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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Peace and Laughter Be With You, Molly

Mary Tyler "Molly" Ivins
August 30, 1944 - January 31, 2007
She was one of us ...
"We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war." --From her last column, "Stand Up Against the Surge," January 11, 2007

One of her last columns from January 7, 2007: Bubba, We -- Yes, We --Have to Stop the War Now. Excerpt:

This war is being prosecuted in our names, with our money, with our blood, against our will ... What happened to the nation that never tortured? The nation that wasn't supposed to start wars of choice? The nation that respected human rights and life? A nation that from the beginning was against tyranny? Where have we gone? How did we let these people take us there? How did we let them fool us?

Other Molly quotes:

— "The poor man who is currently our president has reached such a point of befuddlement that he thinks stem cell research is the same as taking human lives, but that 40,000 dead Iraqi civilians are progress toward democracy," from a July 2006 column urging commentator Bill Moyers to run for president.

— "Many people did not care for Pat Buchanan's speech; it probably sounded better in the original German," Ivins in September 1992, commenting on the one-time presidential hopeful's speech to the Republican National Convention.

— "I'll remember sunsets, rivers, hills, plains, the Gulf, woods, a thousand beers in a thousand joints, and sunshine and laughter. And people. Mostly I'll remember people," from her farewell column to Texas Observer readers in 1976, when she took a job with the New York Times

The Austin American-Statesman has all kinds of terrific coverage of Molly's life and times.

Some quotes about Molly:

Molbald"For a woman who made a profession of offering her opinion to others, Molly was remarkably humble. She was known for hosting unforgettable parties at her Austin home, which would feature rollicking political discussions, and impromptu poetry recitals and satirical songs. At one such event, I noticed her dining table was littered with various awards and distinguished speaker plaques, put to use as trivets for steaming plates of tamales, chili and fajita meat. When I called this to her attention, Molly matter-of-factly replied, "Well, what else am I going to do with 'em?" -- Anthony Zurcher, her long-time editor at Creators Syndicate

"She was just like a force of nature. She was just always on and sharp and witty and funny and was one of a kind." --

Ivinsmolly_1"She was as courageous in her struggle with cancer as she was forthright in her words. A true Texas original — she could provoke a laugh, even from the old mossbacks who were her targets. No matter how great the challenge, she brought great cheer to progressives." --

Like many journalists of the 1960s, Ivins earned a reputation as something of a partyer, and, until her health declined, she hosted at her Austin home monthly gatherings of writers and rabble-rousers.

"She always had a rambunctious bunch of mavericks and mutts, journalists and old-time liberals," recalled her friend Jim Hightower, a former Democratic agriculture commissioner and now a radio host and lecturer. "They'd be old people tottering around in their 80s and kiddies. Molly was there with the best of 'em." -- Houston Chronicle

There are a collection of photos, recollections and Mollyisms over at The Texas Observer, the top-notch, fiercely independent publication she helped found and nurtures even now. Ivins left her estate to be split between the Observer and the American Civil Liberties Union and also asked that if people wanted to memorialize her that they do so by donating to them. (Note, the Observer site is experiencing incredible traffic today and it can be difficult to load.)

There's a cool video of Molly in action at the March, 2002 Rolling Thunder Down Home Democracy Tour in Austin. Remember, she says, to have fun while you fight for freedom.

Mary Ellen and I had the pleasure of experiencing Molly live and in person at the DFA's 2005 Democracy Fest in Austin. She was everywhere -- at panel discussions, mingling with attendees, at the BBQ party at Stubbs, at the big rally with Howard Dean, Jim Hightower and others. She was funny as hell, present as hell, and seemed very happy to be among a crowd of her liberal extended clan. She made us happy, too.

Rallying the crowd at DemFest
Hanging out on a balcony cheering the other speeches
At the BBQ at DemFest

We'll miss her. And remember her. And keep on laughing and working for the cause because whats else can we do? Adios, Molly. Be sure to pass along a howdy to your rowdy co-conspirator, Ann Richards. We miss her too. (Click on photos for larger images.)


January 31, 2007 at 09:23 PM in Current Affairs, Media | Permalink | Comments (7)

New Short Film Released via the Internet Reveals Truth about Senator John McCain

From Brave New Films:
Robert Greenwald and Brave New Films released John McCain Vs. John McCain today — a hard hitting short documentary, being distributed for free via TheRealMcCain.com and across the country via You Tube. The three minute short reveals the Senator's flip flopping on key issues such as the Iraq War, Gay Marriage and the Religious Right. The film uses McCain's own words to destroy the myth of the Senator as a "straight talking" politician. John McCain Vs. John McCain shows the Senator as politician prone to frequent contradictions on key issues. The website TheRealMcCain.com is home to the video and a blog about the Senator, as well as other videos focusing on the McCain myths.

"This short illustrates that John McCain is not a 'straight talker' but a double talker. As a filmmaker and concerned American, I felt it was important to reveal this side of John McCain since this aspect of his leadership has not been portrayed in the press" said the film's director Robert Greenwald. The length of the video allows for it to be distributed virally for free across the Internet. Blogs and websites around the world are picking up the video and You Tube users and concerned citizens are forwarding the short to friends.

Cliff Schecter, veteran campaign strategist and political commentator is blogging at TheRealMcCain.com about the how the Arizona Senator's opinions change to suit his political ambitions. Schecter, who is writing a biography of McCain, said the project is important because "many journalists still treat McCain's every utterance as if it came down from on high, while the truth is that there is no policy McCain won't sacrifice, no position he won't change if he thinks it will further his presidential ambitions. The people have a right to this information."

More information is available at TheRealMcCain.com, which is an educational project by Brave New Films and is not authorized by any political candidate. Also see front page LA Times story.

Editor's Note: I also like this recent Newsday story on McCain's falling popularity and credibility. Excerpt:

It's official: Chuck Hagel is the new John McCain, getting the glowing treatment from glam publications such as GQ. And John McCain is the new Bob Dole - and we know what kind of press Dole got.

... Once upon a time - say, five years ago - the liberal media were infatuated with McCain. Yes, the Republican senator from Arizona was a hard-line conservative on most matters, but he was sufficiently unorthodox on a few issues (campaign finance, global warming, tax cuts) to be newsworthy. In addition, McCain was enough of a George W. Bush basher to keep reporters interested in what he might say next ... But the Mainstream Media's affection for the senator has come to an end.

January 31, 2007 at 12:42 PM in 2008 Presidential Primary, Film | Permalink | Comments (0)

Update: NM Health Security Act

From the Health Security for New Mexicans Campaign:
More Local Governments Supporting Health Security Act! The Village of Los Lunas, the Otero County and Rio Arriba County Commissions recently unanimously passed resolutions in support of the Health Security Act. Total to date: 14 municipalities and 11 counties. Below is the complete list.

Counties: Bernalillo, Cibola, Doña Ana, Grant, Hidalgo, Luna, Otero, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, Taos, Valencia

Municipalities: Albuquerque, Belen, Carlsbad, Corrales, Deming, Grants, Hatch, Las Cruces, Las Vegas, Los Lunas, Mesilla, Pecos, Rio Rancho, Silver City

CisnerosSen. Cisneros Calls Press Conference to Announce Introduction of Health Security Act: This Wednesday, January 31st, Sen. Carlos Cisneros (right) will be holding a press conference at the State Capitol (Room 326) at 12:45 PM. The Mayor of Albuquerque, the Mayor of Carlsbad, Cibola County Commissioner Jane Pitts, Taos County Commissioner Nick Jaramillo and other officials will be present along with Campaign supporters. Please come!!!

Without a doubt, growing public support combined with the deterioration of our health care system has led counties and municipalities to conclude that it is time for the legislature to pass the Health Security Act. It is the only proposal that has been designed by New Mexicans for New Mexicans.

The Choice for New Mexico Is Clear:

  • continue to pour more and more taxpayer dollars into a failing private insurance system, or
  • move in a new direction with the Health Security Act

The Health Security Act will enable New Mexico to set up its own health plan - like a cooperative - with freedom of choice of provider and a comprehensive benefit package.

How You Can Help
Contact Dana (northern New Mexico) or Cathilia (southern New Mexico) if you want to set up a meeting with your local county commission or city/village.

Dana: 269-3779; e-mail: dsmillen@msn.com
Cathilia: 635-0996; e-mail: cathilia@gmail.com

Let us know if you are willing to be a phone contact person, which means you are able to get 5 other people in your community to contact their local representative when the time is right at the legislature.

More News to Come: We are planning a lobby day at the legislature. Details will be available shortly.

January 31, 2007 at 09:20 AM in Healthcare, NM Legislature 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Joint Memorial to Oppose the Federal Real ID Act Unanimously Passes NM House Judiciary Committee

From the Democratic Leadership of the NM House of Representatives:
A surprising unanimous vote Monday by the NM House Judiciary Committee forwards House Joint Memorial 13 to the House floor. Committee Republicans joined Democrats to oppose the implementation of the Federal Real ID Act of 2005.

House Majority Leader, Rep. Ken Martinez, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, opposes the Real ID Act because it infringes on civil liberties, imposes undue hardships on record keeping in the Department of Motor Vehicles, and could cost New Mexico as much as $37 million dollars over five years.

During the committee hearing Rep. Ken Martinez (D-Grants), the memorial sponsor, said, “There are three things as a state that we can do with this national ID mandate from the federal government. We can do nothing. We can implement it. Or we can send it back. This memorial proposes that we send it back to Washington. My only regret is that New Mexico will not be the first state to say no to this mandate because the state of Maine has already passed a joint memorial that is very similar.”

The Real ID Act of 2005 requires that states adopt uniform federal standards and documentation verification procedures for issuing driver’s licenses. These licenses could then be used as the equivalent of a national identification card to enter federal buildings and board airplanes within the United States. Documents that were used by state motor vehicle departments to verify citizenship would be scanned into an electronic data base that would be required to be shared with all other states.

HB 13 calls on the New Mexico legislature to not authorize funding to comply with this federal mandate. The memorial also calls upon the United States Congress to repeal the Real ID Act and urges the New Mexico congressional delegation to support that repeal.

Fro more information contact: Kathleen MacRae 505-681-3920, or Victoria Chávez 646-241-5335.

To follow the progress of all pending legislation, go to the legislative website at https://legis.state.nm.us/lcs. To contact Rep. Martinez call 505-986-4777.

Ben Lujan, Speaker of the House
Ken Martinez, House Majority Leader
Sheryl Williams Stapleton, House Majority Whip

Editor's Note: Maine was the first state to reject the Real ID card.

January 31, 2007 at 08:58 AM in Civil Liberties, NM Legislature 2007 | Permalink | Comments (2)

City of Santa Fe Announces Community Read of 'Nickel and Dimed'

From the office of Mayor David Coss:
Read On Santa Fe! Community Read
Mayor David Coss has announced a community read of the book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, the New York Times bestseller by Barbara Ehrenreich. This announcement comes at a time when government officials on a state and national level discuss raising the minimum wage.

Nickel and Dimed is about changing the way America perceives its working poor. Santa Fe is proud of the accomplishments made to support working families. Through a communitywide read of Nickel and Dimed, I hope to create an opportunity for Santa Feans to discuss at large issues of poverty across America and here at home,” Mayor Coss said.

Nickel and Dimed is about Barbara’s experience as she joins the millions of hardworking Americans who earn poverty-level wages. Inspired in part by the rhetoric surrounding welfare reform, which promised that any job equals a better life, Ms. Ehrenreich moved across the country, taking the cheapest lodgings available and accepting work as a waitress, hotel maid, house cleaner, nursing-home aide, and retail salesperson. She quickly learned that one job is not enough – you need at least two if you intend to live indoors.

Many cities, such as Seattle, Pasadena, Austin, Kansas City, Santa Monica and Washington DC have initiated communitywide reads aimed at bringing people together and creating a shared experience among a wide spectrum of people. These communities have experienced positive results from their programs and have increased participation every year.

The City of Santa Fe plans to host a series of community events in March 2007, including discussions and films and a student film contest. For more information on this initiative, contact Becky Lo Dolce, Special Projects Coordinator, at 955-6629 or Public Information Officer Laura Banish at 955-6046.

Editor's Note: For more about Barbara Ehrenreich, her books, a forum and other info, visit her website.

January 31, 2007 at 08:55 AM in Books, Economy, Populism, Events | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

House Bill 603: Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act Introduced

From Equality New Mexico:

Mimi_1Yesterday afternoon, Representative Mimi Stewart (D-Albuquerque), pictured left, introduced House Bill 603: Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act, on the House floor. This legislation would create a process by which any two adults in a committed relationship, fitting specific criteria would be able to register as domestic partners. Registering as domestic partners would create a series of rights and protections currently unavailable to unmarried couples.

Help Equality New Mexico Lobby for Family Protections by Donating Now.

The Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act would allow couples registering as domestic partners to have access to many of the benefits and protections currently available to married couples on the state level. These include:access to basic health coverage, family leave, presumption of parentage, decision making upon incapacity, and issues related to assuring that the person with whom you live and love is protected should you die.

Join EQNM for Lobby Day at the Roundhouse on March 5.

There are over 1400 state and federal rights and benefits that flow from marriage, most of which will not be available to domestic partners. But right now, lesbian and gay couples, and many of our senior New Mexico citizens are without a safety net for access to basic protections. This legislation would provide some of these basic rights and protections. EQNM believes in full equality for all New Mexicans, and continues to pursue full civil marriage rights for all. At this time, we are working to pass legislation to provide the most possible protections to New Mexican families.

Contact Your Legislators and Tell Them All New Mexican Families Deserve Protection

House Bill 603 has been assigned to the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee. EQNM will update information as hearings are scheduled.

Senate Bill 502:  An Act to Amend the Retiree Health Care Act
GrubSenator John Grubesic (D- Santa Fe), pictured left, has introduced Senate Bill 502. This bill would amend the Retiree Health Care Act to allow domestic partners of state employees to maintain their health insurance after their state employee partner retires. The Bill is currently assigned to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Equality New Mexico will update information when the first committee hearing is scheduled so that you may contact the members of the committee to urge them to support this important bill.

January 30, 2007 at 04:33 PM in GLBT Rights, NM Legislature 2007 | Permalink | Comments (4)

NM: Don't Let These Discriminatory Bills Hit the Floor!

From the DFA-DFNM Meetup Message Board:
Contact your representative and tell them discrimination has no place in New Mexico's Constitution! Two unfair bills will be heard in the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee on Thursday, February 1, at 1:30 PM in Room 315 of the Roundhouse in Santa Fe.

Representative Gloria Vaughn (R-Alamogordo) has introduced House Joint Resolution 2 (HJR2), proposing an Amendment to New Mexico's Constitution which would define marriage as solely between a man and a woman. It would also bar New Mexico from recognizing any legal marriages between same-sex couples performed in other jurisdictions.

Representative Nora Espinoza (R-Roswell) introduced another bill aiming to strip the rights of New Mexico's LGBT citizens. House Bill 395 (HB395) is a State-level version of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This bill seeks to define marriage as solely between a man and a woman, and prevent New Mexico from recognizing any valid marriage between same gender couples performed in any other jurisdiction.

Both bills are currently in committee. Don't let these bills hit the floor. Contact your Representatives today and tell them you don't want discrimination written into New Mexico's Constitution! Email the committee members and let them know that bills such as HJR2 and HR395 only serve to weaken our state and divide our people. Their task is to improve the quality of life for all New Mexicans, not to waste time entertaining bills that simply seek to diminish it for some.

The House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee meets Thursday, February 1st at 1:30 PM in Room 315. Both these bills are on the agenda for that day.

Editor's Note: You can automatically contact the legislators on the House Consumer and Public Affairs Committee by using this tool at the Equality New Mexico website.

(To find your representative, click on the link below:


Consumer and Public Affairs Committee Members :

Gail Chasey (D), Chair
District 18, Bernalillo County

Irvin Harrison (D), Vice Chair
District 5, McKinley & San Juan Counties

Thomas A. Anderson (R)
District 29, Bernalillo County

Nora Espinoza (R)
District 59, Chaves, Lincoln & Otero Counties

Antonio "Moe" Maestas (D)
District 16, Bernalillo County

Al Park (D)
District 26, Bernalillo County

W.C. "Dub" Williams (R)
District 56, Lincoln & Otero Counties
986-4454 (no email address)

January 30, 2007 at 03:59 PM in GLBT Rights, NM Legislature 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Iraq Escalation: Sign Up Now to Flood Congressional Switchboard Feb. 1

(Click image for larger version.)

Want to stop Bush? Sign up with MoveOn to use your phone to join their on Washington. They're trying to organize 1 million calls with members of Congress to lobby against the war on Thursday, February 1st, 2007. I'm in. Are you?

January 30, 2007 at 11:34 AM in Iraq War, Visuals | Permalink | Comments (0)

Guest Blog: An Updated Voting Machine Audit Provision (SB179)

This is a Guest Blog submitted by Paul Stokes of United Voters of NM and Verified Voting NM, which were instrumental in gaining passage of last year's legislation that mandated the use of paper ballot voting systems in all NM counties:

An evaluation presented to the Election Reform Task Force of 2005 of the audit provision in the New Mexico Election Code revealed ambiguities and substantive issues that need to be addressed. In addition, changes are needed to make the audit compatible with our new paper ballot voting systems.

We have, therefore, developed a new audit provision to address these needs, and while we were at it, we developed a new audit concept that is just now gaining currency in the election integrity community. The essence of the concept is to randomly select a sample of voting machines in such a way that the size of the sample would assure that, if faulty machines existed, there would be a high probability (e.g., 90%) that at least one faulty machine would be in the sample. The sample size would be dependent on the margin between the winner and the loser - the larger the margin, the smaller the sample size needed to catch faulty voting machines that could change the winner.

If no errors are found in the sample, the winning candidate is selected based on the voting machine counts. If errors are found, then an election commission decides whether the magnitude of the errors is such that the election result might be reversed. If so, further sampling or a full recount would be called for, depending on the details of the errors. If the election commission decides that it would unlikely for the election to be reversed, no further recounting would occur, and the winner would be declared based on the original results, as corrected for errors found in the sample that was recounted.

Some features of audit provision are:

- It will cover votes cast by absentee ballots, at early voting sites, and during election day in a uniform way.

- Offices covered are the governor or president (whichever is on the ballot), the statewide office for which the winning margin is smallest, and the federal office for which the winning margin is smallest.

- An election commission will be formed consisting of the director of the bureau of elections, the attorney general or designee, the state auditor or designee, and three public members, one of whom is an expert in statistics and two of whom represent different nonpartisan voter information/education organizations.

- The election commission is responsible for establishing the rules for carrying out the audit, for overseeing the audit, and establishing standards and procedures for the audit.

This audit provision was selected by United Voters of New Mexico and Verified Voting New Mexico as one of their priorities for the 2007 Legislature. It was presented to the interim legislative committee on Courts, Corrections, and Justice, and was approved for the 2007 Legislature. Senator McSorley introduced legislation embodying the audit provision as Senate Bill 179. Representative Stewart has offered to carry the bill in the House.

You can help get this audit provision passed by writing your legislators, Senator McSorley, and Representative Stewart, and by attending Legislature committee sessions where the bill is being heard. Visit the NM Legislature website for contact information, bill tracking, etc.

Thanks, Paul Stokes

Editor's Note: This is a Guest Blog by Paul Stokes of Albuquerque. If you'd like to submit a post for consideration as a Guest Blog, please contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of our main page.

January 30, 2007 at 08:46 AM in Election Reform & Voting, Guest Blogger, NM Legislature 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)

5th Annual Peace and Justice Day at the NM Legislature: Jan. 31

From the Albuquerque Peace and Justice Center: Peace and Jusitice Day at the legislature!

at the 5th Annual Peace & Justice Day, NM State Legislature
Wednesday, January 31, 2007, 9 AM to 2 PM (or so)

11 AM: News Conference in the Rotunda featuring Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino and an overview of 2007 Peace and Justice Legislation, including

  • A Memorial calling for immediate withdrawal of US Troops from Iraq,
  • A Bill to create a New Mexico Office of Peace (SB499),
  • A Joint Resolution calling for Impeachment of the President and Vice President (SJR5),
  • A Memorial to Dismantle the 2500 Nuclear Weapons at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque (see earlier post), and
  • A Bill requiring the state to provide testing of New Mexico military veterans for depleted uranium, a radioactive heavy metal used as a weapon in the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

On critical issues such as these it is important for states to take action when the federal government will not.

Other legislative issues on which New Mexico and Senator Ortiz y Pino are taking the lead are Biodiesel Tax Credits (SB607), Election Day Registration, Medical Marijuana, Earned Income Tax Credit, and Military Recruitment in Public Schools.

Peace and Justice groups will have information tables all day in the West Halls of History displaying the human cost of war and work being done locally for Peace and Justice.

To carpool from the P&J Center in the morning, and for more info call 268-955. For more info on the legislation, contact Desi Brown, assistant to Senator Ortiz y Pino, (505) 256-0668 or desibrown@comcast.net.

Editor's Note: You can find and track legislation and get contact information on legislators at the NM Legislature website.

January 30, 2007 at 08:44 AM in Impeachment, Iraq War, NM Legislature 2007 | Permalink | Comments (0)