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Friday, August 31, 2007

Labor Day Weekend: Remember the Meaning

I'm finding it hard to believe that Labor Day Weekend is here already. Where did the Summer go? Thankfully, New Mexico usually has absolutely exquisite Fall weather so our outdoor activities will actually pick up here as the monsoon rains start fading. As we celebrate the holiday weekend at fun events, let's remember the real meaning of Labor Day. For starters, check out a handful of posts on the AFL-CIO Now blog that examine the origins and history of Labor Day.

This Labor Day, I find myself thinking about these historical quotes and, unfortunately, how much they apply to today's situation:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the clouds of war, it is humanity hanging on a cross of iron. -- Dwight Eisenhower 1953 speech

No business which depends for existence on paying less than living wages to its workers has any right to continue in this country. By living wages I mean more than a bare subsistence level–I mean the wages of decent living. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

If any man tells you he loves America, yet hates labor, he is a liar. If any man tells you he trusts America, yet fears labor, he is a fool. -- Abraham Lincoln

Workers of the world awaken. Break your chains, demand your rights. All the wealth you make is taken, by exploiting parasites. Shall you kneel in deep submission from your cradle to your grave. Is the height of your ambition to be a good and willing slave? -- Joe Hill, from the song “Workers of the World Awaken”

While at YearlyKos in Chicago this month, we attended a rally sponsored by the Teamsters union designed to encourage the forces of the netroots and labor to work together in a big way. Check out the video to hear Markos and Teamsters General President James Hoffa underline what we have in common and why we need to work together for change -- including holding every Democratic candidate accountable to working people. Gov. Bill Richardson was one of the Dem presidential candidates who spoke at the Teamsters rally and you can see that here.

I can't help but ponder the damage done to the interests of working people by the Bush administration as discussed in a piece by AFSCME's international president Gerald McEntee on Huffington Post. Excerpt:

From the time George Bush was appointed by the Supreme Court in 2000, college tuition has shot up 56 percent. The cost of gasoline has gone up 107 percent. Forty-seven million Americans -- nearly 16 percent of our nation -- don't have health insurance. Almost 37 million Americans live below the poverty line. Corporate profits have gone up, while income for working Americans has gone down. Home foreclosures are increasing at a record rate. Pensions are at risk as employers break their promises to employees. Bush's tax cuts have not benefited those most in need of them -- working families -- but the billionaires who are his loyal supporters.

The fact is that the people whose labor has fueled our nation's economy have suffered greatly under George Bush.

The latest outrage? Action prompted by the Bush administration to allow Mexican trucks to carry goods on American roads. That way, we can put even more people out of work or at least lower their pay, concepts to which Bush seems supremely dedicated.

August 31, 2007 at 02:53 PM in 2008 Presidential Primary, Corporatism, Economy, Populism, Labor | Permalink | Comments (3)

DPBC Seeks State Fair Volunteers

DemnmgifFrom the Democratic Party of Bernalillo County: If you want to help reach out to potential Democratic voters so we can elect Dems to replace the likes of Heather Wilson and Pete Domenici, now's your chance. The New Mexico State Fair will be held in Albuquerque from September 7-23 this year. Volunteers are needed in 3 hour shifts (9-12, 12-3, 3-6 and 6-9) to staff our booth. The DPBC especially needs Voter Registration Agents for each shift. If you can spare some time, contact Mike at DPNM headquarters at 830-3650 to volunteer your services. Passes will be available through the State Party for entrance into the facility and a shuttle will be available as in the past for transportation to the fair.

August 31, 2007 at 12:04 PM in Democratic Party | Permalink | Comments (0)

(Updated) ABQ City Councilor Benton Introduces Bill to End Iraq War

UPDATE 9/4/07: The City Council Finance & Government Operations Committee WILL NOT hear R293 on Monday, 9/10. Instead it will be heard during the regular Council meeting on Monday, 9/17. Council meetings begin at 5 PM

From the office of Ike Benton:
Last week City Councilman Ike Benton introduced a bill to end the war in Iraq by calling on Congress to withdraw the authorization for war. R-07-293 will go to the Finance & Government Operations committee on Monday, September 10 (5 PM in the Council Committee Room, 9th floor of
City Hall). It may come back to the full Council for a final vote on either September 17, or October 1.

If you have any questions or comments about the legislation, or want to be kept informed of its progress, contact: Kara Shair-Rosenfield, Policy Analyst - City Councilor Isaac Benton, District 3, Albuquerque City Council, tel: 505.768.3186, fax: 505.768.3227, email: karasr@cabq.gov. Contact info for Albuquerque City Councilors can be found .

August 31, 2007 at 11:37 AM in Events, Iraq War, Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Young Voters: Get on the Bus for Change

From the The League of Young Voters-Albuquerque:
The League of Young Voters is embarking on a new journey to educate, empower and inspire young people. We are reclaiming Democracy for our generation!

Introducing the Bus for Change! Starting August 18th we've been going to go into the community on a grassroots level to begin knocking on the door's of young voters to talk to them about the War, Climate Change and Ethics. So why is this so important?? Because a young educated voter base is a force to be reckoned with! The Bus for Change is the vehicle, literally and figuratively for taking back power in our communities. And we're doing all this because what's more sexy than politics? Only a bus full of young people flexing on the powers that be. That's what! So if you're down for the cause - Get on the Bus for Change!

Bus for Change Clean Connection Campaign! For years big land developers have been contributing thousands of dollars to elect politicians who support sprawl developments. This haphazard development has not only increased traffic in our city but also contributed tons of carbon emissions into our atmosphere.

The Bus for Change kicked off our Clean Connection Campaign August 18, to educate other young people on this link between climate change and the local policies that have global repercussions like uncontrolled sprawl. Together we can send a message that sprawl growth is unnacceptable for our city and for the health of the planet. And that young people are tired of developers running things at the expense of our communities.

Help us Make the Clean Connection with other young people. We need you to volunteer your time to make a difference for our city and our planet. Click for a schedule of volunteer events.

For more info: 505/242.4036, busforchange@gmail.com

August 31, 2007 at 11:08 AM in Energy, Environment, Events, Local Politics | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

(Updated) 'Elevator 9' Trial Set for 9.6.07: Tried to Get Domenici to Sign Peace Declaration


UPDATE 9.7.07: Six of the defendants were found guilty, two plead guilty and the charges against one were dropped due to being underage. See our later post.

If you believe in free speech and nonviolent civil disobedience in the cause of peace, you can show your support by attending the federal trial of Father John Dear (above) and the 'Elevator 9' in Albuquerque next week. After a number of delays, the trial is now scheduled for Thursday, September 6, at 9 AM at the federal courthouse at 421 Gold SE, in the top floor courtroom.

Father Dear and eight other peace activists were arrested cited on September 26, 2007 when they attempted to visit the Santa Fe office of NM Sen. Pete Domenici in Santa Fe to get him to sign the Declaration of Peace. They entered an elevator to go up to Domenici's office but some official stopped the elevator with its doors open so they couldn't proceed to speak to their elected representative. The activists ended up spending more than five hours in the elevator reading the names of both the American and Iraqi dead.

The small group was continually monitored by members of the Santa Fe police force, the FBI, a SWAT team, the Federal Marshalls, and Homeland Security as they recited the names. Finally, they were escorted from the scene and issued citations by Homeland Security officials. Since they have refused to pay the fines imposed, they're scheduled to go on trial for the "offense."

For more background on the 'Elevator 9' demonstrators and the charges against them, see Father Dear's account on Common Dreams and our previous post published when the trial was initially scheduled back in January. Also see the website of Pax Christi New Mexico.

August 30, 2007 at 11:29 AM in Civil Liberties, Iraq War, Peace | Permalink | Comments (2)

(Updated) ABQ League of Women Voters Open House to Celebrate Municipal Voters' Guide

UPDATE 9.5.07: The open house and release of the Municipal Voter's Guide has been postponed until Friday, September 7th at 10 AM at the League office.

From the League of Women Voters Albuquerque/Bernalillo County: The League of Women Voters will host an open house to celebrate the distribution of their Municipal Voters' Guide. Community leaders are invited. Photo Opportunity: League members will meet Wednesday, September 5th Friday, September 7th, at 10:00 AM at the League Office in Suite W-16 C, 2403 San Mateo NE, Albuquerque NM 87110, to meet and greet community leaders and pick up bundles of the The Municipal Voters' Guide for distribution to the many community locations in the area. Contact persons:

August 30, 2007 at 08:44 AM in 2007 Albq. Municipal Elections | Permalink | Comments (1)

Register Now: GI Rights and Veteran Support Training for New Mexicans

From Maria Santelli: Saturday, September 22, 1-5 PM: GI Rights and Veteran Support Training for New Mexicans! Four and a half years into the war and occupation of Iraq, New Mexico is home to 24,000 Iraq Veterans and tens of thousands of active duty service members -- many of whom have been left behind by the US Government and want to work through their trauma by working for peace. (Remember the importance of GI resistance in ending the Vietnam War.) Let's strengthen our local support network and link New Mexico into the national GI Hotline so we can serve our local community directly and effectively. 

This can be intense but critically important work, so we are asking you to please register by calling Maria at 247-9694, by Wednesday, September 19. Extended two-day training option if there is enough interest. (PLEASE CALL TO REGISTER AND FOR LOCATION).

August 30, 2007 at 08:31 AM in Iraq War, Military Affairs, Veterans | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

ABQ Municipal Election Candidate Forum Set for 9.6.07

From The League:
If you need more information on the upcoming Municipal Election come out to our Candidate Forum September 6th at 6-8 PM. This forum is being sponsored by 1000 Friends of New Mexico, SAGE Council, SouthWest Organizing Project and the League of Young Voters Education Fund. Together we will be asking City Council candidates what their positions are on the issues that are important to you. The audience in attendance at the South Broadway Cultural Center and people watching the live feed on UStream will be able to ask questions of the candidates.

So come to this FREE event or stay tuned to the League website to watch the live webcast of the forum.

When: Thursday, September 6, Tuesday, 6-8 PM
Where: South Broadway Cultural Center & the League Site streaming with UStream
What:  Albuquerque United City Council Forum
More info:  505/242.4036

August 29, 2007 at 05:19 PM in 2007 Albq. Municipal Elections | Permalink | Comments (0)

Katrina: Two Years of Neglect and Corruption

Two years ago today. Nothing but incompetence, thievery, corruption, neglect and false promises from the powers that be since then. Beyond shameful. Almost everything positive has been done by volunteers or the residents themselves. Learn more and sign the petition urging the Senate to pass Chris Dodd's Gulf Coast Recovery Bill of 2007 (S1668). Be forewarned: This horror could happen to any community next, with similarly dismal and dire results.


Bush and his "compassionate conservative" cohorts have broken so many parts of our government just to show that "government is the problem, not the solution." They seem to have no intention of doing what needs to be done quickly or fairly in the Gulf Coast region. Unfortunately, too many Democratic members of government have been almost as bad -- passive, at best, in effectively addressing the emergency and keeping the issue alive.

We all know what the real problem is -- greed on the part of elite corporate and development interests coupled with a refusal by key political forces to provide meaningful oversight that demands accountability for the massive money flows that are going to enrich the few at the expense of the many. It's like a free-for-all for the worst among us, encouraged from above by those who are supposed to represent the needs of the people.

Here's an excellent report on the current status of New Orleans from a city councilwoman who ran for office and won after getting stonewalled by her nonresponsive representatives. Excerpt:

We are in fact doing our part locally in New Orleans despite contrary comments by the Bush administration. Our intense civic activity and government reform initiatives are serious indicators of our local commitment to do our part for the recovery.  But we are drowning in federal red tape. We are being nickel and dimed to death by Bush’s Federal Emergency Management Agency. We are resource-starved at the city level. The mission here is not accomplished.  What we need is Presidential leadership, not just another speech filled with empty promises.

... I hope you can take the time to click on the link to my , Press Release and Fact Sheet so you can realize that New Orleans will not allow the discussion of our recovery be anything but factual and done via the reality based community and not through spin and talking points.


For the facts, read this report released this week by the Institute for Southern Studies and RFK Center for Human Rights. For more ideas on how to help, visit the website of the People's Hurricane Relief Fund and Oversite Coalition.

I'm sure our criminal president won't let anything bother him as he visits New Orleans today, bragging about what's been done and "vowing" to do more. Nothing ever really bothers the The Decider unless it's someone telling him the truth to his face.

August 29, 2007 at 02:23 PM in Corporatism, Crime, Current Affairs, Economy, Populism, Environment, Minority Issues, Public Policy | Permalink | Comments (0)

Guest Blog: Senator Domenici-How In Good Conscience Can You Do This To Our Men And Women In Uniform?

This is a guest blog from Bobby Muller, founder of Veterans for America:

Sen. Pete Domenici: I have a fundamental question for you -– a really simple basic question. One that every American should be asking themselves right now as you –- and the rest of our Senators –- get ready to return from your month-long break.

When the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said that our troops were at their breaking point, when the Department of Defense reported that our current deployment policies are compounding the wounds of war, causing mental health problems among our troops to skyrocket, and that one of the primary causes was our current policy of deploying troops back to Iraq and Afghanistan without adequate dwell time at home, why didn't you do something about it?

How can you not support a policy where soldiers are deployed for 15 months in Iraq and then receive at least equal time stationed stateside to rest, train, and then fight again?  (And at least three times that much at home if they are from the Guard or Reserve.)

Well guess what? You aren't alone. Back in July before you took your summer break, a lot of United States Senators voted against this fundamental act of fairness by voting against the Webb-Hagel Amendment. (Click here to see a press conference where I spoke up for this bill before the vote.)

What's shocking to me is that this amendment was sponsored by two veterans, one Democrat and one Republican, and it was a bill that unlike many in D.C. is incredibly simple and –- more importantly -- fair to our troops: At least one month stationed stateside for every month served in Iraq or Afghanistan.  It doesn't get any more basic or any more fair than that.

Here is the exact wording of the amendment in case you didn't carefully read it before you voted against it, and our troops.

July 11, 2007, Senate Roll Call Vote 241, HR 1585
The Webb amendment would mandate minimum intervals between deployments for troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would require active duty forces to be guaranteed as much time at home as they served while deployed. National Guard and reservists would be guaranteed three years at home between deployments.

Now if you're in New Mexico, and you're reading this -- I frankly don't care if you're a Democrat or Republican, blue or red. I'm asking you, American to American:

How in good conscience can you do this to our men and women in uniform?

Because when your Senators vote against our troops like this, you vote against them too.

But you get another chance.

So next week, when Senator Domenici and all of our elected officials return to Washington, guess what? There's going to be another dwell time bill waiting for them; this one has already passed in the House of Representatives.

This bill, the Tauscher bill (HR 3159), like the Webb-Hagel Amendment, offers our troops a fair deployment policy. I hope every single United States Senator votes for this bill. Shame on you, Senators, if you don't.

Editor's Notes:

This is a guest blog by Bobby Muller of Veterans for America. Veterans for America (VFA), formerly the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, is uniting a new generation of veterans with those from past wars to address the causes, conduct and consequences of war. Together, veterans offer a crucial perspective when addressing public and political concerns about war in the 21st century. Click here to read more about the mission of VFA.

In the U.S. House, Rep. Heather Wilson (NM-01) voted against the Tauscher bill, as did Rep. Steve Pearce (NM-02). Rep. Tom Udall (NM-03) voted for it. In the U.S. Senate, Sen. Pete Domenici voted against the Webb-Hagel Amendment while Sen. Jeff Bingaman voted for it. To contact them about their votes click here.

Guest blogs provide readers with an opportunity to express themselves on relevant political issues and may or may not represent our views. If you'd like to submit a post for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link on the upper left-hand corner of the page.

August 29, 2007 at 10:55 AM in Iraq War, Military Affairs, Veterans | Permalink | Comments (1)