Contents, May 2012
Changing of the Guard?
Sullivan, Coss, Varela, Egolf, Easley, Rodriguez, Wirth among
Sierra Club Santa Fe-area legislative endorsements
With several dozen supporters in attendance, the Santa Fe City Council sent a message to the president and Congress last week, telling them to say “No” to any attack on Iran. Mayor David Coss introduced the resolution, along with councilors, Wurzburger, Calvert, Ives, Dimas and Rivera. The measure passed with one dissenting vote.
The resolution cites four reasons why its supporters oppose an armed Attack on Iran:
(1) the consensus of U.S. and Israeli military and intelligence that Iran is not a nuclear threat and has not decided to develop a nuclear weapon;
(2) that any attack on Iran is likely to have a calamitous impact on the people of Iran, Israel, and further destabilize the Middle East;
(3) that Santa Fe taxpayers have already paid over $186,000,000for the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars when “we need our tax dollars at home to rebuild and preserve our communities, our land, air, water, our schools, our healthcare system, our infrastructure, and not to engage in another unnecessary, deadly, and costly war.”
(4) that military threats and a preemptive attack are illegal under international law and the non-proliferation treaty, and could cause Iran to decide to build a nuclear deterrent.
The resolution was drafted by local labor, civic, peace and religious organizations and was supported by Santa Fe’s mayor and City Council members. Oakland, Calif. and Charlottesville, Va. have also passed resolutions opposing war with Iran, but supporters say the Santa Fe Resolution is the strongest yetin that it directs the president to use diplomacy and not threats in negotiations with Iran, and further that he not allow U.S. planes, weaponry, intelligence, or technology to be used in a pre-emptive attack on Iran.
In a press release, Jeff Haas of Occupy Santa Fe wrote, “We have turned to the Santa Fe City Council because we feel the need to start locally to build a national consensus against another war of choice. We see how the Bush Administration used lies to play on our fears to start the Iraq War and we saw a similar scenario beginning to unfold around Iran a couple months ago during Netanyahu’s visit. We at the local level know another Mideast war will not benefit us or the United States. We have obtained 500 signatures from Santa Feans supporting our Resolution and we hope other cities will adopt it as well.”
Coss spoke in favor of the resolution before the vote: “We tried to speak out on Iraq, and eight years later the wars go on. They were shown to be based on false pretenses and unnecessary.” He added, “I can’t accept the pretense that citizen representatives can’t say no to any more of that.”
The lone vote against the resolution came from Councilor Ron Trujillo, of south-side District 4.
“The way I see this, it’s a feel-good resolution,” he said. “We have the proper people in Washington, smart people in Washington who can make these decisions.”
The full text of the resolution may be found at http://www.santafenm.gov/DocumentView.aspx?DID=10843
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED BY THE GOVERNING BODY OF THE CITY OF SANTA FE that the governing body, on behalf of the citizens of Santa Fe, petitions the President and the Congress of the United States to: say NO to any attack on Iran; say NO to any preemptive strike on Iran; say NO to U.S. weapons used in an attack on Iran; use diplomacy and NOT threats in negotiations with Iran; and to NOT allow U.S. planes, weaponry, intelligence or technology be used in a preemptive attack on Iran.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City Clerk shall forward a copy of this resolution to the President of the United States and to all members of the New Mexico Congressional Delegation.
“What you did not only smelled bad, it was wrong… I am flabbergasted.” That, in part, was what district court Judge Eugenio Mathis had to say to Mora-San Miguel Electric Co-op chairman Bobby Quintana, Abran Romero and those representing the co-op board in his decision in the case of Rock Ulibarri and Joseph Weathers vs. Mora San-Miguel Co-op.
Ulibarri, a candidate running against Quintana, filed a temporary restraining order after the co-op removed him from the ballot under circumstances that were arguably at least as smelly and wrong as Judge Mathis described.
The twisted tale began when another candidate, Joseph Weathers, was informed that his candidacy was problematic due to a nepotism provision in the co-op bylaws. Weathers’ second cousin was a co-op employee. So Weathers withdrew his candidacy and asked Rock Ulibarri if he would run instead. Ulibarri agreed. Weathers assisted in the signature gathering for Ulibarri’s campaign and secured several pages of signatures, mostly in the Buena Vista area, where Weathers is a long-time resident.
After the signatures were submitted, Ulibarri’s opponent, Bobby Quintana, commenced efforts to invalidate the signatures and thus guarantee that he would run unopposed. Ulibarri said that he believes every signer was contacted by phone and asked if they had signed the petition. Nine of the signers said that they thought they were signing for Weathers rather than Ulibarri. This seemed understandable given that it was initially Weathers who was running in opposition to Quintana, and also given that Weathers, who obtained many of the signatures, is not fluent in Spanish, and some of the signers were not fluent in English, a situation that can lead to miscommunication.
The nine signed affadavits stating that they did not know they were signing for Ulibarri. At least three of the nine affadavits were obtained by Quintana himself.
The matter of the signatures was brought up at the next co-op board meeting. Quintana, although he could have recused himself, chaired the meeting and led the discussion as to whether Ulibarri’s petition should be accepted. Since only 25 signatures were required, and Ulibarri submitted 60, simply invalidating the nine signatures would have had no impact on Ulibarri’s candidacy. But the board took the unusual approach of declaring not only the signatures invalid but also all
other signatures on any page on which the invalid signatures appeared.
By this method, sufficient signatures were invalidated to reduce the number to less than 25 and thus torpedo Ulibarri’s candidacy. The rationale for this move, as explained during the hearing, was that candidates for board seats must have the ability to meet the fiduciary responsibilities, and someone who would knowingly falsify a nominating petition lacked the character to meet those fiduciary responsibilities. No evidence was presented at trial that Ulibarri was aware of inconsistencies on the petition, that he submitted invalid signatures deliberately, or that he was even present when the signatures were obtained. Nor were any bylaws cited that explicitly make character a legal qualification for candidacy, or that empower the board to accept or reject candidates for board seats based on their opinion of the candidate’s character.
The vote of the board was split 2 -2 over whether to accept Ulibarri’s nominating petition, with Quintana abstaining. It was then ruled that the tie vote, because it was not in the affirmative, was a vote to reject Ulibarri’s petition and omit him from the ballot.
Ulibarri filed for a restraining order to prevent his removal from the ballot. In a hearing that lasted several hours, testimony was heard regarding these and various other alleged improprieties surrounding Ulibarri’s removal from the ballot. During closing arguments, Judge Mathis questioned the co-op’s attorney over whether basic principles of fairness were observed and whether the democratic process should involve the electorate, rather than the co-op board, choosing a candidate based on the candidate’s perceived character.
Judge Mathis then rendered his decision, lambasting Quintana and the board and finding in favor of Ulibarri. The board election, which was to have occurred the next day, was ordered canceled; it will be rescheduled, and Ulibarri will be put back on the ballot.
The Ulibarri affair, although a particularly egregious attempt at voter disenfranchisement, is far from unique, particularly this year, in New Mexico politics. State Rep. Thomas Garcia (D-Colfax, Guad, Mora, S.M. & Taos-68) recently attempted to derail the candidacy of his primary opponent, Sen. Pete Campos ((D-Guad, Mora, SM, SF & Torrance- 8), by attempting to get Campos’ nominating petition rejected over a missing district number on the petitions. Garcia’s attempt, one of several in the state, also was unsuccessful. The New Mexico Attorney General opined that, as long as no fraud was intended in the omission of the district number, the benefit of the doubt should go to the candidates; the state Supreme Court agreed.
Lee Einer is a permaculturist and writer living in Las Vegas, NM.
In this issue we ask the question of how much change the 2012 elections will bring to New Mexico. With some 600 candidates on the primary election ballot, there seems to be a lot of choice, and yet fully half the seats in the House are uncontested, either in June or else in November.
Twenty-one incumbents are not running for re-election, many of them frustrated with the politicking and gridlock that seem to get worse every session. (Six of those are running for different positions.)
Perhaps the most hotly contested seats are the two for the Public Regulation Commission, a very important regulatory body that is responsible for such matters as utility and health care regulation and rate setting and has been rocked by one scandal after another in recent years. Candidates cry out for reform, but in a system that increasingly is dominated by money to advance corporate interests it is hard to be convinced that fundamental change is in the offing.
Some 20 NM legislators, all Republicans, are still members of the powerful American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which continues to generate right-wing model legislation aimed at eroding or eliminating workers’ rights, privatizing education and rolling back environmental regulation, among other conservative causes. Thanks to the Center for Media and Democracy and a few courageous reporters, ALEC’s nefarious doings have been exposed in recent months, and corporate sponsors have retreated, while some legislators have canceled their memberships. But the group continues to exert a dangerous influence.
Here in New Mexico, corporate money, especially from the oil and gas industry, will be heavily supporting Republican candidates in the U.S. Senate and House races, but also in the state legislative races, where the GOP hopes to win enough seats to take over the House and at least tighten the Democratic majority in the Senate, thus giving Gov. Susana Martinez increased leverage to break the current impasse over such issues as immigrant drivers’ licenses and education “reform” and get her pro-business agenda enacted.
Martinez herself hires out-of-state administrators (think Hanna Skandera) with staunchly conservative backgrounds to reshape state departments such as Education. Somehow, “reshape” and “reform” always seem to translate to “privatize.” This makes Martinez’s big-business campaign donors very happy.
Last week, the Martinez administration announced a million-dollar contract with a Utah firm founded by Michael O. Leavitt, who held two cabinet-secretary positions under George W. Bush, to help the state set up health insurance exchanges under the Affordable Care Act. The New Mexican reports that Sidonie Squier, secretary of Martinez’s Human Services Department, worked under Leavitt at the U.S. Health and Human Services Department from 2005 to 2009. A Martinez spokesman said Squier did not know Leavitt and played no role in selecting Leavitt Partners.
As far as the current political system, with its financial influences and back-room power-brokering, has drifted from anything resembling authentic democracy, the battlefield increasingly is shifting to local government and grassroots citizens’ initiatives such as the community rights ordinance against fracking recently passed in Las Vegas and the No Attack on Iran resolution approved last week by the Santa Fe City Council. Nationally, over 130 communities have passed bill-of-rights type ordinances to assert their basic human entitlements to clean air and water and to control corporate exploitation of their resources. (Many lawyers claim such initiatives are unconstitutional, but courts have so far been upholding them. In any case, maybe it’s the Constitution that needs to be changed.)
For a true changing of the guard in state (and national) politics, coalitions including groups and movements like Occupy, labor, immigrants’ rights and environmental organizations must lead the charge for fundamental reform or outright reinvention of a corrupt and dying political system.
For starters, we need constitutional amendments to overturn Citizens United, but even more fundamentally, to do away with the Electoral College and bring proportional representation to American government. In the entrenched two-party system, the game is rigged, and voters can only choose the lesser of two evils, both bankrolled by the 1 percent. By supporting a minority-party candidate in the current system they simply help a Democrat or, usually, a Republican get elected.
That’s not a formula for change but rather a recipe for exactly the kind of slow and steady implosion of democracy and social justice we are experiencing.
Change will not come from the top down. It’s up to us to launch it from the bottom up.
Yes, there seems to be a run from ALEC, and while not wanting to rain on anyone’s parade, the question I’m asking here is: So what?
This is not the time for high-fives and victory laps. Karl Rove, the Koch Boys, the other corporate donors to ALEC and the dozens of their front organizations will not loosen their grip on the political narrative. According to the April 21, 2012 Rolling Stone, the Koch Boys alone have invested over $100 million over the past 30 years building an empire of foundations, think tanks, advocacy groups and the like. They aren’t going to walk away from this class war.
What they will do, however, is become ever more clever in hiding their agenda. They aren’t going to retreat because there is too much at stake; there is still enough money left in the public till to be sucked into their bank accounts. The billionaire warriors against American social democracy and vital public interests like education and health care will continue to polarize the country, using even more surreptitious means. These people have unlimited amounts of money and their own media networks to further their agenda and will do whatever it takes to shove that agenda down the public’s throat. They are relentless, and that is exactly how they got to where they are today.
We too must be relentless in uncovering their fronts, exposing their agendas and their sycophants and educating the public about the dangerous consequences to a democratic society that this kind of sociopathic destruction represents.
The most important question to ask right now, as we enter the 2012 election season nationally and in the races for the New Mexico Legislature, is how do we elect better, more honorable people whose allegiance is to the electorate first? One place we can start is by naming names and telling voters the truth. Ask the public if they voted for ALEC or for their senator or representative. Ask if they are aware that their legislators have been acting on behalf of ALEC to pass laws that originated in a Washington DC conservative think tank sponsored by the largest corporations in the world corporations which have nothing to do with New Mexico. It needs to be pointed out how some legislators were bought with campaign contributions, a free meal, or a trip to a “seminar” at a fancy resort that just happened to have a great golf course. Voters need to understand what motivates politicians to pass laws and make policies that are antithetical to their constituents: money. Money in the form of campaign contributions from innocuous sounding foundations—that’s the grease.
In a pointed example of the ALEC agenda at work here in New Mexico, the governor and her secretary-designate of Education, after having been turned down by the Legislature, continue to relentlessly pursue their discredited education reform agenda to privatize public education, humiliate teachers with Gestapo-like classroom raids, to grade schools, teachers and children, and enable out-of-state corporate for-profit charter schools. In other words, the Legislature and the voice of the public be damned—these agents of big political money have a debt to pay back.
In spite of the governor’s campaign shuck-and-jive about ensuring New Mexico tax dollars are spent in New Mexico, her NMPED outsourced nearly $6.5 million of taxpayer money for services that could have been easily sourced here. Did the PED really need to hire a Texan to advise them on hiring what they call “key people” to assist in formulating policies on Hispanic and Native American education? We don’t have that expertise in-state? Really? Next there is SB 9, which would have put out-of-state businesses on an equal tax footing with in-state businesses. The governor vetoed that one. When you get to the bottom line, the best interests of New Mexico and New Mexicans are being vetoed as well.
The public information/education campaign must reach out to voters and engage them in dialog before they cast their ballots. Wren Abbot’s excellent reporting in SFR recently, exposing the PED spending mentioned above, is exactly what is needed and more of it. We need much more good and accurate information put out there if the public is going to grasp what is being done to their schools specifically and the public trust in general.
The public needs to know how differential tax policies hurt them, their neighbors and local businesses. Patent disregard and disrespect for public opinion and legislative intent must be countered with good reporting, good facts, good dialog and a good statement of consequences. There’s a lot of work to be done in the weeks and months ahead. We can have our high-fives when better and more honorable people are elected to public office.
Emanuele Corso has been a New Mexico resident for over 30 years. Prior to that he taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the Department of Educational Policy Studies, where he received his doctorate in education policy studies. He is currently working on a book, Belief Systems and theSocial Contract, which he started when he was teaching at Wisconsin.
In the 1990s renowned political scientist and author Ben Barber wrote in Jihad vs McWorld that global capitalism was at war with democracy. He was right, of course, and the intensity of that war has only increased since then. Global corporations are battling democracy’s environmental regulations, taxation, labor laws, legislation aimed at fairness or income equality. They are battling democracy’s concern for the long-term survival of community or any values more human than economic.
Emblematic of the global assault is the massive campaign by Canadian oil and gas corporations to construct a transcontinental pipeline across the American heartland, regardless of local environmental consequences. Emblematic, again, are the mining corporations suing Ecuador in the WTO to open up that country’s rivers, forests and indigenous landscape to destruction. Emblematic is the 2005 exemption of “fracking” from the U.S. Clean Water Act, resulting in millions of gallons of poisoned waste water, allowing global corporations like Halliburton, (headquartered in Dubai), to override the interests of local American governments, farmers, ranchers and cities. Emblematic is Wal-Mart’s aggressive activity in Mexico, consciously subverting the rule of law. Democracy is not strong in Mexico; Wal-Mart has not made it stronger.
A symbol of the global war is in that one five-story building in the Cayman Islands which is the address of more than 18,000 corporations. The Caymans do not levy income taxes. So all the corporations that call that home are opting out of their responsibilities in the U.S. Apple, Google, and Bank of America are exemplars. They say that they are simply following the tax code, and being headquartered in the Caymans is not illegal. That’s right. But they are also turning their backs on an American society that gave them educated workers, roads and bridges, science, health care, and above all, courts and the rule of law. What these corporations do not say is they spent millions lobbying the U.S. Congress to make it legal. They have made it legal, but they have not made it right.
It is clear that these offshore havens create a crisis for democracy by squeezing the money out of government. What may be less clear is that these legislated special privileges also create a crisis for capitalism. In the very short term capitalism may not look like it is in trouble: Major corporations are reporting record profits. Bonuses on Wall Street in 2010 exceeded $90 billion. The Dow Jones in 2012 has been mostly above 13,000. Wall Street appears to be healthy. A Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives thinks it will get even healthier if we just eliminate all government regulations.
Never was an elite in greater delusion. Predatory capitalism is killing the middle-class goose that lays the golden egg. That’s the first thing. Secondly, it is unselfconsciously driving toward unlimited exponential growth that is producing climate change and which eventually will lead to social and economic chaos. In the longer term, therefore, capitalism is killing the eco-system that makes golden geese possible. Finally, in both short and long terms capitalism’s oligarchs and supporters in Congress are fixated on a flimsy free market doctrine. In sum, the crisis of capitalism is created by the fact that today’s oligarchs still understand the world in terms appropriate for the agrarian 18th century, are opposed to regulation as if they were combating a revolution of the proletariat, and their theoretical doctrine is to return to the simplicity of corporate life in times when monopolies were granted by kings.
The result is that today’s 1 percent are squeezing the blood out of the middle class, creating conditions of predictable eco-collapse, have no doctrine more sophisticated than Ayn Rand. But these, even combined, are not even the greatest danger that capitalism faces. The supreme danger to capitalism is plutocracy’s blindness toward the advantages that come from democracy. These are advantages in innovation, mobility, creativity and productivity that all arise with popular government. Oligarchs have missed this point entirely. This month TheNew York Times carries a quote from a former Bain Capital associate of Mitt Romney’s who says, quite literally, “At base, having a small elite with vast wealth is good for the poor and middle class.” He could be an English aristocrat on the eve of the American Revolution.
What the Bain Capital investor and the rest of the elite do not seem to understand is how much he and they depend upon democracy. A prosperous economy requires reliability in contract, truth in science and medicine, widespread, popular education, and nonviolent processes of change. Without these, markets shrink, innovation is endangered, mistrust and corruption replace nonviolent process, and plutocrats themselves become insecure. For examples, look anywhere in the non-democratic world. Look at what is happening in China this month. Bo Xi Lai’s fall, and the power struggle in China that it represents, is no different than the fall of the Caesars, the Borgias, the Stuarts or the Bourbons. Insider power struggles, wrapped in secrecy and murder, rumors of pay-offs and spying by one aristocrat upon another, are the hallmark of medieval Europe and still today of Russia, Central Asia and Latin America, to say nothing of China.
Undermining democracy as the plutocrats seem wont to do undermines all values of equality and mutuality and, without these as a restraint, power concentrates, feudalism creeps back, plutocracy takes over and capitalism is itself endangered. Without democracy, the narrative to expect is like that of the Caesars killing the Republic in Rome, or the Medicis suffocating the Republic in Florence, or communists stamping out the people’s revolution in 20th-century Russia. They all tried democracy a little bit. But they then slid into plutocracy and cut themselves off at the knees.
We therefore live in a time of two crises, one of democracy, another of capitalism. They are intertwined. The solution to the democracy crisis is probably the only long-lasting solution for the capitalists. Apparently, most corporate leadership does not understand this. Unfortunately, without that understanding today’s oligarchs are apt to bring both down.
Craig Barnes is the author of Democracy At The Crossroads, is a former civil rights lawyer, international mediator and the host of Our Times with Craig Barnes, heard weekly on KSFR radio.
I campaigned hard for Obama in 2008, as did many of us, but am far more impressed and supportive this time around. Remember, back in 2008 all we had to go on was a bright, inspirational leader. Now we have a record, and in direct contrast to the GOP talking points, it’s a stellar one, domestically and in foreign affairs, and one that I’ll proudly talk about with voters in the next few months.
Obama had only a few months of having Democratic control of Congress (needing 60 votes, of course, given the GOP’s new model of requiring super-majorities for virtually everything). Despite the Republicans’ historic divisiveness and partisanship, here is a partial list of Obama’s major first-term accomplishments:
1. For the first time in American history, everyone will be able to get health insurance and full health care. The insurance companies will do well and siphon billions of dollars away from actual medical care, which I’m not happy about, and costs aren’t really controlled (something no one in either party has successfully addressed). But as someone who has a son who I thought might have a serious issue when he was born, I’m thrilled that the sick can actually, you know, get health care. This isn’t even about the 50 million or so Americans without insurance each year; it’s just as much about the 250 million who can get covered if they want a new job, and who can’t be cut off when they actually need health care.
Of course, the ability to get health care regardless of pre-existing conditions is very much at risk due to the Scalia/Thomas conservative Supreme Court. But that just highlights another thing to be excited about with Obama: He has made two outstanding appointments to the Supreme Court, and we need more jurists who understand the real-world effects of their decisions to be appointed over the next four years.
2. We’re out of Iraq. This would have/could have gone on for another decade with McCain or Romney. It didn’t, and that’s huge. Along with health care reform, these two issues represent progressive promises kept that dwarf almost every other issue except the economy more broadly.
3. On the economy, I’d submit Obama’s done as well as anyone dealt those cards would have. We avoided a massive depression. It’s always hard to argue counterfactuals, but if Mitt and Minority Whip Eric Cantor had been in charge, the lack of some government spending to offset the private sector’s freefall and freezing up of credit would have been an absolute disaster.
We went from losing over 700,000 private sector jobs a month to 25 straight months of positive job growth in the private sector. Despite Obama’s attempts to keep education and public safety funded, job losses in this administration are mostly in the public sector. Not sure what wizardry Romney claims to have, but since he wants the same policies of deregulation and tax cuts for millionaires that largely helped cause our crash and our deficits, I can’t imagine he’d be moving the needle in a positive direction like Obama has.
Not only did he make the bold and (at the time) unpopular call to save our auto industry, but that move ended up with brilliant results, saving millions of working-class families from bankruptcy or financial ruin. Guess which presidential candidate publicly advocated for letting the American auto industry—and its workers and their families—be thrown to the financial predator wolves? (Hint: it’s the guy who spent most of his life being a financial predator, or “vulture capitalist,” as well-known Socialist Newt Gingrich put it.)
4. We’ve been kept safe, and Obama’s shown an incredibly deft ability to discern when to engage, when to take risks, when to back off, and when to work in concert with others. Bin Laden, the Somali pirates, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, Chen, and so many more issues have been handled almost flawlessly. Our drawdown from Afghanistan isn’t as fast as I’d like, but it’s definitely moving in a good direction. Do I wish we didn’t have Gitmo? Yeah. But find me a president I’m in agreement with 100 percent of the time and I’ll invite you to visit me in my shiny house on Pennsylvania Avenue. Oh, and by the way, if you think Romney would have gotten us out of Afghanistan or Gitmo in the last four years (or will in the next four years), I have some lovely river-crossings to southern Manhattan that you can buy from me for a really nice price.
5. Obama took on Wall Street. Again, not as aggressively as I’d like, but the GOP wants to repeal even the small changes Obama and the Dems in Congress made. Elections are about choices, and I’ll take someone who at least will try to regulate scam artists on Wall Street over someone who represents the worst part of the Wall Street scam.
6. Obama’s done a lot of things that may seem small to most folks, but that are a big deal to those affected: the first law he signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Act, overturning a laughable SCOTUS decision that interpreted equal pay as being invalid if a plaintiff didn’t bring a suit within six months—even if she had no way of knowing that the discrimination was happening. The Scalia/Thomas wing of the SCOTUS essentially tried to carve out an exception to the well-understood rules of statutes of limitations, and Obama and the Dem Congress set things right for women.
7. Want true equal opportunity? How about getting rid of the taxpayer-robbing middlemen in student loans? Or keeping student loans affordable? Obama and the Dems in Congress already won the first of those battles, and are valiantly fighting the second against a Republican Party that insists on pitting different progressive ideas and groups against each other (in this case, forcing women to give up preventative care in exchange for lower student loan rates). Making college affordable is a big deal to middle-class families and kids, and to those working their hearts out to get into the middle class.
8. Civil rights. President Obama’s statement last week that he supports gay marriage is a major landmark in the ongoing battle for civil rights for all Americans. The North Carolina constitutional amendment, which banned not only gay marriage but even domestic partnerships and civil unions, is proof that discrimination and bigotry is alive and well in America.
For our president to stand up for this embattled minority was bold and courageous—especially given that it probably will cost him North Carolina, possibly Virginia and Ohio, and maybe even other states. I’m sure there will be positives, too, but this was unquestionably a risky move from a political perspective. If I had to guess, I’d say he knew he was on the wrong side of history, and that he’d get a lot less credit for being a brave advocate for minority groups had he waited until after November to stick his neck out.
Obama’s civil rights record for the LGBT community isn’t limited to his personal opinion—he also ended Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and instructed his Department of Justice to declare its opposition to the Defense of Marriage Act.
Regardless of political perspective, those who are familiar with the difficulties of enacting significant legislation and navigating foreign policy crises would argue that Obama has had a tremendously impactful presidency. For those of us who are also progressive, I’d argue that the impact has been almost uniformly positive and bold. He’s more than earned my vote—he’s earned my strong and unflinching support for a second term.
Carter Bundy is the political and legislative director for AFSCME in New Mexico. The opinions in this column are personal and do not necessarily reflect any official AFSCME position. You can reach him at [email protected]
Jerry Ortiz y Pino
New Mexico’s favorite sport, electoral politics, enters its version of “March Madness” or Super Bowl hysteria this month. All the frenzy of the political playoff season, Bowl Championship or World Series mania will culminate in November when the final tote board will stop spinning to reveal at last either ugly reality or shining truth.
Only then, still almost a half-year in the future, will the biggest decisions be decided, the presidential race and our Congressional delegation’s composition. On the other hand, by as early as June 5 the make-up of our next State Legislature might well be clarified.
In turn that will signal whether the impasse between Gov. Susana Martinez and the Legislature that has characterized her first two years in office will loosen at all. If it doesn’t, we won’t see much legislative productivity for two more years, when her re-election campaign will become, in effect, a referendum on her agenda… and on her governance style.
Thus, though as few as 20 percent of the eligible voters will actually make it to the polls for the primaries this year, their influence will go way beyond those thin numbers. The message they send with their choices for state senators and representatives will be interpreted as vindication or repudiation of the governor. This is true—however little those choices might actually have to do with the candidates’ stances on educational reform, drivers’ licenses for foreign nationals or tax breaks for business.
It is true because the governor is poised to spend unprecedented amounts of campaign cash from her Texas-inflated Political Action treasury to try to sculpt a Legislature more in line with her thinking than the current one has been.
And mostly it is true because of the numbers involved in enacting legislation. The Senate has been an impenetrable barrier to most of Martinez’ attempts to swing state government in a new direction. During that period the House has voted to pass most of her proposals—albeit usually grudgingly and with much dragging of feet and screeching of pain.
The 42-member Senate has been Democratic by a two-to-one margin. The House, though, has divided almost evenly (36-33), with one independent member (Andy Nuñez) frequently siding with the governor and the GOP. Thus, the defection of just one or two Democrats (and everything we know about herding Democrats says there will almost certainly be a defection or two on every issue) will produce a narrow majority for the governor.
The only saving grace from the Democratic standpoint has been that the House Republicans backed away from forming a leadership coalition with a handful of dissident Democrats when they had the chance, thereby fumbling the opportunity to control the Speaker’s chair, appoint committee leaders and set the agenda. Now they will try to increase their numbers enough to grab that power without having to negotiate with the Democrats at all.
Can they manage it? Let’s run the numbers. If they held all 33 seats they have now in the House, they would need only to pick up two Democratically controlled districts to have the majority, assuming independent Nuñez wins re-election and stays aligned with them. But the calculations aren’t that linear because of several complicating factors.
First, redistricting just took place. While the compromise plan finally ordered by the Court has been widely described as fair because it created a few more competitive districts, it also adjusted boundaries for every district, opening the possibility for many incumbents to face much less favorable re-election playing fields than is usually the case.
This could have been a factor in the decision of 21 incumbents from both Houses not to seek re-election from their districts. Six of those are actually House members switching over to run for Senate seats, but that large a turnover is also an indication that a lot of legislators are growing frustrated with the futility of the standoff between executive and legislative branches.
So re-election of incumbents (of both parties) is not as certain as before redistricting—provided they actually have opponents. There are still almost half of all House races (28 of the 70) in which no one is challenging the incumbent, either in the primary or the general, and another seven in which there is only primary opposition. Thus by the morning after the June 5 election we will know the outcomes of fully half of all the 2012 races (five months before the general).
A second complication for GOP control of the House will be the Obama coattails. Four years ago they were very wide and very long. If they approach anything like that again, the Democrats are poised to take back several seats they lost two years ago (in Valencia and Doña Ana counties) and possibly pick up a Los Alamos House seat and one of the new Rio Rancho seats, thereby trashing the chances for a GOP takeover.
The Senate would be almost impossible for the Republicans to win outright. Twelve Democrats have no general election opposition at all (five of those do face primary races, but will be home free after June 5). And seven Republicans have no Democrats running against them.
Of the contested general election Senate races, there are truly only six or seven that are in play, i.e., where both parties have a genuine chance to win. If the Democrats were to lose every single one of those seven (which would mean Obama either loses or has no coattails to speak of), then the Senate would have a 21-21 tie and the leadership implications would be mind-boggling. But for the governor, it would mean clear sailing for every piece of her agenda.
So, what do all these numbers mean? They probably mean the days of the legislative logjam are over.
If the Republicans take over the House and come close to taking over the Senate, the governor will have absolutely no reason to back off. She will have received the message from the voters that she is on the right track and the legislative Democrats will not be able to withstand her demands. Her agenda (and all its consequences) will move through with only symbolic opposition.
On the other hand, if the Democrats not only hold on to their strong Senate majority but win enough seats in the House to have a little breathing room, the message sent to the governor by the electorate will also be incontrovertible: back off; learn to compromise; make some concessions to find a common ground. That, too, will get things moving. In either case it seems likely that a far more productive Legislature will be operating during the last two years of Martinez’ term than during the first two.
Unless, that is, she were to ignore the voters’ message. If she stubbornly insisted on pushing her agenda without brooking any alternatives or improvements, then the rest of her term will see a continued tug-of-war. More of her proposals will die in committee or on the floor… and more of the Legislature’s actions will get vetoed when they reach her desk. That also means the next two years would likely be her last as governor.
If you want a peek at the future of our state government, get up early on June 6 and check the primary results. They will point to two years of new productivity or two years of the same old stalemate.
Jerry Ortiz y Pino is a New Mexico state senator (Dist. 12, Albuquerque, Dem.). A former social worker, he sought the Democratic nomination for lieutenant governor in 2010.
It seems odd to talk about change in New Mexico politics when the upcoming June primary elections feature so many uncontested races. For example, in Santa Fe County’s Democratic primary, six of the 11 positions have drawn no opposition, now or in November.
Statewide, the picture is similar, with 28 out of 70 races in which House members face no opposition in either the primary or the general election. Seven more face only primary competition.
The important Public Regulation Commission races in districts 1 and 3 are among the most competitive, with District 1 drawing three Democrats (Karen Louise Montoya, Cynthia B. Hall and Al Park) and District 3 drawing four (Brad A. Gallegos, Valerie L. Espinoza, Daniel Maki and Virginia Vigil). There is only one Republican candidate for the PRC, Christopher Ocksrider, in District 1. Beset by ethics problems in the recent past and questions about its future course and scope of jurisdiction, the PRC has drawn much scrutiny and many candidates promising reform. Both races have been featured in a series of forums around Albuquerque and Santa Fe.
The District 1 (Bernalillo County) race to replace Jason Marks, prevented by term limits from running again, does not seem to offer a choice on the level of Marks’ scope of knowledge and experience with a variety of issues as utility regulations, health care and renewable energy. Al Park is vacating his Dist. 26 House seat to run for the PRC vacancy. Cynthia B. Hall is an attorney with experience in renewable energy technologies. Karen Louise Montoya says her top priority “is to restore integrity to the Public Regulation Commission.”
The District 3 PRC race will pick a successor to fill the seat of Douglas Howe in a more rural district (including Santa Fe and most of the northern third of the state). Virginia Vigil of Santa Fe has several union endorsements, plus one from the Sierra Club, and is a former Santa Fe County commissioner. Daniel Maki, also a Santa Fe native, has pledged to fight continuing utility rate increases. He has been endorsed by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 611. Brad Gallegos, a small business owner who grew up in northern New Mexico, said he wants to focus on “Utilities, Transportation, Insurance, Telecommunications, Pipeline Safety and the Fire Marshall.” Valerie Espinoza has touted her eight years’ experience as Santa Fe County Clerk.
In the high-profile statewide races there is competition in both parties for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Jeff Bingaman, but Republican Heather Wilson is considered to have only token opposition in Greg Sowards, and Democrat Martin Heinrich (currently District 1 Congressman) appears to have a wide lead and a big money advantage over State Auditor Hector Balderas.
The race to replace Heinrich is very competitive on the Democratic side, with Eric G. Griego, Martin J. Chávez and Michelle Lujan Grisham competing for the District 1 House nomination. Republican Janice E. Arnold-Jones is unopposed.
In District 2, Democrat Evelyn Madrid Erhard and Republican incumbent Steve Pearce have no primary opposition. In District 3, incumbent Democrat Ben R. Luján is unopposed, but two Republicans, Frederick L. Newton and Jefferson L. Byrd are competing to face him.
For Court of Appeals judge, Victor S. Lopez and M. Monica Zamora are vying for the Democratic nod while Republican J. Miles Hanisee is unopposed.
To view the entire list of 2012 New Mexico Primary Election candidates on the ballot, go to http://www.sos.state.nm.us/2012PrimaryCandidates.html
In Santa Fe County, one of the livelier races is for State Rep. District 46, where House Speaker and Democratic icon Ben Luján is stepping down due to serious health issues. Upon hearing that news, Santa Fe Mayor David Coss entered the race a couple of months ago against Carl P. Trujillo. Coss has strong union backing and a history of supporting environmental issues while Trujillo, from the Nambé Valley, describes himself as “a citizen candidate, not a career politician.” In a campaign letter Trujillo says he believes deeply in the values of the Democratic Party, including “fairness, justice, inclusiveness and transparency.”
Coss has picked up the endorsement of U.S. Rep. Ben Ray Luján, but many say Trujillo will run strong in northern Santa Fe County; he nearly upset Ben Ray’s father when he challenged him in Dist. 46 in 2010.
Other State Representative races are uncontested, including District 47 where Brian Egolf, one of the most progressive members of the Legislature, will also have clear sailing in November, with no GOP opposition.
In Dist. 25, State Sen. Peter Wirth, another very progressive legislator, has neither primary nor general election competition.
In addition to Egolf and Wirth, incumbents Rep. Luciano “Lucky” Varela and Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, all unopposed in the primary election, received the endorsement of The Sierra Club’s Rio Grande Chapter. The group also endorsed David Coss in Dist. 46 and Jack Sullivan for State Senate in Dist. 49.
The contested races are otherwise all on the county level, where four Democrats are running for County Clerk Valerie Espinoza’s seat: Tara L. Lujan, Gilbert G. Garcia, Geraldine Salazar and Letitia Montoya. Three Democrats will be on the ballot for County Commissioner, Dist. 2: Miguel M. Chavez, Gilbert D. Hernandez and Maria-Ester DeAnda. And Democrat Victor P. Baca is challenging incumbent Kathy Holian in Dist. 4. Incumbent Elizabeth Stefanics is unopposed in Dist. 5.
The County Treasurer race will pit Patrick J. Varela against Oliver E. Garcia to replace Victor Montoya.
As to the larger question of whether all these races will bring significant change to New Mexico government, there is little sense that the status quo of the political system itself will be threatened by the current crop of candidates and incumbents, despite the notable presence of progressives such as Egolf, Wirth, Jerry Ortiz y Pino (State Sen. Dist. 12) and a few others. The Senate will lose at least two other reform-minded members in Dede Feldman and Steve Fischmann, who are not running for re-election. In all, 21 incumbents are not running to keep their seats, though six of those are attempting to move from the House to the Senate.
Following the results on June 5 will be like keeping tabs on a game of musical chairs: lots of repositioning but not necessarily a lot of fundamental change.
Sullivan, Coss, Varela, Egolf, Easley, Rodriguez, Wirth among
Sierra Club Santa Fe-area legislative endorsements
The Sierra Club’s Rio Grande Chapter has announced its endorsements for New Mexico Legislature in the June 5 New Mexico primary election.
The full list of House and Senate endorsements is below. (Non-incumbents who are unopposed in primaries are not listed but may be endorsed in the general election.)
Among Santa Fe-area endorsed candidates were incumbents Reps. Luciano “Lucky” Varela and Brian Egolf and Sens. Nancy Rodriguez and Peter Wirth, all unopposed in the primary election.
The chapter, which includes 7,000 members in New Mexico, will devote its volunteer strength to electing endorsed candidates in competitive races.
The chapter also chose two candidates with strong records of protecting the environment in elected office: David Coss for House District 46 and Jack Sullivan for Senate District 39.
“Jack’s leadership and his ability to bring people together during the Galisteo Basin oil drilling controversy led to one of the most protective oil-and-gas-extraction ordinances in the country,” said Rio Grande Chapter Political Chair Susan Martin. “As a water engineer, Jack has worked tirelessly in New Mexico’s rural communities to improve water and wastewater systems for rural residents.”
As a Santa Fe city councilor and as mayor, Coss led in adopting a green building code and implementation of solar energy projects resulting in 10 percent of energy needs for city services being provided by solar energy.
The chapter also endorsed Stephen Easley in District 50. Easley showed strong support for green building initiatives and plans to propose and support tax credits and incentives for the use of green and energy-efficient technologies in existing buildings and new construction as a state legislator. As an Alamogordo city commissioner, he took positions that environmental considerations were primary when making policy decisions.
New Mexico House endorsements:
District 14: Rep. Miguel Garcia
District 16: Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas
District 17: Rep. Ed Sandoval
District 18: Rep. Gail Chasey
District 21: Rep. Mimi Stewart
District 34: Rep. Mary Helen Garcia
District 35: Rep. Antonio Luján
District 42: Rep. Bobby Gonzales
District 46: David Coss
District 47: Rep. Brian Egolf
District 48: Rep. Lucky Varela
District 50: Stephen P. Easley
District 65: Rep. James Madelena
District 69: Rep. Ken Martinez
New Mexico Senate endorsements:
District 3: Sen. John Pinto
District 6: Sen. Carlos Cisneros
District 8: Sen. Pete Campos
District 9: Ben Rodefer
Disrtict 11: Sen. Linda Lopez
District 12: Sen. Jerry Ortiz Y Pino
District 14: Eleanor Chavez
District 15: Sen. Tim Eichenberg
District 16: Sen. Cisco McSorley
District 17: Sen. Tim Keller
District 21: Senator Lisa Curtis
District 24: Sen. Nancy Rodriguez
District 25: Sen. Peter Wirth
District 26: Jacob Candelaria
District 28: Sen. Howie Morales
District 29: Sen. Michael Sanchez
District 30: Maxine Velasquez
District 36: Sen. MaryJane Garcia
District 38: Sen. Mary Kay Papen
District 39: Jack Sullivan
Bruce M. Berlin
I recently went east to Cherry Hill, New Jersey to celebrate my dad’s 95th birthday. While he can get around with the aid of a walker and still reads the newspaper every day, my dad’s activities are pretty limited. For the most part, he spends his days watching television, eating and resting. So, I was not really surprised when he asked me, “What’s the point?”
As I pondered a response, I had to acknowledge that it was clearly a valid question for someone in his position. The more I thought about it, however, the more I saw his query as a universal or existential issue. Of course, when we are young adults, many of us envision great accomplishments for ourselves. For some it’s the accumulation of wealth. For others, it’s significant contributions to society. Still others focus on supporting or raising a happy family.
But as we grow older, many of us look for deeper meaning to our lives. What actually is the point of all the things we do that keep us so busy? What’s life really all about?
Unfortunately, a great number of people don’t attempt to answer this question until they are old and grey. Many others never even ask it, let alone try to come up with a reasonable hypothesis. As a result, countless millions of us stumble through life with no real purpose.
Of course, there is no single answer. Each of us must delve deep down into our souls for the true meaning of our lives. But when we do, I believe we will discover a good deal of common ground. Basically, I think we all at least want freedom, love and peace of mind. On a very fundamental level, I would argue acquiring these three elemental conditions is the point of our lives.
In 1776, when Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence at the birth of our nation, he came to a somewhat similar conclusion about the point of our life as a country. He wrote that all men (and I must add, women) have the unalienable rights of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” While Jefferson was writing a political manifesto which ignored love, I consider his “liberty and the pursuit of happiness” to be essentially the same as freedom and peace of mind, the acquisition of which I have already suggested is the purpose of life. Consequently, it would be fair to claim that the basic point of our national life and the essential purpose of our individual lives are pretty much the same.
That being said, why then is our country so divided? Why do Americans seem to be at such cross-purposes with each other? And, how have we lost sight of the fact that we are one nation and we all want the same things: freedom, happiness and peace of mind?
I’m convinced that the answers to these problems involve our fears. Too many Americans are afraid that President Obama is going take away their freedoms; for example, freedom to carry a gun or choose their own doctor. At the same time, millions of other Americans fear that the religious right is going to restrict their liberty and pursuit of happiness, such as, the right to choose an abortion or marry whom they want. Additionally, many Americans fear the power of big corporations that control government policies to the detriment of the average citizen.
We are divided by our fears. Moreover, there are those who profit from our internal conflicts, the fear-mongers who work to enhance and perpetuate those fears. They are the true enemies of our nation’s wellbeing. Our challenge, therefore, is how to deal with the fear-mongers and educate Americans to the fact that cooperation, not conflict, is the most effective means for achieving our common purpose of freedom and the pursuit of happiness.
For the first three years of his administration, President Obama attempted to utilize cooperation with his adversaries to achieve what he perceived as the common good for the nation. Unfortunately, he failed because he neither effectively dealt with the fear-mongers nor sufficiently educated the American people. If he wins re-election, Obama will have to be a much bolder and more decisive leader in order to unite the nation.
The key for Obama and our country is to rise above politics. I know that sounds impossible in these times. But, if we are to heal and prosper as a nation, we must come together. Half black and half white, from poverty to prosperity, Obama is a symbolic figure with the potential to guide the American people in achieving our fundamental purpose.
The way? The only thing that can overcome fear is love, and in some cases, tough love, that is, being very stern with fear-mongers and plutocrats. In addition, the fearful need to be well educated regarding the root of their fears and the greater likelihood of a better life in a united nation.
So, what’s the point? I tried to answer that question in my dad’s birthday card. In a word, I wrote, it’s love. What holds the most meaning in life is the love we share with each other. Whether you’re 25 or 95, Republican or Democrat, white or black, rich or poor—that’s the point.
The May Day strike, celebration and general assembly at the Railyard Park was, as advertised, a Spring Reawakening for Occupy Santa Fe and seemed to instill a resurgence of hope and determination among activists intent upon uniting against the 1 percent. Music, food, inspiring rhetoric and Occupy working group reports were well-received and brought participation from a number of newcomers as well as Occupy regulars, many of whom helped launch the local movement last fall.
On a bright, sunny spring day May 1, punctuated with some micschievous gusts of wind, somewhere between 100 and 200 people gathered behind Warehouse 21 to mark the traditional workers’ holiday and show solidarity with similar observances in New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Oakland and over 100 other American municipalities, along with marches and rallies in Sydney, London, Barcelona, etc.
It was good, it was inspiring, and yet it was hard not to notice an absence of strong union and immigrant participation in Santa Fe’s afternoon event (a separate, larger, immigration-themed observance was held in the evening, led by Somos un Pueblo Unido, to inaugurate its new workers’ center), and a demographic with a large preponderance of Anglo baby boomers. A younger group, probably high school age, arrived shortly after noon, but after a few minutes with the main group the youthful contingent quickly set up their own gathering closer to the site of last fall’s Occupy Santa Fe encampment, and they departed an hour or two later, after little interaction with the main gathering.
Occupy member and one of the event’s organizers, Sheridan Phillips, said, “Our May Day was intentionally low-key, a day for the larger group to spend time together and to re-energize our efforts. With so much time required for specific actions in planning stages and working groups focused on ongoing efforts, we really were in need of a ‘strike day’ of no work, school, shopping, or banking. That was accomplished, but equally I heard disappointment that the history and intent of May Day was missing as well as an opportunity for direct action missed.”
While attendees talked and gathered, drummer Aron Kalaií and other musicians offered a variety of music, and then speakers addressed the assembled gathering before a general assembly was held. Journalist Darryl Wellington read from The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, and Jeffrey Haas spoke on the labor movement and the history of May Day. Stanley Rosebud Rosen spoke about labor history in Chicago and the lack of any program of instruction in the Santa Fe public schools on labor history. He urged attendees to vote in the upcoming elections and said, “If you don’t vote, you’re voting.”
Damian Arndt read an original essay on labor, titled “A Brief History of Resistance,” which can be found on The Light of New Mexico website, www.thelightofnewmexico.com
Reaction to the event among attendees was generally positive.
Said writer Rebekah Levy of why she was attending: “I think Homo sapiens is trying valiantly to grow itself an adult conscience, and I’m here to witness and support it. If we don’t grow a collective adult conscience in the immediate future, we will extinct ourselves because our technology so greatly outstrips our level of ability to make good adult choices.”
Keith McHenry, co-founder of Food Not Bombs, who came to offer a delicious meal of vegetables, rice and salad to attendees, said his organization has been providing food at hundreds of actions all over the world. He added, “Our goal is to transform society so no one has to eat in a soup line. And the reason people are seeking free meals is because of the failure of capitalism.”
Gershon Siegel, a writer and member of We Are People Here!, which co-sponsored the event, said, “Democracy is only as good as the bodies who are willing to come out and stand up for it.
“They’ve got us very isolated, so now it’s a revolutionary act to gather in a park to have a picnic,” he continued, nodding in the direction of several Santa Fe Police officers. Siegel was handing out pamphlets titled “Why We Occupy, exposing and opposing the corporate state.” The 10 items cited ranged from Goldman Sachs’ financial fraud to corporate personhood granted by the Supreme Court, the U.S. health care system, military industrial complex, monetary system, the National Defense Authorization Act, to the prison industrial complex, climate change and the mortgage and securities frauds of Wells Fargo. References and more information are available at www.ocucards.com
John Monroe said, “I want to lend my support to this and anything like this, even though I’m having a hard time believing it will change because society is on a suicide course. It’s about surviving the suicide course.” He added, “Occupy is the healthiest thing since the [protests of] the ‘60s.”
At the Occupy general assembly that concluded the afternoon’s agenda, Occupy working groups gave reports on the four-day observance of the Hiroshima anniversary, the No Attack on Iran Resolution, which the city council approved last week, the Reading Seminar group and Buy Local group efforts.
Revived in the United States on a mass scale by the immigrant rights movement six years ago, the annual commemoration of International Workers’ Day is fast becoming an established tradition across the country. And if anything captured the essence of the 2012 celebrations, it was the convergence of issues popularized by Occupy Wall Street-influenced movements with demands for justice long pushed by immigrant community organizations. Held on a balmy spring day, a rally and march in Albuquerque gave a glimpse of movements that could continue to reshape U. S. and world politics in future years.
As the late afternoon sun continued to beat down on a hot New Mexican land, hundreds of people began gathering in a park near Albuquerque’s downtown. Mobilized by Enlace Comunitario, El Centro de Igualdad y Derechos, the Albuquerque Partnership, La Raza Unida Party and many other organizations, young and old alike assembled to demand respect for immigrants and fundamental changes in labor, immigration and economic policies.
Proclaimed a sampling of the signs: “No a la SB 1070,” “Todos Somos un Nuevo Mexico” and “Se quiebran corazones cuando separan familias,” or “Hearts are broken when families separate.”
“It’s important to remember New Mexico is not Alabama, is not Arizona,” New Mexico State Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino (D-Bernalillo) told an enthusiastic crowd. “Here in New Mexico we want to say to the immigrants only one word—welcome!”
Taking time to talk to FNS before the event moved into high gear, pro-immigrant activist Ramon Dorado stressed the importance of immigrants in New Mexico’s biggest city. The longtime resident pointed to a man tending a small hand-cart draped with churros for sale. The vendor, Dorado insisted, is not taking a job from anyone but in fact creating one that spreads money around. “Where does he spend it?” Dorado asked. “Here in Albuquerque, and this is good for the economy.”
His voice rising with emotion, Dorado said the last four years have been tough times for immigrants locally. “It’s very difficult for struggling immigrants to get their families ahead,” he said, adding that many people have lost jobs because of the introduction of the federal government’s E-verify system in small businesses, and families are increasingly divided with one or more members deported while others linger in the United States.
According to Dorado, his own son was deported to Mexico while just two weeks shy of completing a professional program at the local community college. After spending practically all of his life in the United States, the young man was stopped by a local cop and then turned over to “the migra,” Dorado said. Once a leader in his church’s youth group and a top-notch student, Dorado’s son is now trying to get by in a country south of the border in which he is a stranger while the rest of his family is stuck in anguish north of the border.
“Put yourself in my shoes, in the shoes of my wife,” Dorado pleaded.
Roused to marching by the sounds of a Mexican banda, Aztec dancers and matachines, the pro-immigrant crowd welcomed a contingent of several dozen people from the (Un) Occupy movement that marched from the University of New Mexico. On the park stage, an emcee welcomed “the 99 percent.” Signs carried by the reinforcements supported labor rights, single-payer health care, no war against Iran and justice for murdered Florida teen Trayvon Martin, among other demands. Read one bilingual placard: “Abuelas (Grandmothers) United: Against Corporate Greed, Against Citizens United….”
While demonstrators in Albuquerque were marching in the streets, sister activists an hour north in the state capital of Santa Fe were inaugurating a new worker center. Founded by the immigrant and labor advocacy organization Somos un Pueblo Unido, the new center is a “dream that the workers committee had,” said Somos organizer Alma Castro.
Although pricey Santa Fe has the highest minimum wage in the nation at $10.29 per hour, Castro said that worker complaints related to wage theft and other abuses that are not always thoroughly investigated helped prompt the opening of a space specifically dedicated to labor issues. According to Castro, the new center will be a place where workers can go to get advice, know-your-rights training and helpful computer resources. A part-time staff attorney will also be available, she told FNS.
Castro estimated that about 250 people showed up for the center’s May 1 inauguration, where mariachi music and food were enjoyed by the celebrants. The participation of organized labor was important in the center’s creation, she noted, and for the second year in a row unions joined together with Somos to recreate May Day as worker’s day in the United States like the rest of the world.
“We’ve always had May Day events,” Castro said. “It’s interesting to see an organization like Somos have relationships with unions.”
From Los Angeles to El Paso to New York and elsewhere, the fusion of immigrant and Occupy movement demands was evident in 2012. Although the overall number of participants in more than 125 U. S. cities chalking up May Day events, according to the website occupytogether.org, was less than the historic turnout of 2006, the breadth of issues raised was expanded, and the shift toward a multi-issue movement rooted in working-class demands was notable. With few exceptions, however, mainstream media did not explore the issues raised by May Day demonstrators and instead zeroed in clashes between police and protesters or isolated incidents of window-smashing in some places. An Associated Press story minimized the turnouts in comparison with those of 2006.
But a chant heard for blocks away in the streets of Albuquerque was impossible for any passerby to ignore: “Aquí estamos y no nos vamos,” or “We are here to stay.”
Building for the big day, Occupy El Paso’s Facebook page resembled a bilingual, encyclopedia-like repository splashed with images, slogans and historical tidbits of social movements that ranged from Black liberation to the eight-hour day. In perhaps the classic style of “El Chuco,” (El Paso), the page contained references to Cesar Chavez’s birthday, a miniaturized poster of murdered Black Panther Lil’ Bobby Hutton, remembrances of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination and the 1992 L. A. Uprising, a shot of a German building that supposedly plays music when it rains, and a warning not to “Mess with Texas Nurses.”
On the Gulf Coast, the New Orleans Workers’ Center launched Stand Up 2012, a campaign to demand that Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano “follow her agency’s own directive, and stop deporting those who stand up to defend their civil, labor, and human rights.”
In a press release, the pro-labor group charged that 32 leaders from the Congress of Day Laborers face retaliatory deportation because they stood up for worker and civil rights. The labor group called on the Immigration and Customers Enforcement agency to use “… discretion to grant dignity, stability and economic security to the Southern 32.”
Summed up the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights: “Today, immigrant workers continue fighting for living wages and know that an injury to one is an injury to all. “May Day is also the day when working class immigrant communities across the country will say a booming NO to punitive enforcement and the criminalization of immigrant workers. As the November presidential election nears, we also raise our voices for a fair and just legalization that respects labor and civil rights.”
Looking beyond May Day, the possible impact of the immigrant rights and Occupy movements on the 2012 elections is one of the year’s big questions, especially in the event of close races. While 2006’s mobilization of millions of immigrants for a path to legalization arguably strengthened the Democrats and contributed greatly to the presidential election of Barack Obama, who captured the Latino vote amid promises of an immigration reform, different dynamics are at play this year.
And while Occupy has undoubtedly shifted the parameters of political debate and popularized the notion of the 99 percent, the diverse movement is proudly non-partisan and quite often very critical of the Democrats.
Ramon Dorado said many immigrants feel betrayed by the Obama administration, which has deported record numbers of immigrants since taking office. Immigrants with voting rights, he said, are questioning why they should support people who will only end up deporting members of their community. “Romney won’t get the immigrant vote,” Dorado asserted. “But Obama has lied to us…(immigrants) don’t believe in the candidates.”
The Duke City activist criticized divisions between Democrats and Republicans that have impeded immigration reform, and blasted private prisons that profit from the incarceration of people for civil violations. And in a broad commentary, Dorado homed in on the irony of border walls and such in an economically globalized world. “How can we put barriers on the border when there is free trade?” he questioned. “This is incredible.”
Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S. -Mexico border news Center for Latin American and Border Studies New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico
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It is common knowledge that over the past three decades finance has come to dominate the U.S. economy. As late as 1975 profits from the financial sector accounted for a mere 15 percent of domestic profits; by 2005 that number had climbed to 40 percent. And manufacturing, which at one time generated half of all U.S. domestic profits, at this writing accounts for less than 14 percent. Some attribute this to the fact that financial interests have captured the American political system. But the question few are asking is: Why has this come about? What are the structural dynamics that have driven finance to the epicenter of capital accumulation in the U.S. economy?
As I’ve argued in these pages, one of the fundamental contradictions of industrial capitalism (if not the most fundamental) is the problem of insufficient aggregate demand. If a portion of the exchange value produced by labor is siphoned off as profit and returned to capital so as to expand productive capacity, the market value of the outstanding pool of wages can never absorb an ever-increasing output of consumer goods churned out by an ever-expanding industrial base. Capital thus accumulates faster than it can be profitably invested.
Capital’s response to over-accumulation takes two basic forms: extensive, in which subordinate capitalist structures are imposed upon non-capitalist regions of the world through brute imperial power; and intensive, whereby consumer demand is increased in existing capitalist countries. Advertising, by manipulating desire so as to create new needs, is one intensive mechanism. Consumer credit is another. As worker productivity in the United States doubled during the 30 years from 1975 to 2005, expanding the industrial base and increasing gross output, real wages flat-lined over the same period of time. Consumer credit (the other side of which is consumer debt) thus became essential for maintaining the capitalist economy. Without credit goods would go unsold, services unrendered, and the economy would slip into depression. And so was born the credit card “industry.”
With the globalization of markets in the 1980s and ‘90s capital looked to the Third World for sources of cheap labor. As a consequence of the migration of productive capital to the periphery of the world system, high-paying manufacturing jobs in the center declined dramatically. And with the decline of manufacturing jobs total aggregate demand fell. Exacerbating this diminution in demand, outsized profits from cheap labor in Asia and Latin America were creating enormous quantities of surplus capital looking for profitable outlets. Although Silicon Valley and the new information technologies were able to soak up some of this capital, it was nowhere near the levels once provided by the industrial sectors of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Enter the banks.
The deregulation of the banking system beginning in the early 1980s was the legal backdrop to what in reality was a radical change in the business model of banking. To take up the slack in profitable outlets for accumulated capital, banks relegated to secondary status their core business of bringing together those with capital to invest and businesses needing investment. In its place it installed two new business: (1) speculation (“proprietary trading”) on the asset values of everything from agricultural commodities to foreign currencies, and (2) the creation and sale of new “financial products.” These products came to be known as derivatives, for their market prices were derived from that of some underlying asset. In a stroke of irony bordering on dark genius the financial product of choice was the repackaged debt brought about by the explosion of consumer credit.
Residential mortgages, along with credit card debt, auto loans and student loans, were packaged into large pools (called Collateralized Debt Obligations, or CDOs), then sliced and diced into “tranches” of varying degrees of risk (the riskiest tranches carrying the highest yields), and sold as securities to investors around the world.
While any IOU can be securitized, the 800-lb. gorilla on the trading floor was the home mortgage. It wasn’t long before the securitization mill was running out of high-grade mortgages to package, so the investment banks leaned on mortgage originators and their army of brokers to generate more grist for their mills. The result was a motley assortment of “sub-prime mortgages” foisted on lower-income and financially unsophisticated working people who were unaware of the draconian terms hidden in the fine print of the contract. When the low-interest teaser rate expired after a year (or a few months), a family that had been persuaded by an unscrupulous mortgage broker to buy into the American Dream of home ownership found its monthly payments increased five-fold or more. Not able to meet the new payment, the family found its dream home foreclosed on and itself out on the street.
To the originator of the mortgage the plight of the dispossessed family mattered not a wit; it had long since sold the mortgage to an investment bank. And the investment bank had in turn securitized the mortgage and had sold it to an investor such as a hedge fund or a teachers pension fund. But when, by 2007, a critical mass of mortgages had defaulted, home prices nationwide began spiraling downward. And since home values were the collateral behind the trillions of dollars of outstanding CDOs, these assets plummeted in price. Investment banks that had purchased mortgages with borrowed money could not find buyers for their securitized products and soon found themselves insolvent. Hedge funds and other speculative entities that had purchased CDOs on insane leverage were getting margin calls from their lenders, calls they could not meet. And pension funds that had invested in these instruments found themselves with future liabilities that were now hopelessly under-funded.
Our financial system is built on a single sentiment: confidence, or a lender’s belief that its loan will be repaid. In fact the word ‘credit’ comes from the Latin ‘credere,’ meaning ‘to believe,’ from which we get the words ‘credulous’ and ‘credible.’ Overnight credibility collapsed. Banks were afraid to make overnight loans to each other. Suddenly the entire credit system froze up. And not just in the United States, but all over the world, for every bank in every country had been drinking from the same bowl of Kool-Aid. The global financial system was in meltdown.
What ensued was what we’ve come to know as the bank bailouts. Trillions of taxpayer dollars would eventually be poured into the financial system to shore up the large commercial and investment banks. And not only the banks. The government would be forced to take an ownership stake in Chrysler and General Motors, injecting huge amounts of capital into these companies to keep them from going under. And there were others. Before it was over the government had made loans, capital injections and loan guarantees that amounted (by some estimates) to well over $15 trillion. (By other estimates the number is closer to $20 trillion.)
Nobody will ever know the exact amount. What we do know is that the losses engendered by an out-of-control banking system was transferred from the books of the banks that had caused the crisis to the books of the federal government. Put another way, the current liabilities of the banks and other affected corporations became the future liabilities of the American people. It is a paradigm case of the way our economic system really works: It protects the privatization of profits while providing for the socialization of risk—socialism for the corporations, private enterprise for the rest of us.
But let us not forget the structural cause of the crisis. Although greedy bankers were its agents, the hidden culprit in the whole affair is the system’s insatiable need for outlets to absorb accumulated capital. The logic of the system implies that there will never be sufficient aggregate demand from workers’ wages to accommodate the requirement of endless accumulation. Capital must ever be on the hunt for fresh meat. Whether it’s the rapacious plunder of resources from defenseless peoples across the globe; or the driving of billions of people in the Third World from local self-sustaining economies into such dire poverty that they are forced to sell their labor to transnational capital for a few dollars a day; or the indenturing of the American public and the subsequent looting of the U.S. Treasury in the name of crisis containment—the regime of endless accumulation will forever be endless, unless and until we end it.
Fred Goldberg has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Brandeis University and has taught philosophy at M.I.T., San Jose State University, Montana State University and the University of California at Santa Cruz. Over the past several years he has taught philosophy courses at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque.
Relevant and resonant
A stage production about anarchist Emma Goldman, called the most dangerous woman in America and deported for her radical politics? Not too many communities between New York and San Francisco would welcome such an undertaking. But, hey, this Santa Fe, so get ready for Love & Emma Goldman: A Rock Opera.
Wise Fool New Mexico and Santa Fe Performing Arts invite the community to join in on a fantastical journey that follows famous anarchist and labor organizer from the turn of the 20th century, Emma Goldman, as she challenges the status quo with an upbeat rock n’ roll score, style and sensibility. This uplifting and high-energy musical extravaganza promises to deliver Emma Goldman in her owns words, as you’ve never heard her before, says librettist and director Sarah-Jane Moody. She describes the production as a timeless twist on a historic woman and movement whose ideals many would have liked to erase from history all together. Singing, dancing, and a live band, in Love & Emma Goldman: A Rock Opera bring it full force to the Armory for the Arts, May 17 – 20.
Emma Goldman (1869-1940) immigrated from Russia at age 16, and primarily called New York City her home until her deportation in 1919 for speaking out against WW1 and the draft. Upon arrival to the States, she immediately got involved in the radical anarchist uprisings that were sweeping the country, and she quickly became the outspoken, contagiously charismatic and wildly passionate darling of the movement. She would travel the country speaking on issues such as free love, capitalism and workers rights, filling halls or town squares with crowds of people coming to hear her speak.
Many would come to see for themselves the famous “Red Emma.” Others would come to see if a riot would break out or she might be arrested that night. She created a spectacle wherever she went, due to her passionate tongue and radical political ideals. Meagan Chandler, who is portraying Goldman says, “As I explore the role of Emma, I am amazed over and over at how utterly relevant her words are in this day and age, and how her ideals carry across time.”
Librettist Sarah-Jane Moody and composer Jeremy Bleich have turned Emma Goldman’s original speeches, essays, books and letters into a full-length rock opera about the infamous and accomplished agitator, who J. Edgar Hoover once coined the “most dangerous woman in America.”
“Every word sung on stage is something Emma once spoke or wrote herself, ” explains Moody. “Emma Goldman has been a huge inspiration to me since I was a teenager, so to be able to pour myself into her words like this has been a phenomenal experience.”
There are numerous musical influences in the score, including Eastern European, industrial and electronic elements, arias, ballads, 5-part choral arrangements, and of course, rock n’ roll.
“Emma’s words carry so much passion and honesty, they demand the same from the composer”, says Bleich. “Her writings convey a dynamic which I have tried to reflect in the music; a dynamic that justifies the heroism and bravery she expressed in her life.” The musicians and cast are also recording a CD of the original score to be released with opening of the show.
This isn’t the first time Moody and Bleich have collaborated. The two consist of the pop duo GoGoSnapRadio, and have also worked on numerous Wise Fool productions together, including the annual Circus Luminous at the Lensic. Bleich has composed and directed music for the circus since 2006, and Moody, who wrote and directed last season’s Circus Luminous, has worked with Wise Fool for 16 years.
True to Emma Goldman’s own spirit of a celebrated life filled with beauty and love, she once said, “If I can’t dance then I don’t want to be part of your revolution.”
Event Detail:Wise Fool New Mexico and Santa Fe Performing Arts present
Love & Emma Goldman: A Rock Opera
May 17- 20 at the Armory for the Arts
1050 Old Santa Fe Trail.
Show Times: Thursday- May 17, 7 pm
Friday- May 18, 7 pm
Saturday- May 19, 2 pm & 7pm
Sunday- May 20, 4 pm
Tickets: $15- 30 sliding scale. To make reservations- [email protected]
Suitable for ages 12 and up
Cast: Meagan Chandler (Worldwide vocal superstar…literally)- Emma Goldman
Aleph Ayin (Chicago) – Alexander Berkman
Kathryn Zdan (San Fran) – Helen
Giacomo Zafarano (Moving People Dance) – Fedya
Sarah Weiler (SF Desert Chorale)- Millie
Musicians: Jeremy Bleich (Composer/ musical director) - piano, keyboard, guitar
Mike Gamble (NYC )- lead guitar
Paul “Feathericci” Groetzinger (D Numbers )- drums, electronics
Brian Mayhall (D Numbers) – keyboard, bass
Carla Kountoupes (SF Symphony Orchestra) - violin
Guy Le Sage
While the audience for Socially Responsible Investing ( SRI ) is growing, few people I have spoken to have a clear, comprehensive view of exactly what it is. Some call it ESG investing (environmental, and social governance issues); others call it green or sustainable. These are all synonymous terms for the same financial movement that exists within the greater global financial system. It allows investors the opportunity to invest with their values while providing them with competitive returns in relation to traditional Wall Street-type investments. How this is accomplished takes a brief trip back in time to the 1970s and ‘80s.
Back then we saw the creation of several financial institutions that were completely devoted to the concept of Socially Responsible Investing. Today, these same firms have grown, evolved and are thriving to the extent that they exert substantial influence on the greater financial world at large. The most substantial of these are Calvert, Pax World, Domini, and Parnassus mutual fund companies as well as First Affirmative Financial Network, which is an SRI investment advisory firm. These companies distinguish themselves from traditional Wall Street investment firms by applying four criteria to the selection of the companies they will invest in. These are:
- Shareholder activism. Do the companies respect and respond to the concerns of their shareholders?
- Community involvement. Do the companies have a positive influence on their communities?
- Affirmative screening: the inclusion of companies that have a positive influence on the world and society at large, i.e., environmental, sustainable, etc.
- Negative screening: the exclusion of companies that have a detrimental impact on the world and society at large, i.e., polluters, substandard employee treatment, human rights violators, etc.
It is important to note that SRI is not something separate from the greater financial world, but it does apply a much more rigorous selective process of picking companies to invest in, using the above mentioned criteria. For example, approximately half of the companies that are found in the Domini 400 social index, which has become the benchmark for SRI, are also found in the S&P 500.
As the green and sustainable, SRI movement continues to evolve the hope is that it will continue to exert increasing pressure on global corporate structures so that they will consider more deeply the influence and responsibility they have on the society and world at large. Although there have been great strides taken in this direction, it is still a David-and-Goliath situation. Consider that by the most liberal estimates the SRI industry in the USA is at about $3 trillion, which is about the same size as the combined assets of Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan Chase alone. Needless to say, there is still great work to be accomplished here. In subsequent articles we will continue to expand and elaborate on these themes. Hope you enjoyed reading and until next time, invest wisely.
Guy Le Sage is one of a few financial advisors in NM that specialize in Socially Responsible Investing. He works with Progressive Asset Management Group, www.progressive-asset.com, and First Affirmative Financial Network www.firstaffirmative.com, both founded in 1987, and has been instrumental in the development of the SRI industry. He can be reached at [email protected] or 505-795-7675.
The importance of public campaign financing in the NM Court of Appeals race
As voters begin to think about who they will select when they cast their ballots, often the races towards the ‘bottom’ of the ballot do not get the attention they should. Of particular importance this election is the race for New Mexico Court of Appeals.
In 2007, the New Mexico Legislature amended the Voter Action Act to allow candidates in judicial races to opt for public campaign financing. Candidates can decide to take Public Campaign Financing or they can select the usual route of soliciting campaign donations from donors. Past history has plenty of examples of the corrupting influence of large-money contributions in elections.
Public campaign financing in judicial races serves to get judges out of the business of soliciting money from attorneys. The public campaign financing option helps to address the perceived problem of special interest influence in judicial elections.
Victor S. Lopez, one of two Democrat candidates running for New Mexico Court of Appeals has opted to receive public financing. His opponent is funding her race through contributions by donors.
We need to restore public confidence in the New Mexico Court of Appeals, and Judge Victor S. Lopez, by being the only publically financed candidate in this race, has taken a critical step towards being accountable to the people and restoring public confidence in our courts.
Vote for the publicly financed candidate. Vote for Judge Victor S. Lopez for New Mexico Court of Appeals.
Miquela M. Anaya
ALEC inspires vivid imagery
ALEC, The American Legislative Exchange Council, is reported by William Finnegan ( in The New Yorker, 3/5/12, p 30 ) as “a pro-corporate pressure group” co-founded in 1973 by the late right-wing visionary (Finnegan’s honorific, not mine ) Paul Weyrich. (Weyrich, a Wisconsin native, who went to college in Madison, also co-founded the Heritage Foundation, the Moral Majority, and Free Congress Foundation.) ALEC is funded by some of the world’s largest “cop orations” (strange unintended pun intended by me). Representatives from EXXON, Mobil, Pfizer, and Coca-Cola sit on its private enterprise board. Alec churns out ‘model legislation’ to reduce regulations, lower taxes, limit union power, and privatize everything from prisons to schools. Republican state lawmakers take these model bills home from ALEC conferences and work to pass them… For the ALEC faithful, it is a long march—patient, effective, nuts-and-bolts, pro-business anti-statism carried out at the state level.”
In response to Mr. Corso’s “Occupying the narrative” The Light of New Mexico Mar 15- April 14, 2012, I have an image to which I can compare ALEC. I found the image in the dvd of the Hellstrom Chronicle. The Hellstrom’s team filmed the chamber of the Queen Ant, and she looks like a kind of disgusting, huge (compared to her slaves) squirming, gelatinous, mucilaginous, mass being ministered unto by the inner circle of worker ants.
Well, ALEC is the bloated, moist mother-queen-ant spewing the eggs of the 1% —oh yes guys, don’t worry, the 99ers are still out here.
And look at this guys/gals, from the same New Yorker issue (p. 23) by Hendrik Hertzberg. In reporting of the Republican race in early March, Hertzberg seems to be characterizing ALEC and its constituency: quote . . . “After ten months of ruthless culling, has the Republican ‘base’—an excitable, overlapping assortment of Fox News friends, Limbaugh dittoheads, Tea Party animals, war whoopers, nativists, Christianist fundamentalists, a la carte Catholics (anti-abortion, yes; anti-torture, no), anti-Rooseveltians (Franklin and Theodore), global-warming denialists, post-Confederate white Southrons [sic], creationists, birthers, market idolaters, Europe demonizers, and gun fetishists—finally found its [The Terminator] John Connor [now played by Santorum], a lone hero equipped to terminate the Party establishment’s officially designated cyborg [now played by Romney]?” Since writing this, we now know the cyborg has survived in the race, and so have his electors.
Spring runoff forecast bleak
Dependent on melting snowpack in southern Colorado and northern New Mexico for much of their water, Rio Grande irrigators in the Paso del Norte borderland are in for more bad news. In their just-released water supply forecast for New Mexico, the National Weather Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service noted that spring runoff forecasts for the Rio Grande into New Mexico’s Elephant Butte Reservoir are only 21 percent of normal flows. The large man-made lake supplies water to farmers in southern New Mexico, west Texas and the Juarez Valley in Mexico.
The latest news followed April’s water supply outlook that gauged Elephant Butte storage at 385,800 acre-feet of water in comparison with 466,400 acre-feet at the same time in 2011.
For the second year in a row, irrigators below the gates of Elephant Butte are up against the reality of very limited water from the Rio Grande, forcing them to rely on expensive groundwater pumping. The word has gone out to expect only one Rio Grande water delivery this year, just as in 2011.
Last month, the Juarez Valley and Lower El Paso Valley received their water while the Hatch Valley, the farming belt closet to Elephant Butte, was delivered its supply in recent days. According to the Elephant Butte Irrigation District website, irrigators in New Mexico’s Mesilla Valley near Las Cruces south to the Texas border were told expect their water on May 15.
The May 2012 Water Supply Forecast for New Mexico cited unseasonal temperatures for the early loss of a snowpack that could have benefited farmers later in the growing season.
“Warmer than normal temperatures combined with a generally dry airmass and our desiccating spring winds to sublimate and prematurely melt much of the remaining high mountain snowpack during April,” the National Weather Service and Natural Resources Conservation Service said in a news release. “The Rio Grande Basin snowpack water content average was 84 percent of normal as of the first of March 2012, but several warm dry periods in March and April overwhelmed the few winter-like storms, resulting in the early demise of the high mountain snowpack,” the two agencies stated.
Under the terms of a 1906 agreement between Mexico and the United States. irrigators in the Juarez Valley are annually entitled to 60,000 acre-feet of water, or about 11 percent of the Rio Grande water that is usually stored in Elephant Butte and the smaller Caballo Reservoir immediately below it, but will likely get far less this year because of climatic conditions.
Edward Drusina, U.S. commissioner for the International Boundary and Water Commission, the federal agency that oversees Mexico water deliveries, told Frontera NorteSur that the April water delivery to the Juarez Valley was proportionally reduced in accordance with the terms of the 1906 Convention, which includes a stipulation for drought times.
Now with a dismal spring runoff forecast , irrigators potentially have one last hope-a good monsoon season later in the summer. “If the July and August rainy season provides a seasonal amount of rainfall, which we all want, the Bureau would do a water calculation of what is available,” Drusina said.
Frontera NorteSur: on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news
Editor’s Note: Frontera NorteSur’s special coverage of the southern New Mexico borderland is made possible in part by a grant from the McCune Charitable Foundation
Truthdig offers local tickets to SF retreat—at ‘special pricing’
An e-mail from Maran Smith at Truthdig to Denny Cormier at Occupy Santa Fe finally responds to requests that the organization accommodate local residents not interested in the $2200-plus 5-day retreat packet, which includes hotel accommodations. In the message, Smith announces special ticketing options whereby only locals may attend the retreat at a discounted price and purchase stand-alone tickets to the dinners, which will feature discussions and speeches by Truthdig co-founder Robert Scheer, Pulitzer Prize winner Chris Hedges, Col. Ann Wright, Rep. Dennis Kucinich, bestselling author Deanne Stillman and and actor Shirley MacLaine.
Smith writes, “Each dinner will be followed by a Q&A, as well as ample opportunity to mingle with speakers. The Truthdig Santa Fe Retreat is a fundraising event; this means that your ticket purchase will help us continue to dig deeply into critical issues that might not otherwise receive coverage.”
Sunday, May 20, 6:00-10:00 pm
Introductory remarks by Truthdig’s Zuade Kaufman and Robert Scheer
Historian Alan Osborne on the region
Author Deanne Stillman shares stories from the American west
Monday, May 21, 6:00-10:00 pm
Shirley MacLaine on the mystical wonders of the area
Dennis Kucinich on struggles in the democratic party and possibilities for change
Tuesday, May 22, 6:00-10:00 pm
Col. Ann Wright on the treatment of women in the new military
Wednesday, May 23, 7:00-10:00 pm
Chris Hedges on war and peace
Thursday, May 24, 5:00-10:00 pm
Chris Hedges, Robert Scheer and Col. Ann Wright on how America got here, and where we go from here
Truthdig Santa Fe Retreat <http://www.truthdig.com/event/santafe> (excluding hotel accommodations)–$1400
This unique offer includes excursions, hikes, day lectures, discussions and more with our speakers.
Three Dinner Package–$500
Four Dinner Package–$650
Five Dinner Package–$750
Those choosing to buy a three or four dinner package should email [email protected] to indicate which nights they’d like to attend.
Single tickets priced at $200 will be offered based upon availability. Those interested in purchasing single tickets should email [email protected] and indicate which nights they’d like to attend.
by Charles Shaw
Review by Claire Ayraud
Amazon.com describes Charles Shaw’s Exile Nation as follows: “Originally published as a series on Reality Sandwich and The Huffington Post, Exile Nation is a work of ‘spiritual journalism’ that grapples with the themes of drugs, prisons, politics, and spirituality through Shaw’s personal story. In 2005, Shaw was arrested in Chicago for possession of MDMA and was sent to prison for one year. Shaw not only looks at the current prison system and its many destructive flaws, but also at how American culture regards criminals and those who live outside of society. He begins his story at Chicago’s Cook County Jail, and uses its sprawling, highly corrupt infrastructure to build upon his overarching argument.”
Prisons, Politics, Drugs and Spirituality are the words under the title used to describe Exile Nation, and at first glance, this appears to be the last book in the world that many would actually want to read. However before the first chapter is over, you will be amazed at how sucked in to this man’s story you become and how wonderfully he brings in the people he has met in prison as a part of his life.
Shaw believes that the overcrowding of the prison system is brought on by the War on Drugs and that many inmates should not even be there. Arrested for possession, they are not a threat to society until they are thrown into the prison system and have to survive in a closed environment with violent criminals. Shaw espouses legalization of all drugs. As when Prohibition was repealed, it would take the problem out of the hands of criminals and into a controlled environment, where drugs would be taxed, there would a prohibition for minors, and prescriptions would be used to limit quantities.
He takes you on a trip with this book into the prison dehumamization process that you don’t really want to go on, but he does it in such a way that you have to keep reading because you want to know what happens. There is a spiritual aspect of his trip where self-examination comes into play because of all the time he has with nothing to do but reflect. So he accepts the fact that he is there because he broke the law and messed up his life with drugs, but at the same time makes the assertion that we should all have the freedom to choose our drugs. The government should have no say in this personal decision. Dealing drugs is another matter altogether, leading to other criminal activities and gangs, which he does not condone, but argues that there would be no dealing after legalization.
Shaw is a writer, and the other inmates are suspicious of this activity. They think he is spying on them, planted there to rat them out, and so he has to hide his papers, but he writes prolific paragraphs on the inmates and their interactions with each other and the guards and the politics of why they are there. The personal stories are what engage the reader and connect the author’s stance on the drug problem to real people. One man’s story brought tears to my eyes, and I realized that this is one of the best books ever written on the subject of prisons. Surprise was another factor in my enjoyment. Since I thought it would be terrible, imagine my delight to find this gem of a story rolled into a political debate.
Claire Ayraud worked for the Crested Butte News for five years in the ‘90s writing columns on the history of that old Colorado mining town and the people who live there now. Finishing her degree in English at the SF Community college, she became a Santa Fe resident in 2001 and lives in Nambé.
LOCAL AND AREA BOOKS/TALKS/LECTURES/THEATER/CULTURE
To be included in the monthly calendar, please send suitable items of interest to [email protected] by the first of the month of publication.
Wednesday, May 16
211 West San Francisco Street
Lannan Readings and Conversations: Lydia Davis with Ben Marcus
Lydia Davis has been called “An American virtuoso of the short story form” (Salon.com) and “one of the quiet giants of American fiction” (Los Angeles Times Book Review).
Buy Online at TicketsSantaFe.org. Call (505) 988-1234. $3 – $6
Friday, May 18
Bishop’s Lodge Ranch Resort
1297 Bishop’s Lodge Road
Elegant Dinner Evening with speaker Richard Bulliet
Dr. Richard Bulliet, well-known commentator on Arab issues and author of several books, will speak on Political Islam, Iran and the Arab Spring during an elegant dinner evening event. The event is sponsored by Santa Fe Council on International Relations and the World Affairs Councils of America, with support from a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Cost: $85 Non-members (Non-member price includes a complimentary one year membership to CIR); $60 CIR members.
Saturday, May 19
7 am-1 pm
Farmer’s Market Pavilion
1607 Paseo de Peralta (& Guadalupe)
Spring Farmers’ Market
Dynamic Northern New Mexico farmers and ranchers bring you fresh
greenhouse tomatoes, greens, root veggies, cheese, grass-fed meats,
teas, herbs, spices, honey, baked goods, Southwestern body care and
so much more. Come check us out every Saturday.
Saturday, May 19
211 West San Francisco Street
3 Minute Film Festival
Presented by Santa Fe Reporter & Mission Control.
The 3-Minute Film Fest brings films from around the world and from down the block together for one night only, mingling professional with amateur and youth with experience. Everything from comedy to documentary to animation will part of the extravaganza, with prizes awarded immediately following the screening. Ticket Prices: $12, $8 Kids under 12.
Saturday, May 19
839 Paseo de Peralta
Slide show: Rome with Victor Atyas
Victor spent his adolescent years in Rome. As his family lives there, he revisits the city every summer and while there, meanders for days, through Rome’s picturesque streets, plazas and parks. In the summer of 2011, he made it a point to make the rounds of all the architectural, artistic and cultural sights that had won his heart in the past. In this presentation, in addition to showing Rome’s top attractions, he will display Nettuno, his family’s home by the sea, Giglio the island near Rome where the Costa Concordia cruise ship capsized, Anzio, a nearby resort where Nero had his summer residence, and Villa Adriana, perhaps the most romantic and spectacular archeological site in Europe.
Saturday, May 19 & Sunday, May 20
10 am- 4 pm
3749-A Highway 14, 20 miles south of Santa Fe
Kindred Spirits Spring Open House
Annual Spring Open House and Collective Birthday Party for our many senior dogs, horses and poultry. Come visit our sanctuary, and meet the animals and learn what keeps them happy and healthy. This is a great opportunity for the whole family to enjoy spring in our serene and peaceful country setting. There will be Educational Talks and Demonstrations by our wellness caregivers each day. This event is free. For information and directions please visit our website, www.kindredspiritsnm.org; or call 505-471-5366.
Sunday, May 20
10 am-4 pm
Farmer’s Market Pavilion
1607 Paseo de Peralta (& Guadalupe)
Railyard Artisan Market
Sunday May 20
Travel Bug Books
839 Paseo de Peralta
Overview of 350.org
Field Organizer Deirdre Smith from the 350.org International Environmental Organization,
Headed by Author Bill McKibben, presents an Overview of 350.org today.
350.org is an international environmental organization with the goal of building a global grassroots movement to raise awareness of anthropogenic climate change, to confront climate change denial, and to cut emissions of one of the greenhouse gases, carbon dioxide, in order to slow the rate of global warming. 350.org takes its name from the research of NASA scientist James E. Hansen, who posited in a 2007 paper that 350 parts-per-million (ppm) of CO2 in the atmosphere is a safe upper limit to avoid a climate tipping point. Sunday Mornings at The Travel Bug are sponsored by www.journeysantafe.org
Sunday, May 20
Op Cit Books
930-C Baca Street
Author Alvin Orloff
Welcome San Francisco-based author and friend Alvin Orloff as he reads from his third novel,
Why Aren’t You Smiling?
Opcit.com Op.cit., abbr. Latin: opera Citato (in the work cited); n: a bookstore based in San Francisco and Santa Fe, specializing in new and used books, first editions, selected remainder and related ephemera.
Tuesday, May 22, 29
7 am – Noon
1607 Paseo de Peralta
Santa Fe Farmers’ Market
All events take place inside the Santa Fe Farmers’ Market Pavilion in
the Railyard. All ages/Free admission for all events.
Food Stamps/SNAP EBT and WIC accepted at Santa Fe Farmers’ Markets.
Wednesday, May 23
Collected Works Bookstore
At the corner of Galisteo and Water Streets
Reading, Jeff Clements
Jeff Clements, the co-founder of Free Speech for People, gives a reading from his book, Corporations Are Not People: Why They Have More Rights Than You Do and What You Can Do About It. Corporations Are Not People is a definitive guide to overturning the 2010 Supreme Court decision Citizens United v. FEC. It tells the true story of how some of the largest corporations in the world organized to take over the American government and Constitution, how devastating this corporate campaign has been to America and Americans, and how the American people can reclaim freedom and democracy.
Friday, May 25
Collected Works Bookstore
At the corner of Galisteo and Water Streets
Anne Hillerman and Don Strel
Anne Hillerman and Don Strel give a slide show and presentation on the re-release of Tony Hillerman’s collection, The Great Taos Bank Robbery and Other True Stories. This edition of the book features a forward by Anne Hillerman and a selection of photographs by Don Strel. A classic collection of nonfiction essays about life in New Mexico, The Great Taos Bank Robbery is a must-read for anyone looking to understand the state’s unique charm. Of the book, New Mexico Magazine says, “From the opening relation about law enforcement in Taos, through succeeding commentaries on Indian encounters with Paleface, a Nigerian guest’s assessment of Santa Fe, and a search for Folsom Man… It furnishes myriad moments of pleasurable insight.”
Saturday, May 26
839 Paseo de Peralta
Two Santa Fe Photographers “Views of Cuba”
Santa Fe photographers, Shirley Fiske and Jean Lawton, joined the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops in Feb. 2012 for an eight day trip to Cuba to meet and photograph the wonderful people and places of this country. For 53 years, starting with Fidel Castro’s Revolution, this small country 90 miles from Florida has been mostly closed to Americans. The two will reveal what they experienced and photographed during their glimpse into Cuba and its welcoming people.
Sunday May 27
Travel Bug Books
839 Paseo de Peralta
Quivira’s New Mexico Ecological and Restoration Projects
Mollie Walton, Ph.D, the Land and Water Program Director for The Quivira Coalition, talks about Quivira’s New Mexico ecological and restoration projects.
The mission of The Quivira Coalition is to build resilience by fostering ecological, economic and social health on western landscapes through education, collaboration, and progressive public and private land stewardship. Sunday Mornings at The Travel Bug are sponsored by journeysantafe.org
Sunday, May 27
Collected Works Bookstore
At the corner of Galisteo and Water Streets
2 blocks southwest of the Plaza
Collected Words and Music
with Laurianne Fiorentino, A. Kyce Bello, and Martha Reich
On Sundays in May and June, Santa Fe-based singer-songwriter Laurianne Fiorentino hosts a series of local musicians and writers at Collected Works Bookstore. She’ll begin and end the two-hour event with sets of her own indie originals and present a local writer and musician during each session. On May 27, she will feature poet A. Kyce Bello and musician Martha Reich.
Wednesday, May 30
Collected Works Bookstore
At the corner of Galisteo and Water Streets
Archaeologist and anthropologist Scott G. Ortman
Collected Works Bookstore presents archaeologist and anthropologist Scott G. Ortman for a reading from his latest book, Winds from the North: Tewa Origins and Historical Anthropology.
In Winds from the North, a landmark study linking the abandonment of Mesa Verde with the formation of the Rio Grande Pueblos, Scott G. Ortman investigates the genetic, linguistic, and cultural heritage of the Tewa Pueblo people of New Mexico. Integrating data and methods from human biology, linguistics, and cultural anthropology, Ortman shows that a striking cultural transformation took place in prehistoric New Mexico, as Mesa Verde people moved to the Rio Grande. In doing so, Ortman establishes that the ancestral Tewa culture was a unique hybrid of ideas and practices from various sources.
Sunday June 3
Travel Bug Books
839 Paseo de Peralta
Sunday Mornings at The Travel Bug are sponsored by journeysantafe.org
Sunday June 10
Travel Bug Books
839 Paseo de Peralta
And what about those chickens anyway? The debate continues
Ed Moreno, the President of the Eldorado Community Improvement Association Board of
Directors, will present the pros and cons of the ongoing chicken debate in Eldorado.
Moreno will be joined with representaives from both sides of the conversation on whether or
not chickens should or should not be allowed in residential neighborhoods like
Eldorado and elsewhere…. pros and cons. Sunday Mornings at The Travel Bug are sponsored by journeysantafe.org
Wednesday, May 16 – May 19
8 am – 9 pm
National Hispanic Cultural Center
1701 4th Street SW
10th Annual National Latino Writers Conference
Nationally prominent authors, agents, and editors present workshops and panel discussions. Genres include novel, poetry, anthology, playwriting, memoir/biography and popular culture. Attendees have the opportunity to have three one-on-one appointments with an agent, author, and editor. Registration fee covers all workshops, interviews, conference activities, refreshments and evening banquet. Now accepting fiction and nonfiction writers. For more information call 505 724-4747.
Friday – Sunday, May 18, 19, 20 & 26, 27, 28
NMSEA—New Mexico Solar Energy Association
1009 Bradbury SE #35
“EV” Conversion Class (for Small Trucks & Cars)
Fri, Sat, Sun. 9am – Noon $300. NMSEA member price, non-member price $325.
Learn how through classroom and lab hands-on.
Students will be divided into small teams that will rotate through workstations where they will have hands-on experience on wiring techniques and the application to motors, controllers etc. (No students will do hands-on work in contact with electricity) At the field/shop presentations the students will observe the actual installation of the motor, controller, charger and batteries. The final day will include a preliminary test drive and evaluation of the vehicle.
For class sign up and payment email [email protected] or call 505 246-0400 or 888 886-6765.
Saturday, June 2
6029 Isleta SW
Land Water People Time – Next Free Community Screening
Cynthia Jeannette Gomez invites you to “Land Water People Time – Next Free Community Screening.” Amigos y Amigas: this is your personal invitation to a free community screening outdoors on a blow-up screen at the historic Gutierrez-Hubbell House located in Albuquerque’s South Valley. We had a wonderful premiere screening in Española on March 23 with a spectacular audience and great reviews. We are thrilled to share this free community screening with you. Bring friends and family. Our gift to you from the creative team.
ELSEWHERE IN NM
Wednesday, June 6, thru Friday, June 8
10 am – 4 pm
Three all-day Junior Ranger Camps
Fort Union will host three all-day Junior Ranger Camps. Geared for children ages 7-12, the camps will introduce youngsters to the diverse natural and cultural resources of Fort Union with hands-on games, activities, and ranger-led programs. The June 6th Junior Ranger Camp is geared for children ages 7-8, the June 7th camp for children ages 9-10, and the June 9th camp is geared for children ages 11-12. ALL CAMPS ARE FREE! Enrollment began May 1. There is a maximum of 30 children per camp, so please hurry to register your child. Please call the registration phone number at 505 425-8025 between the hours of 8 am to 4 pm daily.
by Chuck Shepherd
LEAD STORY — The Ultimate Gated Community
Condo developer Larry Hall is already one-quarter sold out of the upscale doomsday units he is building in an abandoned underground Cold War-era Atlas-F missile silo near Salina, Kan. He told an Agence France-Presse reporter in April that his 14-story structure would house seven floors of apartments ($1 million to $2 million each, cash up front), with the rest devoted to dry food storage, filtered-water tanks and an indoor farm, which would raise fish and vegetables to sustain residents for five years. The 9-foot-thick concrete walls (built to protect rockets from a Soviet nuclear attack) would be buttressed by entrance security to ward off the savages who were not wise enough to prepare against famine, meteors, nuclear war and the like. Hall said he expects to be sold out this year and begin work on another of the three silos he has options to buy.
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Can’t Possibly Be True
– Dan O’Leary, the city manager of Keller, Tex. (pop. 27,000), faced with severe budget problems, was unable to avoid the sad job of handing out pink slips. For instance, he determined that one of Keller’s three city managers had to go, and in April, he laid himself off. According to a March Fort Worth Star-Telegram report, O’Leary neither intended to retire nor had other offers pending, and he had aroused no negative suspicions as to motive. He simply realized the city could be managed more cost-effectively by the two lower-paid officials.
– Herman Wallace, 70, and Albert Woodfox, 65, have been held in solitary confinement (only one hour a day outside) since 1972 in the Louisiana State Prison at Angola, after being convicted (via flimsy evidence and a convenient prison snitch) of killing a guard. A third convict for the murder, Robert King, who was in solitary for 29 years but then released, explained to BBC News in an April dispatch what it’s like to live inside 54 square feet for 23 hours a day, for over 14,000 straight days. The lawyer working to free Wallace and Woodfox said the soul-deadened men were “potted plants.”
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That Sacred Institution
(1) A federal court magistrate in Melbourne, Australia, decided to split a divorcing couple’s assets in half in February after listening to tedious details of their 20-year marriage. The “couple” lived apart except for vacations and kept their finances separate, constantly “invoic[ing] each other,” according to the Daily Telegraph, for amounts as trifling as a $1.60 lightbulb. (2) Though many Americans act as though they are in love with themselves, only Nadine Schweigert became an honest woman. She married herself in March in front of 45 family members and friends in Fargo, N.D., vowing “to enjoy inhabiting my own life and to relish a lifelong love affair with my beautiful self.” And then she was off on a solo honeymoon. [Herald Sun (Melbourne), 2-27-2012] [Fargo Forum, 3-15-2012]
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On Feb. 1st, the New Jersey Honor Legion — a civic association with more than 6,000 members in law enforcement — nominated Frank DiMattina as “Citizen of the Month” for offering his catering hall in Woodbridge, N.J., numerous times for gatherings of police and firefighters. The nomination came three weeks after DiMattina (also known as “Frankie D”) was convicted of shaking down a rival bidder for a school-lunch contract in New York City. Federal prosecutors told the New York Daily News that DiMattina is mobbed up — an associate of the Genovese family’s John “Johnny Sausage” Barbato.
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Unclear on the Concept
– In January, Ms. Navey Skinner, 34, was charged with robbing the Chase Bank in Arlington, Wash., after passing a teller a note that read, “Put the money in the bag now or (d)ie.” According to investigators, Skinner subsequently told them she had been thinking about robbing a bank and then, while inside the Chase Bank, “accidentally robbed” it.
– Emanuel Kuvakos, 56, was arrested in April and charged with sending two Chicago sports team executives emails that threatened them with violence for having stolen his “ideas” for winning “championships.” One of the victims was a former general manager of the Chicago Cubs, a team that famously has not won a National League championship in 66 years, nor a World Series in 103.
– In April, Arizona (recently the home of cutting-edge legislation) almost set itself up for the impossible task of trying to prohibit any “annoy(ing)” or “offen(sive)” or “profane” language on the Internet. The state House passed the bill, which was endorsed 30-0 by the state Senate, ostensibly to make an anti-stalking telephone regulation applicable to “digital” communications. (Just as the bill was about to go to the governor for signature, sponsors suddenly realized the futility of the bill’s directives, and on April 4th, withdrew it.)
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Fine Points of the Law
– Finally, a nationally prominent judge has taken on prison “nutriloaf” as a constitutional issue. In March, U.S. Appeals Court Judge Richard Posner reinstated a dismissed lawsuit by a Milwaukee County Jail inmate who claimed that the mystery meat gave him an “anal fissure.” Posner wrote that the lower courts needed to rule on whether the food of indeterminate content is “cruel and unusual punishment,” since (citing a Wikipedia entry) an anal fissure seems “no fun at all.”
– Gay Rights in Limbo: (1) The Missouri House of Representatives, after several times rejecting “sexual orientation” as one of the legally prohibited categories of discrimination, managed to find another category in March (to join “race,” “religion” and so forth) that is deserving of special protection: licensed concealed-weapons carriers. (2) The Kansas Supreme Court ruled in April that Joshua Coman, convicted of having sex with a dog, does not have to register as a sex offender. Activists had urged that the sodomy law on which Coman was convicted be declared unconstitutional, since it appears to equate human-animal sex with man-man and woman-woman sex. However, the Court declined, instead noting that Coman had been convicted of a misdemeanor and that only felons are required to register. [St. Louis Public Radio, 3-11-
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People With Issues
In March, West Des Moines, Iowa, police opened an investigation, with video surveillance, of a 59-year-old employee of the state’s Farm Bureau on suspicion of criminal mischief. According to police documents cited by the Des Moines Register, the man would look through the employee database for photos of attractive female colleagues and then visit their work space after hours and urinate on their chairs. Not only does the man allegedly have a problem, but the Farm Bureau figured it is out $4,500 in damaged chairs.
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Least Competent Criminals
Amateur Hour: (1) CVS supervisor Fenton Graham, 35, of Silver Spring, Md., was arrested as the inside man (with two accomplices) in two drugstore robberies in April. Surveillance video showed that in the second heist, the nervous perp evidently failed to take the money with him, and Graham (the “victim”) was seen taking it out to his forgetful partner. (2) Kyle Voss, 24, was charged with four burglaries in Great Falls, Mont., in April after coming upon a private residence containing buckets of coins. According to police, Voss first took the quarters and half-dollars ($3,000), then days later he returned for $700 in dimes and nickels. By the third break-in, the resident had installed surveillance video, and Voss was caught as he came back for a bucket of pennies.
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Least Competent Bank
Federal court documents revealed in March that AWOL Army Pvt. Brandon Price, 28, had convinced Citibank in January that he spoke for Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (one of the world’s richest men) and convinced the bank to issue Allen (i.e., Price) a new debit card and to change Allen’s address from Seattle to Price’s address in Pittsburgh. Price/Allen shopped decidedly downscale, running up charges only at Gamestop and Family Dollar, totaling less than $1,000.
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COPYRIGHT 2012 CHUCK SHEPHERD
DISTRIBUTED BY UNIVERSAL UCLICK
1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, Mo. 64106; (816) 581-7500
2004 Darwin Award Nominee
Unconfirmed by Darwin
|(October 2004, Chiayi, Taiwan) Most rutting contests involve two male mammals, like the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep (Ovis dallis), which ram into each other at high speed in order to impress a female sheep and win the right to procreate. These mammals tend to have unusually thick skulls and extra fluid surrounding the brain to prevent damage from the competition. Humans tend not to have such thick skulls and other natural adaptations, and therefore do not generally rut. Of course, man, the tool user, can find artificial means to overcome natural limitations. One well-known example of this behavior is the medieval jousting contest in which participants wear armor and ride horses toward each other at high speed.
The most recent observation of human rutting behavior occurred when two Taiwanese university students donned protective helmets and revved their motor scooters in an effort to impress a comely female of their species. The two were the same class, but not friends. Other classmates reported that both men fancied the same female student.
After indulging in a few drinks during the Mid-Autumn Festival, the two encountered each other, and words were spoken. The gauntlet was thrown down. In lieu of horses, the two would ride their motor scooters at each other at high speed, and the one who didn’t turn away would win the exclusive right to pursue the female.
Obviously both were very keen on her, because neither of them turned away. Their scooters collided head-on at 50 mph. Both died instantly. The girl at the center of the rut refused to comment, other than to say that she “wasn’t interested in either of them.”
Man Drowns in Kitchen Sink
2004 Darwin Award Nominee
Confirmed True by Darwin
26 May 2004, Wolfsberg, Austria) The manager of an apartment house was surprised to find the legs of a corpse sticking out an apartment window. Police entered the apartment and found the deceased man’s head soaking in a sink full of hot water. Apparently the out-of-work Austrian had returned home after a night of drinking and drugs. He decided to slip in through the kitchen window. The window was fixed at the base and tilted out, giving him just enough room to squeeze his head through as far as the sink before he got stuck. While flailing around trying to escape, he turned on the hot water tap.
Police were not sure why he had not turned off the water, pulled the plug, or–perhaps most important–entered through the front door, since they found the keys in his pants pocket.
honors those who improve the species,
by accidentally removing themselves
from it! Read The Darwin Awards
Next Evolution by Wendy Northcutt.