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Saturday, September 30, 2006

Saturday Music Hall: Save the Country

Rare footage of one of my all-time favorites, the strange and beautiful Laura Nyro, singing 'Save the Country' on a TV performance from 1969. The video and audio is not the best, and does little justice to her singular voice. But I think the sentiment is more timely than ever as we see our government taking up the tactics and values of tyranny, right out in the open, almost nonchalantly. "I've got fury, in my soul ...."

I got to see the legendary Nyro live many times over the years, including on her very first tour and later, when she periodically emerged from a retreat into private life with renewed touring and new music. I saw her in large venues and a number of small, intimate clubs. I saw her with a variety of backing musicians and on her own, singing solo and playing keyboard. I savor each experience. Magical. Sadly, Laura passed away way too early, from cancer, in 1997.  If she had lived, I imagine her music might have had something compelling, arousing and even comforting to say to us as we suffer another cycle of mindless war and authoritarian abuse.

Here's the Wikipedia entry on Laura Nyro. Can you surrey?


September 30, 2006 at 11:55 AM in Saturday Music Hall | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, September 29, 2006

Anti-War Leader Arrested in Albuquerque

From Luis Martin, Boletin Latino:

Photo: Luis Martin, Boletin Latino

Albuquerque, 9-29-2006
Bob Anderson, leading anti-war activist for Stop the War Machine (SWM) in Albuquerque, was tackled, handcuffed, dragged and led away to Bernalillo County Detention Center West by University of New Mexico (UNM) police today at approximately 2:00 PM. The incident occurred at a campus meeting sponsored by UNM in which a panel of speakers for think tank Sandia National Laboratories were promoting the building of a new generation of nuclear weapons.

According to one witness, Anderson objected to the exclusion of anti-war views from the makeup of the panel. As someone next to him raised an anti-war placard, one member of the panel asked that it be lowered saying signs were prohibited at the meeting. As campus police entered the room, the panel member pointed to Anderson asking them to remove him from the room. Throughout the entire incident, some bystanders shouted at police to refrain from manhandling the dissenter. No other details are immediately available.

At approximately 5:30 PM, Jean Pahls, Anderson's wife, told Boletin Latino that Bob had been released from detention on his own recognizance.

UNM ranks in the top 15 universities in the country for war profiteering.


Above, Below: Bob Anderson being violently arrested after requesting a fair makeup of a panel sponsored by UNM to promote building nuclear weapons. All photos: Luis Martin, Boletin Latino


Editor's Note: Check out our earlier post about the conference where Anderson was arrested.

September 29, 2006 at 07:34 PM in Local Politics, Nuclear Arms, Power | Permalink | Comments (16)

Latest Madrid Ad: Heather Wilson Lies for Bush

The latest ad from the campaign of Dem challenger Patricia Madrid who's running against Repub incumbent Rep. Heather Wilson (NM-01). Now THIS is an important issue.

Heather Wilson: Lying for George Bush. Leaving America less safe. End of story.

September 29, 2006 at 05:51 PM in Candidates & Races, Iraq War, Visuals | Permalink | Comments (4)

KNME TV Tonight: NM Governor's Race + Ethics Task Force Recommendations

Albuquerque's PBS public television station, KNME (Channel 5), will feature two shows covering local politics tonight:

Friday, September 29:
7:00 PM: On The Line, Matt Brix of Common Cause NM will join the discussion about the recommendations of Governor Richardson's Ethics and Campaign Finance Task Force.

7:30 PM: On In Focus, Kate Nelson holds one-on-one conversations with the Governor Richardson and Repub candidate John Dendahl.

September 29, 2006 at 04:43 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)

Heather Wilson Campaign Getting Desperate?

After raising a huge stink about one of the major issues of the campaign season -- Heather Wilson's position in the State Fair Parade -- the campaign has moved on to more deceptively odd spin to try and change the subject on the Bush-Heather team's failures. When you don't want to discuss the Iraq war or how the combined wisdom of 16 of our intelligence agencies has determined the war is making things worse on the terror front, you have to cast about for something.


The latest salvo is the Wilson campaign's bizarre take on the endorsement of Dem challenger Patricia Madrid by the local chapter of the IAFF firefighters union (IAFF Local 244). Despite the local union's official endorsement of Madrid according to their rules, the Wilson campaign is now saying they were "cheated." They even posed their campaign manager, Enrique Knell, in front of an IAFF for Heather banner in a local KRQE-TV news interview last night (see screenshot above). What a transparent attempt to fool viewers into thinking the local IAFF supports Wilson in this race when just the opposite is true. When you can't succeed, you must mislead?

Once again, Wilson and the Republicans are exhibiting their fear of facts. Hey, if you don't like reality, make something up! Bottom line, the local IAFF firefighters union has endorsed Patricia Madrid in her congressional run in NM-01. This, despite backing Wilson in the past. It's clear that more and more people from many walks of life and of varying political stripes have had enough of the Bush agenda and the Republicans, like Wilson, who rubber stamp it.   

I can't wait until Karl Rove -- whose close connections with the filthy Jack Abramoff came to light in a new congressional report -- arrives in Albuquerque this Saturday. Besides gathering more cash from fatcats, Rove will no doubt hand off some more of the dirty campaign tactics he's known for. When you're losing on all the genuine issues of the day, as Wilson is, you have to try and deflect attention some way. Be forewarned!

Wilson apparently doesn't want to discuss the fatally flawed Medicare drug bill, the Iraq war and its consequences, how she voted for what is almost certainly a unconstitutional bill on torture and detainees or how she helped Bush tailor his warrantless wiretapping bill. No, her campaign wants to concentrate on pretending to get endorsements they haven't gotten ... and how Heather didn't get the spot she wanted in the State Fair parade!

September 29, 2006 at 12:14 PM in Candidates & Races | Permalink | Comments (9)

BREAKING: Rove & Mehlman Possibly Implicated In Abramoff Scandal

David Sirota writes:

Roll Call has breaking news on a new congressional report that is expected to be released showing “hundreds of contacts between top White House officials and former lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his associates” that “raise serious questions about the legality and actions” of those officials.

Here’s the key excerpt:

“The 95-page report, which White House officials reviewed Wednesday evening but has yet to be formally approved by the panel, singled out two of President Bush’s top lieutenants, Karl Rove and Ken Mehlman, as having been offered expensive meals and exclusive tickets to premier sporting events and concerts by Abramoff and his associates. In total, the committee was able to document 485 contacts between White House officials and Abramoff and his lobbying team at the firm Greenberg Traurig from January 2001 to March 2004, with 82 of those contacts occurring in Rove’s office, including 10 with Rove personally. The panel also said that Abramoff billed his clients nearly $25,000 for meals and drinks with White House officials during that period…During the period examined by the committee, Bush administration officials repeatedly intervened on behalf of Abramoff’s clients.”

Here's the full story: Roll Call. Another excerpt:

The committee was able to uncover numerous times when Abramoff and his associates attended social events with senior White House aides using tickets or passes supplied by Abramoff. For instance, Abramoff attended an NCAA Tournament college basketball game with Rove in March 2002. Afterward, Abramoff told an associate that Rove was “a great guy” who told him “anytime we need something, just let him know” via Rove’s assistant, Susan Ralston. Ralston worked for Abramoff before moving over to the White House.

September 29, 2006 at 10:30 AM in Ethics & Campaign Reform | Permalink | Comments (2)

Madrid Campaign Benefit Reception at St. Clair Winery & Bistro 10/5

From the Democratic Party of New Mexico:
Please Join: John Blair, Caroline Buerkle, Carter Bundy, Joe Casados, Brian S. Colon, Brian and Kelly Egolf, Matt Farrauto, Chris Garcia, Josh and Tara Geise, Eric Griego, Jason Libersky, Oscar Lopez, Moe Maestas, Manuela Mondloch, Victor Raigoza, and Aliesha Ruiz

For a fundraising reception for Patricia Madrid
At the St. Clair Winery & Bistro
901 Rio Grande Blvd. NW
Albuquerque, NM 87104
October 5th, 2006, 5:30-7:30 PM
Click for flyer (PDF)

$50 Contribution. Please make your contribution payable to Madrid for Congress. Click Here to RSVP Online: RSVP Online or call: 505-830-3650

September 29, 2006 at 10:25 AM in Candidates & Races | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Another Dem Cave-In Sullies Our Liberty, Our Nation and Our Party


What a debacle. What a shameful display. Once again, I rely on Greenwald:

Final passage of the torture/detention bill was 65-34. Without necessarily planning to, I live-blogged the Senate proceedings here.

Twelve Democrats voted in favor, 1 Republican and 1 independent voted against (there may be one or two errors because I compiled the list while listening to the vote):

Democrats in favor (12) - Carper (Del.), Johnson (S.D.), Landrieu (La.), Lautenberg (N.J.), Lieberman (Conn.), Menendez (N.J), Pryor (Ark.), Rockefeller (W. Va.), Salazar (Co.), Stabenow (Mich.), Nelson (Fla.), Nelson (Neb.)

Republicans against (1) - Chafee (R.I.).

Jeffords voted against.

I don't understand why Harry Reid made a backroom deal with the Repubs where he promised not to lead a filibuster if they "let" there be a few hours of "debate" and "permitted" 3 amendments, which Reid had to know would fail. A filibuster would have shown Americans that this bill is THAT BAD. What this does is show that Reid has no idea how to keep control of the Dem caucus. We need another Lyndon Johnson in that regard, don't we? To me, Reid is as bad a leader as Daschle was, and the stakes are much higher now.

September 28, 2006 at 05:19 PM in Democratic Party, Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (13)

Contact Sen. Bingaman on Torture Bill

Please call Sen. Bingaman NOW to express your views on the Republican torture and detainment bill:

Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D) 202-224-5521, 202-224-2852, 505-988-6647 Senator_Bingaman@bingaman.senate.gov

When I spoke with one of his staffers this morning I was told the Senator is co-sponsoring an amendment to strike the suspension of habeas corpus section of the bill. They are tallying the views of constituents who call about the bill, so it's very important that you do so immediately. I urged the Senator to filibuster the bill and stated my strong opposition to it. If you care about American democracy and the rule of law, I hope you'll do the same. Please be polite.

UPDATE: The Spector-Leahy amendment to remove the suspension of habeas corpus from the bill, which Sen. Bingaman co-sponsored, failed by 3 votes. All Dems voted for the amendment except Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE). It needed yea votes from half the Senators to pass. Here's the roll call. Almost every Republican voted effectively to throw out perhaps our most important legal protection against tyranny and injustice. Unbelievable. A filibuster may well be the only way to stop this dangerous bill.

September 28, 2006 at 11:57 AM in Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Must Read on Terror & Detainment Bill

As usual, Glenn Greenwald is providing outstanding, if depressive, coverage of what Bush's torture and detainment bill really contains, as well as updating his commentary as events procede today. He lays out the issues so that even I can understand them. Imagine if our mainstream media were actually doing its work responsibly and the American people could be exposed to these facts in this manner. Excerpts:

About Sen. Pete Domenici's floor statement:

"Sen. Pete Dominici spat out one banal, moronic slogan after the next, and said that we can't possibly allow detainees to access our courts because it would "clog the courts" -- a completely idiotic assertion given the number of petitions there would be as compared to the overall caseload. It is better to allow the President to imprison people for life with no hope of ever proving one's innocence because to allow them to go to court would create lots of administrative burdens. The blind loyalty to the President of Republicans in Congress is limitless -- there is no presidential power they would meaningfully oppose. People who genuinely favor of this bill are craven, hollow and un-American followers."

Other excerpts:

" ... as Law Professors Marty Lederman and Bruce Ackerman each point out, many of the extraordinary powers vested in the President by this bill also apply to U.S. citizens, on U.S. soil.

As Ackerman put it: "The compromise legislation, which is racing toward the White House, authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights." Similarly, Lederman explains: "this [subsection (ii) of the definition of 'unlawful enemy combatant'] means that if the Pentagon says you're an unlawful enemy combatant -- using whatever criteria they wish -- then as far as Congress, and U.S. law, is concerned, you are one, whether or not you have had any connection to 'hostilities' at all."

"This last point means that even if there were a habeas corpus right inserted back into the legislation (which is unlikely at this point anyway), it wouldn't matter much, if at all, because the law would authorize your detention simply based on the DoD's decree that you are an enemy combatant, regardless of whether it was accurate. This is basically the legalization of the Jose Padilla treatment -- empowering the President to throw people into black holes with little or no recourse, based solely on his say-so.

"There really is no other way to put it. Issues of torture to the side (a grotesque qualification, I know), we are legalizing tyranny in the United States. Period. [emphasis mine] Primary responsibility for this fact lies with the authoritarian Bush administration and its sickeningly submissive loyalists in Congress. That is true enough. But there is no point in trying to obscure that fact that it's happening with the cowardly collusion of the Senate Democratic leadership, which quite likely could have stopped this travesty via filibuster if it chose to (it certainly could have tried).

" ... There is a profound and fundamental difference between an Executive engaging in shadowy acts of lawlessness and abuses of power on the one hand, and, on the other, having the American people, through their Congress, endorse, embrace and legalize that behavior out in the open, with barely a peep of real protest. Our laws reflect our values and beliefs. And our laws are about to explicitly codify one of the most dangerous and defining powers of tyranny -- one of the very powers this country was founded in order to prevent."

September 28, 2006 at 11:18 AM in Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (2)

Senate Dem Statements On Torture & Detainment Bill

Several Senate Dems have given their floor statements on Bush's horrendous torture and detainment bill. Here are excerpts from a few of them:

" ... the trials conducted under this legislation will send a very different signal to the world, one that I fear will put our own troops and personnel in jeopardy both now and in future conflicts. To take just a few examples, this legislation would permit an individual to be convicted on the basis of coerced testimony and hearsay, would not allow full judicial review of the conviction, and yet would allow someone convicted under these rules to be put to death. That is simply unacceptable. We would not stand for another country to try our citizens under those rules, and we should not stand for our own government to do so, either." --Sen. Russ Feingold (full statement here)

"Mr. President, the Administration and Republican leadership would have the American people believe that the War on Terror requires a choice between protecting America from terrorism and upholding the basic tenets upon which our country was founded -- but not both. This canard has been showcased in every recent election cycle.

"I fully reject that reasoning. We can, and we must, balance our responsibilities to bring terrorists to justice, while at the same time protecting what it means to be America. To choose the rule of law over the passion of the moment takes courage. But it is the right thing to do if we are to uphold the values of equal justice and due process that are codified in our Constitution." --Sen. Chris Dodd (full statement here)

"We must start treating our moral authority as a precious national asset that does not limit our power but magnifies our influence. That seems obvious, but this Administration still doesn't get it. Right now - today -- they are trying to rush a bill through Congress that will fundamentally undermine our moral authority, put our troops at greater risk, and make our country less safe.

"Let me be clear about something--something that it seems few people are willing to say. This bill permits torture. It gives the President the discretion to interpret the meaning and application of the Geneva Conventions. No matter how much well-intended United States Senators would like to believe otherwise, it gives an Administration that lobbied for torture just what it wanted." --Sen. John Kerry (full statement here)

September 28, 2006 at 11:05 AM in Democratic Party, Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (5)

Wilson & Pearce Vote for Bush's Malignant Torture Bill

Yesterday, both of New Mexico's Republican representatives voted to approve the U.S. House version of Bush's incredibly flawed and legally incoherent torture and detainment bill. Both Heather Wilson (NM-01) and Steve Pearce (NM-02) voted aye. Click to see the roll call vote. The bill deprives detainees of one of Western civilization's most basic and vital legal rights -- habeas corpus, allows the CIA to continue interrogations based on what the President decides is or is not torture and, perhaps most importantly, changes the War Crimes Act to retroactively protect the interrogators and administration leaders who have been perpetrating what amount to war crimes as set out in the Geneva Conventions and military law.

What I term the Right-Wing Republican We're Tough on Terrorists Rush Job Cover Bush's Criminal Ass Election Year Act will be heard in the Senate today and is expected to pass without much further ado. Calls for a Dem filibuster of the bill have apparently fallen on deaf ears. Fear apparently permeates the Dem Senate caucus with but a few exceptions.

Reportedly, the "leaders" of both parties have agreed to "limit debate," thus ensuring quick passage without the need for what were once known as bedrock Senate traditions -- thoughtful deliberations and penetrating analysis and discussion. After all, the Senate used to be known as the slow-moving, intellectually focused, deliberative body in our government. In the Bush era, these characteristics have been viewed as impediments to the "resolve" of The Decider and his unitary presidency pushers. For the most part, Dems have stood on the sidelines, mute and afraid to contest anything lest they be labeled "weak on defense" or called other negative names by Rove and his operatives.

Who cares if the bill represents what may well be one of the darkest hours of American government? Our cowardly Senators need to get back to their districts ASAP so they can raise more large donations from special interests and get reelected so they can continue serving their lobbyist masters. None of them want to be labeled "soft on terrorism" now do they? Even if it means voting for a muddled and purposely complicated bill most of them have failed to even read, despite it's being filled with last minute changes and additions of what used to be called fine print.

Rep. Steve Pearce (NM-02) has always supported the Bush agenda in lockstep, but Rep. Heather Wilson (NM-01) has been touting herself as "independent" from the Bush machine as her race with Dem challenger Patricia Madrid tightens. Her vote for this travesty of American jurisprudence puts her squarely in the Bush-Cheney-Rummy camp, period. 

Shamefully, 34 Dems also voted for this right-wing election year ploy and only 7 Republicans voted nay. Predictably, Dennis Hastert used the occasion to lash out madly against Dems who dared to vote against what many legal experts believe is an unconstitution bill by accusing them of "coddling terrorists." Gee, where have we heard that term before from the Repubs? It used to be that they accused Dems of "coddling," let's see, Communists, criminals, children, druggies, Cadillac-driving welfare mothers, Willie Horton and "America haters." Seems they can never come up with a new line of thought. Creativity isn't their strong suit. And neither is respect for the rule of law, the Constitution, checks and balances, the Bill of Rights, international law, military law or human rights. But hey, at least they're not into "coddling terrorists."

September 28, 2006 at 10:44 AM in Candidates & Races, Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (2)