Tuesday, September 04, 2007
American Democracy: Time Has Come Today
I often feel speechless these days, which isn't a natural state for me. But what more can really be said about the eternal, unabated horrors of the Bush administration and its assaults on government accountability, reason, democracy, the Constitution, civil liberties, the rule of law, the environment, the economy and even common decency? It's all been said -- the savaging of so much has been documented infinitely clearly, repeatedly. And there's more new evidence every day.
What's needed is some listening and, most of all, action on the part of people who have the power to do something about this lawless demogogue and his complicit cronies. We need them (if there are any) to get real -- to be as serious about their opposition as BushCo is about its relentless assault on justice and democracy. Without that, we are dead. Our democracy is dead. Our future is dead. The planet is dead.
Instead, we have business as usual in the Congress, business as usual in the traditional media, business as usual in the citizenry, business as usual everywhere. Are we really supposed to content ourselves with weak, toothless, picky complaints about minor, peripheral matters as the infrastructure of self-government implodes in full sight of anyone willing and able raise their eyes to it?
I do it myself. Busy myself with political day-to-day, with the latest wrinkles in the latest political maneuverings, with the minutia of the machine. I convince myself that doing things that might possibly help to mitigate the worst of BushCo's impacts is worth it, at least for now. But with almost zero in the way of genuine, effective or honest responses from our "leaders" and "representatives," how much longer can I keep it up?
I'm sure many of you reading this can relate. We can't afford any more beating around the bush, literally or figuratively. What we need is for people with real power to wake up and use it on behalf of the people and the democracy. As ex-Marine Bruce Clark (whose son is stationed north of Baghdad) said at the recent Iraq Summer event -- this is TREASON, this is TYRANNY. More and more of the people -- some in relatively high places -- are admitting it, yet our public figures and power brokers limp on, murmuring platitudes. We raise our voices, we protest, we petition, we build cases, we attempt to apply pressure but no matter how convincingly or loudly we do these things, the status quo is allowed to carry on or worsen.
There is a sort of deadly paralysis infecting those who should know better, those who know in their hearts they must act now or forever be silent. We can only do so much out here in the hinterlands. Those in the circles of power are the ones who must, at last, LEAD. They must take it all seriously, for what it is: a no-holds-barred attack on our democracy and everything positive it has ever achieved or can achieve. But is it already too late for even that?
Eloquent critic and writer Chris Floyd says it is in his very long, chilling, but eminently logical piece entitled, "Post-Mortem America: Bush's Year of Triumph and the Hard Way Ahead." I can't possibly quote enough for you to get the full flavor, so please do read the entire post. Here are just a few nuggests, to lure you into reading the whole thing:
The Republic you wanted -- and at one time might have had the power to take back -- is finished. You no longer have the power to keep it; it's not there. It was kidnapped in December 2000, raped by the primed and ready exploiters of 9/11, whored by the war pimps of the 2003 aggression, gut-knifed by the corrupters of the 2004 vote, and raped again by its "rescuers" after the 2006 election. Beaten, abused, diseased and abandoned, it finally died. We are living in its grave.
The annus horribilis of 2007 has turned out to be a year of triumph for the Bush Faction -- the hit men who delivered the coup de grâce to the long-moribund Republic. Bush was written off as a lame duck after the Democrat's November 2006 election "triumph" (in fact, the narrowest of victories eked out despite an orgy of cheating and fixing by the losers), and the subsequent salvo of Establishment consensus from the Iraq Study Group, advocating a de-escalation of the war in Iraq. Then came a series of scandals, investigations, high-profile resignations, even the criminal conviction of a top White House official. But despite all this -- and abysmal poll ratings as well -- over the past eight months Bush and his coupsters have seen every single element of their violent tyranny confirmed, countenanced and extended.
What can we do? What can we do? What can we do? Does anyone know the answer? How can we get those in positions of power to act -- appropriately, strongly and now?
In certain circles words like rebellion and revolution and anarchy and resistance are bandied about as necessities, as the only ways to counteract the forces of high tech fascism. But even in these enclaves, there is no movement strong enough to make a dent. There is only more hand-wringing, criticism, fatalism, empty gestures, rote responses. I suppose this post is just more of the same. The truth is, no-one seems to know what to do or how to do it or how to foment it or how to shape it and inspire it.
The war which we were told the Democrats and ISG consensus would end or wind down has of course been escalated to its greatest level yet -- more troops, more airstrikes, more mercenaries, more Iraqi captives swelling the mammoth prison camps of the occupying power, more instability destroying the very fabric of Iraqi society. The patently illegal surveillance programs of the authoritarian regime have now been codified into law by the Democratic Congress, which has also let stand the evisceration of habeas corpus in the Military Commissions Act, and a raft of other liberty-stripping laws, rules, regulations and executive orders. Bush's self-proclaimed arbitrary power to seize American citizens (and others) without charge and hold them indefinitely -- even kill them -- has likewise been unchallenged by the legislators. Bush has brazenly defied Congressional subpoenas -- and even arbitrarily stripped the Justice Department of the power to enforce them -- to no other reaction than a stern promise from Democratic leaders to "look further into this matter." His spokesmen -- and his "signing statements" -- now openly proclaim his utter disdain for representative government, and assert at every turn his sovereign right to "interpret" -- or ignore -- legislation as he wishes.
What we lack are leaders up to the task, no matter where we look, whether within or without. We need a new Martin Luther King, Jr., a new Mahatma, a new Mother Jones, a new Jefferson, a new suffragette city of sorts. I don't sense anything or anyone like that on the horizon, do you? And I certainly don't sense anything truly up to the task within myself. How about you? Can we the people rise at last, bidden or unbidden, and make any difference at all? Isn't there at least intrinsic value in trying something? But what?
Again, as Floyd writes:
... there is no place left for the kind of [civil disobedience] action that Thoreau advocated. His way – and that of Gandhi and King, who took so much from him – envisions a state opponent which one could hope to shame into honorable action by the superior moral force of principled civil disobedience. But the very hallmark of the present regime is its shamelessness, its utter lack of any sense of honor or principle, its bestial addiction to raw power.
Still, there is this, if only this:
So whatever we can do, we must do it ourselves. If we have no power or influence, if we cannot take large actions, then we must take small ones. Every word or action raised against the overthrow of the Republic will find an echo somewhere, from one person to another to another to the next -- each isolated, individual voice slowly finding its way into a swelling chorus of dissent.
Wednesday, August 29, 2007
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.
Wednesday, August 01, 2007
I'm headed to YearlyKos at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago, so things may be a bit slow around here for awhile. I set up some auto-posts and I'll try to check in when I can, but no guarantees. There's so much going on at the convention that I think down time and web time will be hard to muster. Very exciting.
Lots of sources will be covering the gathering so you can follow things right from your couch or computer. A YearlyKos follow it at home page will have frequently updated links to all the coverage they know about. Both CSPAN and CNN plan TV and web video coverage -- no details yet. Talking Points Memo will have something called TPMtv with interviews and live coverage. So will PoliticsTV and UstreamTV online. No doubt participants will be uploading stuff to YouTube and flickr. And I'm sure just about every progressive blog will be on the story to some extent.
There are a multitude of panel discussions, workshops, roundtables and film screenings, which you can browse in the convention schedule. Major events, official and unofficial, include (all times Central Daylight Time):
Wednesday, August 1
- Evening: Various receptions and parties
- 8-9:30 PM: DFA Health Care Forum with Jim Dean, health care advocates and experts
Thursday, August 2
- All day: Interest group and blogger caucuses, panels, workshops, roundtables, films
- 7-9 PM: Kickoff keynote speech by DNC Chair Howard Dean, with welcomes from Markos and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
- 9-10 PM: DFA Grassroots Victory Caucus
Friday, August 3
- All day: roundtables, panel discussions, workshops, films
- 8-9 AM: Keynote speech by Wesley Clark
- Luncheon speech by Andy Stern of SEIU
- 5:30-7:30 PM: Netroots Candidate Celebration (one of the cosponsors is Don Wiviott, Dem candidate for NM Senate)
Saturday, August 4
- All day: roundtables, panel discussions, workshops, films
- 8-9AM: Ask the Leaders Forum with Rep. Nancy Pelosi, Sen. Harry Reid, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Rep. Rahm Emanuel
- 1-2:45 PM: Presidential Candidate Forum with Bill Richardson, John Edwards, Barak Obama, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, Mike Gravel
- 3-3:45 PM: Individual breakout sessions with presidential candidates
- 4:30-6:30 PM: Teamsters' Rally and BBQ
- 7-10 PM: Closing Keynote by Markos plus surprises
Sunday, August 5
- 11AM-1PM: Bloggers' Brunch
- An unbelievable list of Speakers, Panel & Workshop Leaders
Monday, July 30, 2007
RSVP Now: DFA-DFNM Meetup with Martin Heinrich
Our next regular monthly Albuquerque DFA-Democracy for New Mexico Meetup will feature special guest MARTIN HEINRICH, the Democratic candidate for Congress in NM-01 who'll be challenging Republican incumbent Heather Wilson. We'll hear about Martin's platform and strategies and have a chance to ask him questions or offer comments. Gabriel Nims of is also scheduled to stop in and, as usual, there'll be a few other announcements and info.
Don't miss this Meetup. Come to the Social Hall of the First Unitarian Church on the SW corner of Carlisle and Comanche in Albuquerque at 7:00 PM on Thursday, August 2nd. Click to join our Meetup group, RSVP or get on our email list.
Mark Your Calendars: Our September 6th Meetup will feature NM Senator Jerry Ortiz y Pino as our keynote speaker so mark your calendars now. He's expected to talk about what's coming at the next NM Legislative Session and provide some perspective on what happened at the last one. Sen. Ortiz y Pino has sponsored many excellent pieces of progressive legislation, including the NM Senate resolution to impeach Bush and Cheney.
Note if you haven't yet donated to Martin Heinrich's campaign, you can do so at the DFNM Netroots page at Act Blue.
Thursday, June 28, 2007
This month, the Campaign for America's Future released an exhaustive study, The Progressive Majority: Why a Conservative America is a Myth, that "offers hard facts and analysis based on decades of data from some of the nation’s most respected and nonpartisan public opinion researchers. This is the evidence that political leaders have a mandate to pursue bold, progressive policies."
As reported on TomPaine.com, the study includes these findings:
[Economics] Polling by the Pew Research Center shows 84 percent support to increase the minimum wage. Gallup shows that more Americans sympathize with unions than with companies in labor disputes (52 to 34 percent). NBC News and the Wall Street Journal polls indicate that nearly twice as many people think the U.S. is more hurt than helped by the global economy (48 to 25 percent). Other polls open the door to increased labor and environmental standards as part of the solution.
... research by the University of Michigan National Election Studies reveals that 69 percent of Americans believe government should care for those who can’t care for themselves. Twice as many people want “government to provide many more services even if it means an increase in spending" (43 percent) as want government to provide fewer services “in order to reduce spending” (20 percent). Majorities say we need a bigger government “because the country’s problems are bigger” (59 percent) and a “strong government to handle complex problems” (67 percent).
These Americans are challenging a central plank of modern conservatism. They don’t always want government to leave them alone. They want government to help hold us together.
[Women's Choice, Sex Education] ... The percentage of Americans who consider abortion the “most important” issue ranks in the single digits in poll after poll. When an election forces them to pay attention to it, Pew research shows a 56 percent majority oppose making it more difficult for a woman to get an abortion, a proportion that has hardly changed in the past 20 years. Only 29 percent want to see Roe v. Wade overturned. And 67 percent, according to polls by Kaiser and Harvard, want sex education in schools to include information about contraception, not just abstinence. Yet conservatives continually push these subjects to the fore and stand on the wrong side of them. It’s time for mainstream media to question whether movement conservatives, not coastal liberals, are out of the mainstream.
[Energy] ... Gallup polls in March 2007 reveal that twice as many Americans want to solve energy problems with more conservation instead of more production (64 percent compared to 26 percent). Polls by CBS and the New York Times in April 2007 show 64 percent are willing to pay higher fuel taxes if the money were used for research into renewable energy sources, and 75 percent would be willing to pay more for electricity if it were generated by renewable sources like wind or energy. Only oil companies, conservative politicians and a minority of Americans (41 percent) want to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska to drilling.
[Health Care] ... Gallup’s latest poll reveals that 69 percent of Americans think it’s the government responsibility to make sure all Americans have health coverage. Only 28 percent disagreed. Polls by CBS/New York Times in February 2007 reveal that 76 percent of Americans would give up the Bush tax cuts to make sure all Americans have access to health care.
[Iraq] ... The war in Iraq is a disaster. 63 percent of Americans want to set deadlines for withdrawal. Four times as many Americans (48 percent to 12 percent) think the war in Iraq has made the threat of terrorism against the United States worse rather than better.
So how does the conservative propaganda machine get away with their myth creation?
The answers are manifold. Skillful use of wedge issues by conservative politicians. Advantages in fundraising. Political gerrymandering. An establishment media that rarely asks hard questions. A war on terror that trumps pedestrian domestic concerns.
What can we do about it? For starters: Demand that all Dem candidates and officeholders take strong, liberal stands on the issues. Work with organizations like Media Matters and Free Press to hold big media accountable. Work for ethics and campaign finance reform locally and nationally. Keep speaking out and talking to your friends and neighbors. Get active!
Tuesday, June 12, 2007
You Can't Make This Stuff Up
In keeping with coverage of GLBT Pride month issues, I offer this tidbit reported by a California CBS station:
A Berkeley watchdog organization that tracks military spending said it uncovered a strange U.S. military proposal to create a hormone bomb that could purportedly turn enemy soldiers into homosexuals and make them more interested in sex than fighting.
Pentagon officials on Friday confirmed to CBS 5 that military leaders had considered, and then subsquently rejected, building the so-called "Gay Bomb."
... The documents show the Air Force lab asked for $7.5 million to develop such a chemical weapon.
"The Ohio Air Force lab proposed that a bomb be developed that contained a chemical that would cause enemy soliders to become gay, and to have their units break down because all their soldiers became irresistably attractive to one another," Hammond said after reviewing the documents.
... Gay community leaders in California said Friday that they found the notion of a "gay bomb" both offensive and almost laughable at the same time.
"Throughout history we have had so many brave men and women who are gay and lesbian serving the military with distinction," said Geoff Kors of Equality California. "So, it's just offensive that they think by turning people gay that the other military would be incapable of doing their job. And its absurd because there's so much medical data that shows that sexual orientation is immutable and cannot be changed."
Surely this begs the question of when Congress and American voters are going to start questioning waste, fraud and plain insanity in military budgeting with the same zeal they apply to other government spending. Wanna bet there's some corporate blowhards out there who made large donations to politicos with power over military spending, and who would have made a bundle from government contracts to research this so-called "gay bomb"?
Imagine how many other similar boondoggles are buried in our military budgets, as well as in the secret earmarks inserted into bills of every stripe. I won't hold my breath for any massive public outcries though. Americans have long been programmed to believe that all government expenditures are bad, except when they're classified as "military" or "homeland security" spending. If anyone dares to question anything in budgets related to these two classes of spending, they're accused to being "soft on terrorism" or "unpatriotic." One hand washes the other in the military technology complex. Bombs away ....
Saturday, May 12, 2007
Show Me the Money: Federal Budget
Check out this that can be manipulated to focus in on various aspects of how taxpayer money will be spent according to Bush's requested FY 208 budget. Hit your Shift key to zoom in and your Ctrl key to zoom out. You can click on and drag the image to see all its parts. One major point to notice: Of the $1075 billion in discretionary spending, 67% or $717 billion, is targeted for military/national security spending. That national debt is projected at $9.600 trillion. The poster is also available for purchase in case you want to make yourself sick on a regular basis.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Bernalillo County Clerk Requests Public Input Evaluating 2006 Election Process
From Maggie Toulouse, Bernalillo County Clerk, Albuquerque:
2006 General Election Evaluation: PUBLIC INPUT NEEDED
What did you think of last November’s General Election?
(click for flyer (pdf) - feel free to distribute)
As part of an on-going effort to ensure accuracy, fairness, integrity and efficiency in our election process, County Clerk Maggie Toulouse will be hosting the following opportunities for the public to provide input and feedback:
Party Activists and individuals (poll workers, challengers, watchers etc.) who were involved in the General Election are invited to share their experiences, concerns and suggestions in a panel forum environment. Members of the panel will include the County Clerk, Deputy Clerk and Bureau of Elections staff. Comments will be recorded and compiled into a working list that will be considered when planning for future elections.
SATURDAY, APRIL 21, 2007
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Bernalillo County Commission/City Council Chambers
One Civic Plaza, NW – Basement
Meetings will be organized with representatives from Party Organizations, Candidate Committees, and Voter Advocacy Organizations to explore experiences, concerns and suggestions in detail. Specific action plans will be developed to meet the needs of stakeholders.
APRIL 1 – APRIL 30
Meetings will be organized and scheduled upon confirmation with organizations
PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD
The County Clerk accepts comments from the public year round; however this period will be a concerted effort to gather as much input from the public at large as possible. Opportunities will be available via regular mail, email, and fax.
APRIL 1 – APRIL 30
Mail comments to:
Election Process Review
One Civic Plaza NW, 6th Floor
Albuquerque, NM 87102
Email comments to: email@example.com
Fax comments to: (505) 768-4151
All information received as a result of this process will be compiled into a report and published for public review.
We hope that you and your organization will take this opportunity to share your experience, ideas and concerns regarding our election process. You are critical to our success!!
If you have any questions, require further information or would like to reserve time for your organization’s meeting, please contact:
Robert Adams, Deputy County Clerk
ONE CIVIC PLAZA, N.W. - 6TH FLOOR
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO 87102
(505) 468-1290 FAX (505) 768-4151
Editor's Note: Is this cool, or what? Excellent to see our new County Clerk reaching out to the community and encouraging input about what works and what doesn't in our election process. All those interested in making sure our elections are run efficiently, effective and fairly are urged to participate in the evaluation process. This is a great opportunity for ordinary citizens and those who are a part of the election process to contribute to making the election process in the county the very best it can be.
Tuesday, February 20, 2007
RSVP Now for Las Adelitas Choice Reception
Women in Politics
Also, buy your tickets now for a benefit performance of 'Vagina Monologues' presented by V-Day Santa Fe 2007:
“Reclaiming Peace, as part of , a Global movement to end violence against women and girls.”
Benefit for the Santa Fe Rape Crisis Trauma Treatment Center, Esperanza Shelter for Battered Families & FGM Fund to End Female Genital Mutilation In Africa & End Vaginal Mutilation
March 8, 2007 at 8 PM
James A. Little Theater
1060 Cerrillos Road, Santa Fe
Tickets may be purchased at the Lensic Theater box office or call: 988.1234
Click to learn more about Las Adelitas.
Wednesday, February 07, 2007
Gov. Richardson to Call for Halting New U.S. Nuke Weapons Programs
On Thursday, Governor Bill Richardson will make what his presidential campaign is calling a "major address" on foreign policy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC. According to the Campaign News Advisory (see below), Richardson will include among his proposals "halting new American nuclear weapons programs." Quite a compelling announcement considering the roles New Mexico's Los Alamos National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories play in the nuke weapon industry. In fact, Los Alamos is one of two labs to have submitted a design to build what's being called the next generation of nuke bombs, the very controversial "reliable replacement warhead."
According to a January article in the Santa Fe New Mexican:
... last month, the director of Los Alamos National Laboratory listed the new warhead design among the lab's accomplishments. "I think our team did a great job," director Michael Anastasio told employees in a December speech.
At least two watchdog groups in New Mexico -- Nuclear Watch New Mexico and the Los Alamos Study Group -- are opposed to the project, saying it will further nuclear proliferation.
Greg Mello of the study group said the program is primarily about keeping the nuclear weapons complex alive.
Reportedly the Bush administration is considering combining the designs submitted by Los Alamos Lab with that proposed by Lawrence Livermore National Lab in California.
CAMPAIGN NEWS ADVISORY
New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson to Outline Bold, Strong Foreign Policy Vision for America
US must address threat of nuclear terrorism, should stop new nuke programs
Governor Bill Richardson on Thursday will deliver a major address at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, DC. In the speech, entitled “The New Realism and the Rebirth of American Leadership”, the Governor will outline his vision for a renewed and strong American foreign policy and his detailed philosophy to confront world challenges.
Governor Richardson believes that under the Bush administration the country’s foreign policy has been guided more by “wishful thinking than by reality”. He believes the United States must take a different path in foreign affairs, “a path not of hard words, but of hard work.” The Governor will offer his assessment of the true challenges facing America and the world, and his plan on how to deal with them.
Governor Richardson will also discuss ways to make America and the world more secure, specifically by addressing the threat of nuclear terrorism and the need to secure the world’s existing nuclear materials. He will also propose halting new American nuclear weapons programs.
Bill Richardson is uniquely qualified to discuss foreign policy, having served as a US Congressman for 14 years, Ambassador to the UN, Energy Secretary, and as the two-term Governor of a border state.
What: Governor Bill Richardson major foreign policy address to CSIS
Where: 10 am Thurs. February 8, CSIS offices, 1800 K Street NW, Washington, DC
Site Contact: Andrew Schwartz, CSIS (202) 775-3242 firstname.lastname@example.org
News Advisory: February 7, 2007
Contact: Pahl Shipley, Santa Fe (505) 982-2291