Thursday, June 30, 2005
A Huge Blunder
Video and transcript of Howard Dean on Hardball last night. He blasts Bush for making a "huge blunder" by going into Iraq, among other nuggets. Click.
I'm going to do everything I can to make sure Democrats control the Congress and the House again. And when they do, I'm going to do my best to hold them accountable for the things that Republicans should be doing now so that people can trust their government again.
I'm starting to think that ethics and REFORM ala Teddy Roosevelt may well be more important than PROGRESSIVISM, per se, at this point. How about you? Instead hearing progressives this, progressives that, it might be heartening to hear complaints about those damn REFORMERS, pushing to get the crooks and the corruption out of both Parties. Hmmm.
Bingaman Now Supports CAFTA After Securing Labor and Farm Commitments
FYI: The Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) just passed the Senate Finance Committee on a voice vote. Senator Bingaman's office issued this release to explain why he now supports the agreement. CAFTA is expected to pass the Senate, but faces stronger opposition in the House.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, June 29, 2005
BINGAMAN NEGOTIATES STRONG LABOR RIGHTS COMMITMENTS IN CAFTA AGREEMENT
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman today announced his support for a trade agreement with Central American countries, but only after securing commitments from the Bush administration related to worker protections and subsistence farmers who will be affected by the agreement.
Bingaman believes the agreement now will be an advantage to New Mexico, as it is geographically and economically positioned to benefit from an increase in two-way trade
However, two weeks ago, Bingaman voted against the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) because it did not do enough to protect the rights of workers in Central American countries and because it did not provide enough assistance to subsistence farmers in the poorest of the countries covered by the agreement.
For the past two weeks, Bingaman negotiated with Ambassador Rob Portman, the U.S. trade representative, to secure commitments from the Bush administration. First, at Bingaman’s urging the administration agreed to set aside $40 million in each of the next four years for labor and environmental “capacity building.” Capacity building refers to assistance given to countries designed to strengthen processes and institutions to implement commitments made in trade agreements, in this case monitoring and enforcing CAFTA country commitments to core labor standards, such as child labor, the right to organize, and the right to bargain collectively.
Bingaman also got a commitment that $3 million would be set aside annually for legitimate, independent third party institution, the International Labor Organization, to monitor and report every six months on progress and problems with worker rights.
Second, Bingaman secured a commitment of $30 million per year for four years to help subsistence farmers in Guatemala, El Salvador, and the Dominican Republic, to transition to commercially-viable crops and mitigate the possibility of increased illegal immigration to the United States.
“Even without improved labor protections and assistance to help subsistence farmers in CAFTA countries to transition to new crops, this bill had enough support in the Senate to pass without my vote. I worked very hard with the Bush administration to address those serious concerns, and as a result we now have an unprecedented commitment to monitor worker protections and to provide assistance to farmers that should prevent an influx of illegal immigration to our country,” Bingaman said.
TV's 'We The People" Focuses on Separation of Church and State Tonight
WE THE PEOPLE
Thursday, JUNE 30, 2005 - Channel 27, 7-8 PM, CALL-IN: 346-1633. Please, TAPE the program if you can't be present.
GUEST: Andrew Schultz, ACLU
TOPIC: Separation of Church & State
HOST: Mickey Bock
WE THE PEOPLE is an innovative call-in television show looking for TRUTH and TRANSPARENCY in local, state and federal governments. We hope to remind viewers of their legacy and heritage coming from the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. It is our country's government--based on law and not tyranny--that grants us FREEDOM.
Watch us every Thursday 7-8 PM
Community Cable Channel 27, Albuquerque, NM
Call-in (the number will be flashed on the TV Screen) or e-mail us and we will try to answer your questions and concerns. Kindly forward to Albuquerque area friends.
Wednesday, June 29, 2005
Pushing for a Fair Wage
Duke City Fix has excellent photos of Senator John Edwards and the Fair Wage rally on Albuquerque's Civic Plaza yesterday. Reports are that the petition effort to get the measure on the ballot this October already has more than 20,000 signatures.
State Democratic Party Chair John Wertheim has a good pro-living wage op-ed piece in this morning's Albuquerque Journal. I note the Journal's coverage of the rally focuses on negative quotes about the effort. Why am I not surprised.
Not so startling quote of the day from City Councilor and Republican, Brad Winter, who is also running for Mayor of Albuquerque:
On Tuesday, City Council President Brad Winter, a candidate for mayor, issued a statement saying he opposed a local minimum wage and wouldn't lobby for an increase in the federal minimum wage.
"I will allow our elected officials in Washington, D.C., to determine the appropriate minimum-wage level which will keep America competitive on the world stage," he said.
"Raising the minimum wage on one competitor— whether it is a city like Albuquerque or a country like the United States— offers an unfair advantage to others," he said.
Sounds like ole "moderate" Brad might believe even our current, meager federal minimum wage law is over the top. After all, how can we compete with all those slave wage workers in China and the Third World when we have that inconvenient $5.15 an hour, "non-competitive" requirement to content with!
ACTION ALERT: Contact Your Councilor Re Public Financing for Elections
From Common Cause New Mexico:
You have heard in recent days about our fight to place a public financing referendum on the October 4 ballot in Albuquerque. We will face a key benchmark this Thursday, June 30. The Albuquerque City Council must hold a final vote at that evening's special meeting to decide if the Open and Ethical Elections Code referendum will be placed on the ballot. We have certainly been busy preparing for this vote.
Common Cause New Mexico has been working hard to make sure this important referendum passes the council. We have met with newspaper editorial boards, had help in the form of guest commentaries from our allies and appeared on the KUNM Call In Show to explain the need for voluntary limits on campaign spending and public financing.
We continue to work on behalf of our members and the public interest to ensure that the Open and Ethical Elections Code will be on the ballot. But, we could still use your help! Some members of the Albuquerque City Council have declared their support for placing the referendum on the ballot, while others believe it is a partisan issue that Albuquerque voters should not be allowed to decide. As we know, voluntary campaign spending limits and public financing are not partisan issues. Please call your city councilor at 768-3100 and urge them to support putting the Open and Ethical Elections Code on the ballot.
You can find your councilor by entering your address and then ask for them by calling the City Council office at 768-3100. Tell them you support letting Albuquerque residents weigh in on public financing for citywide elections.
We need to keep the pressure on the council going into the June 30 meeting so they vote for the public's interest. The voters of Albuquerque must be allowed to decide if they want limits on campaign spending, more power for the average voter and a level playing field for candidates who have broad grassroots support.
Please continue to visit the Common Cause New Mexico website for updated information about the Open and Ethical Elections Code. Thank you for all that you do for democracy in New Mexico!
Matt Brix, Executive Director
Common Cause New Mexico
Tuesday, June 28, 2005
COME ON DOWN: We Need a Big Crowd on the Civic Plaza Today
RALLY TO SUPPORT ALBUQUERQUE LIVING WAGE
CIVIC PLAZA 4:00 - 5:00 PM TODAY!
JOIN SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS & ATTORNEY GENERAL PATRICIA MADRID
BRING YOUR SIGNED PETITIONS TO GET THE LIVING WAGE ISSUE ON THE BALLOT
SENATOR EDWARDS WILL LEAD THE WAY TO THE CITY CLERK'S OFFICE TO TURN IN THE SIGNATURES
Please get the word out to as many of our sisters and brothers as possible--unions and progressive organizations need to drive the huge turnout for the living wage rally with Senator John Edwards and Attorney General Patsy Madrid on Civic Plaza on Tuesday, June 28 at 4 PM.
There's going to be lots of media there, so a big turnout will produce lots of great publicity and hopefully put the petition drive over the top. The event should be over by 5, but you'll still get to see Sen. Edwards if you're there at 4:30 or so (so for those of you who get out of work at 4:00, please still come by Civic Plaza).
REMINDER: there is a fundraiser for the living wage campaign at Sen. Dede Feldman's house afterwards. If any unions or progressive organizations can help chip in, it will make a world of difference to the success of the campaign. Plus any union or other organization contributing $1,000 can bring a member (or staff or elected leader) to the small, private reception just before the larger fundraiser, plus three other people to the fundraiser. General admission to the fundraiser is $250, which is tough for many of us individually, but hopefully some of our organizations will be able to send a representative to the fundraiser at that amount as well. And of course, if it IS doable for any individuals, please don't feel that this is limited to organizations!
If you have any questions about either the rally or fundraiser, please feel free to call Carter Bundy of AFSCME at any time at 463-8499.
Monday, June 27, 2005
Bingaman Signs Kerry Letter Re Downing Street Memo and Need for Intelligence Study
GREAT NEWS: Senator Jeff Bingman has joined a group of Democratic Senators who signed a letter drafted by Senator John Kerry to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. The letter urges the Select Committee to complete a study promised a year ago that would review how US policymakers used intelligence on Iraq, and stresses the urgency of completing the study in light of the release of the Downing Street Memo.
Besides Senators Kerry and Bingaman, the letter was signed by Senators Frank Lautenberg, Barbara Boxer, Richard Durbin, Tim Johnson, Ted Kennedy, Tom Harkin, Jon Corzine and Jack Reed.
Click to download a pdf of the letter.
If you'd like to thank Senator Bingaman for participating in this effort, click to email him. Perhaps this story really does have legs.
David Podvin at Make Them Accountable does a convincing job of portraying Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE) as a lip-service liberal who votes with conservatives and corporatists much of the time. According to Podvin, "Biden routinely disagrees with the Bush administration while enabling the very behavior he condemns."
Given that Biden is the first Dem to semi-officially toss his hat into the presidential ring, now is the time make sure everyone knows the true nature of Clueless Joe and his Repub-lite, never met a bank or credit card company he didn't like record. According to Open Secrets, his top campaign contributor is credit card giant MBNA Corp. No surprise there. Many refer to him as Sen. Joe Biden (D-MBNA).
(Thanks to BG for the heads up on this one.)
Click for Quotes from the American Taliban. Kinda puts Howard Deans' tame statements in context, doesn't it? How these people are tolerated and even courted by Republicans is beyond me. I guess political expediency rules.
(Thanks to John McAndrew for the heads up on this one.)
Sunday, June 26, 2005
Sunday Austin Neon Blogging
Because so much has been going on, I haven't managed any new photos of the parakeets or Bosco the peachfaced lovebird. However, I'm pleased to report that all are doing very well, even the baby runt parakeet that was having trouble thriving for so long. "Peanut" is now running about the cage like a dynamo, covered with a full complement of healthy green and yellow feathers and eating quite well on its own, thank you very much.
Bosco the lovebird accompanied us on our week-long jaunt to Austin and DemocracyFest and was an intrepid traveler. I'll write more about DemocracyFest when I get more time but suffice to say we loved Austin and thought the Fest was a terrific experience. I'll put up a photo album soon.
For now, here's a good example of why we liked staying at the retro-50s Austin Motel so much, in the funky and hip SoCo neighborhood:
The Austin attitude shows up in this sign from one of our favorite cafes as well. The Magnolia boasts it's open 24 hours, 8 days a week:
(Click on photos for larger images.)