Sunday, December 07, 2008
Unique Features: George W. Bush Presidential Library
The George W. Bush Presidential Library is now in the planning stages and accepting donations. The Library will include:
- The Hurricane Katrina Room, which is still under construction
- The Alberto Gonzales Room, where you won’t be able to remember anything
- The Texas Air National Guard Room, where you don’t even have to show up
- The Walter Reed Hospital Room, where they don’t let you in
- The Guantanamo Bay Room, where they don’t let you out
- The Weapons of Mass Destruction Room, which no one has been able to find
- The National Debt Room, which is huge and has no ceiling
- The Tax Cut Room, with entry only to the wealthy
- The Economy Room, which is in the toilet
- The Iraq War Room. (After you complete your first visit, they make you to go back for a second, third, fourth, and sometimes fifth visit.)
- The Dick Cheney Room, in the famous undisclosed location, complete with shotgun gallery
- The Environmental Conservation Room, still empty
- The Supreme Gift Shop, where you can buy an election
- The Airport Men’s Room, where you can meet some of your favorite Republican Senators
- The Decider Room, complete with dart board, magic 8-ball, Ouija board, dice, coins, and straws
Note: The library will feature an electron microscope to help you locate and view the President’s accomplishments.
The library will also include many famous quotes by George W. Bush:
- ‘The vast majority of our imports come from outside the country.’
- ‘If we don’t succeed, we run the risk of failure.’
- ‘Republicans understand the importance of bondage between a mother and child.’
- ‘No senior citizen should ever have to choose between prescription drugs and medicine.’
- ‘I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy - but that could change.’
- ‘One word sums up probably the responsibility of any Governor, and that one word is ‘to be prepared’.’
- ‘Verbosity leads to unclear, inarticulate things.’
- ‘I have made good judgments in the past. I have made good judgments in the future.’
- ‘The future will be better tomorrow.’
- ‘We’re going to have the best educated American people in the world.’
- ‘One of the great things about books is sometimes there are some fantastic pictures.’ (during an education photo-op).
- ‘Illegitimacy is something we should talk about in terms of not having it.’
- ‘We are ready for any unforeseen event that may or may not occur.’
- ‘It isn’t pollution that’s harming the environment. It’s the impurities in our air and water that are doing it.’
- ‘I stand by all the misstatements that I’ve made.’
PLEASE GIVE GENEROUSLY!
Sincerely, Jack Abramoff,
Co-Chairman, G.W. Bush Library Board of Directors
Saturday, December 06, 2008
Show Up Monday to Support Free Speech: Hearing on Police Misconduct at Iraq War Protest
If you support free speech and believe we need to confront threats to the right to assemble and civil liberties whenever and wherever they arise, your presence is needed this coming Monday at the U.S. District courthouse in Albuquerque.
When the Iraq War started in 2003, Albuquerque police used excessive force against peaceful protestors at a March 20th demonstration near the University of New Mexico Bookstore. I'm sure many of you recall the outrageous actions of law enforcement officers at that demonstration -- and some of you may well have been on the receiving end of the rough treatment and tear gas. There were 17 arrests and multiple injuries that followed the firing of tear gas and bean bag bullets, pepper spray and mace at demonstrators by police in riot gear, some mounted on draft horses.
An important civil rights lawsuit related to the demonstration goes to court at 1:00 PM on Monday, December 8, at the U.S. District Courthouse at 333 Lomas NW in Albuquerque before Judge William P. Johnson, and is expected to last a week. It's important that we fill the courtroom with supporters of free speech -- in peaceful solidarity with the plaintiff and the cause.
Dr. John Fogarty Asks for Our Support
Progressive activist and family practice physician John Fogarty was one of the protestors injured at the demonstration. He's the plaintiff in the civil rights suit, which names then APD Police Chief Gilbert Gallegos, three Albuquerque police officers and the City of Albuquerque as defendants. Dr. Fogarty's suit seeks damages for unlawful arrest, excessive use of force and other civil rights violations. See a recent article by Tracy Dingmann at the New Mexico Independent for more on what happened to Dr. Fogarty at the protest.
Although he's the sole plaintiff, Dr. Fogarty says the action is not just about what he experienced, but is aimed at protecting every citizen's right to free speech, freedom of assembly and freedom to lawfully criticize our government and its actions.
Dr. Fogarty would welcome those who support the cause of free speech and the right to assemble to attend the trial and peacefully observe the legal process in action. A large and respectful crowd in the courthouse would demonstrate that Dr. Fogarty's cause has widespread support within the community. If you can, please be present at the trial on Monday or sometime during the rest of the week.
What You'll Witness
During the trial, Dr. Fogarty's legal team will show two amateur video tapes shot during the protest that show his unprovoked arrest and other police misconduct. A number of witnesses to the debacle that day, who suffered mistreatment similar to that experienced by Dr. Fogarty, will testify -- including members of the UNM medical school faculty, a Catholic nun and woman who was pregnant and subjected to smoke and tear gas.
In addition, the attorneys will call to the stand every police officer who was assigned to the demonstration that day. Many of the officers at the protest obscured their identifies -- including wearing masks or other gear to cover their faces -- and every one of them has claimed in sworn depositions that they had nothing to do with Fogarty's arrest. Fogarty's attorney, Mary Han, said the case has already resulted in changes in the law that prohibit law enforcement officers from obscuring their identities when they're on duty. Dr. Fogarty hopes the suit will help to stop future civil rights abuses by law enforcement officials against citizens exercising their constitutional rights.
More on Dr. Fogarty
Dr. Fogarty is a physician trained in family medicine and public health, and has worked on energy and climate change issues for many years. He is Co-Director for the nonprofit New Energy Economy. He has worked with the Indian Health Service in Pueblo and Navajo communities since 1997 and has taught courses on human rights and health at the University of New Mexico. He also serves on the national Board of Directors for Physicians for Social Responsibility. It's important that we back him in his effort to ensure that authorities uphold the constitution.
Note: The ACLU previously filed a lawsuit related to the police misconduct at the March 2003 demonstration. They also filed suit regarding the policies employed by the Albuquerque Police Department and Bernalillo County Sheriff's office during a protest of President Bush's visit here in August of 2007. See my previous post on that case.
Weekly Video: Obama Lays Out Key Areas of Stimulus Package
In this week's video address, President-Elect Barack Obama announced "several key areas" of his economic recovery plan, saying he aimed to save or create at least 2.5 million jobs. I'm pleased to see he listened to the advice of the nation's governors and included a massive expansion of broadband internet access. We need it bad here in New Mexico. Same with plans for upgrading school buildings. Summary of Obama's proposals:
—Energy: “[W]e will launch a massive effort to make public buildings more energy-efficient. Our government now pays the highest energy bill in the world. We need to change that. We need to upgrade our federal buildings by replacing old heating systems and installing efficient light bulbs. That won’t just save you, the American taxpayer, billions of dollars each year. It will put people back to work.”
—Roads and Bridges: “[W]e will create millions of jobs by making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s. We’ll invest your precious tax dollars in new and smarter ways, and we’ll set a simple rule – use it or lose it. If a state doesn’t act quickly to invest in roads and bridges in their communities, they’ll lose the money.”
—Schools: “[M]y economic recovery plan will launch the most sweeping effort to modernize and upgrade school buildings that this country has ever seen. We will repair broken schools, make them energy-efficient, and put new computers in our classrooms. Because to help our children compete in a 21st century economy, we need to send them to 21st century schools.”
—Broadband: “As we renew our schools and highways, we’ll also renew our information superhighway. It is unacceptable that the United States ranks 15th in the world in broadband adoption. Here, in the country that invented the Internet, every child should have the chance to get online, and they’ll get that chance when I’m president – because that’s how we’ll strengthen America’s competitiveness in the world.”
—Electronic Medical Records: “In addition to connecting our libraries and schools to the Internet, we must also ensure that our hospitals are connected to each other through the Internet. That is why the economic recovery plan I’m proposing will help modernize our health care system – and that won’t just save jobs, it will save lives. We will make sure that every doctor’s office and hospital in this country is using cutting edge technology and electronic medical records so that we can cut red tape, prevent medical mistakes, and help save billions of dollars each year.”
Obama will appear for the full hour on Meet the Press this Sunday in a wide-ranging interview with Tom Brokaw. Click for info on the guests scheduled for the other Sunday talking head shows.
Friday, December 05, 2008
Gov. Richardson Visits Mexico, Dodges Questions on NAFTA
An article in the Miami Herald reports on a visit to the private University of the Americas in Cholula, Mexico yesterday by New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson -- a day after Richardson was nominated to serve as Commerce Secretary in the Obama administration.
Richardson was south of the border on a previously scheduled trip to speak with members of the Mexican business community. Former Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Ernesto Derbez accompanied Richardson and, when questions arose from the business folks about NAFTA, Derbez deflected them saying, "We won't give any answers to those questions."
The conservative government of Mexican President Felipe Calderon is strongly opposed to reopening NAFTA -- a possibility raised by Obama at a February 26 presidential debate:
"I will make sure that we re-negotiate in the same way that Senator (Hillary) Clinton talked about," Obama said then, referring to the trade pact. "I think we should use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage to ensure that we actually get labor and environmental standards that are enforced."
The article reported that Mexican "government officials said they doubted Obama would follow through on a campaign pledge to re-negotiate NAFTA," and quoted Mexican Agricultural Secretary Alberto Cardenas as saying it was "a little remote" that the United States would actually try to reopen the trade accord, implemented in 1994:
"If in the campaign, at some given moment in some American state, the president-elect was heard to make such a statement, I think we shouldn't get ahead of ourselves," Cardenas told reporters. "I see it as a little remote that such a re-negotiation would actually take place."
In an excellent article at the New Mexico Independent, Marjorie Childress addresses Richardson's free-trader reputation and how it may have evolved over the years:
Richardson has a reputation as a free-trade advocate who on the domestic front pushes low taxation, public investment in private ventures to spur economic development, and market-based solutions to social problems. In this respect he’s a Clintonite — a DLC Democrat through and through. What makes him an interesting choice for Commerce, though, is his internationalist perspective and interest in diplomacy.
... While Richardson is a self-described free trader, he also seems to have evolved in his thinking about free trade regimes. In a visit to the Council on Foreign Relations this past summer, he spoke frankly about his views on trade and NAFTA. He was no longer running for president but was certainly still positioning himself for a spot in the next administration. In this light, his comments might be construed as being as much about himself as about what we might expect an Obama administration to prioritize.
So will Obama, long-time free-trade advocate Bill Richardson and others in the Obama administration really get tough on labor and environmental standards related to trade negotiations? Nobody knows. Way too many Democrats talk the talk when they're involved in a campaign, but somehow their promises seem to get lost when they're in office. Unions, American workers and environmentalists haven't been amused. We'll all be watching closely when the Obama administration takes up trade issues next year. Will there really be any "change we can believe in?" Clearly, labor unions and many others will be pressing Obama to level the playing field in terms of trade and disappearing jobs -- especially in an economy like this one.
Photo by M.E. Broderick.
Keith, Cervini Named to Transition Team by Lt. Gov. Denish
She's out of the gate and on the move with some excellent personnel picks. Lt. Governor Diane D. Denish today named Kathy Keith as director and Chris Cervini as communications director for her gubernatorial transition team. Denish looks ready to spring into action whenever Bill Richardson is confirmed as Obama's pick for Secretary of Commerce, and he officially resigns as Governor. At that point, Denish will automatically become Governor according to the New Mexico Constitution. It's still up in the air as to when exactly Richardson's Senate confirmation hearing will be held, and how long it will take for the Senate to act on his nomination.
"Governor Richardson and I are committed to a smooth and seamless transition of power. I assure the people of New Mexico that there will be no interruption in sgood state government and public service. When the time comes for me to take power, I stand prepared to lead," Lt. Governor Denish said. "The transition staff will work at my direction to prepare the administration to hit the ground running on day one. New Mexico faces serious challenges and we will be ready to meet them head on. Kathy and Chris bring exceptional experience, skills, and professionalism to our transition efforts. It's a pleasure to welcome them to the team."
Lt. Governor Denish named Kathy Keith (right) as Transition Director to be the point person to the Governor's Office and overall manager of transition activities. Kathy Keith joins the staff from Public Works, LLC a private firm which assists Governors and their cabinet agencies nationwide on projects involving planning, innovative policy and efficiency. Previously Keith served as the Director of Economic Development Division for the State of New Mexico (2003-2006), as the Director of the federal program to rebuild Los Alamos following the Cerro Grande Fire (2000-2002), as the White House Liaison at the U.S. Department of Energy (1998-2000) and for the United States Congress (1993-1998) in various capacities. She is a native of Tucumcari and holds a bachelors degree in journalism and political science from Texas Tech University.
Chris Cervini (left, with Denish) was named Transition Communications Director and will be responsible for communicating the activities of the transition and working with agency PIOs and current governor's office communications staff on the transition. Chris Cervini joins the transition from Lovelace Health System where he served as External Communications Manager in the Marketing and Public Relations Department. Before that he was Chief of Staff and Communications and Policy Director for Lt. Governor Denish from 2003-2006. He has a Master's Degree in Political Science from American University in Washington, D.C.
NM Youth Organized to Screen Community Film Project at Warehouse 508
From New Mexico Youth Organized: After months of anticipation, the wait is finally over! New Mexico Youth Organized (NMYO) is proud to present a film compilation at Albuquerque's up and coming community hangout, Warehouse 508 (see MySpace page). The film and reception will take place on December 17 from 6:00-8:00 PM at 508 1st Street NE in Albuquerque. The film is a collection of video footage from participants in the recent "NM Powered" convening.
NM Powered was a youth (17-28 yrs) retreat hosted by NMYO for the bright and connected youth of New Mexico. The purpose of the retreat was "to get to know one another, share ideas, visions, and dreams about how to make New Mexico a better place for ourselves and generations to follow."
After a fun, relaxing and productive weekend NM Powered participants were sent on their way with disposable video cameras and the instructions to have fun getting footage of what they do best. After the cameras were filled up, they were sent back to NMYO for editing and production.
"New Mexico Youth Organized believes that super connected, active, and creative people have a vital role in determining the future of our state," Stated Cyrus Gould, Organizer for NMYO, and mastermind behind NM Powered. "The intent of this event is to provide a comfortable space for NM Powered participants to reconnect with one another and view the end result of the collaborative video project. This will also serve as an outreach project for Warehouse 508, with a goal of building awareness and excitement for the March 2009 grand opening."
Join New Mexico Youth Organized on December 17, 6:00-8:00 PM, at Warehouse 508!
Thursday, December 04, 2008
Time Waster of the Day
Four minutes, forty-four presidents. I find this rather spooky. Bottom line: power and looks have a very weak link.
Guest Blog by John Wertheim: Bad Sport Tim Jennings Must Go as Senate Pro Tem
New Mexico's Democratic state senate Pro Tem Tim Jennings gave his most open signal yet on Monday that he will collude with the Republican minority to keep power.
In an interview with the Albuquerque Journal, Jennings said "When you look at it, I think I've got enough votes to be elected the pro-tem by all the members of the state Senate."
The Senate Pro Tem's comments came after a weekend when Senate Democrats met in caucus and ousted Jennings from his position. In January there will be 27 Democrats and 15 Republicans in the Senate. If Jennings convinces six other Democrats to join him on his proposed ego trip, he will remain Pro Tem with the backing of the Republican caucus. Instead of accepting defeat gracefully, Tim Jennings is just too special to play by normal rules. And just maybe, Jennings and his Republican backers have too much riding on the next legislative session.
The GOP and corporate special interests see Jennings as the one chance they have to jerk victory from the jaws of defeat. Jennings voted with Republicans in the Senate 80 percent of the time, according to New Mexico Legislative Reports. Elevating him to Pro Tem in January will represent a kind of coup d'etat.
"He has treated the Republican side of the aisle very fairly, and we're very satisfied with his leadership", said Republican Senate leader, Stuart Ingle. Indeed. While I'm all for fairness, Ingle should confer with New Mexico voters before deciding how content he should feel about the status quo.
The election showed that voters want change on energy, the environment, classrooms, health care and jobs. And not just Democratic voters, but plenty of independents and moderate Republicans helped win elections for Democrats up and down the ballot and send new progressive leaders to Santa Fe. How else could Tim Eichenberg, John Sapien and Steve Fischmann have defeated the incumbents in three Republican senate districts?
If Jennings is successful in his plan to grab the Pro Tem position by turning coat, it will be nothing less than overturning the outcome of the November election. Presidency of the Senate is a state-wide leadership position. Jennings is showing himself to be a poor specimen of Democrat, and is intent on proving that he is a poor 'small d' democrat too.
Why is Jennings doing this? No doubt, ego plays a big role. It's tough to lose. The healthy response is to man-up and take it with a measure of humility.
There also may be a more nefarious factor than egomania at work here. Look at Jennings' record:
He sided with Republicans in opposing Democrats' health care bill to cover 50,000 uninsured New Mexico children by saying they already are covered. "They only need to be signed up," according to Jennings. He dismissed his party's bill as "silly," although voters soundly rejected a similar argument about children's health care when it came from Steve Pearce in the U.S. Senate race.
During the legislative session that ended in February, Jennings led the Senate in defeating Richardson's plan to cover 400,000 uninsured state residents with healthcare. New Mexico has one of the highest levels of uninsured in the country.
Last month Jennings sent letters to all public school superintendents telling them to plan for classroom funding cuts and teacher layoffs in January when the legislature convenes.
On the other hand, Jennings is the author of a notorious 1997 law which gives farmers and ranchers the right to kill wildlife that present a supposed "immediate threat" to livestock or crops. The law encouraged one rancher in northwestern New Mexico to slaughter 39 pronghorn antelope by shooting them with a shotgun because they were grazing in his "dormant" alfalfa field. The wildlife were maimed and left to suffer before they died – sadly, a common occurrence across our state thanks to 'Jennings Law'.
Jennings doesn't stand with New Mexico voters on clean energy and the environment, either. He opposed an effort to strengthen the Efficient Use of Energy Act in 2008, requiring utilities to invest in better energy conservation methods (HB 305). Jennings was one of only two senators to vote No on a tax credit last year to promote greater use of carbon-clean power and solar generating facilities (SB 994).
And when it comes to the need for tougher ethics rules in the legislature, Jennings just doesn't get it. After the spectacle of former Pro Tem Manny Aragon going to jail for corruption, current Pro Tem Jennings' dismissed any calls for ethics legislation:
"How do you write legislation about being honest?" offered Jennings. "The things that Manny did were clearly illegal. It was clearly against the law. It doesn't have anything to do with ethics."
When it comes to working families' wages, Jennings sides with corporate interests. He strongly opposed Democrats' efforts to raise the minimum wage.
Jennings' public arguments for retaining the position of Pro Tem don't add up. They look like a smokescreen to hide the true motives.
After Sunday's ouster, Jennings cited his alleged ability to end negative campaign tactics in New Mexico as a reason to be kept on as Pro Tem. "I think I'm the best one suited for stopping the negative stuff that's going on," he said.
Talk about hypocrisy.
Tim Jennings is hardly the politician to end negativity in our state's politics. As the Senate's leader he has poured vitriol into the chamber's debates over the years, principally singling out Gov. Bill Richardson for negative attacks:
"I really have no earthly idea why we are in this building except to serve the political purposes of this governor," Senate Pro Tem Jennings said during a 2008 hearing on Richardson's proposal to provide health care to every child in the state.
"This whole process is just plain screwed up," Jennings said on the Senate floor in August. "I just wonder why we are here. I have no earthly idea. Other than for political purposes of this governor. Damnit it is true. We all know it. But we're too afraid to say it."
"I am going to tell you that if this body, and this Legislature, does not stand up on their feet and defend this institution, this governor will take us all straight to hell," according to Jennings last year.
When other senators lashed out with personal attacks on Richardson, Pro Tem Jennings listened approvingly and never once brought them to order.
Sen. John Grubesic, D-Santa Fe, for instance, urged fellow senators on the floor last summer to "don't trust the governor on this thing. There is nothing bold about this legislation. It's a rip off. This is a scam." But boss of the Senate Jennings was silent. Even when Grubesic finished by saying that accepting on faith the governor's argument for his health care expansion bill "is like accepting a dinner invitation from Hannibal Lecter," Jennings could not be stirred.
Tim Jennings rushed to the public defense of Republican Senate minority whip Leonard Rawson in the final days of the recent election, however, decrying supposedly "negative" attacks on "a good man". But Jennings was silent while Republicans savaged Democratic candidates in 2008 like Tim Eichenberg ("viciously opposed our men and women in uniform"), Victor Raigoza, (wants to "tear down" our state's "wholesome way of life and its traditional values"), and Rep. Andrew Barreras, (promises "policy for a price").
Contrast this record with that of Sen. Carlos Cisneros, who the Democratic caucus selected on Sunday for Pro Tem. Cisneros is a solid Democrat with strong progressive values through more than 20 years serving in the legislature. The decision of the caucus, reinvigorated with incoming progressives and representing the views of a majority of New Mexico voters, should be respected. Democrats across our state should demand that Cisneros be installed as Pro Tem in January.
After all, allowing Tim Jennings to remain as head of the New Mexico Senate would be like leaving Bush and Cheney in the White House for another four years. The voters have spoken in our democracy, and they don't want it. Are Senate Democrats listening?
This is a guest blog by John V. Wertheim, past Chairman of the Democratic Party of New Mexico. See another recent guest blog by John Wertheim on this topic.
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.
Wednesday, December 03, 2008
12/4: DFA-DFNM Meetup to Feature State Legislators
The December DFA-Democracy for New Mexico Meetup in Albuquerque will focus on some of the issues and lawmakers that will figure prominently in a progressive agenda at the 60-day New Mexico Legislative Session that starts on January 20th in Santa Fe.
Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino, Senator-Elect Eric Griego, Senator-Elect Tim Keller, Representative-Elect Eleanor Chavez and Representative-Elect Karen Giannini have confirmed their attendance, and other NM Legislators may attend as well.
This is an opportunity to meet and interact with our Legislators, express our views and and learn how we can help them be productive during the upcoming Legislative Session. Don't miss it. Click here to join the Meetup group and/or RSVP for Thursday's Meetup.
Albuquerque DFA-DFNM Meetup
Thursday, December 4, 2008, 7:00 PM
First Unitarian Church Social Hall
SW Corner of Carlisle and Comanche
Video: Complete Statements of Obama, Richardson on Commerce Secretary Nomination
There's finally a video available of the complete statements of President-Elect Barack Obama and Governor Bill Richardson on the nomination of New Mexico's Governor to the post of Secretary of Commerce -- including Gov. Richardson's remarks in Spanish. Si, se puede.
Also see my previous posts about the nomination of Gov. Richardson as Commerce Secretary and here and .