Tuesday, August 19, 2008

The Bad Guys Win (for Now): AG King & SOS Herrera Side with Shannon Robinson on NMYO; Shannon's Tirade on Senate Floor

MherreraNo surprise here. Secretary of State Mary Herrera (right) decided to accept Attorney General Gary King's advice about changing New Mexico Youth Organized's legal status. Herrera evidently made her decision based on King's secretive determination, using undisclosed criteria, that the non-profit NMYO had crossed some undefined political line with its mailings about the voting records and campaign donors of certain lawmakers months before the June 3rd primary election.

Letter from the Secretary of State
Herrera issued her letter yesterday instructing Keegan King, the Director of New Mexico Youth Organized, to comply with the reporting requirements of a political committee rather than a nonprofit. You can read her letter here. Note that Herrera couldn't even get the letter's salutation right -- starting the letter with "Dear Mr. Keegan." The brief letter reveals no details about why the decision was made or the criteria used to make it. It simply says NMYO "appears" to be acting like a political committee, and gives the nonprofit ten days to explain and correct its alleged "violation" and complete and file documents that were attached to the original letter.

Herrera doesn't even bother to name or describe what she calls the "apparent violation," perhaps because she really doesn't know what it is. What we know is that defeated status quo insider Shannon Robinson complained to the AG back in May about NMYO. We know that the AG's office quickly jumped in response and sent Herrera an inaccurate, horribly researched letter two weeks before the primary. I'm sure that Robinson probably thought that would help him in the election. It had become quite clear that he was way behind.

We know that the AG's office then asked the SOS to ignore the letter and that there was a odd lull after that. We know that AG King finally did directly advise Herrera in a private meeting last Friday. And that today she jumped, without explanation or definition of the "violation" committed by NMYO. Nobody from the SOS's office or the AG's office has to date met or spoken with anyone representing NMYO or the Center for Civic Policy (its parent organization) about the matter.

Response by the Center for Civic Policy
Eli Il Yong Lee, Executive Director of the Center for Civic Policy, the parent group of New Mexico Youth Organized, issued this statement yesterday in response to the SOS's letter:

"The Center for Civic Policy and New Mexico Youth Organized strongly disagree with the decision made public today by Secretary of State Mary Herrera and Attorney General Gary King. We will pursue all legal remedies at our disposal.

With our educational mailings, we upheld our responsibility to make sure New Mexicans knew what actions have been taken on issues important to them by their elected officials. Any effort to restrict this legal activity would muzzle New Mexico nonprofits from doing the very important job of keeping public officials accountable. Public information is just that…public. Any attempt to hide this kind of information is not in the interests of the people of New Mexico. It is surprising that any public official would actually advocate for this irresponsible course of action."

Fishy1If It Swims Like a Fish ...
So, is Mary Herrera caving under the same status quo political pressure that may be steering Attorney General Gary King on this matter? Nobody knows, but this whole thing sure looks fishy. And if it swims like a fish and blows bubbles like a fish, it probably IS fishy, right?

Don't forget that the press release issued by AG King to explain how he came to his legal position said, "If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck. And I think we know a duck when we see one." Imagine an attorney general in any other state making a similarly vacuous and unprofessional statement to the press about a decision that could impact the majority of nonprofits operating in the state.

Windmills1Super Heroes to the Rescue in the Windmill Tilt
I've been a Democrat all my life. It pains me that two of the top Democratic elected officials in the state seem to be acting without a logical, legal explanation or any semblance of fairness in furthering Shannon Robinson's Quixotic quest. It's hard for me to believe they take the paranoid Robinson seriously when he blames his thorough drubbing at the polls on some nefarious plot.

Everybody knew Robinson was probably finished when he was called out repeatedly by the Albuquerque Journal for steering legislative appropriations to the rugby team he coaches. He was caught in the act abusing public funds. He had no convincing explanation. Voters noticed.

But in Robinson's mind, it's Shannon against the world, and Mary and Gary are the super heros he calls forth to help him protect truth, justice and the American way. Well, if the American way means voting the wishes of your campaign donors, ignoring the pressing needs of your constituents and refusing to accept the results of an election.

Scare Tactics
Make no mistake about it. This particular attack may be against NMYO, but it sure seems designed to scare, intimidate and threaten other nonprofits from doing their jobs in educating the public about the behavior of their elected officials. The hit job also seems aimed at gobbling up the resources, time and attention of a number of nonprofits to lessen their effectiveness in educating the public.

JumpsharkShannon Jumps the Shark
You'd think that Shannon Robinson's reprehensible behavior on the Floor of the State Senate last Friday, as well as other crazy statements he's made of late, would be highly embarrasing to both King and Herrera. This is the point of view they are both apparently defending.

Check out these gems reported by the NMI's Trip Jennings as Sen. Shannon Robinson's utterances on the Senate Floor last Friday during the New Mexico Special Legislative Sessiion:

Robinson said, "I'm on a manhunt. And I am going to track it down. Follow the money.... These nonprofit watchdogs are anything but that. They don't have a right to be a nonprofit. They are going to have to face charges of tax evasion. This is a scheme to avoid taxes We are going to see in the next few months ... the state Supreme Court will back us up on that. I think the AG will back us up.

During his speech, Robinson appeared to accuse Sen. Gerald Ortiz Y Pino of participating in a conspiracy of silence. "Sen. Ortiz y Pino will not comment," Robinson said. "He knows if he talks about it he can get indicted."

Robinson then turned questions toward Sen. Cisco McSorley, D-Albuquerque. McSorley would have none of it, however. "I dont know of anything of what you are talking about. I have no idea of what you are talking about," McSorley said to Robinson. "There you have it," Robinson said.

Here's the Albuquerque Journal's account of what they term Robinson's half-hour "tirade" on the Senate Floor. Quote:

In his blistering tirade, which included references to the devil, George Soros and the FBI, Robinson also accused city and state agencies of wrongdoing but gave no details. And he asserted that two senators have ties to the nonprofit, the Center for Civic Policy.

... On the Senate floor Friday, Robinson said, "That organization put out obscene literature. It shows a picture, supposedly of me, taking the oath of office with my left hand. Now only the devil swears in with his left hand." He also said Soros, a philanthropist and social activist, was financing the group — a charge Lee denies. [emphasis mine]

... McSorley said, "I don't think anybody has any idea about what you're talking about here. Robinson's response: "Okay. There you have it. And you know what? If you live by the sword you die by the sword. And if you lie under oath, eventually what happens is, the FBI shows up."

You have to give Robinson credit for chutzpah. He personally attacked two of the most ethically responsible and highly respected Senators in the chamber, right to their faces. You may or may not agree with the politics of Ortiz y Pino and McSorley, but there has never been even a whiff of scandal connected to either of them. Yet somehow, in Shannon's mind, they're in on the plot to get him. It's a pretty wide-ranging plot, after all.

The Plot Thickens
And now the "conspiracy" is spreading -- to federal races in New Mexico -- according to Robinson's rambling statements in an interview with Peter St. Cyr just before Shannon headed to Santa Fe for the Special Session. You really must listen to the entire audio file yourselves to get the full flavor of just where Robinson is headed with his "conspiracy" talk. It's no longer merely wacky. It's no longer merely odd. It's downright scary in my book. Listening to this interview made my hair stand on end. Maybe that's it. Maybe people are afraid to go too hard on him, you know?

See our previous post on this matter and the lawsuit filed by Robinson and two other losing primary candidates. That post contains a list of links to other posts related to the attack on the primary winners and various nonprofits. Also see another recent post that provides a statement by the Southwest Organizing Project on the attacks by Robinson.

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August 19, 2008 at 01:17 AM in 2008 NM State Legislature Races, Corporatism, Crime, Ethics & Campaign Reform, Government, Justice, Local Politics, Progressivism | Permalink | Comments (4)

Friday, August 15, 2008

MUST READ: SWOP Responds to Lawsuit by Shannon Robinson et al.

Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP) issued the following statement today in response to the recent lawsuit against them, other nonprofits and three Dems who won their primary legislative races. The suit was filed by incumbent Democrats who lost their primary races to reform candidates on June 3, 2008 -- namely Sen. Shannon Robinson, Sen. James G. Taylor and Rep. Don Silva. All three lawmakers have a reputation in many quarters for putting the desires of entrenched interests before the needs of their constituents, the common good and ordinary New Mexicans. The very poorly written lawsuit claims fraud and conspiracy and takes a tone that's come to be known as tinfoil-hat, if you know what I mean.

Also See: Besides reading the entirety of SWOP's moving and convincing response, make sure you check out the op-Ed by Eli Il Yong Lee, Executive Director of the Center for Civic Policy, published in today's Albuquerque Journal. Let's hope that fair-minded individuals, including Democrats in positions of power, will read these materials carefully and consider what is at stake here, including their own reputations. It's not only progressives who are angry about the attacks on reform candidates and well respected nonprofits. The political futures of a number of Dems are on the line here, and the public will vote accordingly if this ill-considered charade continues to try and protect the status quo to the detriment of the common good. 

From the Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP):

See our full response here.

Since 1980, the mission of the SouthWest Organizing Project has been to empower the disenfranchised to realize equality and justice. These aren’t just nice words on paper meant to make us feel good, we actually believe this is possible.

Our primary purpose is to help low-income, communities of color organize themselves to build healthy, pollution free communities. One of the primary ways we do this is through public education so that New Mexicans have the information they need to urge action by their elected representatives.

Invariably, in the course of trying to achieve our mission, we face tremendous opposition from those maintaining the status quo – a status quo that has left New Mexicans ranked at the bottom of practically every social indicator from education to healthcare.

For us, it is not enough that the nonprofit sector simply work to alleviate the symptoms of poverty and racism. In addition to organizing, it is our duty to question the actions of decision makers that perpetuate relentless poverty and growing inequality.

Our theory of action is that we create opportunity for disenfranchised communities to insert their own voices into the crucial public debates that profoundly affect their lives. These opportunities derive from direct campaigns developed with communities of people to affect change. Making our voices heard, for us, has happened in a number of ways over our 30-year history. Sometimes it’s with a bullhorn in the street, other times it's sitting at the table with policy makers, and at other times it’s through direct communication via mail, telephone or radio to decision makers.

Along the way, we have consistently communicated to our constituents the voting records and campaign contributors of elected officials, urging them to communicate with their elected officials directly. We call this accountability and speaking truth to power.

Go to our blog for the full response: here
See our previous post on this matter and the related confusion prompted by Attorney General King's sorta kinda official opinon on whether the legal status of the nonprofit New Mexico Youth Organized should be changed, in essence, to a PAC. That post contains a list of links to other posts related to the attack on the primary winners and various nonprofits.

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August 15, 2008 at 12:22 PM in 2008 NM State Legislature Races, Corporatism, Crime, Ethics & Campaign Reform, Justice, Local Politics, Poverty, Progressivism | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Join the Effort to Send Rove to Jail

The basics on Rove, Siegelman and the subpoena

I want to strongly urge you to sign the petition demanding that the U.S. House Judiciary Committee declare Karl Rove in contempt of Congress for his refusal to comply with a subpoena related to his involvement in the injustice done to former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman. I was very impressed with Siegelman and moved by his story as told to Sam Seder at Netroots Nation, and I posted about it the other day from Austin. More info: SendKarlRovetoJail.com.

Brave New Films, The Nation magazine, Campaign for America's Future, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Progress Now Action and CREDO Mobile will host a press conference in Washington DC next Tuesday, prior to delivering the petition to the House Judiciary Committee urging committee members to "let Rove know he can't decide which subpoenas he obeys and which he ignores." In less than six days, almost 100,000 people have signed the petition. You should too.

"Karl Rove is not above the law," said Robert Greenwald, founder and president of Brave New Films in a media release. "Rove's refusal to comply with a Congressional subpoena makes a mockery of the justice system. Even former high government officials like Rove are accountable to the law.  Rove needs learn that we live in a democracy, not a dictatorship."

"Karl Rove has built a career out of bending the law, but now he seems to feel entitled simply to break it," says Michael Kieschnick, President of CREDO Mobile.  "We expect the House Judiciary Committee to agree that Karl Rove is in contempt and should be sent to jail if he persists in his flagrant disregard for the laws of this country."

Even as the President quietly finishes out his last days in office, Rove's audacious display of indifference in the face of an unambiguous legal directive is yet another reminder of the monarchical attitude toward the rule of law that has been such a consistent feature of the Bush administration over two terms -- an ugly characteristic most closely associated with Karl Rove's machinations.

Learn more about Brave New Films in this New York Times article.

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July 24, 2008 at 11:10 AM in Civil Liberties, Crime, Government, Justice | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

This Just In: Al Unser Sr. Sues Darren White, 3 Deputies, Bernalillo County Commissioners

According to KOB:

Indy racing legend Al Unser Senior has filed a federal suit against Bernalillo County Sheriff Darren White, three of his deputies and Bernalillo County commissioners claiming his rights were violated when he was arrested in 2006.

Unser was taken into custody at the perimeter of a crime scene. Deputies allege he was failing to follow orders. Unser claims that authorities knew he had done nothing wrong and that his rights were violated when authorities elected to put him on trial. Unser was found innocent by an Albuquerque jury.

Should make Darren White's claims to be the GOP's "law and order" candidate in the NM-01 Congressional race just a wee bit weak. I'm sure a lot more will be revealed on this story. Should be riveting.

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July 15, 2008 at 08:58 AM in Justice, NM-01 Congressional Seat 2008 | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

(Updates) Capitulation Day on FISA

Rachel Maddow and constitutional law professor Jonathan Turley discuss the Senate's cave-in

See voting result updates below the fold.

Today's the day for the Senate showcase on political convenience and expediency on FISA. Apparently it's focus groups before the Fourth Amendment or the rule of law. Hey, it's not their problem, as Jonathan Turley explains in the above clip. "The founders would have found this incomprehensible," he says. Many of us do too.

So far, a significant majority of our noble Senators have defeated the Dodd amendment to strip the immunity provisions from the bill by a 32-66 margin. They then proceeded to off the Specter amendment, which would allow broader court review and require the cases to be dismissed if the court determines that the warrantless wiretapping programming was legal, by a margin of 37-61. Next they killed Sen. Bingaman's amendment, which would delay the immunity and make it contingent upon the results of a report on the telecom surveillance by the Inspector General, by a 42-56 vote.

Bravo Senators! No wonder the approval rating of the Congress is down to an all-time low of NINE PERCENT according to the latest Rasmussen survey.

The Senate is now in recess and will reconvene at 2:15 PM EDT to vote on cloture and the bill itself. The telecom lobbyists and felons in the White House must be ecstatic!

Update: Here are the Dems who voted for Dodd's amendment to strip retroative telecom immunity from the bill. Remember these names -- and then see how they vote on the bill itself:

YEAs ---32
Akaka (D-HI)
Baucus (D-MT)
Biden (D-DE)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Byrd (D-WV)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Casey (D-PA)
Clinton (D-NY)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Harkin (D-IA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Murray (D-WA)
Obama (D-IL)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Whitehouse (D-RI)
Wyden (D-OR)

The spineless Dems who voted against Dodd's amendment:

Bayh (D-IN), Carper (D-DE), Conrad (D-ND), Feinstein (D-CA), Inouye (D-HI), Johnson (D-SD), Kohl (D-WI), Landrieu (D-LA), Lincoln (D-AR), McCaskill (D-MO), Mikulski (D-MD), Nelson (D-FL), Nelson (D-NE), Pryor (D-AR), Rockefeller (D-WV), Salazar (D-CO), Webb (D-VA).

And of course faux-Dem-Lieberman Party-Independent Joe voted nay too. No surprise there. My biggest disappointments are McCaskill and Webb, whom I've generally come to admire, and Feinstein, who represents a deep Blue state. I think Bayh should be stricken from consideration by Obama as a possible VP based on this vote alone.

More to come on the other votes when they're available.

Update: Cloture passed 72-26. FISA Amendments Act passed 69-28. Obama voted for the bill as advertised. Clinton voted against it, probably to show how much more liberal she is than Obama. We can all predict how she would have voted if she had the nomination in hand. Good job by Tester from Montana who voted nay even though he represents what's still considered a Red state.

Shout out to Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who voted the right way on everything and worked hard to get support for his amendment. Thank you, Senator. McCain didn't bother to show up to vote today.

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July 9, 2008 at 11:10 AM in 2008 General Presidential Election, Civil Liberties, Corporatism, Crime, Justice | Permalink | Comments (0)

FISA: Last Stand


I could write more about tomorrow's vote on the FISA bill and why the bill is awful, but anyone who would bother to read it probably already knows what I know, or understands more than I understand. The rest of our fine citizens apparently don't care or understand the implications, and many actually think the executive branch should be conducting unlimited wiretapping and data vacuuming without any oversite. It makes them feel "safe."

I don't claim to entirely understand all the complexities of the FISA bill, but when the ACLU, acclaimed constitutional and legal scholars, Glenn Greenwald and Senators I respect are all against it, that's essentially enough for me. And then there's the whistleblowers.

I'll leave you with a diary by mcjoan at Daily Kos that discusses the views of two recent telecom surveillence whistleblowers, as well as those of one of America's most famous all-time whistleblowers, Daniel Ellsberg. Ellsberg, as you may recall, is a former military and intelligence analyst who risked everything to release the Pentagon Papers in the early 70s, showing the horrors going on within the government related to the Viet Nam war and other matters. Excerpt from the statement by Ellsberg on FISA:

You can't have a democracy with the state--the executive branch--having that kind of information, total information about every communication, every credit card, every transaction, every fax, e-mail, telephone conversation of everyone. And as far as we know, that's what's being collected now. We do need to know whether that's yet true or not, but I think it's a pretty good assumption.... You can't keep a republic, a constitutional republic with that degree of knowledge by the president, by the executive branch of all of our private affairs. You can't have it. You have something else, you have, you can call it an autocracy, a dictatorship. It's the basis for tyranny, and that's what the Constitution was meant to prevent and that's what this bill would confer--unlimited power....

I have to say that no senator, Republican or Democrat, should be voting for this Senate bill. Not one. Everyone who does so is in fact, I would say, violating his or her oath to defend the Constitution. But they can do better than that.

This New York Times op-ed provides an excellent overview of the flawed FISA bill. There are still three amendments out there that would quash at least the tip of the iceberg of bad stuff in this bill. They aim to either delete telecom immunity from the bill or make it more conditional. Not one of them is expected to gain the votes necessary tomorrow. My understanding is that they'd have to get the support of at least 60 Senators due to some rule or agreement in play.

Last Ditch Efforts
Those who care about the rule of law are being urged to contact their Senators and persuade them to at least vote for NM Sen. Jeff Bingaman's amendment, which would put off retroactive telecom immunity at least until Congress gets a report on an investigation to be done by the Inspector General on what happened. Bingaman has gotten a lot of praise for the effort in the netroots and from civil liberties authorities. The word is that his amendment has the best chance of passing, although the chances are still slim so close to an election. We all know what happens when an election is nigh.

The diary by mcjoan also suggests we call the Senators who did not vote for FISA last time to urge them to stand their ground:

These are the 30 Senators and the potential president who can hold firm now and lead the charge to fix this next year. Holding them to their previous vote now is critical to making those improvements in the next Congress.

Akaka (D-HI)
Biden (D-DE)
Bingaman (D-NM)
Boxer (D-CA)
Brown (D-OH)
Byrd (D-WV)
Cantwell (D-WA)
Cardin (D-MD)
Dodd (D-CT)
Dorgan (D-ND)
Durbin (D-IL)
Feingold (D-WI)
Feinstein (D-CA)
Harkin (D-IA)
Kennedy (D-MA)
Kerry (D-MA)
Klobuchar (D-MN)
Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Leahy (D-VT)
Levin (D-MI)
Menendez (D-NJ)
Murray (D-WA)
Reed (D-RI)
Reid (D-NV)
Sanders (I-VT)
Schumer (D-NY)
Stabenow (D-MI)
Tester (D-MT)
Wyden (D-OR)

Not Voting
Clinton (D-NY)
Obama (D-IL)

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July 9, 2008 at 10:59 AM in 2008 General Presidential Election, Civil Liberties, Corporatism, Crime, Justice | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, July 05, 2008

More Freedom and Justice Reading for the Fourth Weekend

Former constitutional law and civil rights attorney Glenn Greenwald goes into detail on a recent court ruling that undermines the Congressional excuses for granting telecom immunity, and responds to Obama's latest statement defending his position to the more than 19,000 who have signed on at his website to urge him to vote no on FISA. Excerpt, but do read the entire Greenwald post (and his links):

A Bush-41-appointed Federal District Judge yesterday became the third judge -- out of three who have ruled on the issue -- to reject the Bush administration's claim that Article II entitles the President to override or ignore the provisions of FISA. Yesterday's decision by Judge Vaughn Walker of the Northern District of California also guts the central claims for telecom immunity and gives the lie to the excuses coming from Congress as to why the new FISA bill is some sort of important "concession." More than anything else, this decision is but the most recent demonstration that, with this new FISA bill, our political establishment is doing what it now habitually does: namely, ensuring that the political and corporate elite who break our laws on purpose are immune from consequences.

Also check out the story by Marjorie Childress at the NM Independent on FISA, Obama and the anger in the netroots-Dem base.

July 5, 2008 at 09:40 AM in 2008 General Presidential Election, Civil Liberties, Corporatism, Justice | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Gov. Richardson Appoints Martha Burk as Women’s Issues Advisor

MburkGov. Bill Richardson introduced Corrales resident Martha Burk yesterday as his Senior Advisor on Women’s Issues. Great pick. Burk, who served as the Senior Adviser for Women’s Issues for Richardson's presidential campaign, is a nationally recognized expert on pay equity and other women’s issues. She's a political psychologist, feminist, and former Chair of the National Council of Women's Organizations who led a protest at the 2003 Masters Tournament in Augusta, GA to bring attention to the male-only membership rules of the Augusta National Golf Club, which hosted it.

Burk currently runs the Corporate Accountability Project for the National Council of Women's Organizations. She's also a syndicated columnist, and serves as Money Editor for Ms. Magazine. She's authored two books -- Cult of Power: Sex Discrimination in Corporate American and What Can Be Done About It, and Your Money And Your Life: The High Stakes for Women Voters in ’08 and Beyond.

During yesterday's news conference, Richardson said of the appointment, “I’m not looking for more reports that will simply highlight what we already know –- that many women are not getting a fair shake when it comes to employment and pay equity. That’s why I tapped Dr. Burk for this role, because she knows these issues perhaps better than anyone and she is prepared, like me, to take bold action."

Richardson said Dr. Burk will advise him as he works with the Legislature to double the New Mexico child day care credit -– which will help more than 11,000 working families who pay more than $5,000 a year on child care:

• The child day care credit will be increased from $1,200 to $2,400 for families with three or more children, from $960 to $1,920 for families with two children, and from $480 to $960 for families with one child.

• Families with income up to twice the New Mexico minimum wage will be eligible for the credit.

• Expansion of the child day care credit will benefit 8,600 working families who qualify for the credit under current law, plus an additional 3,700 working families. The estimated cost of the expansion is $6.2 million.

Dr. Burke will also work on other women’s issues, including:

• Address pay equity in state government by requiring state agencies to report on employment and pay by gender, race and job category.

• Require employment and pay reporting from contractors doing business with the state.

• Train women, such as displaced homemakers, so they are prepared for better paying jobs.

• Build on efforts by the Commission on the Status of Women to get more women in non-traditional jobs, which pay better.

• Increase efforts to channel more of our girls into science, math, and technology, and determine when and why girls drop out of these programs.

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July 2, 2008 at 12:16 PM in Economy, Populism, Justice, Women's Issues | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Hey Barack, Listen Up

Here's a video from Sen. Russ Feingold in response to the many messages he's getting encouraging him to keep fighting the dangerous FISA bill that will now be heard when the Senate reconvenes next Tuesday. He summarizes what's wrong with this bill, and says our letters, phone calls and emails are making a real difference in this fight. We need to keep up the pressure -- on our Senators and our presumptive presidential nominee.

As currently written, the bill would provide retroactive immunity to telecoms without their having to enter a court of law to try and justify their complicity with illegal acts by President Bush. Even worse, the bill would give unprecedented and wide-ranging access to all our international communications without a court overseeing the process.

How could any Democrat vote for such a constitution-shredding bill? Ask Senator Obama -- if he follows through with his stated intention to vote for the FISA bill with or without telecom immunity. Despite his campaign's previous statement that he'd support a filibuster of any bill that contained retroactive immunity, Obama suddenly seems to believe that the dangers of terrorism justify throwing our privacy rights and laws in the trash can. Can anything be farther from the truth or sound more like a Bush-Cheney-McCain punchline? Is Obama really no better than the likes of Rep. Steny Hoyer, who pushed this bill on the House side?

Tonight's Obama Meeting
We attended the Obama campaign meeting tonight at the Plumbers' Hall in Albuquerque and it was apparent that Obama's incredibly disappointing and dismissive statement about the FISA bill was much on people's minds. Obviously, the 60+ people who showed up tonight to touch base with the new field organizers and get certified as voter registrars are gung-ho Obama supporters. And yet the enthusiasm of many seemed subdued and unfocused.

There was a fair amount of whispering and muttering going on in the crowd about Obama and FISA, as well as a few other stances he's taken recently. Several people even challenged the organizers about Obama's upcoming FISA vote, saying they'd have a very hard time going door to door to encouage people to vote for Barack if he backed the bill as written.

Meanwhile, outside the meeting, clumps of people expressed their disappointment and confusion about the Obama campaign's recent tack toward the Dem spinelessness we've come to know and abhor. No, not more of that, please. We've had enough.

Danger Ahead for Obama?
If I were Obama or any of his advisors, I'd be more than a little wary about these early danger signals within the ranks of those who need to be passionate in their support if the campaign's field strategy is to succeed. I can't imagine any of us abandoning the nominee based on his wrong-headed FISA vote, his unnecessary criticism of Wesley Clark's reasonable remarks about McCain or other similar disappointments, but it sure would make it harder to nourish a healthy sense of enthusiasm for the work that's ahead. Or to dig deep to donate generously to his campaign.

Is Obama willing to risk that in order to try and avoid criticism from the fearmongering hyenas of the punditry and the right? Hasn't he learned the most important lesson we've learned from what we've endured over the past decade or more? The hyenas will attack in the very same way whether Obama toes their line or not.

WE know this. Why doesn't Obama? Maybe he'll start getting the picture from what's become the fourth largest group on my.barackobama.com.  “Senator Obama­ Please Vote NO on Telecom Immunity –­ Get FISA Right” is five days old and growing fast. Their mission statement says: “We are a proud group of your supporters who believe in your call for hope and a new kind of politics. Please reject the politics of fear on national security, vote against this bill and lead other Democrats to do the same!” Click here to join the group, which currently has more than 9600 members. And read this by one of the folks who started the group. Here's a wiki that makes it easy to take action.

Much will be revealed next week. As Feingold says in the video, "I teased some of my colleagues and said we can celebrate the Constitution on July 4th and maybe when we come back you'll decide not to tear it up." Get it, Barack? Get it, Sen. Bingaman?

Let's keep up the contacts between now and next Tuesday and let those who are supposed to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law know we're watching and that we understand, very specifically, what's wrong with this bill. And with any Senator who votes for it in its present form.

P.S. As usual Glenn Greenwald says it all and says it well.

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July 1, 2008 at 10:45 PM in 2008 General Presidential Election, Civil Liberties, Corporatism, Justice, Local Politics, Terrorism | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, April 04, 2008

Obama 40 Years Down the Road: Let's Bend That Arc ...

Video of entire speech. Here's the full text.

You know, Dr. King once said that the arc of the moral universe is long, but that it bends toward justice. But what he also knew was that it doesn't bend on its own. It bends because each of us puts our hands on that arc and bends it in the direction of justice.

So on this day – of all days –
let's each do our part to bend that arc. 

Let's bend that arc toward justice.
Let's bend that arc toward opportunity.
Let's bend that arc toward prosperity for all.

Mlk2And if we can do that and march together – as one nation, and one people – then we won't just be keeping faith with what Dr. King lived and died for, we'll be making real the words of Amos that he invoked so often, and "let justice roll down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream."


Exactly one year before his assassination, on April 4, 1967, King gave his Beyond Vietnam speech at Riverside Church in New York City. He said: “A few years ago, there was a shining moment in that struggle. It seemed as if there was a real promise of hope for the poor, both black and white, through the poverty program. There were experiments, hopes, new beginnings. Then came the buildup in Vietnam, and I watched this program broken and eviscerated as if it were some idle political plaything of a society gone mad on war. And I knew that America would never invest the necessary funds or energies in rehabilitation of its poor so long as adventures like Vietnam continued to draw men and skills and money like some demonic, destructive suction tube. So I was increasingly compelled to see the war as an enemy of the poor and to attack it as such.”

Sound familiar?

April 4, 2008 at 03:52 PM in Justice, Minority Issues, Peace, Poverty | Permalink | Comments (0)