 03:17 PM in Civil Liberties, Homeland Security, National Security, Sen. Tom Udall, Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (4)

Friday, December 03, 2010

Rep. Martin Heinrich Pushes for New START Treaty

Martin_Heinrich In a letter to U.S. Senators Mitch McConnell and Jon Kyl, U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01) voiced his strong support for the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) and urged the Senators to support its ratification in the closing weeks of the 111th Congress. Among the reasons Rep. Heinrich outlines in the letter for swift ratification is the importance of the New START to the future funding of our national laboratories.

Rep. Heinrich states in the letter (pdf):

“As a Member of Congress representing New Mexico on the House Armed Services Committee, I fully appreciate your concerns regarding the modernization of our national laboratories, and I strongly support your efforts to ensure their long-term viability. 

“Our national laboratories employ some of the best and brightest minds in the country and their mission is essential to the credibility of our nation’s deterrent. That is why I was encouraged by the Obama Administration’s promise to increase funding for the labs by $10 billion over the next decade. 

“Moreover, the recent pledge of an additional $4 billion guarantees that our laboratories will have the tools necessary to ensure that our nuclear weapons are safe, secure, and reliable for years to come.  Our nation’s three lab directors— George Miller of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Michael Anastasio of the Los Alamos National Laboratory; and Paul Hommert of Sandia National Laboratories— even offered their assurances that the funding “sustains the science, technology and engineering base.”  If New START is not ratified, I fear these future investments could be lost.” 

Background: The New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START, would cut the limits on strategic warheads to 1,550 for the United States and Russia from the current ceiling of 2,200. The pact also would establish new procedures to allow both countries to inspect each other's nuclear arsenals to verify compliance. New START needs 67 votes for ratification by the United States Senate. 

Click for key facts about the New START Treaty.

 

December 3, 2010 at 04:41 PM in National Security, Nuclear Arms, Power, Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 07, 2010

The Hill: Rep. Martin Heinrich Touts Value of Microgrids in Improving Security and Speeding Development of Renewable Energy Technologies

Images Yesterday's edition of The Hill's Congress Blog featured an article penned by Rep. Martin Heinrich (D, NM-01) on developing a more secure smart grid for the nation. Demonstrating his knowledge about high-tech energy issues, Rep. Heinrich discusses potential threats to security posed by a national smart grid for power transmission -- and touts microgrids as a way to minimize such problems as well as speed up development of renewable energy technologies.

Microgrids offer the technology that could enable the secure growth of discreet elements of the smart grid. Also known as distributed generation, microgrids produce energy closer to the user rather than transmitting it from remote power plants. Power is generated and stored locally, and works in conjunction with the main grid, providing power as needed.

Many experts believe that microgrids offer the redundancy of systems that can protect our macrogrid from cyber-attacks. Our current reliance on centralized energy generation provides one central point of attack–and leaves the entire system vulnerable if it goes down. Alternatively, a grid supplemented with microgrids can isolate systems under attack, and is less likely to be completely disabled, which would allow our transmission system to recover faster from cyber-attacks, natural disasters, or cascading blackouts like the one that took out the Eastern Seaboard in 2003.

As an example of how microgrids could be incredibly useful in times of emergencies, Rep. Heinrich points to New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit:

Implications for critical infrastructure protection throughout the United States are enormous. For example, a single microgrid in New Orleans could provide secure and reliable power for multiple critical hospitals, medical institutions and bio-medical research facilities, even during traumatic weather events like Hurricane Katrina.

Heinrich goes on to discuss the value of microgrids on military bases and the legislation he introduced to establish a microgrid pilot program. If successful, such a program could speed up the development of clean energy technologies generally:

That’s why I introduced H.R. 5230, the Military Energy Security Act (MESA), which would establish an energy security pilot program to develop partnerships between military bases and national laboratories to develop secure microgrid systems. Supporting the science and technology for microgrids will put our nation on the fast-track to energy independence. Microgrids provide a more secure infrastructure for our military, both here and abroad, and are a key component to the success of our nation’s clean energy strategy.

Microgrids can accelerate development and implementation of renewable energy technologies, from solar to wind to biomass, providing local generation that negates the need to retrofit national transmission lines. One of the greatest challenges of implementing a national smart grid solution is the cost and time associated with retrofitting aging power plants, transmission lines, homes and offices with the appropriate technology. Microgrids offer an incremental approach that can bring the benefits of smart grid technology and introduce more renewable energy to those who need them in a timely, efficient and cost-effective manner.

Well done, Congressman.

October 7, 2010 at 10:06 AM in Energy, Environment, Military Affairs, National Security, Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01) | Permalink | Comments (3)

Saturday, June 05, 2010

BP Oil Spill Stirs New Energy for Innovation at Congressman Teague’s ‘Re-Energize America’ Conference

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Rep. Harry Teague and conferees

This is a post by contributing writer, Stephen Jones, who is a progressive political activist and a resident of Las Cruces, New Mexico. He IS our Southern NM Bureau.

In the wake of BP’s disastrous Deepwater Horizon oil spill the Re-Energize America Conference held Thursday and Friday June 3 and 4 at the New Mexico Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum in Las Cruces took on extra interest and urgency. The Conference included dozens of speakers from both traditional and emerging energy sectors, educators, as well as state and national government officials. The conference was co-hosted by Congressman Harry Teague and New Mexico State University.

While the tenor of the two-day conference was confident and upbeat, most of the speakers expressed an urgency for developing new renewable energy sources. Among the concerns expressed were environmental degradation, economic stagnation and national security. Many felt the United States was falling behind China, Japan, the European Union and India in building its renewable resource industries, and becoming dangerously beholden to foreign oil.

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Congressman Teague

New Mexico’s future also was highlighted at the Conference. Many of the speakers stressed the state's abundant resources, including solar, wind, geothermal, biotech, nuclear as well as oil and gas unmatched by most other states, and New Mexico’s commitment to biofuel. Congressman Teague noted that southern New Mexico was well positioned to become a center for these emerging new technologies and pledged to continue to be a conduit in bringing the best national energy leadership together.

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Maria Zannes, Southwestern Biofuels Association

An algae-based biofuel startup was among the most talked about new energy projects at the conference. Sapphire Energy is developing a 300-acre site near Columbus, New Mexico that uses the non-potable saline water abundant in the area as a resource to grow what it calls “green crude.” Microsoft founder Bill Gates is among the leading investors in Sapphire, which has also established a new research facility in Las Cruces. Maria Zannes, outreach director of the Southwestern Biofuels Association, said the biofuels industry would eventually generate 60,000 jobs.

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Jim Ford, ConocoPhillips

With the BP spill as a backdrop, much of the Conference focused on fossil fuels. Jim Ford, Vice President for Federal and Government Affairs for ConocoPhillips, a major oil and gas corporation, specifically noted the public concern over the BP spill but urged caution in quickly slapping new regulations on his industry. He also stated that it was his understanding that the current law capping Federal fines was “null and void if the company [BP] was negligent.” He said ConocoPhillips supports enactment of a comprehensive energy policy, but opposed raising taxes and fees. Since ConocoPhillips and other American oil companies must rely on foreign state-run sources of oil, taxes and fees would amount to a “double tax” and increased Federal regulation would only work to “drive jobs out of the United States,” Ford said.

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Jon Goldstein, NM Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Dept.

Few of the other speakers agreed with Ford. Spokespeople for New Mexico’s land-based oil and gas industry talked about their lower footprint and expressed more concern with bringing revenue, jobs and market share into New Mexico than with any potential Federal legislation. Directly refuting the ConocoPhillips position, Jon Goldstein, Secretary of the New Mexico Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department said New Mexico’s effective regulatory structure had helped the state pursue new jobs and revenue. Among the traditional energy industries, most saw the United States' considerable reserves of natural gas as a cleaner fossil fuel and bridge to new technologies, including Ford of ConocoPhillips.

Generating new jobs was a key issue addressed at the Conference, with an emphasis on creating employment and income in New Mexico. David Blivin, Managing Director of the Cottonwood Technology Fund, claimed that while New Mexico ranks second in scientists and engineers, the lack of venture capital has been problematic in generating permanent high-end jobs for the state.

Not all of the new energy jobs envisioned for New Mexico are aimed at specialists. Jon Goldstein said most to the new green energy jobs are blue collar jobs, many in the home renovation and improvement industries, construction and in agriculture. “These are jobs that stay in New Mexico and can’t be outsourced” Goldstein said.

Improved extraction and new cleaner technologies for traditional extractive industries including oil, gas, coal and uranium were highlighted, along with nuclear and improved wind and solar, but new breakthrough technologies, like Sapphire’s “green crude” stirred the most interest. Bill Simms of Joule Unlimited described his company’s new technology that creates biofuel from only the sun and waste carbon dioxide. Joule is considering New Mexico as the location for its first production facility.

A major concern for both traditional electric and gas industries, as well as newer technologies, was the existing infrastructure and delivery systems. Few saw the United States' infrastructure as adequate to meet new demands for plug-in electric cars and other coming energy needs. The aging electric grid was an important topic of discussion. The Conference also outlined conservation strategies and technologies. “Of all the new technologies, the least expensive is energy efficiency” said New Mexico State Senator Steve Fischmann. Fischmann linked new power plant construction to consumer price increases. “Every time a new plant comes on line, energy companies petition for rate increases,” Fischmann said, “Energy conservation saves dollars and creates jobs.”

Tiered pricing based on high- and low-energy consumption periods and rate decoupling, a novel approach that removes incentives for utility companies to promote high usage to maintain profits, were also outlined at the event.

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Matt Rogers, Senior Advisor to Secretary of Energy

Matt Rodgers, Senior Advisor to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, praised the “strong local leadership” in New Mexico. “New Mexico is truly blessed,” Rodgers said, noting New Mexico’s relative strength in energy resources over its western neighbors as well other parts of the country, but urged all of New Mexico’s community, business and educational partners to work together. “We are in a global competition,” he warned, stressing local readiness. He said that the communities with the strongest willingness to work together would have access to the greatest resources. “Spend wisely and with urgency” Rodgers said.

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Marcilynn Burke, BLM

Marcilynn Burke of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) echoed Rodgers. She estimated that renewable energy projects on BLM-held lands alone could eventually net 250,000 new jobs, and that New Mexico’s renewable resources were among the highest in the nation.

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NMSU President Barbara Couture

Educational opportunities were also stressed, and New Mexico State’s President Barbara Couture showcased her institutions energy and engineering programs. Congressman Teague also called for better educational opportunities in New Mexico’s smaller communities.

“The key to a strong economic future in energy in New Mexico is education and broadband,” Teague said. “I’ve worked to bring rural broadband into our classrooms, community colleges and libraries,” the Congressman said, “but we have to do more.” New Mexico’s 2nd CD Congressman is proud to have brought new broadband to rural counties in the southern part of the state through USDA grants, but he stressed his intention to do much more. “New Mexico’s rural communities are particularly hard-pressed by the need for broadband. Unlike the larger communities our small community classrooms have only a few students, but still need to stay connected.” Teague said.

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Congressman Teague

“I’m an old oil man, and I always will be,” Teague told the Conference, “but I understand the need for diversification.” Congressman Teague particularly expressed his concern for the nation’s reliance on foreign oil from hostile nations. “The Recovery Act, which I supported, is a first step in saying, ‘No more of the same!’” Teague said. Asked what he hoped New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District residents would take home from the conference, Congressman Teague said, “We need energy of all types. It’s not a competition, we need it all!”

All photos by Stephen Jones. To read more posts by Stephen, visit our archive.

June 5, 2010 at 10:48 AM in By Stephen Jones, Contributing Writer, Energy, Environment, Green Economy, Jobs, Las Cruces, National Security, Rep. Harry Teague (NM-02), Science | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Rep. Martin Heinrich Introduces Bill to Implement Pilot Program for Secure Microgrid Energy Systems

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Rep. Heinrich at recent job fair in Albuquerque

Today, Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01) introduced legislation he says will propel our nation’s quest for energy security and independence. H.R. 5230, the Military Energy Security Act, or MESA, would create an energy security pilot program that utilizes partnerships between military bases and national laboratories to develop secure microgrid systems that could be implemented throughout our communities.

Microgrids are localized energy grids that employ renewable energy sources, such as solar, geothermal or biomass power, and are ideal for high-use building clusters -- like military bases.

“Supporting the science and technology for microgrids will put our nation on the fast-track to energy independence,” Rep. Heinrich said in a statement released by his office. “Microgrids provide a more secure infrastructure for our military -- both here and abroad -- and are a key component to the success of our nation’s clean energy strategy.”

The U.S. Department of Defense is the largest single user of energy in the world. Power for the majority of military bases is supplied through the public electrical grid. This reliance on conventional energy generation and transmission is both inefficient and unsafe in the face of a natural disaster or terrorist attack. Simple power outages occur as many as 300 times per year at some bases which can disrupt overall mission readiness. In a power outage or disturbance, a microgrid can separate from the utility grid and continue operating.

“Our men and women in uniform serve our nation every day, and it is critical that we do more to ensure that they can conduct their operations without interruption. MESA supports the collaboration of our national laboratories, private industry, and academia to create state-of-the-art technologies that will help our nation achieve greater energy security,” said Rep. Heinrich.

MESA authorizes the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of Energy, to carry out the collaborative energy security pilot program and requires a report be submitted to Congress that provides the findings and recommendations to the Secretary.

In response to Rep. Heinrich’s legislation, Rick Stulen, Sandia National Laboratories’ Vice President for Energy, Climate, and Infrastructure Security made the following comments:

“It is clear Rep. Heinrich recognizes that our nation’s energy security is related to accelerating the deployment of the best and most reliable renewable and alternative energy technologies to support our military’s readiness. Since our nation’s military is the largest energy consumer in the country, there is a strong need to fully leverage alternative energy resources, such as secure, scalable micro-grids, and other key energy security technologies that will play a role in assuring our military installations, both in this country and abroad, have the power to carry out their important missions.”

May 6, 2010 at 11:51 AM in Energy, Military Affairs, National Security, Rep. Martin Heinrich (NM-01) | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 30, 2010

Obama Issues Statement Praising Senate Outline on Immigration Reform; ACLU Critical

Senate Democrats unveiled a 26-page outline for proposed immigration reform this week that closely follows a bipartisan draft put together by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) earlier this year. See below the fold for the main points of the proposal.

In response, President Barack Obama released a statement yesterday praising the proposal and commenting on the work ahead:

“It is the federal government's responsibility to enforce the law and secure our borders, as well as to set clear rules and priorities for future immigration. The continued failure of the federal government to fix the broken immigration system will leave the door open to a patchwork of actions at the state and local level that are inconsistent and as we have seen recently, often misguided.

"The proposal outlined today in the Senate is a very important step in the process of fixing our nation’s broken immigration system. I am especially pleased to see that this detailed outline is consistent with the bipartisan framework presented by Senators Chuck Schumer and Lindsey Graham last month, and is grounded in the principles of responsibility and accountability.

"What has become increasingly clear is that we can no longer wait to fix our broken immigration system, which Democrats and Republicans alike agree doesn’t work. It’s unacceptable to have 11 million people in the United States who are living here illegally and outside of the system. I have repeatedly said that there are some essential components that must be in immigration legislation. It must call for stronger border security measures, tougher penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants and clearer rules for controlling future immigration. And it must require those who are here illegally to get right with the law, pay penalties and taxes, learn English, pass criminal background checks and admit responsibility before they are allowed to get in line and eventually earn citizenship.

"The outline presented today includes many of these elements. The next critical step is to iron out the details of a bill. We welcome that discussion, and my Administration will play an active role in engaging partners on both sides of the aisle to work toward a bipartisan solution that is based on the fundamental concept of accountability that the American people expect and deserve.”

According to an article on Roll Call, the proposal was drafted as an alternative that will be pursued by Democrats if the bipartisan negotiations on a draft bill led by Schumer and Graham don't resume. Sen. Graham abandoned the process last month.

Senate Democrats’ decision to move forward on their own drew applause from Hispanic lawmakers in the House, who have seized on Arizona’s tough new state immigration law to ramp up the pressure for the Senate to act on a comprehensive bill this year.

Here are the main points of the Senate proposal:

* Enforce borders: The lawmakers plan to increase the number of border patrol officers and provide them with better equipment to detect fraud and smuggling. They also want to install ground sensors throughout the southern border to make it easier to detect illegal border crossing.

* Free up jails: The proposal calls for the deportation of illegal immigrants currently detained in federal and local prisons. Going forward, judges should minimize detention when possible.

* Verify workers: The Social Security Administration would begin issuing fraud-resistant social security cards that include a unique biometric identifier. Employers would have to verify work authorization using the new biometric system.

* Fine employers: Companies that knowingly hire illegal immigrants would face greater fines. Employers would no longer be able to deduct the wages of unverified workers from their tax returns.

* Legalize immigrants: For the 12 million illegal immigrants already living in the United States, the proposal creates a path to citizenship. A person would begin by passing a criminal background check and paying pending fees and taxes. Eight years later, they could apply for legal resident status by demonstrating, among other things, English-language skills.

* Legalize spouses: The lawmakers plan to give legal resident status to what they call "permanent partners" of U.S. citizens. They also plan to address immigration benefits for widows, orphans, and adopted children of U.S. citizens.

* Amend visas: Foreign students who have or seek to attain U.S. degrees could apply for green cards, and foreign workers with visas could attain legal residency. A new provisional visa would be created for low-skilled workers, but employers would be encouraged to hire U.S. citizens before foreigners.

The ACLU issued a statement critical of the proposed new Social Security cards that include a biometric identifier:

If the biometric national ID card provision of the draft bill becomes law, every worker in America would have to be fingerprinted and a new federal bureaucracy - one that could cost hundreds of billions of dollars - would have to be created to issue cards. The ACLU strongly opposes the inclusion of a biometric national ID in this or any comprehensive immigration reform bill and urges senators to reject such an ID card.

The ACLU statement also criticized the "continuation of the much-criticized Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) 287(g) program," as well as other elements of the proposal.

April 30, 2010 at 10:17 AM in Border Issues, Civil Liberties, Hispanic Issues, Immigration, Minority Issues, National Security, Obama Administration | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Rep. Joe Campos: Saturday Night Check-In with DFNM

JoeCamposMeetup500 Rep. Joe Campos knows the DFNM blog is the place to put out his message, so it was no surprise when he called the other night to check in and tell us what he has been doing.

Just to let you know, this is Mary Ellen writing this blog post. Barb has a backlog of posts that she is methodically going through and she's up to her neck in work. All of a sudden everyone wants to do a guest blog, and with many events being covered, I decided to pitch in and help.

I'm happy to do a post about Rep. Joe Campos -- the Energize NM candidate for lieutenant governor! Joe was excited about the GA Solar company picking his neighborhood for installing a massive billion dollar solar field. This is extremely exciting news for the state of NM. Joe was the legislator who introduced the RETA bill which would allow wind and solar fields to be placed in NM because the Renewable Energy Transmission lines would transport the energy to AZ or CA. 

Why was the plant sited in Guadalupe County, where Joe was a County Commissioner some years ago, outside of Santa Rosa, the city where he serves as Mayor, in House District 63, which Joe represents? One main reason is because there's a huge PNM transfer switch located there that the new company can use to carry their solar-generated power on existing lines. And, when the new RETA lines are constructed, GA Solar will be able to move the energy generated onto the new transmission lines. Something like that at least! All in all a huge win for the state of NM.

One of the events I attended this weekend featured Operation Free, a group of Iraqi and Afghanistan vets who are touring the country under the banner of ... Energy Independence Equals National Security. Sen Tom Udall spoke at the event which, unfortunately, was sparsely attended. This event really moved me. The testimonials by the young vets were very powerful, explaining what they saw and how important they believe their mission is of getting the message out that energy independence equals national security. 

The event made me think of the huge solar field near Santa Rosa, the new wind farm sited in the eastern part of the state and the new bio-algae farm sited in the south. How freakin' exciting that we have all three new industries investing here in New Mexico with their 21st century products. This is the future. It is happening. The passion Joe shows regarding energizing NM is palpable.

OK, so what else did Joe tell us he has been doing in the first full week of the legislative session? He has introduced three bills as of Saturday night.

First bill = HB 118, which was crafted with the help of Think New Mexico. It would stop lobbyists and certain contractors from making campaign donations.

Second bill = HB 99, the EMS and trauma services surcharge bill that would improve funding for such services. Rep. Campos said the room was packed with EMS personal when this bill was introduced. It was strongly supported, and was passed by the House Health and Government Affairs Committee on a 7-0 vote.

Third bill: HB 98: revisions to the original RETA bill related to adding the RETA to the public project revolving fund and authorizing renewable energy transmission bonds.

Last but not least, Rep. Campos expressed his worry over the state budget. Joe said he is a firm believer in revenue enhancements (raising taxes) on people making $150,000 or more, maybe by 1%,  2% or 2.5%, depending on how other things go. Instead of cutting things like education and Medicaid, he said we have to have everyone paying their fair share. In my humble opinion, this is the way to the future. We must raise taxes on those who have done so well for the last eight years or more. Thanks for saying this Joe, and for fighting for the average Joe!

February 2, 2010 at 12:43 PM in 2010 NM Lt. Governor Race, Energy, Ethics & Campaign Reform, Green Economy, Healthcare, Joe Campos, National Security, NM Legislature 2010 | Permalink | Comments (3)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sunday: Vets for Climate Change Event in Albuquerque with Sen. Tom Udall

From Clean Energy Works:
Join us for the Albuquerque stop on the National Veterans for American Power Tour. Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are touring the country, speaking about how we can increase our energy independence and strengthen our national security by transitioning to clean, domestic sources of energy.

The event will take place on Sunday, January 31, 2010 from 1:00 to 2:00 PM at the VFW Post 401, located at 2011 Girard Boulevard SE in Albuquerque. Click for flyer (pdf).

U.S. Senator Tom udall will be a featured speaker at the rally.

Coming-Las Cruces & Roswell Stops: The bus tour stopped at the Farmer's Market in Santa Fe today, for a press event moderated by State Rep. Mimi Stewart. It will also stop at the VFW Post in Las Cruces on at 1:00 PM on February 1 and hold an event moderated by staff from Congressman Harry Teague's office. On February 2, the bus will visit Roswell for a 6:00 PM Meet and Greet at the VFW Post. Click for more information.

The national tour is sponsored by Operation Free, a coalition of veterans and national security organizations that recognize that climate change and our dependence on fossil fuels pose serious threats to US national security.

“There's no fight more important than putting America in control of its own future by creating clean energy that's produced right here in America. That's why we're travel ing the country - and coming to your town - to spread the message, rally supporters, and ultimately strengthen American security.” Follow the tour at www.operationfree.net/on-the-bus.

For questions or more information, please contact Kim McMurray, Clean Energy Works (505) 254-4819.

January 30, 2010 at 12:18 PM in Energy, Events, National Security, Sen. Tom Udall | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, October 30, 2009

(Updated) Glenn Greenwald & Bill Moyers: Journalists Who Take Sides

Update: Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! interviewed Glenn Greenwald today on her show. He expands on some of the issues he raised in the interview with Moyers, and discusses how some "name" progressive blogs, including Daily Kos, seem to have sided with Obama in order to stay on the good side of the President's staff and avoid criticism.
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To my mind, Glenn Greenwald, who blogs at Salon.com, is one of our greatest assets in the fight for civil liberties and the battles we wage on behalf of many other progressive/liberal causes. He brings us the best of two worlds in a combination that provides incisive, well-documented, persuasive commentary that both reports on what's happening on the national stage and advocates clear positions on the issues raised by the reporting. He has a point of view. He makes value judgments, but he bases them on careful analysis of the validity of the facts at hand. He avoids the common trap of presenting all sides as equally deserving of our attention and respect. And because he holds himself apart from the DC culture, he can say what he means without worrying about losing his access, offending the powers that be or getting too personally caught up in the action.

That's a rarity in an era of writing and reporting that poses as fair and balanced, neutral or nonpartisan. These fuzzy aims of today's journalism have, in fact, led to a kind of confusing conundrum -- because the default position is that all points of view should be presented as equally correct or valuable. After all, the definition of "balance" is to "make equal." If two viewpoints are balanced, it suggests they're equivalent, and no value judgment is made as to which viewpoint has the most validity given the facts and context of the situation. Too many journalists and reporters today strive to give equal footing to both or all points of view. Therefore, they provide nothing of value to the discussion in terms of comparative analysis of what's being presented. Both "sides" are presented as equally credible, convincing and sound. An additional benefit to "balanced" journalism is that the reporters can preserve their coveted access to insiders of all stripes who might give them a "scoop."  

Greenwald's work, on the other hand, is an excellent example of how a commentator can be both a fact-based reporter-journalist and a voice for reform and change. He uses the information he gathers to come to a conclusion that's valid and forcefully expressed as an argument for a specific action. He's a change agent while obeying the dictates of stringent journalistic standards. And he avoids being part of the reporter pack in order to preserve his distance and thus his ability to critically think about issues without wondering who he's going to offend.

Bill Moyers, another reporter who combines impeccable journalistic credentials with a definite point of view, recently interviewed Greenwald in a web exclusive. In the video above (one segment of a three-part interview) Greenwald talks about the corrosive impact that being inside the Beltway can have on journalists who reside there or become too close to the action and players. Glenn purposely reports on Washington from outside DC. He explains how it's all too easy for a kind of group think to set in among the DC reporters -- along with too much attention being focused on preserving access and friendships. This, of course, weakens their ability to produce clear analysis and reach cogent conclusions, especially those that might rattle the status quo.

According to Greenwald, the Beltway elite journalists have become part of the problem, not part of the solution, through their close interactions within the power bubble. It's hard to be critical of government officials or power players if you're hanging out at the same cocktail parties and restaurants -- and competing with your peers for intimate access to the powerful and their leaks.

Greenwald discusses how Washington-based reporting on health care reform and Afghanistan -- as well as the viewpoints expressed by the regulars on shows like Meet the Press -- all too often demonstrate the biases and spin that permeate the cliquish bubble. The chummy atmosphere doesn't allow much penetrating examination of the issues or study to determine the facts. What's produced instead is a dangerous regurgitation of the conventional wisdom that dominates the Washington culture at any given time, and which almost always favors the powerful, whether inside the government on on K Street. Such reporting ignores dissenting sources from outside the DC hothouse, and dismisses inconvenient truths. Well worth a listen.

There's more worth checking out in two other videos of the Moyers' interview: Part 1, where Greenwald discusses how President Karzai's brother -- believed to be involved in the drug trade -- has been receiving payments from the CIA, and Part 3, where he explains how the Obama Administration has embraced many Bush-era legal justifications for secrecy and indefinite detention . You can watch the entire web-exclusive interview here.

October 30, 2009 at 12:49 PM in Afghanistan, Civil Liberties, Corporatism, Current Affairs, Government, Healthcare, Legal Issues, Media, Military Affairs, National Security, Obama Health Care Reform | Permalink | Comments (2)