Archive for August, 2009

He was a Kennedy

By Thomas Wark
A friend roused me from my bed to deliver the news of Robert F. Kennedy’s assassination. We mourned together. We wondered together what kind of mindless hatred fosters the vile murders of not one, sildenafil but two, Kennedy brothers. We wondered about the playboy kid brother, the last prince of the American Camelot. Should he retire from public life, build a Maginot Line around the Hyannisport complex, and shield himself from the forces of ignorance and hate? Or did he have the stuff in him to carry the torch?
Ted Kennedy’s life, which ended just before midnight Tuesday, gave us our answers. As John M. Broder wrote in his excellent New York Times obituary:
“He was a Rabelaisian figure in the Senate and in life, instantly recognizable by his shock of white hair, his florid, oversize face, his booming Boston brogue, his powerful but pained stride. He was a celebrity, sometimes a self-parody, a hearty friend, an implacable foe, a man of large faith and large flaws, a melancholy character who persevered, drank deeply and sang loudly. He was a Kennedy.”
When the large flaws cost him the opportunity to seek the presidency, as his brothers had done, his large faith in himself drove him to become the most effective senator of his century. In the last 46 years, no piece of legislation to help the the sick, the poor, the wretched masses yearning to breathe free has become law without his stamp upon it. When President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act last April 24, we inaugurated the largest expansion of civilian service since the Depression Era Civilian Conservation Corps.
I hope legislation that establishes quality health care for every American will be enacted, and will bear his name, as well, for it was probably the greatest cause of his long and distinguished career.
Journalists’ memories of Teddy tend to be associated with the Large Flaws. I directed a team of superb journalists, including the two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Gene Miller, covering Apollo 11. On the day before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldren were scheduled to fly down to the moon, Miller told me that the bosses had ordered him off the moon flight. What could possibly be more important in July of 1969 than the first moon landing? “They want me to go to Martha’s Vineyard,” Miller said. “Teddy Kennedy’s got himself into another mess. A young woman’s dead.” We expected “another mess” for the playboy brother. He was a Kennedy.
Similarly, we were not surprised when a Kennedy nephew hit the supermarket tabloids after a night of drinking with Uncle Ted. He was accused of rape by a woman he picked up in a bar after what he said was consensual sex on the beach at the Kennedy estate in Palm Beach. A New York editor remarked to me, “it wasn’t the kids who suggested that they go out bar-hopping. It was the 60-year-old guy.” He was a Kennedy.
Another journalist friend remembers walking into the Sherry Netherland bar in midtown Manhattan late one night. “I sat down about three barstools from Teddy, then married to Joan,” he recalls. “He was in the enthusiastic company of several girls, and surrounded as well by a band of dark-suited protectors. Everybody in the place was watching the Kennedy action, in which the three or four ladies were all vying for his attention. No mystery there, as beyond being Teddy, he was the best-looking guy in the place. ” He was a Kennedy.
I remember a guy so focused on the legislative process that as he strode across the Russell Senate Office Building Rotunda one day in the 70s, two of the bevy of aides jogging to keep up with him had to steer him by his elbows to prevent his walking into a pillar. He seemed to be conducting four or five conversations at once, barking orders, questions, thoughts, dictating memos. . . .until he spotted my companion, David Rosenbaum of the New York Times. Instantly he was transformed. His smile lit the hall. He thrust out his hand in welcome in that vigorous Kennedy style. “DAY-vid, ” his brogue roared. “How ARE you?” He was a Kennedy.
But what I will never forget is the venom and bile he inspired in the Republican right.
A confession: In my college days I was an officer in the campus Young Republicans. My roommate then — and lifelong dear friend thereafter — was chairman of the organization.
Over the years we drifted in opposite directions politically. A few years ago we had dinner in Los Angeles. As usual, we agreed to disagree, in gentlemanly fashion, on the political topics of the day. Until Teddy’s name came up.
John fulminated so apoplectically that I feared he’d have a stroke. “Why do you hate Ted Kennedy so much?” I asked when he’d calmed down.
John, one of the fastest thinkers and most articulate speakers I’ve known, sputtered briefly. Finally he blurted:
“Because he’s a KENNEDY!”

Read more of Thomas Wark’s blogs at http://bordellopianist.blogspot.com/

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Power to the People!

By Steve Klinger

Here’s my recent letter to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner:

Dear Tim, plague ambulance

I demand a bailout, story and I want it right now!

It’s not easy selling ads for Grassroots Press. The peace symbol in our logo sends most enterprising capitalists running for cover, in case one of their moneyed conservative advertisers might spot their ad on our subversive pages. The progressive businesses are struggling just like I am and say they can’t afford to advertise. Printing and mailing costs have gone up. Subscribers increasingly opt to pick up a free copy in these challenging times. I tell you, I can’t go on any longer!

But I’m performing a vital service this nation needs: an independent voice providing a perspective on the news you won’t get from mainstream media. The future of democracy depends on little papers like mine that speak truth to power. You can’t let me fail.

So listen here, Geithner, and Summers too: If I lose this gig and go on the dole, the entire nation will be impacted. I won’t be buying the big HD television or that slide-in camper. No summer road trips to the Rockies. No visits to the dentist for another four years.

And a tax credit worth $13 a week won’t cut it either! I want more. Let’s start with at least a billion, and whatever you give me, it may not be enough. I may be back.

I know I didn’t keep my promises to pay for health care for all my retired employees, but I can’t afford it. Turn my pockets inside out; it’s just not there.

I’ve done my part to jump through your hoops lately, haven’t I? Enclosed is my plan to shrink distribution and cut back on color in future issues.  We’ve curtailed our plans for worldwide expansion. We’ll be a leaner, meaner company and we’ll repay your loan with interest. Or not. What are you gonna do, sue me?

Here’s Geithner’s reply:

Dear Editor,

Thanks for your recent request. The new administration is all about change so I’m enclosing a few quarters to help you out. I’m sure you’ll understand we have to save the big bucks for the big-ass companies that finance the campaigns to get our great leaders elected.

I don’t know how to tell you this, but you’re not quite big enough to be a must-save. You haven’t reached the critical mass worthy of a bailout. If you’d have thrown in with the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, we might have been able to do more for you. But right now we’re kind of busy with General Motors and Chrysler.

If you want to scrape a few bucks together, you might think about making some innocent mistakes on your taxes.  But you didn’t hear that from me.

Have a great day!

Tim
By Gordon Solberg

All we’re hearing about these days is “The Stimulus.”  Speaking of which – our beloved masters of hypocrisy, cure the Republicans, are now taking credit for the stimulus “pork” that will be flowing into their districts, even though they opposed the stimulus en masse.  You’ve really got to hand it to them:  their chutzpah knows no limits.

But the big news got ignored, as it always does.  This is from Reuters, on Sunday:

Global Warming Seen Worse Than Predicted

The climate is heating up far faster than scientists had predicted, spurred by sharp increases in greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries like China and India, a top climate scientist said on Saturday.

“The consequence of that is we are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we’ve considered seriously,” Chris Field, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Field said “the actual trajectory of climate change is more serious” than any of the climate predictions in the IPCC’s fourth assessment report called “Climate Change 2007.” He said recent climate studies suggested the continued warming of the planet from greenhouse gas emissions could touch off large, destructive wildfires in tropical rain forests and melt permafrost in the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gasses that could raise global temperatures even more.

“There is a real risk that human-caused climate change will accelerate the release of carbon dioxide from forest and tundra ecosystems, which have been storing a lot of carbon for thousands of years,” Field, of Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science, said in a statement.

***

In other words, the runaway greenhouse effect.  I warned about this in the April/May 2007  issue of Grassroots Press:  “When temperatures increase a bit more, and the permafrost starts to melt in a serious way, enormous quantities of CO2 and methane will be released, which will double the percentage of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.  This will cause temperatures to rise even faster, which will release even more greenhouse gases, and so on.  Needless to say, the climatologists are keeping a close eye on this situation.”

So now we have respected climate scientists warning about the runaway greenhouse effect, but the average American is just as likely to believe the lies of the global warming denialists.   As long as the Republicans retain their power to obstruct, and the Dems remained locked within their status quo mindset, the prognosis for effective action remains bleak.  Obama’s stimulus package contains some worthy environmental initiatives, but they don’t go nearly far enough.  If this is the best we can do, then we can kiss our collective ass goodbye.

My blog now has daily eye candy!  http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com
By Gordon Solberg

All we’re hearing about these days is “The Stimulus.”  Speaking of which – our beloved masters of hypocrisy, psychotherapist the Republicans, are now taking credit for the stimulus “pork” that will be flowing into their districts, even though they opposed the stimulus en masse.  You’ve really got to hand it to them:  their chutzpah knows no limits.

But the big news got ignored, as it always does.  This is from Reuters, on Sunday:

Global Warming Seen Worse Than Predicted

The climate is heating up far faster than scientists had predicted, spurred by sharp increases in greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries like China and India, a top climate scientist said on Saturday.

“The consequence of that is we are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we’ve considered seriously,” Chris Field, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Field said “the actual trajectory of climate change is more serious” than any of the climate predictions in the IPCC’s fourth assessment report called “Climate Change 2007.” He said recent climate studies suggested the continued warming of the planet from greenhouse gas emissions could touch off large, destructive wildfires in tropical rain forests and melt permafrost in the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gasses that could raise global temperatures even more.

“There is a real risk that human-caused climate change will accelerate the release of carbon dioxide from forest and tundra ecosystems, which have been storing a lot of carbon for thousands of years,” Field, of Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science, said in a statement.

***

In other words, the runaway greenhouse effect.  I warned about this in the April/May 2007  issue of Grassroots Press:  “When temperatures increase a bit more, and the permafrost starts to melt in a serious way, enormous quantities of CO2 and methane will be released, which will double the percentage of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.  This will cause temperatures to rise even faster, which will release even more greenhouse gases, and so on.  Needless to say, the climatologists are keeping a close eye on this situation.”

So now we have respected climate scientists warning about the runaway greenhouse effect, but the average American is just as likely to believe the lies of the global warming denialists.   As long as the Republicans retain their power to obstruct, and the Dems remained locked within their status quo mindset, the prognosis for effective action remains bleak.  Obama’s stimulus package contains some worthy environmental initiatives, but they don’t go nearly far enough.  If this is the best we can do, then we can kiss our collective ass goodbye.

My blog now has daily eye candy!  http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com
By Gordon Solberg

All we’re hearing about these days is “The Stimulus.”  Speaking of which – our beloved masters of hypocrisy, drugs the Republicans, women’s health are now taking credit for the stimulus “pork” that will be flowing into their districts, even though they opposed the stimulus en masse.  You’ve really got to hand it to them:  their chutzpah knows no limits.

But the big news got ignored, as it always does.  This is from Reuters, on Sunday:

Global Warming Seen Worse Than Predicted

The climate is heating up far faster than scientists had predicted, spurred by sharp increases in greenhouse gas emissions from developing countries like China and India, a top climate scientist said on Saturday.

“The consequence of that is we are basically looking now at a future climate that is beyond anything that we’ve considered seriously,” Chris Field, a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, or IPCC, told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Chicago.

Field said “the actual trajectory of climate change is more serious” than any of the climate predictions in the IPCC’s fourth assessment report called “Climate Change 2007.” He said recent climate studies suggested the continued warming of the planet from greenhouse gas emissions could touch off large, destructive wildfires in tropical rain forests and melt permafrost in the Arctic tundra, releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gasses that could raise global temperatures even more.

“There is a real risk that human-caused climate change will accelerate the release of carbon dioxide from forest and tundra ecosystems, which have been storing a lot of carbon for thousands of years,” Field, of Stanford University and the Carnegie Institution for Science, said in a statement.

***

In other words, the runaway greenhouse effect.  I warned about this in the April/May 2007  issue of Grassroots Press:  “When temperatures increase a bit more, and the permafrost starts to melt in a serious way, enormous quantities of CO2 and methane will be released, which will double the percentage of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere.  This will cause temperatures to rise even faster, which will release even more greenhouse gases, and so on.  Needless to say, the climatologists are keeping a close eye on this situation.”

So now we have respected climate scientists warning about the runaway greenhouse effect, but the average American is just as likely to believe the lies of the global warming denialists.   As long as the Republicans retain their power to obstruct, and the Dems remained locked within their status quo mindset, the prognosis for effective action remains bleak.  Obama’s stimulus package contains some worthy environmental initiatives, but they don’t go nearly far enough.  If this is the best we can do, then we can kiss our collective ass goodbye.

My blog now has daily eye candy!  http://newearthtimes.blogspot.com
By Xandtrek

Rich people need to shut up now.

You rich people have been whining a lot lately about how Obama is going to create a vast socialist society that will threaten to make you less wealthy. Your right-wing nuts jobs are apoplectic: the President is going to redistribute the wealth from the rich to the poor. You are upset that you have to hide your jets and island paradises you purchased with our late fees and dead relatives who couldn’t afford your health care system. You are so persecuted. So what?

The opposite system has been in place for years. Wealth has been clearly and deliberately redistributed from the poor to the wealthy for over 30 years. Laws and policies have been written to promote this redistribution. Special interests and politicians have worked together to ensure that the rich get richer, symptoms and the poor get poorer.

So shut up now. You people were not content to get rich – you had to rape and pillage to the point that you have destroyed the global economy, and possibly the earth as a viable planet for human beings.

Your ideas are failed and yet you still promote them as gospel. Some of your wealth did trickle down – in a very, very, grudgingly slow process. And most of us got left behind in your dust. And some boats floated up with you, but a bunch sank to the bottom where you couldn’t see, or didn’t want to see. Globalization means other countries need to pay really low wages to workers, get rid of unions, and accept debt that they can never pay off. I’m sure the world is thanking you now.

Even if you are a decent wealthy person, who worked hard for your money, gave a lot of it away for a tax deduction and an interview on Charlie Rose, and maybe you didn’t sell your soul — you shut up now too.

So you were born in the right time, at the right place, to the right parents, or you got really lucky, or God decided you should be richer than him, or you just lied and stole your way to your privileged position. Guess what? It’s not your time anymore and you need to SHUT UP because we want to hunt you down and take it all away from you. Sleep well.

By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, ailment
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, advice not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, ailment
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, advice not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Gordon Solberg

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, more about
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, ailment
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, advice not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Gordon Solberg

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, more about
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
Predicting the Future

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, read
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, ailment
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, advice not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Gordon Solberg

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, more about
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
Predicting the Future

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, read
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
By Steve Klinger

Grassroots movements arise spontaneously at ground level. AstroTurf looks like grass from a distance, mind but not up close. It’s all in the roots, traumatologist
you see; when they’re fake, symptoms
the surface must be ersatz as well. When interest groups conspire to ignite a so-called people’s movement, the only roots are in those groups, and at their source is always money and power. So it may look like Bermuda or rye, but it’s as phony as the turf in the Metrodome – or an April 15th Boston Tea Party.

The Republicans are so delusional they not only steal ideas from the libertarians but then rewrite history so they can prove ownership. The Boston Tea Party in 1773 wasn’t a rebellious act against taxation or deficit spending but a protest against a particular tax that was unfair because the colonists had no political rights yet were being assessed a tax on tea that should have been paid by the British East India Company. For the Republicans to incite modern tax-day protests, when Republican Congresses and presidents gave us decades of deficit spending and the massive deregulation that empowered corporations and freed them from both oversight and most taxation, goes beyond hypocrisy. The irony is thick enough to cut with, well, a lawnmower.

Right-wing squeals about the tax rollbacks Obama is proposing are blatant lies that ignore those nasty little facts that get in the way – such as the tax rates they’re so upset about reverting to levels in effect under the previous socialist president, Ronald Reagan.

Predictably, the rabble jump right in and blame Obama and the Democrats for mortgaging their grandchildren’s heritage with stimulus spending. The puppetmasters pull the strings and the rank-and-file, who will never make enough to pay the higher income taxes, take to the streets to defend the agendas of the rich and the incorporated who will (but probably don’t because they’ve offshored to the Cayman Islands).

But we need to be aware of what else is going on here, and that what else is about as insidious and cynical as a political strategy can get. It may help to remember that the folks behind today’s tea parties are not subjects in a monarchy or citizens who were disenfranchised. No, they were in power but they made such a catastrophic mess that they were voted out of power – democratically.  You can see how much they care about their country by tracking the total obstructionism of the current House Republicans and all but three of their Senate counterparts. (The Republican conscience is epitomized by Norm Coleman, who would appeal to Satan if it would buy him and his cohorts another day of denying Al Franken his rightfully won Senate seat. Someone said that if conscience were oil, Coleman would be a quart low. I say he’d have thrown a rod.)

So the audacious lies and the hypocrisy have set the stage, but the drama the Republican diehards have in mind is far darker than this opening act. Imagine if you will a party that has marginalized itself to the point that it has no leader, no vision, no positive message, no plan other than to tear down those who won the election. It gets worse.

The truth is these Republicans, having failed to appeal to minorities, cannot see a future in which they are likely to win another national election as population trends work increasingly against them.  Their only hopes for regaining power are total disaster from stymieing and obstructing the Democrats, or a Revolution built on lies, such as a faux taxation-without-representation theme.

That’s why the rhetoric is so exaggerated and so virulent: They must somehow get the masses to think it’s patriotic to “restore” American liberty and democracy by rising up against the “totalitarian” Obama government, which they alternately label socialist and fascist.

All the seeds of fear are sewn: Obama will outlaw guns, so buy as many as you can now.  Dissent is being stifled, so take to the streets and fight for your rights, just like your heroic forebears of 1776. America is being weakened by a leader who would listen to Europeans  and Muslims, who’s not even a native-born American, who would redistribute your (hypothetical) wealth to lazy minorities, so  (the increasingly unsubtle message) use those guns and put the people back in power, and if you take him out, oh well, he asked for it.

Bigger ironies: The alleged power-usurping Democrats aren’t even progressives but rather centrist, status-quo politicians, nurtured by and beholden to the same special interests pulling the AstroTurf strings. They may have a few shreds of conscience for the common folks and just enough naivete to disbelieve – until it’s too late – that the Republicans would be such Macchiavellians as to bring down the government to reclaim power. And so those Democrats will express aggrievement and horror when the civil unrest turns to violence and bloodshed and a military response is necessary to restore order.  And of course they won’t nip things in the bud by stating publicly that the American right is inciting violence and committing acts of sedition in fomenting the faux uprising that has the solitary goal of destabilizing the U.S. so the real fascists can seize power.

I have a better idea. On July 4th, why don’t the states big on this Teabag Revolution just secede? Maybe Obama, unlike Lincoln, will let them go.
By Steve Klinger

Now I am really confused. So AIG, prescription the world’s largest insurance company, capsule which has become the poster child of government bailout beneficiaries, stomatology can’t be allowed to fail because it’s “too big.”  It is involved in international finance and commerce on such a scale that its collapse would be catastrophic, with global implications, we are told. So now the feds are pouring another $30 billion in, on top of $85 billion in September ($173 billion in credit lines altogether), after AIG posted the all-time highest quarterly loss ever for a U.S. corporation – over $61 billion, which, to put it in perspective, is 50 percent more than Exxon Mobil earns in a good quarter. It’s even more than Bernie Madoff swindled investors out of, and that took him at least 10 years. But I digress.

There’s just one nagging question I have: where is the money going? If AIG is losing a fortune, largely because it insured the mortgage instruments that became nearly worthless when the subprime bubble burst and all the absurd, ridiculously leveraged, new-fangled securities and derivatives and credit-default swaps followed suit, it would make sense that the money AIG lost went to the big banks which held the securities to cover their losses. So why are those banks imploding if their investments were insured and if the government is bailing out AIG so AIG can pay them? And if the feds are bailing out the banks for their losses, why do they have to rescue AIG?

According to the Wall Street Journal, “The beneficiaries of the government’s bailout of American International Group Inc. include at least two dozen U.S. and foreign financial institutions that have been paid roughly $50 billion since the Federal Reserve first extended aid to the insurance giant.” Among those companies are Goldman Sachs, Germany’s Deutsche Bank AG, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

But in truth we don’t know who the hell is getting all of AIG’s money. As WSJ reports: “The names of all of AIG’s derivative counterparties and the money they have received from taxpayers still isn’t known.” And one reason it isn’t known is that no one will tell us. This week legislators demanded that the Federal Reserve reveal the names of companies that have received money from AIG, but in a Federal Banking Committee hearing in Washington on Thursday, WSJ reports,  Fed Vice Chairman Donald Kohn declined to name AIG’s trading partners, saying that to do so would make companies wary of doing business with AIG. Because corporations, which have more rights than humans, are entitled to get bailed out with taxpayer monies while remaining anonymous? Because otherwise they’d take their businesss to Ethiopia, or maybe the moon?

The Journal has a very sanguine explanation of the process that laid AIG low, and I’m sure it sits well with its everyday readers:

Banks and other financial companies were trading partners of AIG’s financial-products unit, which operated more like a Wall Street trading firm than a conservative insurer. This AIG unit sold credit-default swaps, which acted like insurance on complex securities backed by mortgages. When the securities plunged in value last year, AIG was forced to post billions of dollars in collateral to counterparties to back up its promises to insure them against losses.

But my nagging question remains.

I always thought shell games were for hucksters on carnival midways. Silly me. Now our tax dollars can go to Wall Street directly through TARP, or if everybody gets bored with that, we can just pay AIG and they’ll take care of the banks. It’s a good thing it’s really complicated and more than a little convoluted because then the government can claim that only Wall Street types with MBAs and years of incestuous financial relationships with other bloodsucking, Ponzi-scheming sociopaths can understand the marvelously obfuscated interrelatedness of it all — and therefore only these same Wall Street types now sanctified with cabinet positions (think Hank Paulson and Timothy Geithner) can get us out of the mess they got us into.

I’m sure I’m totally misunderstanding the intricacies of capitalist high finance and in my imagery of the reaming of the rabble am probably confusing TARP with TERP.  Maybe what I need — what we all need — is an MBA so I can be wielding the scalpel instead of bellying up to the business end.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, visit this site
he’s the commander in chief, medicine
and when he makes something a priority, people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.
By Steve Klinger

Barack Obama needs to declare war on the economy . He needs to declare credit default swaps the new Axis of Evil.

As Warren Buffett says, this web
cialis he’s the commander in chief, sick
and when he makes something a priority, rx people listen and fall into line. Even political opponents.

As every 10-year-old American knows, nothing has more priority than war, except maybe the Jonas Brothers. But anyway, George W. Bush declared a war on terror and a couple of days later we had the Patriot Act. If Obama declared war on the economy even the Grand Obstructionist Party might come around and do something radical, like seating Al Franken. After all, disobeying commands in wartime amounts to treason, which probably wouldn’t help Republicans lower Nancy Pelosi’s approval ratings.

Just think, if we declare war on the economy then the big bank CEOs can be prosecuted as enemy combatants. We may be closing Guantanamo sometime soon, but nobody’s put the kibosh on extraordinary rendition. And as much as Americans condemn torture, I think there might be a lot of popular support for waterboarding John Thain, or maybe the AIG honchos who won’t tell us which banks they’ve been bailing out with federal funds.

That’s where the credit default swaps come in: James Howard Kunstler writes that along with prosecuting Wall Street swindlers we need to put a halt to trading credit default swaps, which act as complex security instruments approximating insurance for bad mortgage investments. Without that recourse, the zombie banks would have to put a dollar figure on their toxic assets, Kunstler reasons, and the charade of financial solvency would come to a screeching halt right in front of Obama’s rose-colored glasses.

There’s even more upside: Declare war on the economy and offer a bounty for every bank executive and the depression would be over faster than Rush Limbaugh can shake his jowls.

Sorry, I forgot. It’s only a recession. My bad.

By Steve Klinger

Boy, cost
are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, try and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, drug
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

Boy, here are we in trouble now! How bad is the economy? So bad that the landfills are hurting. This could be fatal, advice and I think it’s time patriotic Americans did something about it, life
starting with going out and buying a big-screen TV and then tossing the box with all the Styrofoam into the trash.

The Washington Post raised the alarm in a story that notes some landfill trash levels are down as much as 30 percent since 2007. So how come that’s not big news as it is when auto sales or the Dow decline by similar margins? Landfill operators have to eat, just like the rest of us, and right now they are in a panic.

“The trash man is the first one to know about a recession because we see it first,”  said Richard S. Weber, manager of the Loudoun County, Va. Landfill. “Circuit City’s closing,” he told the Post, “so people aren’t going there and buying those big boxes of stuff and throwing away all that Sytrofoam and shrink-wrap…and whatever else the were replacing.”

It makes sense, and it’s really tragic, if you think about it. Weber said trash volume has dropped so much that the Loudoun landfill, instead of running out of space in 2012, will not be filled up until sometime in late 2013. “That’s huge,” he said, presumably with lament.

We all understand the vicious cycle: Homes are being foreclosed and jobs lost, which means less disposable income and therefore fewer things bought — even hamburgers and soft drinks. Who ultimately suffers? The landfill operator, of course, because people have less garbage to dispose of.

Worse yet, some people, though you would hardly notice it around Las Cruces, are actually recycling the garbage they do have.  As Ben Boxer, spokesman for Fairfax County’s solid waste management program charged, the economy is forcing people to follow the environmentalists’ mantra: Reduce! Reuse! Recycle! Repair! “A lot of these things that people throw away do have a valuable second life,” he said, “especially for those who, now more than ever, are going to be facing difficult times.”

Well, hardship is no excuse when the fate of landfills hangs in the balance. It’s time the tree-huggers backed off and let consumers return to their profligate ways, if only for the sake of the economy. Don’t they know the market for recyclables crashed back in November?

Next thing you know the electric utilities, the coal industry and the oil companies will be in trouble, thanks to Obama’s socialist stimulus package, which subsidizes renewable energy development, at the expense of the fossil fuel barons who made this country what it is today. Well, maybe that’s a bad way to look at it, but you get my point.

So go out and buy something with shrink-wrap, preferably something big. And don’t even think about recycling the cardboard or the plastic. And never mind Freecycle–bring that old couch to the dump. It’s your patriotic duty.

After all, you never know, innovative retraining programs one day very soon may enable sanitation workers to refashion your very large cardboard boxes into housing units for our growing homeless population to use under highway overpasses. The landfill workers stay on the payroll, the operators have a lucrative sideline and foreclosed homeowners get a little shelter from the elements. It’s a win-win situation. Welcome to the new American dream.
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, check
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

“Why do we kill people who are killing people to show that killing people is wrong?”
–Holly Near

Governor Bill Richardson signed the legislation repealing the death penalty in New Mexico today. After years of trying, hair
supporters of the death penalty repeal are pinching themselves, trying to fathom the change they are witnessing. For once they don’t have to say, Oh well, we’re getting closer and we’ll be back next year. Amazingly, the Quixotic quest has struck paydirt.

Meanwhile, opponents are saying, Ho hum, New Mexico has only executed two murderers in the last 50 years, so what’s the big deal? One Sound-Off caller said, “Who cares if New Mexico abolishes the death penalty….at least Texas does it right.”

Describing himself as a lifelong believer in the death penalty for extreme cases, Richardson said it was the most difficult decision he’s made in his political career to sign the law repealing it. This is the man who went after Wen Ho Lee, perhaps gave Bill Clinton an alibi for Monica Lewinsky and sparred with the likes of Saddam Hussein and Kim jong-il. What convinced him, he said, was the imperfection of the criminal justice system:

“I do not have confidence in the criminal justice system as it currently operates to be the final arbiter when it comes to who lives and who dies for their crime,” Richardson said. “If the State is going to undertake this awesome responsibility, the system to impose this ultimate penalty must be perfect and can never be wrong.”

If that was Richardson’s rationale, the decision should have been a slam-dunk. Convicted murderers have been exonerated with increasing frequency (130 in 26 states since the early 1970s) as activists have succeeded in unearthing the truth and pressuring the courts and the media to acknowledge that innocent men have died through willful or negligent law enforcement and judicial process. The emergence and improvement of DNA testing has provided exonerating evidence prosecutors can’t refute. For New Mexico as for 14 other states, the number of exonerations finally reached critical mass. Not only that, trying a capital case and keeping inmates on death row through the appeals process is kind of expensive.

To his credit, Richardson said it bothers him that “minorities are overrepresented in the death row population.” But he didn’t elaborate on the racial, economic and geographic discrimination that accompany death sentences. The preponderance of minority convicts on death row speaks volumes about the “imperfection” of the system and the prejudices endemic to it.

Another argument Richardson made was the limited deterrent effect of capital punishment, though he said that reluctance to remove a level of protection from the law enforcement community made the decision extremely difficult for him.

But ultimately a civilized society must ask itself Holly Near’s question: If people killing people is wrong, how can the state justify killing the killers? Even if the crime was heinous. Even if we know they’re guilty. Who appointed any of us his brother’s executioner?

Ever the politician, Richardson didn’t advance that argument, and he probably isn’t moved by it. But it’s the fundamental reason why we should hail his announcement tonight and the stroke of his pen.

I’ll take the pragmatic arguments that helped reach the goal. Tonight I’m especially proud to be a New Mexican.

Are you listening, Texas?
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, click
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Steve Klinger

The city’s red light cameras will end spring training next week and open the regular season on citations, ailment
pinching motorists where it hurts – in the pocketbook – beginning March 31. Mayor Ken Miyagishima fielded questions on the cameras and other topics at the monthly Progressive Voter Alliance meeting tonight and sought to assure attendees the city is motivated solely by safety concerns, advice not the potential income from the citations.

After a split with the state, the mayor said, the city’s share must be used for traffic safety and overtime for police to investigate violations. It wasn’t clear if he meant to investigate the video footage or something else, but either way it misses the point if city officials have bought into Redflex Traffic Systems’ sales pitch to the extent they really think this system is going to significantly improve traffic safety in Las Cruces.

There are certainly too many selfish and reckless drivers here, spoiled by years of lax enforcement, who can’t be bothered to stop on red, or even go on green for that matter. But the bigger problem is that the great majority of traffic signals are not synchronized, resulting in bottlenecks because of poor street design and worse engineering.

Especially traveling east and west on Picacho, most of Amador and Lohman, Missouri and University, the heavier traffic is the more likely that ill-timed signals will impede and frustrate drivers. It happens at north-south intersections too: a left-turn arrow that lets about three cars through before the next motorist is stuck for another cycle. Or an arrow that won’t trigger if you get to the intersection a nanosecond after the red-light cycle has begun.
And if you’re not turning, it’s go a block, catch a light, go another block, catch another light.

Waiting behind 50 cars to turn left onto Lohman, or Spruce from North Telshor in the afternoon – anytime in the afternoon – builds the kind of frustration that leads to aggressive behavior. This is not to condone that behavior; it’s just a fact of life.

Red-light cameras may nab offenders, but it’s like putting a tourniquet on a wound gushing blood; you’ve only postponed dealing with the fundamental problem.

Other cities the size of Las Cruces seem to be able to synchronize traffic signals. It may be expensive, but it’s not rocket science. Let’s hope some of the Redflex-generated money can be used to build traffic safety from the ground up: reconfiguring the system so motorists can make the next light at 35 mph instead of 50.
By Gordon Solberg

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, more about
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
Predicting the Future

I want to talk briefly about the accurate predictions I made back in 1998.  Making predictions at that point in time was really quite easy.  I was merely using the basic principles of science:  1) Make accurate observations, read
and 2) draw the logical conclusions from these observations.

In 1998, I felt that I (unlike most Americans) had an accurate understanding of what was really going on, and concluded that nothing fundamental was going to change anytime soon.  Things would get more extreme, to be sure, but the overall dynamic wouldn’t change.  So making predictions back in 1998 was simple:  “More of the same, only worse.”

Things are different now.  The next ten years or so are more difficult to predict.  The powers-that-be might manage to paper things over for awhile, but inevitably we will start experiencing some major discontinuities.  It’s impossible to say exactly what these discontinuities will be, but we can guess that they would probably involve any combination of:  climate catastrophe, total financial breakdown, energy shortages, food shortages, water shortages, terrorist attacks, war, insurrection (probably from right-wing yahoos with machine guns), you name it.  The actual form the discontinuities take isn’t as important as the fact that they will occur at all.  The future from here on out is murky, because it’s difficult or impossible, from our vantage point, to see beyond the discontinuities.

I’m reminded of a black hole.  The surface of a black hole is called an “event horizon,” from which no light, and in fact no information of any kind, can escape.  So… looking into the future, what we see is fuzzy and foggy because of the event horizon(s) in the way.  All we can say is, “whoa baby, big shit gonna happen!”

I’m struck by the utter helplessness of the American people at this point, and how easy it will be to manipulate them when the “big shit” finally hits the fan.  (What we’ve experienced so far is merely the warmup.)  Unlike the Great Depression, when people were still capable of “making do,” modern Americans, living their totally programmed soft lives, have no Plan B.  Everybody, from Obama on down, is waiting for all this to blow over, so that they can return to the artificial prosperity and easy comfort they think they’re entitled to.  After the discontinuities begin,  this attitude will surely change.
By Steve Klinger

Grassroots movements arise spontaneously at ground level. AstroTurf looks like grass from a distance, mind but not up close. It’s all in the roots, traumatologist
you see; when they’re fake, symptoms
the surface must be ersatz as well. When interest groups conspire to ignite a so-called people’s movement, the only roots are in those groups, and at their source is always money and power. So it may look like Bermuda or rye, but it’s as phony as the turf in the Metrodome – or an April 15th Boston Tea Party.

The Republicans are so delusional they not only steal ideas from the libertarians but then rewrite history so they can prove ownership. The Boston Tea Party in 1773 wasn’t a rebellious act against taxation or deficit spending but a protest against a particular tax that was unfair because the colonists had no political rights yet were being assessed a tax on tea that should have been paid by the British East India Company. For the Republicans to incite modern tax-day protests, when Republican Congresses and presidents gave us decades of deficit spending and the massive deregulation that empowered corporations and freed them from both oversight and most taxation, goes beyond hypocrisy. The irony is thick enough to cut with, well, a lawnmower.

Right-wing squeals about the tax rollbacks Obama is proposing are blatant lies that ignore those nasty little facts that get in the way – such as the tax rates they’re so upset about reverting to levels in effect under the previous socialist president, Ronald Reagan.

Predictably, the rabble jump right in and blame Obama and the Democrats for mortgaging their grandchildren’s heritage with stimulus spending. The puppetmasters pull the strings and the rank-and-file, who will never make enough to pay the higher income taxes, take to the streets to defend the agendas of the rich and the incorporated who will (but probably don’t because they’ve offshored to the Cayman Islands).

But we need to be aware of what else is going on here, and that what else is about as insidious and cynical as a political strategy can get. It may help to remember that the folks behind today’s tea parties are not subjects in a monarchy or citizens who were disenfranchised. No, they were in power but they made such a catastrophic mess that they were voted out of power – democratically.  You can see how much they care about their country by tracking the total obstructionism of the current House Republicans and all but three of their Senate counterparts. (The Republican conscience is epitomized by Norm Coleman, who would appeal to Satan if it would buy him and his cohorts another day of denying Al Franken his rightfully won Senate seat. Someone said that if conscience were oil, Coleman would be a quart low. I say he’d have thrown a rod.)

So the audacious lies and the hypocrisy have set the stage, but the drama the Republican diehards have in mind is far darker than this opening act. Imagine if you will a party that has marginalized itself to the point that it has no leader, no vision, no positive message, no plan other than to tear down those who won the election. It gets worse.

The truth is these Republicans, having failed to appeal to minorities, cannot see a future in which they are likely to win another national election as population trends work increasingly against them.  Their only hopes for regaining power are total disaster from stymieing and obstructing the Democrats, or a Revolution built on lies, such as a faux taxation-without-representation theme.

That’s why the rhetoric is so exaggerated and so virulent: They must somehow get the masses to think it’s patriotic to “restore” American liberty and democracy by rising up against the “totalitarian” Obama government, which they alternately label socialist and fascist.

All the seeds of fear are sewn: Obama will outlaw guns, so buy as many as you can now.  Dissent is being stifled, so take to the streets and fight for your rights, just like your heroic forebears of 1776. America is being weakened by a leader who would listen to Europeans  and Muslims, who’s not even a native-born American, who would redistribute your (hypothetical) wealth to lazy minorities, so  (the increasingly unsubtle message) use those guns and put the people back in power, and if you take him out, oh well, he asked for it.

Bigger ironies: The alleged power-usurping Democrats aren’t even progressives but rather centrist, status-quo politicians, nurtured by and beholden to the same special interests pulling the AstroTurf strings. They may have a few shreds of conscience for the common folks and just enough naivete to disbelieve – until it’s too late – that the Republicans would be such Macchiavellians as to bring down the government to reclaim power. And so those Democrats will express aggrievement and horror when the civil unrest turns to violence and bloodshed and a military response is necessary to restore order.  And of course they won’t nip things in the bud by stating publicly that the American right is inciting violence and committing acts of sedition in fomenting the faux uprising that has the solitary goal of destabilizing the U.S. so the real fascists can seize power.

I have a better idea. On July 4th, why don’t the states big on this Teabag Revolution just secede? Maybe Obama, unlike Lincoln, will let them go.
By Steve Klinger

Grassroots movements arise spontaneously at ground level. AstroTurf looks like grass from a distance, patient but not up close. It’s all in the roots, clinic
you see; when they’re fake, the surface must be ersatz as well. When interest groups conspire to ignite a so-called people’s movement, the only roots are in those groups, and at their source is always money and power. So it may look like Bermuda or rye, but it’s as phony as the turf in the Metrodome – or an April 15th Boston Tea Party.

The Republicans are so delusional they not only steal ideas from the libertarians but then rewrite history so they can prove ownership. The Boston Tea Party in 1773 wasn’t a rebellious act against taxation or deficit spending but a protest against a particular tax that was unfair because the colonists had no political rights yet were being assessed a tax on tea that should have been paid by the British East India Company. For the Republicans to incite modern tax-day protests, when Republican Congresses and presidents gave us decades of deficit spending and the massive deregulation that empowered corporations and freed them from both oversight and most taxation, goes beyond hypocrisy. The irony is thick enough to cut with, well, a lawnmower.

Right-wing squeals about the tax rollbacks Obama is proposing are blatant lies that ignore those nasty little facts that get in the way – such as the tax rates they’re so upset about reverting to levels in effect under the previous socialist president, Ronald Reagan.

Predictably, the rabble jump right in and blame Obama and the Democrats for mortgaging their grandchildren’s heritage with stimulus spending. The puppetmasters pull the strings and the rank-and-file, who will never make enough to pay the higher income taxes, take to the streets to defend the agendas of the rich and the incorporated who will (but probably don’t because they’ve offshored to the Cayman Islands).

But we need to be aware of what else is going on here, and that what else is about as insidious and cynical as a political strategy can get. It may help to remember that the folks behind today’s tea parties are not subjects in a monarchy or citizens who were disenfranchised. No, they were in power but they made such a catastrophic mess that they were voted out of power – democratically.  You can see how much they care about their country by tracking the total obstructionism of the current House Republicans and all but three of their Senate counterparts. (The Republican conscience is epitomized by Norm Coleman, who would appeal to Satan if it would buy him and his cohorts another day of denying Al Franken his rightfully won Senate seat. Someone said that if conscience were oil, Coleman would be a quart low. I say he’d have thrown a rod.)

So the audacious lies and the hypocrisy have set the stage, but the drama the Republican diehards have in mind is far darker than this opening act. Imagine if you will a party that has marginalized itself to the point that it has no leader, no vision, no positive message, no plan other than to tear down those who won the election. It gets worse.

The truth is these Republicans, having failed to appeal to minorities, cannot see a future in which they are likely to win another national election as population trends work increasingly against them.  Their only hopes for regaining power are total disaster from stymieing and obstructing the Democrats, or a Revolution built on lies, such as a faux taxation-without-representation theme.

That’s why the rhetoric is so exaggerated and so virulent: They must somehow get the masses to think it’s patriotic to “restore” American liberty and democracy by rising up against the “totalitarian” Obama government, which they alternately label socialist and fascist.

All the seeds of fear are sewn: Obama will outlaw guns, so buy as many as you can now.  Dissent is being stifled, so take to the streets and fight for your rights, just like your heroic forebears of 1776. America is being weakened by a leader who would listen to Europeans  and Muslims, who’s not even a native-born American, who would redistribute your (hypothetical) wealth to lazy minorities, so  (the increasingly unsubtle message) use those guns and put the people back in power, and if you take him out, oh well, he asked for it.

Bigger ironies: The alleged power-usurping Democrats aren’t even progressives but rather centrist, status-quo politicians, nurtured by and beholden to the same special interests pulling the AstroTurf strings. They may have a few shreds of conscience for the common folks and just enough naivete to disbelieve – until it’s too late – that the Republicans would be such Macchiavellians as to bring down the government to reclaim power. And so those Democrats will express aggrievement and horror when the civil unrest turns to violence and bloodshed and a military response is necessary to restore order.  And of course they won’t nip things in the bud by stating publicly that the American right is inciting violence and committing acts of sedition in fomenting the faux uprising that has the solitary goal of destabilizing the U.S. so the real fascists can seize power.

I have a better idea. On July 4th, why don’t the states big on this Teabag Revolution just secede? Maybe Obama, unlike Lincoln, will let them go.
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, this site Rick Perry, web the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, ailment
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, order but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, advice
but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, ailment
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, order but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, advice
but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, adiposity
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, pestilence
but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, ailment
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, order but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, advice
but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, adiposity
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, pestilence
but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
[Mayor Ken Miyagishima e-mailed the following statement on the quality-of-life tax with the weekly City Council Information letter. Editor]

FYI: I do not support the quality of life tax as this time for the following reasons:

I believe we (council) can do more to increase funding to avoid raising taxes such as:

1. Proceeds from CLC license plate will generate approximately $150, buy cialis
000 to be dedicated to the recreation fund.

2. We are currently looking at helping both the Museum Foundation and Branigan Foundation to generate income, cialis 40mg
thus reducing city funding. This could also generate approximately $100, tadalafil
000 – $150,000

3. I believe we could sell some small “Pocket parks” that according to staff could be as many as 20 very small, seldom used pocket parks. What is a pocket park? Basically a small piece of land within a subdivision that the developer “donated” to the city to be used as a park. Savings: $150,000

As you can tell, this could raise or save about $400,000 to be used toward recreation.

Thank you, KEN MIYAGISHIMA

By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, ailment
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, order but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, advice
but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, adiposity
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, pestilence
but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
[Mayor Ken Miyagishima e-mailed the following statement on the quality-of-life tax with the weekly City Council Information letter. Editor]

FYI: I do not support the quality of life tax as this time for the following reasons:

I believe we (council) can do more to increase funding to avoid raising taxes such as:

1. Proceeds from CLC license plate will generate approximately $150, buy cialis
000 to be dedicated to the recreation fund.

2. We are currently looking at helping both the Museum Foundation and Branigan Foundation to generate income, cialis 40mg
thus reducing city funding. This could also generate approximately $100, tadalafil
000 – $150,000

3. I believe we could sell some small “Pocket parks” that according to staff could be as many as 20 very small, seldom used pocket parks. What is a pocket park? Basically a small piece of land within a subdivision that the developer “donated” to the city to be used as a park. Savings: $150,000

As you can tell, this could raise or save about $400,000 to be used toward recreation.

Thank you, KEN MIYAGISHIMA

By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, order
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, viagra order
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, buy it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, ailment
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, order but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, advice
but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, adiposity
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, pestilence
but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
[Mayor Ken Miyagishima e-mailed the following statement on the quality-of-life tax with the weekly City Council Information letter. Editor]

FYI: I do not support the quality of life tax as this time for the following reasons:

I believe we (council) can do more to increase funding to avoid raising taxes such as:

1. Proceeds from CLC license plate will generate approximately $150, buy cialis
000 to be dedicated to the recreation fund.

2. We are currently looking at helping both the Museum Foundation and Branigan Foundation to generate income, cialis 40mg
thus reducing city funding. This could also generate approximately $100, tadalafil
000 – $150,000

3. I believe we could sell some small “Pocket parks” that according to staff could be as many as 20 very small, seldom used pocket parks. What is a pocket park? Basically a small piece of land within a subdivision that the developer “donated” to the city to be used as a park. Savings: $150,000

As you can tell, this could raise or save about $400,000 to be used toward recreation.

Thank you, KEN MIYAGISHIMA

By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, order
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, viagra order
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, buy it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, drugs
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, pilule
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, ailment
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, order but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, advice
but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, adiposity
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, pestilence
but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
[Mayor Ken Miyagishima e-mailed the following statement on the quality-of-life tax with the weekly City Council Information letter. Editor]

FYI: I do not support the quality of life tax as this time for the following reasons:

I believe we (council) can do more to increase funding to avoid raising taxes such as:

1. Proceeds from CLC license plate will generate approximately $150, buy cialis
000 to be dedicated to the recreation fund.

2. We are currently looking at helping both the Museum Foundation and Branigan Foundation to generate income, cialis 40mg
thus reducing city funding. This could also generate approximately $100, tadalafil
000 – $150,000

3. I believe we could sell some small “Pocket parks” that according to staff could be as many as 20 very small, seldom used pocket parks. What is a pocket park? Basically a small piece of land within a subdivision that the developer “donated” to the city to be used as a park. Savings: $150,000

As you can tell, this could raise or save about $400,000 to be used toward recreation.

Thank you, KEN MIYAGISHIMA

By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, order
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, viagra order
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, buy it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, drugs
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, pilule
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, cheap
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, capsule
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, mind
the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, ailment
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, order but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, advice
but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, adiposity
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, pestilence
but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
[Mayor Ken Miyagishima e-mailed the following statement on the quality-of-life tax with the weekly City Council Information letter. Editor]

FYI: I do not support the quality of life tax as this time for the following reasons:

I believe we (council) can do more to increase funding to avoid raising taxes such as:

1. Proceeds from CLC license plate will generate approximately $150, buy cialis
000 to be dedicated to the recreation fund.

2. We are currently looking at helping both the Museum Foundation and Branigan Foundation to generate income, cialis 40mg
thus reducing city funding. This could also generate approximately $100, tadalafil
000 – $150,000

3. I believe we could sell some small “Pocket parks” that according to staff could be as many as 20 very small, seldom used pocket parks. What is a pocket park? Basically a small piece of land within a subdivision that the developer “donated” to the city to be used as a park. Savings: $150,000

As you can tell, this could raise or save about $400,000 to be used toward recreation.

Thank you, KEN MIYAGISHIMA

By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, order
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, viagra order
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, buy it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, drugs
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, pilule
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, cheap
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, capsule
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, mind
the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, more about
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, denture
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, ailment
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, order but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, advice
but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, adiposity
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, pestilence
but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
[Mayor Ken Miyagishima e-mailed the following statement on the quality-of-life tax with the weekly City Council Information letter. Editor]

FYI: I do not support the quality of life tax as this time for the following reasons:

I believe we (council) can do more to increase funding to avoid raising taxes such as:

1. Proceeds from CLC license plate will generate approximately $150, buy cialis
000 to be dedicated to the recreation fund.

2. We are currently looking at helping both the Museum Foundation and Branigan Foundation to generate income, cialis 40mg
thus reducing city funding. This could also generate approximately $100, tadalafil
000 – $150,000

3. I believe we could sell some small “Pocket parks” that according to staff could be as many as 20 very small, seldom used pocket parks. What is a pocket park? Basically a small piece of land within a subdivision that the developer “donated” to the city to be used as a park. Savings: $150,000

As you can tell, this could raise or save about $400,000 to be used toward recreation.

Thank you, KEN MIYAGISHIMA

By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, order
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, viagra order
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, buy it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, drugs
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, pilule
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, cheap
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, capsule
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, mind
the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, more about
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, denture
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, more
as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, more about
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, ailment
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, order but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, advice
but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, adiposity
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, pestilence
but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
[Mayor Ken Miyagishima e-mailed the following statement on the quality-of-life tax with the weekly City Council Information letter. Editor]

FYI: I do not support the quality of life tax as this time for the following reasons:

I believe we (council) can do more to increase funding to avoid raising taxes such as:

1. Proceeds from CLC license plate will generate approximately $150, buy cialis
000 to be dedicated to the recreation fund.

2. We are currently looking at helping both the Museum Foundation and Branigan Foundation to generate income, cialis 40mg
thus reducing city funding. This could also generate approximately $100, tadalafil
000 – $150,000

3. I believe we could sell some small “Pocket parks” that according to staff could be as many as 20 very small, seldom used pocket parks. What is a pocket park? Basically a small piece of land within a subdivision that the developer “donated” to the city to be used as a park. Savings: $150,000

As you can tell, this could raise or save about $400,000 to be used toward recreation.

Thank you, KEN MIYAGISHIMA

By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, order
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, viagra order
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, buy it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, drugs
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, pilule
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, cheap
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, capsule
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, mind
the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, more about
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, denture
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, more
as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, more about
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, mind as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, ask
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, dosage
especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, ailment
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, order but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, advice
but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, adiposity
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, pestilence
but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
[Mayor Ken Miyagishima e-mailed the following statement on the quality-of-life tax with the weekly City Council Information letter. Editor]

FYI: I do not support the quality of life tax as this time for the following reasons:

I believe we (council) can do more to increase funding to avoid raising taxes such as:

1. Proceeds from CLC license plate will generate approximately $150, buy cialis
000 to be dedicated to the recreation fund.

2. We are currently looking at helping both the Museum Foundation and Branigan Foundation to generate income, cialis 40mg
thus reducing city funding. This could also generate approximately $100, tadalafil
000 – $150,000

3. I believe we could sell some small “Pocket parks” that according to staff could be as many as 20 very small, seldom used pocket parks. What is a pocket park? Basically a small piece of land within a subdivision that the developer “donated” to the city to be used as a park. Savings: $150,000

As you can tell, this could raise or save about $400,000 to be used toward recreation.

Thank you, KEN MIYAGISHIMA

By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, order
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, viagra order
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, buy it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, drugs
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, pilule
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, cheap
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, capsule
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, mind
the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, more about
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, denture
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, more
as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, more about
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, mind as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, ask
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, dosage
especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, population health
as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, ailment
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, ailment
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, order but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, advice
but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, adiposity
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, pestilence
but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
[Mayor Ken Miyagishima e-mailed the following statement on the quality-of-life tax with the weekly City Council Information letter. Editor]

FYI: I do not support the quality of life tax as this time for the following reasons:

I believe we (council) can do more to increase funding to avoid raising taxes such as:

1. Proceeds from CLC license plate will generate approximately $150, buy cialis
000 to be dedicated to the recreation fund.

2. We are currently looking at helping both the Museum Foundation and Branigan Foundation to generate income, cialis 40mg
thus reducing city funding. This could also generate approximately $100, tadalafil
000 – $150,000

3. I believe we could sell some small “Pocket parks” that according to staff could be as many as 20 very small, seldom used pocket parks. What is a pocket park? Basically a small piece of land within a subdivision that the developer “donated” to the city to be used as a park. Savings: $150,000

As you can tell, this could raise or save about $400,000 to be used toward recreation.

Thank you, KEN MIYAGISHIMA

By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, order
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, viagra order
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, buy it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, drugs
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, pilule
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, cheap
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, capsule
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, mind
the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, more about
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, denture
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, more
as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, more about
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, mind as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, ask
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, dosage
especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, population health
as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, ailment
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Steve Klinger

We just canceled our longstanding subscription to the Las Cruces Sun-News. This had been a long time brewing, look
and today we feel like liberated people.

A daily newspaper has been a long-engrained habit for my generation, but as much of the industry heads over the falls, it’s time for newspaper companies to do the only thing they have left (other than enhancing their online products), and that’s to try to salvage their remaining subscriber business by starting with a major mea culpa: They need to acknowledge they have been arrogant and complacent beyond all justification.

Yes, newspapers were pretty much the only game in town for certain types of news and advertising for about a century, but those days are about as dead as your 8-track tape player.

The service rep asked Kathy why we were canceling (a foolhardy question) and Kathy started to recite our litany of complaints:

1) The quality of the “journalism” has declined steadily, and it started from mediocrity
a) Lame, obvious, puff-piece “news” on the front page day after day, with recent lead stories ranging from Mother’s Day to Graduation to School’s Out, including a staged photo of LCPS students tossing their homework in the air in a recent edition
b) Ignoring or burying serious national and global news
c) Ignoring dissent such as anti-war protests, even at a time when hundreds of Las Cruces were marching through the streets
d) Constant rah-rah endorsement of military, veterans, local growth, the Spaceport, not only on news pages but in the self-serving propaganda pieces that masquerade as editorials
e) Non-existent copy editing, with so many typos, dropped stories and repeated stories that these “employees” would not have passed a high school English class back in the day

2) Utter lack of respect for readers and subscribers
a) Last week we got a Silver City edition delivered to our home in Las Cruces because apparently no one bothered to look at the front page before rolling it up and tossing it in our yard
b) The constantly shrinking page width, and the ridiculous 10-column classified and legal pages
c) This week, the point size of the type was reduced, without a word of explanation
d) Arrogant billing policies whereby our credit card has been automatically debited at six-month intervals without our consent (our own fault for not objecting immediately) so that we’re actually paying a higher rate for the “self-renewing” subscription we never ordered
e) Consolidation with the El Paso Times, which has resulted in pathetically early deadlines, a classified section made up mostly of El Paso ads, and a declining sense that the Sun-News is a local, Las Cruces publication. After shipping its press to Farmington and eliminating its Las Cruces copy desk, the latest move has been a near-complete style makeover that has left the paper looking just like the El Paso Times.

Kathy didn’t itemize quite all of the above, but she could have if the service rep had been interested in hearing more. We’re obviously not alone in rejecting this rag, as it’s clear that advertising has diminished along with news coverage, local classifieds and probably the number of subscriptions (we’d have to obtain an ABC audit to verify that, but I’m pretty confident).

The mainstream news media, and especially metro daily newspapers, are clearly an endangered species, thanks in part to the Internet; the trend in declining circulation and advertising has of course been exacerbated by the economy. But the years of inflated ad rates and an attitude that newspapers are above accountability and can put on a face of objectivity even as they further their own capitalistic agenda (promoting endless growth, militarism, insensitivity to social justice) has given us a media that does not serve the people. In hard times, the people will pull the plug, exactly as they are doing. And they won’t be plugging back in anytime soon.

It will be a shock to go cold turkey the first few days, but we’ll do more on-line reading, we’ll have less paper to deal with and our self-esteem will go up just from quitting that nasty, expensive Sun-News habit.

I believe in quality journalism. I’ve been influenced by it, I’ve taught it and I try to practice it. I believe there is still a place for printed newspapers, though mostly on the community level, where the local news coverage and commentary are less readily available by other means. Democracy needs the watchdog effort that newspapers and other media with integrity provide. You won’t find it in the Sun-News.
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, ailment
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, order but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, advice
but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, adiposity
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, pestilence
but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
[Mayor Ken Miyagishima e-mailed the following statement on the quality-of-life tax with the weekly City Council Information letter. Editor]

FYI: I do not support the quality of life tax as this time for the following reasons:

I believe we (council) can do more to increase funding to avoid raising taxes such as:

1. Proceeds from CLC license plate will generate approximately $150, buy cialis
000 to be dedicated to the recreation fund.

2. We are currently looking at helping both the Museum Foundation and Branigan Foundation to generate income, cialis 40mg
thus reducing city funding. This could also generate approximately $100, tadalafil
000 – $150,000

3. I believe we could sell some small “Pocket parks” that according to staff could be as many as 20 very small, seldom used pocket parks. What is a pocket park? Basically a small piece of land within a subdivision that the developer “donated” to the city to be used as a park. Savings: $150,000

As you can tell, this could raise or save about $400,000 to be used toward recreation.

Thank you, KEN MIYAGISHIMA

By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, order
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, viagra order
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, buy it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, drugs
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, pilule
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, cheap
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, capsule
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, mind
the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, more about
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, denture
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, more
as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, more about
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, mind as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, ask
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, dosage
especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, population health
as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, ailment
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Steve Klinger

We just canceled our longstanding subscription to the Las Cruces Sun-News. This had been a long time brewing, look
and today we feel like liberated people.

A daily newspaper has been a long-engrained habit for my generation, but as much of the industry heads over the falls, it’s time for newspaper companies to do the only thing they have left (other than enhancing their online products), and that’s to try to salvage their remaining subscriber business by starting with a major mea culpa: They need to acknowledge they have been arrogant and complacent beyond all justification.

Yes, newspapers were pretty much the only game in town for certain types of news and advertising for about a century, but those days are about as dead as your 8-track tape player.

The service rep asked Kathy why we were canceling (a foolhardy question) and Kathy started to recite our litany of complaints:

1) The quality of the “journalism” has declined steadily, and it started from mediocrity
a) Lame, obvious, puff-piece “news” on the front page day after day, with recent lead stories ranging from Mother’s Day to Graduation to School’s Out, including a staged photo of LCPS students tossing their homework in the air in a recent edition
b) Ignoring or burying serious national and global news
c) Ignoring dissent such as anti-war protests, even at a time when hundreds of Las Cruces were marching through the streets
d) Constant rah-rah endorsement of military, veterans, local growth, the Spaceport, not only on news pages but in the self-serving propaganda pieces that masquerade as editorials
e) Non-existent copy editing, with so many typos, dropped stories and repeated stories that these “employees” would not have passed a high school English class back in the day

2) Utter lack of respect for readers and subscribers
a) Last week we got a Silver City edition delivered to our home in Las Cruces because apparently no one bothered to look at the front page before rolling it up and tossing it in our yard
b) The constantly shrinking page width, and the ridiculous 10-column classified and legal pages
c) This week, the point size of the type was reduced, without a word of explanation
d) Arrogant billing policies whereby our credit card has been automatically debited at six-month intervals without our consent (our own fault for not objecting immediately) so that we’re actually paying a higher rate for the “self-renewing” subscription we never ordered
e) Consolidation with the El Paso Times, which has resulted in pathetically early deadlines, a classified section made up mostly of El Paso ads, and a declining sense that the Sun-News is a local, Las Cruces publication. After shipping its press to Farmington and eliminating its Las Cruces copy desk, the latest move has been a near-complete style makeover that has left the paper looking just like the El Paso Times.

Kathy didn’t itemize quite all of the above, but she could have if the service rep had been interested in hearing more. We’re obviously not alone in rejecting this rag, as it’s clear that advertising has diminished along with news coverage, local classifieds and probably the number of subscriptions (we’d have to obtain an ABC audit to verify that, but I’m pretty confident).

The mainstream news media, and especially metro daily newspapers, are clearly an endangered species, thanks in part to the Internet; the trend in declining circulation and advertising has of course been exacerbated by the economy. But the years of inflated ad rates and an attitude that newspapers are above accountability and can put on a face of objectivity even as they further their own capitalistic agenda (promoting endless growth, militarism, insensitivity to social justice) has given us a media that does not serve the people. In hard times, the people will pull the plug, exactly as they are doing. And they won’t be plugging back in anytime soon.

It will be a shock to go cold turkey the first few days, but we’ll do more on-line reading, we’ll have less paper to deal with and our self-esteem will go up just from quitting that nasty, expensive Sun-News habit.

I believe in quality journalism. I’ve been influenced by it, I’ve taught it and I try to practice it. I believe there is still a place for printed newspapers, though mostly on the community level, where the local news coverage and commentary are less readily available by other means. Democracy needs the watchdog effort that newspapers and other media with integrity provide. You won’t find it in the Sun-News.
By Steve Klinger

We just canceled our longstanding subscription to the Las Cruces Sun-News. This had been a long time brewing, buy cialis and today we feel like liberated people.

A daily newspaper has been a long-engrained habit for my generation, but as much of the industry heads over the falls, it’s time for newspaper companies to do the only thing they have left (other than enhancing their online products), and that’s to try to salvage their remaining subscriber business by starting with a major mea culpa: They need to acknowledge they have been arrogant and complacent beyond all justification.

Yes, newspapers were pretty much the only game in town for certain types of news and advertising for about a century, but those days are about as dead as your 8-track tape player.

The service rep asked Kathy why we were canceling (a foolhardy question) and Kathy started to recite our litany of complaints:

1) The quality of the “journalism” has declined steadily, and it started from mediocrity
a) Lame, obvious, puff-piece “news” on the front page day after day, with recent lead stories ranging from Mother’s Day to Graduation to School’s Out, including a staged photo of LCPS students tossing their homework in the air in a recent edition
b) Ignoring or burying serious national and global news
c) Ignoring dissent such as anti-war protests, even at a time when hundreds of Las Cruces were marching through the streets
d) Constant rah-rah endorsement of military, veterans, local growth, the Spaceport, not only on news pages but in the self-serving propaganda pieces that masquerade as editorials
e) Non-existent copy editing, with so many typos, dropped stories and repeated stories that these “employees” would not have passed a high school English class back in the day

2) Utter lack of respect for readers and subscribers
a) Last week we got a Silver City edition delivered to our home in Las Cruces because apparently no one bothered to look at the front page before rolling it up and tossing it in our yard
b) The constantly shrinking page width, and the ridiculous 10-column classified and legal pages
c) This week, the point size of the type was reduced, without a word of explanation
d) Arrogant billing policies whereby our credit card has been automatically debited at six-month intervals without our consent (our own fault for not objecting immediately) so that we’re actually paying a higher rate for the “self-renewing” subscription we never ordered
e) Consolidation with the El Paso Times, which has resulted in pathetically early deadlines, a classified section made up mostly of El Paso ads, and a declining sense that the Sun-News is a local, Las Cruces publication. After shipping its press to Farmington and eliminating its Las Cruces copy desk, the latest move has been a near-complete style makeover that has left the paper looking just like the El Paso Times.

Kathy didn’t itemize quite all of the above, but she could have if the service rep had been interested in hearing more. We’re obviously not alone in rejecting this rag, as it’s clear that advertising has diminished along with news coverage, local classifieds and probably the number of subscriptions (we’d have to obtain an ABC audit to verify that, but I’m pretty confident).

The mainstream news media, and especially metro daily newspapers, are clearly an endangered species, thanks in part to the Internet; the trend in declining circulation and advertising has of course been exacerbated by the economy. But the years of inflated ad rates and an attitude that newspapers are above accountability and can put on a face of objectivity even as they further their own capitalistic agenda (promoting endless growth, militarism, insensitivity to social justice) has given us a media that does not serve the people. In hard times, the people will pull the plug, exactly as they are doing. And they won’t be plugging back in anytime soon.

It will be a shock to go cold turkey the first few days, but we’ll do more on-line reading, we’ll have less paper to deal with and our self-esteem will go up just from quitting that nasty, expensive Sun-News habit.

I believe in quality journalism. I’ve been influenced by it, I’ve taught it and I try to practice it. I believe there is still a place for printed newspapers, though mostly on the community level, where the local news coverage and commentary are less readily available by other means. Democracy needs the watchdog effort that newspapers and other media with integrity provide. You won’t find it in the Sun-News.

Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, ailment
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, order but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, advice
but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, adiposity
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, pestilence
but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
[Mayor Ken Miyagishima e-mailed the following statement on the quality-of-life tax with the weekly City Council Information letter. Editor]

FYI: I do not support the quality of life tax as this time for the following reasons:

I believe we (council) can do more to increase funding to avoid raising taxes such as:

1. Proceeds from CLC license plate will generate approximately $150, buy cialis
000 to be dedicated to the recreation fund.

2. We are currently looking at helping both the Museum Foundation and Branigan Foundation to generate income, cialis 40mg
thus reducing city funding. This could also generate approximately $100, tadalafil
000 – $150,000

3. I believe we could sell some small “Pocket parks” that according to staff could be as many as 20 very small, seldom used pocket parks. What is a pocket park? Basically a small piece of land within a subdivision that the developer “donated” to the city to be used as a park. Savings: $150,000

As you can tell, this could raise or save about $400,000 to be used toward recreation.

Thank you, KEN MIYAGISHIMA

By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, order
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, viagra order
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, buy it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, drugs
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, pilule
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, cheap
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, capsule
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, mind
the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, more about
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, denture
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, more
as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, more about
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, mind as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, ask
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, dosage
especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, population health
as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, ailment
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Steve Klinger

We just canceled our longstanding subscription to the Las Cruces Sun-News. This had been a long time brewing, look
and today we feel like liberated people.

A daily newspaper has been a long-engrained habit for my generation, but as much of the industry heads over the falls, it’s time for newspaper companies to do the only thing they have left (other than enhancing their online products), and that’s to try to salvage their remaining subscriber business by starting with a major mea culpa: They need to acknowledge they have been arrogant and complacent beyond all justification.

Yes, newspapers were pretty much the only game in town for certain types of news and advertising for about a century, but those days are about as dead as your 8-track tape player.

The service rep asked Kathy why we were canceling (a foolhardy question) and Kathy started to recite our litany of complaints:

1) The quality of the “journalism” has declined steadily, and it started from mediocrity
a) Lame, obvious, puff-piece “news” on the front page day after day, with recent lead stories ranging from Mother’s Day to Graduation to School’s Out, including a staged photo of LCPS students tossing their homework in the air in a recent edition
b) Ignoring or burying serious national and global news
c) Ignoring dissent such as anti-war protests, even at a time when hundreds of Las Cruces were marching through the streets
d) Constant rah-rah endorsement of military, veterans, local growth, the Spaceport, not only on news pages but in the self-serving propaganda pieces that masquerade as editorials
e) Non-existent copy editing, with so many typos, dropped stories and repeated stories that these “employees” would not have passed a high school English class back in the day

2) Utter lack of respect for readers and subscribers
a) Last week we got a Silver City edition delivered to our home in Las Cruces because apparently no one bothered to look at the front page before rolling it up and tossing it in our yard
b) The constantly shrinking page width, and the ridiculous 10-column classified and legal pages
c) This week, the point size of the type was reduced, without a word of explanation
d) Arrogant billing policies whereby our credit card has been automatically debited at six-month intervals without our consent (our own fault for not objecting immediately) so that we’re actually paying a higher rate for the “self-renewing” subscription we never ordered
e) Consolidation with the El Paso Times, which has resulted in pathetically early deadlines, a classified section made up mostly of El Paso ads, and a declining sense that the Sun-News is a local, Las Cruces publication. After shipping its press to Farmington and eliminating its Las Cruces copy desk, the latest move has been a near-complete style makeover that has left the paper looking just like the El Paso Times.

Kathy didn’t itemize quite all of the above, but she could have if the service rep had been interested in hearing more. We’re obviously not alone in rejecting this rag, as it’s clear that advertising has diminished along with news coverage, local classifieds and probably the number of subscriptions (we’d have to obtain an ABC audit to verify that, but I’m pretty confident).

The mainstream news media, and especially metro daily newspapers, are clearly an endangered species, thanks in part to the Internet; the trend in declining circulation and advertising has of course been exacerbated by the economy. But the years of inflated ad rates and an attitude that newspapers are above accountability and can put on a face of objectivity even as they further their own capitalistic agenda (promoting endless growth, militarism, insensitivity to social justice) has given us a media that does not serve the people. In hard times, the people will pull the plug, exactly as they are doing. And they won’t be plugging back in anytime soon.

It will be a shock to go cold turkey the first few days, but we’ll do more on-line reading, we’ll have less paper to deal with and our self-esteem will go up just from quitting that nasty, expensive Sun-News habit.

I believe in quality journalism. I’ve been influenced by it, I’ve taught it and I try to practice it. I believe there is still a place for printed newspapers, though mostly on the community level, where the local news coverage and commentary are less readily available by other means. Democracy needs the watchdog effort that newspapers and other media with integrity provide. You won’t find it in the Sun-News.
By Steve Klinger

We just canceled our longstanding subscription to the Las Cruces Sun-News. This had been a long time brewing, buy cialis and today we feel like liberated people.

A daily newspaper has been a long-engrained habit for my generation, but as much of the industry heads over the falls, it’s time for newspaper companies to do the only thing they have left (other than enhancing their online products), and that’s to try to salvage their remaining subscriber business by starting with a major mea culpa: They need to acknowledge they have been arrogant and complacent beyond all justification.

Yes, newspapers were pretty much the only game in town for certain types of news and advertising for about a century, but those days are about as dead as your 8-track tape player.

The service rep asked Kathy why we were canceling (a foolhardy question) and Kathy started to recite our litany of complaints:

1) The quality of the “journalism” has declined steadily, and it started from mediocrity
a) Lame, obvious, puff-piece “news” on the front page day after day, with recent lead stories ranging from Mother’s Day to Graduation to School’s Out, including a staged photo of LCPS students tossing their homework in the air in a recent edition
b) Ignoring or burying serious national and global news
c) Ignoring dissent such as anti-war protests, even at a time when hundreds of Las Cruces were marching through the streets
d) Constant rah-rah endorsement of military, veterans, local growth, the Spaceport, not only on news pages but in the self-serving propaganda pieces that masquerade as editorials
e) Non-existent copy editing, with so many typos, dropped stories and repeated stories that these “employees” would not have passed a high school English class back in the day

2) Utter lack of respect for readers and subscribers
a) Last week we got a Silver City edition delivered to our home in Las Cruces because apparently no one bothered to look at the front page before rolling it up and tossing it in our yard
b) The constantly shrinking page width, and the ridiculous 10-column classified and legal pages
c) This week, the point size of the type was reduced, without a word of explanation
d) Arrogant billing policies whereby our credit card has been automatically debited at six-month intervals without our consent (our own fault for not objecting immediately) so that we’re actually paying a higher rate for the “self-renewing” subscription we never ordered
e) Consolidation with the El Paso Times, which has resulted in pathetically early deadlines, a classified section made up mostly of El Paso ads, and a declining sense that the Sun-News is a local, Las Cruces publication. After shipping its press to Farmington and eliminating its Las Cruces copy desk, the latest move has been a near-complete style makeover that has left the paper looking just like the El Paso Times.

Kathy didn’t itemize quite all of the above, but she could have if the service rep had been interested in hearing more. We’re obviously not alone in rejecting this rag, as it’s clear that advertising has diminished along with news coverage, local classifieds and probably the number of subscriptions (we’d have to obtain an ABC audit to verify that, but I’m pretty confident).

The mainstream news media, and especially metro daily newspapers, are clearly an endangered species, thanks in part to the Internet; the trend in declining circulation and advertising has of course been exacerbated by the economy. But the years of inflated ad rates and an attitude that newspapers are above accountability and can put on a face of objectivity even as they further their own capitalistic agenda (promoting endless growth, militarism, insensitivity to social justice) has given us a media that does not serve the people. In hard times, the people will pull the plug, exactly as they are doing. And they won’t be plugging back in anytime soon.

It will be a shock to go cold turkey the first few days, but we’ll do more on-line reading, we’ll have less paper to deal with and our self-esteem will go up just from quitting that nasty, expensive Sun-News habit.

I believe in quality journalism. I’ve been influenced by it, I’ve taught it and I try to practice it. I believe there is still a place for printed newspapers, though mostly on the community level, where the local news coverage and commentary are less readily available by other means. Democracy needs the watchdog effort that newspapers and other media with integrity provide. You won’t find it in the Sun-News.

By Steve Klinger

We just canceled our longstanding subscription to the Las Cruces Sun-News. This had been a long time brewing, shop and today we feel like liberated people.

A daily newspaper has been a long-engrained habit for my generation, but as much of the industry heads over the falls, it’s time for newspaper companies to do the only thing they have left (other than enhancing their online products), and that’s to try to salvage their remaining subscriber business by starting with a major mea culpa: They need to acknowledge they have been arrogant and complacent beyond all justification.

Yes, newspapers were pretty much the only game in town for certain types of news and advertising for about a century, but those days are about as dead as your 8-track tape player.

The service rep asked Kathy why we were canceling (a foolhardy question) and Kathy started to recite our litany of complaints:

1) The quality of the “journalism” has declined steadily, and it started from mediocrity
a) Lame, obvious, puff-piece “news” on the front page day after day, with recent lead stories ranging from Mother’s Day to Graduation to School’s Out, including a staged photo of LCPS students tossing their homework in the air in a recent edition
b) Ignoring or burying serious national and global news
c) Ignoring dissent such as anti-war protests, even at a time when hundreds of Las Cruces were marching through the streets
d) Constant rah-rah endorsement of military, veterans, local growth, the Spaceport, not only on news pages but in the self-serving propaganda pieces that masquerade as editorials
e) Non-existent copy editing, with so many typos, dropped stories and repeated stories that these “employees” would not have passed a high school English class back in the day

2) Utter lack of respect for readers and subscribers
a) Last week we got a Silver City edition delivered to our home in Las Cruces because apparently no one bothered to look at the front page before rolling it up and tossing it in our yard
b) The constantly shrinking page width, and the ridiculous 10-column classified and legal pages
c) This week, the point size of the type was reduced, without a word of explanation
d) Arrogant billing policies whereby our credit card has been automatically debited at six-month intervals without our consent (our own fault for not objecting immediately) so that we’re actually paying a higher rate for the “self-renewing” subscription we never ordered
e) Consolidation with the El Paso Times, which has resulted in pathetically early deadlines, a classified section made up mostly of El Paso ads, and a declining sense that the Sun-News is a local, Las Cruces publication. After shipping its press to Farmington and eliminating its Las Cruces copy desk, the latest move has been a near-complete style makeover that has left the paper looking just like the El Paso Times.

Kathy didn’t itemize quite all of the above, but she could have if the service rep had been interested in hearing more. We’re obviously not alone in rejecting this rag, as it’s clear that advertising has diminished along with news coverage, local classifieds and probably the number of subscriptions (we’d have to obtain an ABC audit to verify that, but I’m pretty confident).

The mainstream news media, and especially metro daily newspapers, are clearly an endangered species, thanks in part to the Internet; the trend in declining circulation and advertising has of course been exacerbated by the economy. But the years of inflated ad rates and an attitude that newspapers are above accountability and can put on a face of objectivity even as they further their own capitalistic agenda (promoting endless growth, militarism, insensitivity to social justice) has given us a media that does not serve the people. In hard times, the people will pull the plug, exactly as they are doing. And they won’t be plugging back in anytime soon.

It will be a shock to go cold turkey the first few days, but we’ll do more on-line reading, we’ll have less paper to deal with and our self-esteem will go up just from quitting that nasty, expensive Sun-News habit.

I believe in quality journalism. I’ve been influenced by it, I’ve taught it and I try to practice it. I believe there is still a place for printed newspapers, though mostly on the community level, where the local news coverage and commentary are less readily available by other means. Democracy needs the watchdog effort that newspapers and other media with integrity provide. You won’t find it in the Sun-News.
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, ailment
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, order but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, advice
but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, adiposity
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, pestilence
but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
[Mayor Ken Miyagishima e-mailed the following statement on the quality-of-life tax with the weekly City Council Information letter. Editor]

FYI: I do not support the quality of life tax as this time for the following reasons:

I believe we (council) can do more to increase funding to avoid raising taxes such as:

1. Proceeds from CLC license plate will generate approximately $150, buy cialis
000 to be dedicated to the recreation fund.

2. We are currently looking at helping both the Museum Foundation and Branigan Foundation to generate income, cialis 40mg
thus reducing city funding. This could also generate approximately $100, tadalafil
000 – $150,000

3. I believe we could sell some small “Pocket parks” that according to staff could be as many as 20 very small, seldom used pocket parks. What is a pocket park? Basically a small piece of land within a subdivision that the developer “donated” to the city to be used as a park. Savings: $150,000

As you can tell, this could raise or save about $400,000 to be used toward recreation.

Thank you, KEN MIYAGISHIMA

By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, order
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, viagra order
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, buy it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, drugs
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, pilule
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, cheap
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, capsule
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, mind
the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, more about
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, denture
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, more
as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, more about
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, mind as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, ask
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, dosage
especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, population health
as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, ailment
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Steve Klinger

We just canceled our longstanding subscription to the Las Cruces Sun-News. This had been a long time brewing, look
and today we feel like liberated people.

A daily newspaper has been a long-engrained habit for my generation, but as much of the industry heads over the falls, it’s time for newspaper companies to do the only thing they have left (other than enhancing their online products), and that’s to try to salvage their remaining subscriber business by starting with a major mea culpa: They need to acknowledge they have been arrogant and complacent beyond all justification.

Yes, newspapers were pretty much the only game in town for certain types of news and advertising for about a century, but those days are about as dead as your 8-track tape player.

The service rep asked Kathy why we were canceling (a foolhardy question) and Kathy started to recite our litany of complaints:

1) The quality of the “journalism” has declined steadily, and it started from mediocrity
a) Lame, obvious, puff-piece “news” on the front page day after day, with recent lead stories ranging from Mother’s Day to Graduation to School’s Out, including a staged photo of LCPS students tossing their homework in the air in a recent edition
b) Ignoring or burying serious national and global news
c) Ignoring dissent such as anti-war protests, even at a time when hundreds of Las Cruces were marching through the streets
d) Constant rah-rah endorsement of military, veterans, local growth, the Spaceport, not only on news pages but in the self-serving propaganda pieces that masquerade as editorials
e) Non-existent copy editing, with so many typos, dropped stories and repeated stories that these “employees” would not have passed a high school English class back in the day

2) Utter lack of respect for readers and subscribers
a) Last week we got a Silver City edition delivered to our home in Las Cruces because apparently no one bothered to look at the front page before rolling it up and tossing it in our yard
b) The constantly shrinking page width, and the ridiculous 10-column classified and legal pages
c) This week, the point size of the type was reduced, without a word of explanation
d) Arrogant billing policies whereby our credit card has been automatically debited at six-month intervals without our consent (our own fault for not objecting immediately) so that we’re actually paying a higher rate for the “self-renewing” subscription we never ordered
e) Consolidation with the El Paso Times, which has resulted in pathetically early deadlines, a classified section made up mostly of El Paso ads, and a declining sense that the Sun-News is a local, Las Cruces publication. After shipping its press to Farmington and eliminating its Las Cruces copy desk, the latest move has been a near-complete style makeover that has left the paper looking just like the El Paso Times.

Kathy didn’t itemize quite all of the above, but she could have if the service rep had been interested in hearing more. We’re obviously not alone in rejecting this rag, as it’s clear that advertising has diminished along with news coverage, local classifieds and probably the number of subscriptions (we’d have to obtain an ABC audit to verify that, but I’m pretty confident).

The mainstream news media, and especially metro daily newspapers, are clearly an endangered species, thanks in part to the Internet; the trend in declining circulation and advertising has of course been exacerbated by the economy. But the years of inflated ad rates and an attitude that newspapers are above accountability and can put on a face of objectivity even as they further their own capitalistic agenda (promoting endless growth, militarism, insensitivity to social justice) has given us a media that does not serve the people. In hard times, the people will pull the plug, exactly as they are doing. And they won’t be plugging back in anytime soon.

It will be a shock to go cold turkey the first few days, but we’ll do more on-line reading, we’ll have less paper to deal with and our self-esteem will go up just from quitting that nasty, expensive Sun-News habit.

I believe in quality journalism. I’ve been influenced by it, I’ve taught it and I try to practice it. I believe there is still a place for printed newspapers, though mostly on the community level, where the local news coverage and commentary are less readily available by other means. Democracy needs the watchdog effort that newspapers and other media with integrity provide. You won’t find it in the Sun-News.
By Steve Klinger

We just canceled our longstanding subscription to the Las Cruces Sun-News. This had been a long time brewing, buy cialis and today we feel like liberated people.

A daily newspaper has been a long-engrained habit for my generation, but as much of the industry heads over the falls, it’s time for newspaper companies to do the only thing they have left (other than enhancing their online products), and that’s to try to salvage their remaining subscriber business by starting with a major mea culpa: They need to acknowledge they have been arrogant and complacent beyond all justification.

Yes, newspapers were pretty much the only game in town for certain types of news and advertising for about a century, but those days are about as dead as your 8-track tape player.

The service rep asked Kathy why we were canceling (a foolhardy question) and Kathy started to recite our litany of complaints:

1) The quality of the “journalism” has declined steadily, and it started from mediocrity
a) Lame, obvious, puff-piece “news” on the front page day after day, with recent lead stories ranging from Mother’s Day to Graduation to School’s Out, including a staged photo of LCPS students tossing their homework in the air in a recent edition
b) Ignoring or burying serious national and global news
c) Ignoring dissent such as anti-war protests, even at a time when hundreds of Las Cruces were marching through the streets
d) Constant rah-rah endorsement of military, veterans, local growth, the Spaceport, not only on news pages but in the self-serving propaganda pieces that masquerade as editorials
e) Non-existent copy editing, with so many typos, dropped stories and repeated stories that these “employees” would not have passed a high school English class back in the day

2) Utter lack of respect for readers and subscribers
a) Last week we got a Silver City edition delivered to our home in Las Cruces because apparently no one bothered to look at the front page before rolling it up and tossing it in our yard
b) The constantly shrinking page width, and the ridiculous 10-column classified and legal pages
c) This week, the point size of the type was reduced, without a word of explanation
d) Arrogant billing policies whereby our credit card has been automatically debited at six-month intervals without our consent (our own fault for not objecting immediately) so that we’re actually paying a higher rate for the “self-renewing” subscription we never ordered
e) Consolidation with the El Paso Times, which has resulted in pathetically early deadlines, a classified section made up mostly of El Paso ads, and a declining sense that the Sun-News is a local, Las Cruces publication. After shipping its press to Farmington and eliminating its Las Cruces copy desk, the latest move has been a near-complete style makeover that has left the paper looking just like the El Paso Times.

Kathy didn’t itemize quite all of the above, but she could have if the service rep had been interested in hearing more. We’re obviously not alone in rejecting this rag, as it’s clear that advertising has diminished along with news coverage, local classifieds and probably the number of subscriptions (we’d have to obtain an ABC audit to verify that, but I’m pretty confident).

The mainstream news media, and especially metro daily newspapers, are clearly an endangered species, thanks in part to the Internet; the trend in declining circulation and advertising has of course been exacerbated by the economy. But the years of inflated ad rates and an attitude that newspapers are above accountability and can put on a face of objectivity even as they further their own capitalistic agenda (promoting endless growth, militarism, insensitivity to social justice) has given us a media that does not serve the people. In hard times, the people will pull the plug, exactly as they are doing. And they won’t be plugging back in anytime soon.

It will be a shock to go cold turkey the first few days, but we’ll do more on-line reading, we’ll have less paper to deal with and our self-esteem will go up just from quitting that nasty, expensive Sun-News habit.

I believe in quality journalism. I’ve been influenced by it, I’ve taught it and I try to practice it. I believe there is still a place for printed newspapers, though mostly on the community level, where the local news coverage and commentary are less readily available by other means. Democracy needs the watchdog effort that newspapers and other media with integrity provide. You won’t find it in the Sun-News.

By Steve Klinger

We just canceled our longstanding subscription to the Las Cruces Sun-News. This had been a long time brewing, shop and today we feel like liberated people.

A daily newspaper has been a long-engrained habit for my generation, but as much of the industry heads over the falls, it’s time for newspaper companies to do the only thing they have left (other than enhancing their online products), and that’s to try to salvage their remaining subscriber business by starting with a major mea culpa: They need to acknowledge they have been arrogant and complacent beyond all justification.

Yes, newspapers were pretty much the only game in town for certain types of news and advertising for about a century, but those days are about as dead as your 8-track tape player.

The service rep asked Kathy why we were canceling (a foolhardy question) and Kathy started to recite our litany of complaints:

1) The quality of the “journalism” has declined steadily, and it started from mediocrity
a) Lame, obvious, puff-piece “news” on the front page day after day, with recent lead stories ranging from Mother’s Day to Graduation to School’s Out, including a staged photo of LCPS students tossing their homework in the air in a recent edition
b) Ignoring or burying serious national and global news
c) Ignoring dissent such as anti-war protests, even at a time when hundreds of Las Cruces were marching through the streets
d) Constant rah-rah endorsement of military, veterans, local growth, the Spaceport, not only on news pages but in the self-serving propaganda pieces that masquerade as editorials
e) Non-existent copy editing, with so many typos, dropped stories and repeated stories that these “employees” would not have passed a high school English class back in the day

2) Utter lack of respect for readers and subscribers
a) Last week we got a Silver City edition delivered to our home in Las Cruces because apparently no one bothered to look at the front page before rolling it up and tossing it in our yard
b) The constantly shrinking page width, and the ridiculous 10-column classified and legal pages
c) This week, the point size of the type was reduced, without a word of explanation
d) Arrogant billing policies whereby our credit card has been automatically debited at six-month intervals without our consent (our own fault for not objecting immediately) so that we’re actually paying a higher rate for the “self-renewing” subscription we never ordered
e) Consolidation with the El Paso Times, which has resulted in pathetically early deadlines, a classified section made up mostly of El Paso ads, and a declining sense that the Sun-News is a local, Las Cruces publication. After shipping its press to Farmington and eliminating its Las Cruces copy desk, the latest move has been a near-complete style makeover that has left the paper looking just like the El Paso Times.

Kathy didn’t itemize quite all of the above, but she could have if the service rep had been interested in hearing more. We’re obviously not alone in rejecting this rag, as it’s clear that advertising has diminished along with news coverage, local classifieds and probably the number of subscriptions (we’d have to obtain an ABC audit to verify that, but I’m pretty confident).

The mainstream news media, and especially metro daily newspapers, are clearly an endangered species, thanks in part to the Internet; the trend in declining circulation and advertising has of course been exacerbated by the economy. But the years of inflated ad rates and an attitude that newspapers are above accountability and can put on a face of objectivity even as they further their own capitalistic agenda (promoting endless growth, militarism, insensitivity to social justice) has given us a media that does not serve the people. In hard times, the people will pull the plug, exactly as they are doing. And they won’t be plugging back in anytime soon.

It will be a shock to go cold turkey the first few days, but we’ll do more on-line reading, we’ll have less paper to deal with and our self-esteem will go up just from quitting that nasty, expensive Sun-News habit.

I believe in quality journalism. I’ve been influenced by it, I’ve taught it and I try to practice it. I believe there is still a place for printed newspapers, though mostly on the community level, where the local news coverage and commentary are less readily available by other means. Democracy needs the watchdog effort that newspapers and other media with integrity provide. You won’t find it in the Sun-News.
By Steve Klinger

One hundred and twenty days into his first term as president, cialis 40mg
Barack Obama has galvanized opposition from both the left and the right, clinic
though his personal popularity and favorable opinion ratings remain very high. Where George Bush was the cowboy sheriff, firing from the hip with a snort and a smirk, Obama is the lawyerly professor, gathering input, offering compromise, explaining his practical, non-ideological approach in speeches, town hall meetings and press conferences.

Yet for all his promise of change and his rhetoric of inclusion and transparency, the policies emerging from the early days of the Obama administration are frustrating to progressives, and some bear disturbing parallels to the administration he loves to repudiate. Maybe it’s the all-powerful shadow government calling the shots, or maybe there’s some truth in the adage that the ultimate responsibility of the office has a sobering effect on the idealism of former presidential candidates. Or maybe Obama’s idealism needs a jump start after four months of shock and awe from dealing with the nightmare he inherited.

We can of course disregard the hysteria from the right, labeling Obama by turns a socialist, a tyrant, a spineless wimp and the anti-Christ incarnate. That was inevitable, and Obama was foolish to extend an olive branch to the ideologues who continue to march in lock step, even now as a shrinking, obstructionist minority. (Message to red states: If at first you don’t secede, try, try again. We’ll help you pack your bags!)

But from the left the criticism of Obama has been both valid and at times unfair.

Despite Obama’s rejection of extreme interrogation methods, and especially waterboarding, he has shown no interest in a thorough investigation and even a nonpartisan prosecution of the policy-makers. How can torture be totally wrong and yet legally forgivable?

Obama has been steadfast in his determination to bring health care reform to Americans, a welcome and long-overdue approach, yet he refuses to seriously consider a single-payer system, which is the only avenue that will reduce medical costs in an environment of social justice.

Obama has condemned the greed and moral depravity of Wall Street, yet his bailout programs and stimulus initiatives put far too much money in the hands of those who created the problems and not enough in the hands of those who need immediate relief. His version of Roosevelt’s New Deal is a pale impostor, with trickle-down capitalism instead of massive public works projects, and his key economic appointment, Timothy Geithner, seems unable to think outside of the rarified box in which he was incubated.

These are all valid concerns heard from the left and issues for which Obama’s feet must be held to the fire. As he himself noted, it’s not enough to vote for change; each of us must embody it and pressure those at the top, starting from the grassroots level. And as Howard Zinn so pointedly observed (http://www.progressive.org/zinn0509.html), Obama is above all a politician; he will take the path of compromise and triangulation unless he is pressured to do otherwise.

Obama is beholden to the rules of the game in Washington, which quite simply boils down to the prevailing power of money. As long as corporate interests finance Congressional and presidential campaigns, issues like meaningful gun control (the assault weapons pouring into Mexico) and single-payer health care are off the table. Could Obama spend his political capital and force the issue: probably, but he doesn’t want to take on a battle he thinks he’ll lose, so it’s up to citizens like us to choose our issues and force his hand.

National security/foreign policy is a more complex area to evaluate because so much information is classified or filtered through partisan prisms and therefore much harder to evaluate. But reversing course on military tribunals, while it may be repugnant in principle, is not a decision I take issue with, as long as at least some basic human rights are respected. The problem is that some terrorists we have tortured in the Bush-Cheney era and hardened into mortal enemies of our nation –even if they were not so to begin with – cannot be set free, and other nations won’t take them. Guantánamo can and should be closed, but there is no way to provide civilian trials for some of its inmates (the “evidence” is either hearsay or inadmissible coerced confessions), and criticism of Obama’s response to an abominable situation he didn’t create strikes me as unfair. What would progressives do with the few dozen Gitmo detainees who can’t be tried, yet can’t be set free?

What troubles me more are Obama’s protectiveness of executive power (White House e-mails and guest logs, for example) in cases when transparency has no virtuous counter-argument, and a persistent, almost reflexive pragmatism when principles such as the constitutional duty to prosecute torturers are sacrificed to short-term political expediency. And sadly, if predictably, Obama has thus far embraced the culture of militarism and empire, with a little lip service to nuclear nonproliferation. What we need is a mindset of espousing alternatives to violence – a high bar indeed to set for a mainstream politician, but the only path to continued evolution of the human species.

If Obama is to make a difference it must be not with lofty rhetoric but with leading a government that actually protects and defends its neediest citizens from social and cultural evil, safeguarding them not only from foreign attack but from domestic predators of every stripe and from the self-serving instincts of their own leaders. That’s the Obama I voted for, and for that I will hold him accountable.
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, ailment
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, order but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, advice
but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, adiposity
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, pestilence
but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
[Mayor Ken Miyagishima e-mailed the following statement on the quality-of-life tax with the weekly City Council Information letter. Editor]

FYI: I do not support the quality of life tax as this time for the following reasons:

I believe we (council) can do more to increase funding to avoid raising taxes such as:

1. Proceeds from CLC license plate will generate approximately $150, buy cialis
000 to be dedicated to the recreation fund.

2. We are currently looking at helping both the Museum Foundation and Branigan Foundation to generate income, cialis 40mg
thus reducing city funding. This could also generate approximately $100, tadalafil
000 – $150,000

3. I believe we could sell some small “Pocket parks” that according to staff could be as many as 20 very small, seldom used pocket parks. What is a pocket park? Basically a small piece of land within a subdivision that the developer “donated” to the city to be used as a park. Savings: $150,000

As you can tell, this could raise or save about $400,000 to be used toward recreation.

Thank you, KEN MIYAGISHIMA

By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, order
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, viagra order
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, buy it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, drugs
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, pilule
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, cheap
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, capsule
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, mind
the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, more about
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, denture
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, more
as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, more about
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, mind as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, ask
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, dosage
especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, population health
as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, ailment
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Steve Klinger

We just canceled our longstanding subscription to the Las Cruces Sun-News. This had been a long time brewing, look
and today we feel like liberated people.

A daily newspaper has been a long-engrained habit for my generation, but as much of the industry heads over the falls, it’s time for newspaper companies to do the only thing they have left (other than enhancing their online products), and that’s to try to salvage their remaining subscriber business by starting with a major mea culpa: They need to acknowledge they have been arrogant and complacent beyond all justification.

Yes, newspapers were pretty much the only game in town for certain types of news and advertising for about a century, but those days are about as dead as your 8-track tape player.

The service rep asked Kathy why we were canceling (a foolhardy question) and Kathy started to recite our litany of complaints:

1) The quality of the “journalism” has declined steadily, and it started from mediocrity
a) Lame, obvious, puff-piece “news” on the front page day after day, with recent lead stories ranging from Mother’s Day to Graduation to School’s Out, including a staged photo of LCPS students tossing their homework in the air in a recent edition
b) Ignoring or burying serious national and global news
c) Ignoring dissent such as anti-war protests, even at a time when hundreds of Las Cruces were marching through the streets
d) Constant rah-rah endorsement of military, veterans, local growth, the Spaceport, not only on news pages but in the self-serving propaganda pieces that masquerade as editorials
e) Non-existent copy editing, with so many typos, dropped stories and repeated stories that these “employees” would not have passed a high school English class back in the day

2) Utter lack of respect for readers and subscribers
a) Last week we got a Silver City edition delivered to our home in Las Cruces because apparently no one bothered to look at the front page before rolling it up and tossing it in our yard
b) The constantly shrinking page width, and the ridiculous 10-column classified and legal pages
c) This week, the point size of the type was reduced, without a word of explanation
d) Arrogant billing policies whereby our credit card has been automatically debited at six-month intervals without our consent (our own fault for not objecting immediately) so that we’re actually paying a higher rate for the “self-renewing” subscription we never ordered
e) Consolidation with the El Paso Times, which has resulted in pathetically early deadlines, a classified section made up mostly of El Paso ads, and a declining sense that the Sun-News is a local, Las Cruces publication. After shipping its press to Farmington and eliminating its Las Cruces copy desk, the latest move has been a near-complete style makeover that has left the paper looking just like the El Paso Times.

Kathy didn’t itemize quite all of the above, but she could have if the service rep had been interested in hearing more. We’re obviously not alone in rejecting this rag, as it’s clear that advertising has diminished along with news coverage, local classifieds and probably the number of subscriptions (we’d have to obtain an ABC audit to verify that, but I’m pretty confident).

The mainstream news media, and especially metro daily newspapers, are clearly an endangered species, thanks in part to the Internet; the trend in declining circulation and advertising has of course been exacerbated by the economy. But the years of inflated ad rates and an attitude that newspapers are above accountability and can put on a face of objectivity even as they further their own capitalistic agenda (promoting endless growth, militarism, insensitivity to social justice) has given us a media that does not serve the people. In hard times, the people will pull the plug, exactly as they are doing. And they won’t be plugging back in anytime soon.

It will be a shock to go cold turkey the first few days, but we’ll do more on-line reading, we’ll have less paper to deal with and our self-esteem will go up just from quitting that nasty, expensive Sun-News habit.

I believe in quality journalism. I’ve been influenced by it, I’ve taught it and I try to practice it. I believe there is still a place for printed newspapers, though mostly on the community level, where the local news coverage and commentary are less readily available by other means. Democracy needs the watchdog effort that newspapers and other media with integrity provide. You won’t find it in the Sun-News.
By Steve Klinger

We just canceled our longstanding subscription to the Las Cruces Sun-News. This had been a long time brewing, buy cialis and today we feel like liberated people.

A daily newspaper has been a long-engrained habit for my generation, but as much of the industry heads over the falls, it’s time for newspaper companies to do the only thing they have left (other than enhancing their online products), and that’s to try to salvage their remaining subscriber business by starting with a major mea culpa: They need to acknowledge they have been arrogant and complacent beyond all justification.

Yes, newspapers were pretty much the only game in town for certain types of news and advertising for about a century, but those days are about as dead as your 8-track tape player.

The service rep asked Kathy why we were canceling (a foolhardy question) and Kathy started to recite our litany of complaints:

1) The quality of the “journalism” has declined steadily, and it started from mediocrity
a) Lame, obvious, puff-piece “news” on the front page day after day, with recent lead stories ranging from Mother’s Day to Graduation to School’s Out, including a staged photo of LCPS students tossing their homework in the air in a recent edition
b) Ignoring or burying serious national and global news
c) Ignoring dissent such as anti-war protests, even at a time when hundreds of Las Cruces were marching through the streets
d) Constant rah-rah endorsement of military, veterans, local growth, the Spaceport, not only on news pages but in the self-serving propaganda pieces that masquerade as editorials
e) Non-existent copy editing, with so many typos, dropped stories and repeated stories that these “employees” would not have passed a high school English class back in the day

2) Utter lack of respect for readers and subscribers
a) Last week we got a Silver City edition delivered to our home in Las Cruces because apparently no one bothered to look at the front page before rolling it up and tossing it in our yard
b) The constantly shrinking page width, and the ridiculous 10-column classified and legal pages
c) This week, the point size of the type was reduced, without a word of explanation
d) Arrogant billing policies whereby our credit card has been automatically debited at six-month intervals without our consent (our own fault for not objecting immediately) so that we’re actually paying a higher rate for the “self-renewing” subscription we never ordered
e) Consolidation with the El Paso Times, which has resulted in pathetically early deadlines, a classified section made up mostly of El Paso ads, and a declining sense that the Sun-News is a local, Las Cruces publication. After shipping its press to Farmington and eliminating its Las Cruces copy desk, the latest move has been a near-complete style makeover that has left the paper looking just like the El Paso Times.

Kathy didn’t itemize quite all of the above, but she could have if the service rep had been interested in hearing more. We’re obviously not alone in rejecting this rag, as it’s clear that advertising has diminished along with news coverage, local classifieds and probably the number of subscriptions (we’d have to obtain an ABC audit to verify that, but I’m pretty confident).

The mainstream news media, and especially metro daily newspapers, are clearly an endangered species, thanks in part to the Internet; the trend in declining circulation and advertising has of course been exacerbated by the economy. But the years of inflated ad rates and an attitude that newspapers are above accountability and can put on a face of objectivity even as they further their own capitalistic agenda (promoting endless growth, militarism, insensitivity to social justice) has given us a media that does not serve the people. In hard times, the people will pull the plug, exactly as they are doing. And they won’t be plugging back in anytime soon.

It will be a shock to go cold turkey the first few days, but we’ll do more on-line reading, we’ll have less paper to deal with and our self-esteem will go up just from quitting that nasty, expensive Sun-News habit.

I believe in quality journalism. I’ve been influenced by it, I’ve taught it and I try to practice it. I believe there is still a place for printed newspapers, though mostly on the community level, where the local news coverage and commentary are less readily available by other means. Democracy needs the watchdog effort that newspapers and other media with integrity provide. You won’t find it in the Sun-News.

By Steve Klinger

We just canceled our longstanding subscription to the Las Cruces Sun-News. This had been a long time brewing, shop and today we feel like liberated people.

A daily newspaper has been a long-engrained habit for my generation, but as much of the industry heads over the falls, it’s time for newspaper companies to do the only thing they have left (other than enhancing their online products), and that’s to try to salvage their remaining subscriber business by starting with a major mea culpa: They need to acknowledge they have been arrogant and complacent beyond all justification.

Yes, newspapers were pretty much the only game in town for certain types of news and advertising for about a century, but those days are about as dead as your 8-track tape player.

The service rep asked Kathy why we were canceling (a foolhardy question) and Kathy started to recite our litany of complaints:

1) The quality of the “journalism” has declined steadily, and it started from mediocrity
a) Lame, obvious, puff-piece “news” on the front page day after day, with recent lead stories ranging from Mother’s Day to Graduation to School’s Out, including a staged photo of LCPS students tossing their homework in the air in a recent edition
b) Ignoring or burying serious national and global news
c) Ignoring dissent such as anti-war protests, even at a time when hundreds of Las Cruces were marching through the streets
d) Constant rah-rah endorsement of military, veterans, local growth, the Spaceport, not only on news pages but in the self-serving propaganda pieces that masquerade as editorials
e) Non-existent copy editing, with so many typos, dropped stories and repeated stories that these “employees” would not have passed a high school English class back in the day

2) Utter lack of respect for readers and subscribers
a) Last week we got a Silver City edition delivered to our home in Las Cruces because apparently no one bothered to look at the front page before rolling it up and tossing it in our yard
b) The constantly shrinking page width, and the ridiculous 10-column classified and legal pages
c) This week, the point size of the type was reduced, without a word of explanation
d) Arrogant billing policies whereby our credit card has been automatically debited at six-month intervals without our consent (our own fault for not objecting immediately) so that we’re actually paying a higher rate for the “self-renewing” subscription we never ordered
e) Consolidation with the El Paso Times, which has resulted in pathetically early deadlines, a classified section made up mostly of El Paso ads, and a declining sense that the Sun-News is a local, Las Cruces publication. After shipping its press to Farmington and eliminating its Las Cruces copy desk, the latest move has been a near-complete style makeover that has left the paper looking just like the El Paso Times.

Kathy didn’t itemize quite all of the above, but she could have if the service rep had been interested in hearing more. We’re obviously not alone in rejecting this rag, as it’s clear that advertising has diminished along with news coverage, local classifieds and probably the number of subscriptions (we’d have to obtain an ABC audit to verify that, but I’m pretty confident).

The mainstream news media, and especially metro daily newspapers, are clearly an endangered species, thanks in part to the Internet; the trend in declining circulation and advertising has of course been exacerbated by the economy. But the years of inflated ad rates and an attitude that newspapers are above accountability and can put on a face of objectivity even as they further their own capitalistic agenda (promoting endless growth, militarism, insensitivity to social justice) has given us a media that does not serve the people. In hard times, the people will pull the plug, exactly as they are doing. And they won’t be plugging back in anytime soon.

It will be a shock to go cold turkey the first few days, but we’ll do more on-line reading, we’ll have less paper to deal with and our self-esteem will go up just from quitting that nasty, expensive Sun-News habit.

I believe in quality journalism. I’ve been influenced by it, I’ve taught it and I try to practice it. I believe there is still a place for printed newspapers, though mostly on the community level, where the local news coverage and commentary are less readily available by other means. Democracy needs the watchdog effort that newspapers and other media with integrity provide. You won’t find it in the Sun-News.
By Steve Klinger

One hundred and twenty days into his first term as president, cialis 40mg
Barack Obama has galvanized opposition from both the left and the right, clinic
though his personal popularity and favorable opinion ratings remain very high. Where George Bush was the cowboy sheriff, firing from the hip with a snort and a smirk, Obama is the lawyerly professor, gathering input, offering compromise, explaining his practical, non-ideological approach in speeches, town hall meetings and press conferences.

Yet for all his promise of change and his rhetoric of inclusion and transparency, the policies emerging from the early days of the Obama administration are frustrating to progressives, and some bear disturbing parallels to the administration he loves to repudiate. Maybe it’s the all-powerful shadow government calling the shots, or maybe there’s some truth in the adage that the ultimate responsibility of the office has a sobering effect on the idealism of former presidential candidates. Or maybe Obama’s idealism needs a jump start after four months of shock and awe from dealing with the nightmare he inherited.

We can of course disregard the hysteria from the right, labeling Obama by turns a socialist, a tyrant, a spineless wimp and the anti-Christ incarnate. That was inevitable, and Obama was foolish to extend an olive branch to the ideologues who continue to march in lock step, even now as a shrinking, obstructionist minority. (Message to red states: If at first you don’t secede, try, try again. We’ll help you pack your bags!)

But from the left the criticism of Obama has been both valid and at times unfair.

Despite Obama’s rejection of extreme interrogation methods, and especially waterboarding, he has shown no interest in a thorough investigation and even a nonpartisan prosecution of the policy-makers. How can torture be totally wrong and yet legally forgivable?

Obama has been steadfast in his determination to bring health care reform to Americans, a welcome and long-overdue approach, yet he refuses to seriously consider a single-payer system, which is the only avenue that will reduce medical costs in an environment of social justice.

Obama has condemned the greed and moral depravity of Wall Street, yet his bailout programs and stimulus initiatives put far too much money in the hands of those who created the problems and not enough in the hands of those who need immediate relief. His version of Roosevelt’s New Deal is a pale impostor, with trickle-down capitalism instead of massive public works projects, and his key economic appointment, Timothy Geithner, seems unable to think outside of the rarified box in which he was incubated.

These are all valid concerns heard from the left and issues for which Obama’s feet must be held to the fire. As he himself noted, it’s not enough to vote for change; each of us must embody it and pressure those at the top, starting from the grassroots level. And as Howard Zinn so pointedly observed (http://www.progressive.org/zinn0509.html), Obama is above all a politician; he will take the path of compromise and triangulation unless he is pressured to do otherwise.

Obama is beholden to the rules of the game in Washington, which quite simply boils down to the prevailing power of money. As long as corporate interests finance Congressional and presidential campaigns, issues like meaningful gun control (the assault weapons pouring into Mexico) and single-payer health care are off the table. Could Obama spend his political capital and force the issue: probably, but he doesn’t want to take on a battle he thinks he’ll lose, so it’s up to citizens like us to choose our issues and force his hand.

National security/foreign policy is a more complex area to evaluate because so much information is classified or filtered through partisan prisms and therefore much harder to evaluate. But reversing course on military tribunals, while it may be repugnant in principle, is not a decision I take issue with, as long as at least some basic human rights are respected. The problem is that some terrorists we have tortured in the Bush-Cheney era and hardened into mortal enemies of our nation –even if they were not so to begin with – cannot be set free, and other nations won’t take them. Guantánamo can and should be closed, but there is no way to provide civilian trials for some of its inmates (the “evidence” is either hearsay or inadmissible coerced confessions), and criticism of Obama’s response to an abominable situation he didn’t create strikes me as unfair. What would progressives do with the few dozen Gitmo detainees who can’t be tried, yet can’t be set free?

What troubles me more are Obama’s protectiveness of executive power (White House e-mails and guest logs, for example) in cases when transparency has no virtuous counter-argument, and a persistent, almost reflexive pragmatism when principles such as the constitutional duty to prosecute torturers are sacrificed to short-term political expediency. And sadly, if predictably, Obama has thus far embraced the culture of militarism and empire, with a little lip service to nuclear nonproliferation. What we need is a mindset of espousing alternatives to violence – a high bar indeed to set for a mainstream politician, but the only path to continued evolution of the human species.

If Obama is to make a difference it must be not with lofty rhetoric but with leading a government that actually protects and defends its neediest citizens from social and cultural evil, safeguarding them not only from foreign attack but from domestic predators of every stripe and from the self-serving instincts of their own leaders. That’s the Obama I voted for, and for that I will hold him accountable.
By Steve Klinger

One hundred and twenty days into his first term as president, approved
Barack Obama has galvanized opposition from both the left and the right, though his personal popularity and favorable opinion ratings remain very high. Where George Bush was the cowboy sheriff, firing from the hip with a snort and a smirk, Obama is the lawyerly professor, gathering input, offering compromise, explaining his practical, non-ideological approach in speeches, town hall meetings and press conferences.

Yet for all his promise of change and his rhetoric of inclusion and transparency, the policies emerging from the early days of the Obama administration are frustrating to progressives, and some bear disturbing parallels to the administration he loves to repudiate. Maybe it’s the all-powerful shadow government calling the shots, or maybe there’s some truth in the adage that the ultimate responsibility of the office has a sobering effect on the idealism of former presidential candidates. Or maybe Obama’s idealism needs a jump start after four months of shock and awe from dealing with the nightmare he inherited.

We can of course disregard the hysteria from the right, labeling Obama by turns a socialist, a tyrant, a spineless wimp and the anti-Christ incarnate. That was inevitable, and Obama was foolish to extend an olive branch to the ideologues who continue to march in lock step, even now as a shrinking, obstructionist minority. (Message to red states: If at first you don’t secede, try, try again. We’ll help you pack your bags!)

But from the left the criticism of Obama has been both valid and at times unfair.

Despite Obama’s rejection of extreme interrogation methods, and especially waterboarding, he has shown no interest in a thorough investigation and even a nonpartisan prosecution of the policy-makers. How can torture be totally wrong and yet legally forgivable?

Obama has been steadfast in his determination to bring health care reform to Americans, a welcome and long-overdue approach, yet he refuses to seriously consider a single-payer system, which is the only avenue that will reduce medical costs in an environment of social justice.

Obama has condemned the greed and moral depravity of Wall Street, yet his bailout programs and stimulus initiatives put far too much money in the hands of those who created the problems and not enough in the hands of those who need immediate relief. His version of Roosevelt’s New Deal is a pale impostor, with trickle-down capitalism instead of massive public works projects, and his key economic appointment, Timothy Geithner, seems unable to think outside of the rarified box in which he was incubated.

These are all valid concerns heard from the left and issues for which Obama’s feet must be held to the fire. As he himself noted, it’s not enough to vote for change; each of us must embody it and pressure those at the top, starting from the grassroots level. And as Howard Zinn so pointedly observed (http://www.progressive.org/zinn0509.html), Obama is above all a politician; he will take the path of compromise and triangulation unless he is pressured to do otherwise.

Obama is beholden to the rules of the game in Washington, which quite simply boils down to the prevailing power of money. As long as corporate interests finance Congressional and presidential campaigns, issues like meaningful gun control (the assault weapons pouring into Mexico) and single-payer health care are off the table. Could Obama spend his political capital and force the issue: probably, but he doesn’t want to take on a battle he thinks he’ll lose, so it’s up to citizens like us to choose our issues and force his hand.

National security/foreign policy is a more complex area to evaluate because so much information is classified or filtered through partisan prisms and therefore much harder to evaluate. But reversing course on military tribunals, while it may be repugnant in principle, is not a decision I take issue with, as long as at least some basic human rights are respected. The problem is that some terrorists we have tortured in the Bush-Cheney era and hardened into mortal enemies of our nation –even if they were not so to begin with – cannot be set free, and other nations won’t take them. Guantánamo can and should be closed, but there is no way to provide civilian trials for some of its inmates (the “evidence” is either hearsay or inadmissible coerced confessions), and criticism of Obama’s response to an abominable situation he didn’t create strikes me as unfair. What would progressives do with the few dozen Gitmo detainees who can’t be tried, yet can’t be set free?

What troubles me more are Obama’s protectiveness of executive power (White House e-mails and guest logs, for example) in cases when transparency has no virtuous counter-argument, and a persistent, almost reflexive pragmatism when principles such as the constitutional duty to prosecute torturers are sacrificed to short-term political expediency. And sadly, if predictably, Obama has thus far embraced the culture of militarism and empire, with a little lip service to nuclear nonproliferation. What we need is a mindset of espousing alternatives to violence – a high bar indeed to set for a mainstream politician, but the only path to continued evolution of the human species.

If Obama is to make a difference it must be not with lofty rhetoric but with leading a government that actually protects and defends its neediest citizens from social and cultural evil, safeguarding them not only from foreign attack but from domestic predators of every stripe and from the self-serving instincts of their own leaders. That’s the Obama I voted for, and for that I will hold him accountable.
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, ailment
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, order but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, advice
but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, adiposity
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, pestilence
but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
[Mayor Ken Miyagishima e-mailed the following statement on the quality-of-life tax with the weekly City Council Information letter. Editor]

FYI: I do not support the quality of life tax as this time for the following reasons:

I believe we (council) can do more to increase funding to avoid raising taxes such as:

1. Proceeds from CLC license plate will generate approximately $150, buy cialis
000 to be dedicated to the recreation fund.

2. We are currently looking at helping both the Museum Foundation and Branigan Foundation to generate income, cialis 40mg
thus reducing city funding. This could also generate approximately $100, tadalafil
000 – $150,000

3. I believe we could sell some small “Pocket parks” that according to staff could be as many as 20 very small, seldom used pocket parks. What is a pocket park? Basically a small piece of land within a subdivision that the developer “donated” to the city to be used as a park. Savings: $150,000

As you can tell, this could raise or save about $400,000 to be used toward recreation.

Thank you, KEN MIYAGISHIMA

By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, order
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, viagra order
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, buy it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, drugs
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, pilule
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, cheap
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, capsule
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, mind
the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, more about
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, denture
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, more
as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, more about
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, mind as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, ask
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, dosage
especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, population health
as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, ailment
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Steve Klinger

We just canceled our longstanding subscription to the Las Cruces Sun-News. This had been a long time brewing, look
and today we feel like liberated people.

A daily newspaper has been a long-engrained habit for my generation, but as much of the industry heads over the falls, it’s time for newspaper companies to do the only thing they have left (other than enhancing their online products), and that’s to try to salvage their remaining subscriber business by starting with a major mea culpa: They need to acknowledge they have been arrogant and complacent beyond all justification.

Yes, newspapers were pretty much the only game in town for certain types of news and advertising for about a century, but those days are about as dead as your 8-track tape player.

The service rep asked Kathy why we were canceling (a foolhardy question) and Kathy started to recite our litany of complaints:

1) The quality of the “journalism” has declined steadily, and it started from mediocrity
a) Lame, obvious, puff-piece “news” on the front page day after day, with recent lead stories ranging from Mother’s Day to Graduation to School’s Out, including a staged photo of LCPS students tossing their homework in the air in a recent edition
b) Ignoring or burying serious national and global news
c) Ignoring dissent such as anti-war protests, even at a time when hundreds of Las Cruces were marching through the streets
d) Constant rah-rah endorsement of military, veterans, local growth, the Spaceport, not only on news pages but in the self-serving propaganda pieces that masquerade as editorials
e) Non-existent copy editing, with so many typos, dropped stories and repeated stories that these “employees” would not have passed a high school English class back in the day

2) Utter lack of respect for readers and subscribers
a) Last week we got a Silver City edition delivered to our home in Las Cruces because apparently no one bothered to look at the front page before rolling it up and tossing it in our yard
b) The constantly shrinking page width, and the ridiculous 10-column classified and legal pages
c) This week, the point size of the type was reduced, without a word of explanation
d) Arrogant billing policies whereby our credit card has been automatically debited at six-month intervals without our consent (our own fault for not objecting immediately) so that we’re actually paying a higher rate for the “self-renewing” subscription we never ordered
e) Consolidation with the El Paso Times, which has resulted in pathetically early deadlines, a classified section made up mostly of El Paso ads, and a declining sense that the Sun-News is a local, Las Cruces publication. After shipping its press to Farmington and eliminating its Las Cruces copy desk, the latest move has been a near-complete style makeover that has left the paper looking just like the El Paso Times.

Kathy didn’t itemize quite all of the above, but she could have if the service rep had been interested in hearing more. We’re obviously not alone in rejecting this rag, as it’s clear that advertising has diminished along with news coverage, local classifieds and probably the number of subscriptions (we’d have to obtain an ABC audit to verify that, but I’m pretty confident).

The mainstream news media, and especially metro daily newspapers, are clearly an endangered species, thanks in part to the Internet; the trend in declining circulation and advertising has of course been exacerbated by the economy. But the years of inflated ad rates and an attitude that newspapers are above accountability and can put on a face of objectivity even as they further their own capitalistic agenda (promoting endless growth, militarism, insensitivity to social justice) has given us a media that does not serve the people. In hard times, the people will pull the plug, exactly as they are doing. And they won’t be plugging back in anytime soon.

It will be a shock to go cold turkey the first few days, but we’ll do more on-line reading, we’ll have less paper to deal with and our self-esteem will go up just from quitting that nasty, expensive Sun-News habit.

I believe in quality journalism. I’ve been influenced by it, I’ve taught it and I try to practice it. I believe there is still a place for printed newspapers, though mostly on the community level, where the local news coverage and commentary are less readily available by other means. Democracy needs the watchdog effort that newspapers and other media with integrity provide. You won’t find it in the Sun-News.
By Steve Klinger

We just canceled our longstanding subscription to the Las Cruces Sun-News. This had been a long time brewing, buy cialis and today we feel like liberated people.

A daily newspaper has been a long-engrained habit for my generation, but as much of the industry heads over the falls, it’s time for newspaper companies to do the only thing they have left (other than enhancing their online products), and that’s to try to salvage their remaining subscriber business by starting with a major mea culpa: They need to acknowledge they have been arrogant and complacent beyond all justification.

Yes, newspapers were pretty much the only game in town for certain types of news and advertising for about a century, but those days are about as dead as your 8-track tape player.

The service rep asked Kathy why we were canceling (a foolhardy question) and Kathy started to recite our litany of complaints:

1) The quality of the “journalism” has declined steadily, and it started from mediocrity
a) Lame, obvious, puff-piece “news” on the front page day after day, with recent lead stories ranging from Mother’s Day to Graduation to School’s Out, including a staged photo of LCPS students tossing their homework in the air in a recent edition
b) Ignoring or burying serious national and global news
c) Ignoring dissent such as anti-war protests, even at a time when hundreds of Las Cruces were marching through the streets
d) Constant rah-rah endorsement of military, veterans, local growth, the Spaceport, not only on news pages but in the self-serving propaganda pieces that masquerade as editorials
e) Non-existent copy editing, with so many typos, dropped stories and repeated stories that these “employees” would not have passed a high school English class back in the day

2) Utter lack of respect for readers and subscribers
a) Last week we got a Silver City edition delivered to our home in Las Cruces because apparently no one bothered to look at the front page before rolling it up and tossing it in our yard
b) The constantly shrinking page width, and the ridiculous 10-column classified and legal pages
c) This week, the point size of the type was reduced, without a word of explanation
d) Arrogant billing policies whereby our credit card has been automatically debited at six-month intervals without our consent (our own fault for not objecting immediately) so that we’re actually paying a higher rate for the “self-renewing” subscription we never ordered
e) Consolidation with the El Paso Times, which has resulted in pathetically early deadlines, a classified section made up mostly of El Paso ads, and a declining sense that the Sun-News is a local, Las Cruces publication. After shipping its press to Farmington and eliminating its Las Cruces copy desk, the latest move has been a near-complete style makeover that has left the paper looking just like the El Paso Times.

Kathy didn’t itemize quite all of the above, but she could have if the service rep had been interested in hearing more. We’re obviously not alone in rejecting this rag, as it’s clear that advertising has diminished along with news coverage, local classifieds and probably the number of subscriptions (we’d have to obtain an ABC audit to verify that, but I’m pretty confident).

The mainstream news media, and especially metro daily newspapers, are clearly an endangered species, thanks in part to the Internet; the trend in declining circulation and advertising has of course been exacerbated by the economy. But the years of inflated ad rates and an attitude that newspapers are above accountability and can put on a face of objectivity even as they further their own capitalistic agenda (promoting endless growth, militarism, insensitivity to social justice) has given us a media that does not serve the people. In hard times, the people will pull the plug, exactly as they are doing. And they won’t be plugging back in anytime soon.

It will be a shock to go cold turkey the first few days, but we’ll do more on-line reading, we’ll have less paper to deal with and our self-esteem will go up just from quitting that nasty, expensive Sun-News habit.

I believe in quality journalism. I’ve been influenced by it, I’ve taught it and I try to practice it. I believe there is still a place for printed newspapers, though mostly on the community level, where the local news coverage and commentary are less readily available by other means. Democracy needs the watchdog effort that newspapers and other media with integrity provide. You won’t find it in the Sun-News.

By Steve Klinger

We just canceled our longstanding subscription to the Las Cruces Sun-News. This had been a long time brewing, shop and today we feel like liberated people.

A daily newspaper has been a long-engrained habit for my generation, but as much of the industry heads over the falls, it’s time for newspaper companies to do the only thing they have left (other than enhancing their online products), and that’s to try to salvage their remaining subscriber business by starting with a major mea culpa: They need to acknowledge they have been arrogant and complacent beyond all justification.

Yes, newspapers were pretty much the only game in town for certain types of news and advertising for about a century, but those days are about as dead as your 8-track tape player.

The service rep asked Kathy why we were canceling (a foolhardy question) and Kathy started to recite our litany of complaints:

1) The quality of the “journalism” has declined steadily, and it started from mediocrity
a) Lame, obvious, puff-piece “news” on the front page day after day, with recent lead stories ranging from Mother’s Day to Graduation to School’s Out, including a staged photo of LCPS students tossing their homework in the air in a recent edition
b) Ignoring or burying serious national and global news
c) Ignoring dissent such as anti-war protests, even at a time when hundreds of Las Cruces were marching through the streets
d) Constant rah-rah endorsement of military, veterans, local growth, the Spaceport, not only on news pages but in the self-serving propaganda pieces that masquerade as editorials
e) Non-existent copy editing, with so many typos, dropped stories and repeated stories that these “employees” would not have passed a high school English class back in the day

2) Utter lack of respect for readers and subscribers
a) Last week we got a Silver City edition delivered to our home in Las Cruces because apparently no one bothered to look at the front page before rolling it up and tossing it in our yard
b) The constantly shrinking page width, and the ridiculous 10-column classified and legal pages
c) This week, the point size of the type was reduced, without a word of explanation
d) Arrogant billing policies whereby our credit card has been automatically debited at six-month intervals without our consent (our own fault for not objecting immediately) so that we’re actually paying a higher rate for the “self-renewing” subscription we never ordered
e) Consolidation with the El Paso Times, which has resulted in pathetically early deadlines, a classified section made up mostly of El Paso ads, and a declining sense that the Sun-News is a local, Las Cruces publication. After shipping its press to Farmington and eliminating its Las Cruces copy desk, the latest move has been a near-complete style makeover that has left the paper looking just like the El Paso Times.

Kathy didn’t itemize quite all of the above, but she could have if the service rep had been interested in hearing more. We’re obviously not alone in rejecting this rag, as it’s clear that advertising has diminished along with news coverage, local classifieds and probably the number of subscriptions (we’d have to obtain an ABC audit to verify that, but I’m pretty confident).

The mainstream news media, and especially metro daily newspapers, are clearly an endangered species, thanks in part to the Internet; the trend in declining circulation and advertising has of course been exacerbated by the economy. But the years of inflated ad rates and an attitude that newspapers are above accountability and can put on a face of objectivity even as they further their own capitalistic agenda (promoting endless growth, militarism, insensitivity to social justice) has given us a media that does not serve the people. In hard times, the people will pull the plug, exactly as they are doing. And they won’t be plugging back in anytime soon.

It will be a shock to go cold turkey the first few days, but we’ll do more on-line reading, we’ll have less paper to deal with and our self-esteem will go up just from quitting that nasty, expensive Sun-News habit.

I believe in quality journalism. I’ve been influenced by it, I’ve taught it and I try to practice it. I believe there is still a place for printed newspapers, though mostly on the community level, where the local news coverage and commentary are less readily available by other means. Democracy needs the watchdog effort that newspapers and other media with integrity provide. You won’t find it in the Sun-News.
By Steve Klinger

One hundred and twenty days into his first term as president, cialis 40mg
Barack Obama has galvanized opposition from both the left and the right, clinic
though his personal popularity and favorable opinion ratings remain very high. Where George Bush was the cowboy sheriff, firing from the hip with a snort and a smirk, Obama is the lawyerly professor, gathering input, offering compromise, explaining his practical, non-ideological approach in speeches, town hall meetings and press conferences.

Yet for all his promise of change and his rhetoric of inclusion and transparency, the policies emerging from the early days of the Obama administration are frustrating to progressives, and some bear disturbing parallels to the administration he loves to repudiate. Maybe it’s the all-powerful shadow government calling the shots, or maybe there’s some truth in the adage that the ultimate responsibility of the office has a sobering effect on the idealism of former presidential candidates. Or maybe Obama’s idealism needs a jump start after four months of shock and awe from dealing with the nightmare he inherited.

We can of course disregard the hysteria from the right, labeling Obama by turns a socialist, a tyrant, a spineless wimp and the anti-Christ incarnate. That was inevitable, and Obama was foolish to extend an olive branch to the ideologues who continue to march in lock step, even now as a shrinking, obstructionist minority. (Message to red states: If at first you don’t secede, try, try again. We’ll help you pack your bags!)

But from the left the criticism of Obama has been both valid and at times unfair.

Despite Obama’s rejection of extreme interrogation methods, and especially waterboarding, he has shown no interest in a thorough investigation and even a nonpartisan prosecution of the policy-makers. How can torture be totally wrong and yet legally forgivable?

Obama has been steadfast in his determination to bring health care reform to Americans, a welcome and long-overdue approach, yet he refuses to seriously consider a single-payer system, which is the only avenue that will reduce medical costs in an environment of social justice.

Obama has condemned the greed and moral depravity of Wall Street, yet his bailout programs and stimulus initiatives put far too much money in the hands of those who created the problems and not enough in the hands of those who need immediate relief. His version of Roosevelt’s New Deal is a pale impostor, with trickle-down capitalism instead of massive public works projects, and his key economic appointment, Timothy Geithner, seems unable to think outside of the rarified box in which he was incubated.

These are all valid concerns heard from the left and issues for which Obama’s feet must be held to the fire. As he himself noted, it’s not enough to vote for change; each of us must embody it and pressure those at the top, starting from the grassroots level. And as Howard Zinn so pointedly observed (http://www.progressive.org/zinn0509.html), Obama is above all a politician; he will take the path of compromise and triangulation unless he is pressured to do otherwise.

Obama is beholden to the rules of the game in Washington, which quite simply boils down to the prevailing power of money. As long as corporate interests finance Congressional and presidential campaigns, issues like meaningful gun control (the assault weapons pouring into Mexico) and single-payer health care are off the table. Could Obama spend his political capital and force the issue: probably, but he doesn’t want to take on a battle he thinks he’ll lose, so it’s up to citizens like us to choose our issues and force his hand.

National security/foreign policy is a more complex area to evaluate because so much information is classified or filtered through partisan prisms and therefore much harder to evaluate. But reversing course on military tribunals, while it may be repugnant in principle, is not a decision I take issue with, as long as at least some basic human rights are respected. The problem is that some terrorists we have tortured in the Bush-Cheney era and hardened into mortal enemies of our nation –even if they were not so to begin with – cannot be set free, and other nations won’t take them. Guantánamo can and should be closed, but there is no way to provide civilian trials for some of its inmates (the “evidence” is either hearsay or inadmissible coerced confessions), and criticism of Obama’s response to an abominable situation he didn’t create strikes me as unfair. What would progressives do with the few dozen Gitmo detainees who can’t be tried, yet can’t be set free?

What troubles me more are Obama’s protectiveness of executive power (White House e-mails and guest logs, for example) in cases when transparency has no virtuous counter-argument, and a persistent, almost reflexive pragmatism when principles such as the constitutional duty to prosecute torturers are sacrificed to short-term political expediency. And sadly, if predictably, Obama has thus far embraced the culture of militarism and empire, with a little lip service to nuclear nonproliferation. What we need is a mindset of espousing alternatives to violence – a high bar indeed to set for a mainstream politician, but the only path to continued evolution of the human species.

If Obama is to make a difference it must be not with lofty rhetoric but with leading a government that actually protects and defends its neediest citizens from social and cultural evil, safeguarding them not only from foreign attack but from domestic predators of every stripe and from the self-serving instincts of their own leaders. That’s the Obama I voted for, and for that I will hold him accountable.
By Steve Klinger

One hundred and twenty days into his first term as president, approved
Barack Obama has galvanized opposition from both the left and the right, though his personal popularity and favorable opinion ratings remain very high. Where George Bush was the cowboy sheriff, firing from the hip with a snort and a smirk, Obama is the lawyerly professor, gathering input, offering compromise, explaining his practical, non-ideological approach in speeches, town hall meetings and press conferences.

Yet for all his promise of change and his rhetoric of inclusion and transparency, the policies emerging from the early days of the Obama administration are frustrating to progressives, and some bear disturbing parallels to the administration he loves to repudiate. Maybe it’s the all-powerful shadow government calling the shots, or maybe there’s some truth in the adage that the ultimate responsibility of the office has a sobering effect on the idealism of former presidential candidates. Or maybe Obama’s idealism needs a jump start after four months of shock and awe from dealing with the nightmare he inherited.

We can of course disregard the hysteria from the right, labeling Obama by turns a socialist, a tyrant, a spineless wimp and the anti-Christ incarnate. That was inevitable, and Obama was foolish to extend an olive branch to the ideologues who continue to march in lock step, even now as a shrinking, obstructionist minority. (Message to red states: If at first you don’t secede, try, try again. We’ll help you pack your bags!)

But from the left the criticism of Obama has been both valid and at times unfair.

Despite Obama’s rejection of extreme interrogation methods, and especially waterboarding, he has shown no interest in a thorough investigation and even a nonpartisan prosecution of the policy-makers. How can torture be totally wrong and yet legally forgivable?

Obama has been steadfast in his determination to bring health care reform to Americans, a welcome and long-overdue approach, yet he refuses to seriously consider a single-payer system, which is the only avenue that will reduce medical costs in an environment of social justice.

Obama has condemned the greed and moral depravity of Wall Street, yet his bailout programs and stimulus initiatives put far too much money in the hands of those who created the problems and not enough in the hands of those who need immediate relief. His version of Roosevelt’s New Deal is a pale impostor, with trickle-down capitalism instead of massive public works projects, and his key economic appointment, Timothy Geithner, seems unable to think outside of the rarified box in which he was incubated.

These are all valid concerns heard from the left and issues for which Obama’s feet must be held to the fire. As he himself noted, it’s not enough to vote for change; each of us must embody it and pressure those at the top, starting from the grassroots level. And as Howard Zinn so pointedly observed (http://www.progressive.org/zinn0509.html), Obama is above all a politician; he will take the path of compromise and triangulation unless he is pressured to do otherwise.

Obama is beholden to the rules of the game in Washington, which quite simply boils down to the prevailing power of money. As long as corporate interests finance Congressional and presidential campaigns, issues like meaningful gun control (the assault weapons pouring into Mexico) and single-payer health care are off the table. Could Obama spend his political capital and force the issue: probably, but he doesn’t want to take on a battle he thinks he’ll lose, so it’s up to citizens like us to choose our issues and force his hand.

National security/foreign policy is a more complex area to evaluate because so much information is classified or filtered through partisan prisms and therefore much harder to evaluate. But reversing course on military tribunals, while it may be repugnant in principle, is not a decision I take issue with, as long as at least some basic human rights are respected. The problem is that some terrorists we have tortured in the Bush-Cheney era and hardened into mortal enemies of our nation –even if they were not so to begin with – cannot be set free, and other nations won’t take them. Guantánamo can and should be closed, but there is no way to provide civilian trials for some of its inmates (the “evidence” is either hearsay or inadmissible coerced confessions), and criticism of Obama’s response to an abominable situation he didn’t create strikes me as unfair. What would progressives do with the few dozen Gitmo detainees who can’t be tried, yet can’t be set free?

What troubles me more are Obama’s protectiveness of executive power (White House e-mails and guest logs, for example) in cases when transparency has no virtuous counter-argument, and a persistent, almost reflexive pragmatism when principles such as the constitutional duty to prosecute torturers are sacrificed to short-term political expediency. And sadly, if predictably, Obama has thus far embraced the culture of militarism and empire, with a little lip service to nuclear nonproliferation. What we need is a mindset of espousing alternatives to violence – a high bar indeed to set for a mainstream politician, but the only path to continued evolution of the human species.

If Obama is to make a difference it must be not with lofty rhetoric but with leading a government that actually protects and defends its neediest citizens from social and cultural evil, safeguarding them not only from foreign attack but from domestic predators of every stripe and from the self-serving instincts of their own leaders. That’s the Obama I voted for, and for that I will hold him accountable.
By Steve Klinger

I’ve been watching with a buttoned lip as Obama has had a town hall meeting with half the country and still found time to appear on every news show plus Colbert. I’ve watched him extend an olive branch to Republicans, website like this
sweet-talk blue dog Democrats and provide a collegiate lecture on everything from fiscal policy to health care. Every day I am thankful that we dodged the McCain Express and have a president who thinks rationally, viagra sale solicits advice, public health
considers alternatives and expresses reasons for at least some of his decisions. I remain convinced that Obama cares about ordinary Americans and believes in his heart he is doing his best by them.

I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon of critics who will never be satisfied with anything short of absolute pacifism and total, instant redistribution of wealth, or the doomsayers who continue to predict societal collapse on a daily basis.

But all that said….don’t you miss Dubya the gunslinger even a little bit? There’s something about having a president swagger up to the podium, plant his hands on his hips and say, “I’m the decider!” that fills the belly with gross comfort, like eating a pound of chile cheese fries, even if you know they’ll do you in.

Of course, the kinds of things Bush decided almost destroyed civilization. Most of Obama’s problem is that he has inherited Bush’s infernal mess. But that’s not my point.

I am increasingly starting to believe that Obama underestimates himself. He needs to think back to LBJ and across the spam of generations to his role model, Lincoln. When he’s tempted to compromise on health care and back away from a public option (not to mention the single payer approach he knows in his heart is best), or when he pushes a watered down energy bill that perpetuates the coal industry, he needs to remember his own miraculous election campaign.

The man has public opinion on his side. His charisma (Republicans excepted, of course) is unparalleled in recent political history. He has science and history on his side to support arguments for stronger positions on global warming, against big banks and insurance companies, etc. He has the example of eight years of catastrophic failure by the very forces who oppose him now.

You can argue all you want that the votes aren’t there, that it’s all he can do to get weak legislation through because conservative Democrats and obstructionist Republicans – all bought and paid for by the obscene power of the corporate lobbyists – just won’t support progressive change. And it’s true from a certain perspective: mathematically, the votes aren’t there now indeed. But they weren’t there in 1965 either, when Lyndon Johnson hammered through civil rights legislation and Medicare, lacking even a shred of Obama’s personal appeal but knowing he held the high moral ground — and he could use his leverage as president to twist arms in Congress and win votes one by one. They weren’t there a century earlier when Lincoln determined he had to free the slaves to save the Union and then wage a war to restore it. And they weren’t there in 1933 when FDR envisioned the New Deal that produced the CCC, the WPA and Social Security.

I was resigned to the expediency of passing the wimpy energy/climate bill currently before Congress until I read Dennis Kucinich’s withering analysis of its shortcomings – on coal, on compromised timelines for greenhouse gas reductions, on all the pulled punches that undermine the good intentions of the original legislation. Even then, ordinary logic tells me a weak bill is better than none at all.

But are those really the alternatives when a leader as unique as Obama has the bully pulpit at his disposal and public approval ratings in the mid-70s? Just as he came from nowhere to beat a field of strong candidates, he has that rare capacity to captivate public imagination and support as chief executive, if he chooses to use it and does so with passion and conviction. Only his fear of failure can hold him back.

Ironically, and he’s way too smart not to realize this, it’s his lowered sights and his readiness to compromise that will likely produce failure in the longterm and provide the forces on the right with an avenue to regain power.

I’m not sure what tactics will best get his attention, though I can think of a few things I’d say to him at a town hall meeting. But I do know that those of us at the grassroots level must not buy into the conventional wisdom that compromise is better than gridlock. It’s a false equation, because strong leadership can change the dynamic and break the gridlock.

We must find a way to hold Obama’s feet to the fire on the crucial issues of global warming, health care, financial reform, nuclear disarmament and an end to empire building. But first  we must reawaken his belief that together we can accomplish the change we know is desperately needed.
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, ailment
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, order but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, advice
but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, adiposity
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, pestilence
but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
[Mayor Ken Miyagishima e-mailed the following statement on the quality-of-life tax with the weekly City Council Information letter. Editor]

FYI: I do not support the quality of life tax as this time for the following reasons:

I believe we (council) can do more to increase funding to avoid raising taxes such as:

1. Proceeds from CLC license plate will generate approximately $150, buy cialis
000 to be dedicated to the recreation fund.

2. We are currently looking at helping both the Museum Foundation and Branigan Foundation to generate income, cialis 40mg
thus reducing city funding. This could also generate approximately $100, tadalafil
000 – $150,000

3. I believe we could sell some small “Pocket parks” that according to staff could be as many as 20 very small, seldom used pocket parks. What is a pocket park? Basically a small piece of land within a subdivision that the developer “donated” to the city to be used as a park. Savings: $150,000

As you can tell, this could raise or save about $400,000 to be used toward recreation.

Thank you, KEN MIYAGISHIMA

By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, order
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, viagra order
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, buy it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, drugs
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, pilule
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, cheap
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, capsule
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, mind
the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, more about
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, denture
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspersed with reminders to stay calm, which in the border region must always be repeated in Spanish. It’s a little like yelling “smoke” in a crowded theatre; the f-word is painstakingly avoided but the panic button is being caressed if not actually pressed.

Well, I certainly hope you weren’t looking for any actual information on avoiding the swine flu or even washing your hands properly. This is a blog, damn it. And bloggers do what they want. Especially when the world is coming to an end and no one can afford a decent burial.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, more
as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, more about
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, mind as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, ask
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, dosage
especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Jeanne Pahls

Lately we have received some criticism of demonstrations we have organized/discussed against Martin Heinrich and Barack Obama.  I’d like to suggest some food for thought on this.

We live in an empire, population health
as all of us know.  Our new president has a past history of openness to many of our progressive issues, ailment
and is a president of empire.  He is a president of empire.  The best thing we can do for any elected official, especially one that tends to think in our direction, is to be out there shouting for what we think is right.  Hopefully we are not out there protesting decisions of the Republicans, but of the Democrats (or any elected official who is undecided or wrongly decided on an issue).  Do we think that the military-industrial complex or the Robber Class or any empire profiteer is not putting kubuku pressure on Barack Obama, Martin Heinrich, etc?

We need to be out there.  We need to be as present in every way as we were with W and his group.  We have a responsibility as citizens of this country who see the deaths in Palestine, the hungry kids in New Mexico, the destroyed families of Iraq, the unbelievable wealth of the military-industrial complex, to be persistent in our call for officials to do the right thing.  Our experience has been that elected officials are glad to be able to stand up for what we call for, and that they are willing to take courageous stands for these things IF WE ARE OUT THERE STANDING UP AND CALLING LOUDLY FOR THEM.

When President Obama began his inaugural address, these were among the first sentences he uttered:

“The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents. So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.”

When I heard these words, I heard him calling on citizens of the U.S. to continue to pressure and call for what their ideals call for, as any good community organizer would.  Wouldn’t any elected official with any kind of integrity hope that their constituency would call for the best of actions on his or her part?  That would free him or her up to do the right thing, even if AIPAC or Lockheed was breathing down his neck.  Even if the Democratic Party was directing him to do otherwise.  Even if “political expediency” or “pragmatism” was directing him to do otherwise.

Please, as a peace movement, let us not make excuses for our political officials:  “He’s being politically expedient.”  “He’s being pragmatic.”  A wrong decision is a wrong decision and it is our duty as citizens of conscience to point it out, directly, honestly, loudly.  If some of us want to be on the inside listening to a speech, or inside the office meeting with the official instead of protesting, that is good.  These things are needed.

But for those of you who criticize us who organize a protest to call for the elected official (be he Obama or Heinrich or anyone else) to vote now with integrity, please consider:

Almost all the money in the world right now is on the side of swaying both political parties, and therefore your elected official, to do the wrong thing in terms of human needs vs the military industrial complex/robber class.

You and we and some other financially strapped organizations and financially strapped families worldwide are what is on the side of urging our officials to choose for human needs and healing instead.

We will be out on the streets loudly calling for what is right.  We will not “give the guy a chance and wait” – time is short in a bloodthirsty empire and we all have a responsibility here.  We offer no apologies for our demonstrations calling for integrity on the part of elected Democrats.  We offer no apologies for calling for elected officials to vote with integrity rather than “political expediency” or “pragmatism” or “at the direction of the Democratic Party.”  We invite you to join us.

Jeanne Pahls is Co-founder and Co-director of Stop the War Machine, based in Albuquerque.
By Steve Klinger

We just canceled our longstanding subscription to the Las Cruces Sun-News. This had been a long time brewing, look
and today we feel like liberated people.

A daily newspaper has been a long-engrained habit for my generation, but as much of the industry heads over the falls, it’s time for newspaper companies to do the only thing they have left (other than enhancing their online products), and that’s to try to salvage their remaining subscriber business by starting with a major mea culpa: They need to acknowledge they have been arrogant and complacent beyond all justification.

Yes, newspapers were pretty much the only game in town for certain types of news and advertising for about a century, but those days are about as dead as your 8-track tape player.

The service rep asked Kathy why we were canceling (a foolhardy question) and Kathy started to recite our litany of complaints:

1) The quality of the “journalism” has declined steadily, and it started from mediocrity
a) Lame, obvious, puff-piece “news” on the front page day after day, with recent lead stories ranging from Mother’s Day to Graduation to School’s Out, including a staged photo of LCPS students tossing their homework in the air in a recent edition
b) Ignoring or burying serious national and global news
c) Ignoring dissent such as anti-war protests, even at a time when hundreds of Las Cruces were marching through the streets
d) Constant rah-rah endorsement of military, veterans, local growth, the Spaceport, not only on news pages but in the self-serving propaganda pieces that masquerade as editorials
e) Non-existent copy editing, with so many typos, dropped stories and repeated stories that these “employees” would not have passed a high school English class back in the day

2) Utter lack of respect for readers and subscribers
a) Last week we got a Silver City edition delivered to our home in Las Cruces because apparently no one bothered to look at the front page before rolling it up and tossing it in our yard
b) The constantly shrinking page width, and the ridiculous 10-column classified and legal pages
c) This week, the point size of the type was reduced, without a word of explanation
d) Arrogant billing policies whereby our credit card has been automatically debited at six-month intervals without our consent (our own fault for not objecting immediately) so that we’re actually paying a higher rate for the “self-renewing” subscription we never ordered
e) Consolidation with the El Paso Times, which has resulted in pathetically early deadlines, a classified section made up mostly of El Paso ads, and a declining sense that the Sun-News is a local, Las Cruces publication. After shipping its press to Farmington and eliminating its Las Cruces copy desk, the latest move has been a near-complete style makeover that has left the paper looking just like the El Paso Times.

Kathy didn’t itemize quite all of the above, but she could have if the service rep had been interested in hearing more. We’re obviously not alone in rejecting this rag, as it’s clear that advertising has diminished along with news coverage, local classifieds and probably the number of subscriptions (we’d have to obtain an ABC audit to verify that, but I’m pretty confident).

The mainstream news media, and especially metro daily newspapers, are clearly an endangered species, thanks in part to the Internet; the trend in declining circulation and advertising has of course been exacerbated by the economy. But the years of inflated ad rates and an attitude that newspapers are above accountability and can put on a face of objectivity even as they further their own capitalistic agenda (promoting endless growth, militarism, insensitivity to social justice) has given us a media that does not serve the people. In hard times, the people will pull the plug, exactly as they are doing. And they won’t be plugging back in anytime soon.

It will be a shock to go cold turkey the first few days, but we’ll do more on-line reading, we’ll have less paper to deal with and our self-esteem will go up just from quitting that nasty, expensive Sun-News habit.

I believe in quality journalism. I’ve been influenced by it, I’ve taught it and I try to practice it. I believe there is still a place for printed newspapers, though mostly on the community level, where the local news coverage and commentary are less readily available by other means. Democracy needs the watchdog effort that newspapers and other media with integrity provide. You won’t find it in the Sun-News.
By Steve Klinger

We just canceled our longstanding subscription to the Las Cruces Sun-News. This had been a long time brewing, buy cialis and today we feel like liberated people.

A daily newspaper has been a long-engrained habit for my generation, but as much of the industry heads over the falls, it’s time for newspaper companies to do the only thing they have left (other than enhancing their online products), and that’s to try to salvage their remaining subscriber business by starting with a major mea culpa: They need to acknowledge they have been arrogant and complacent beyond all justification.

Yes, newspapers were pretty much the only game in town for certain types of news and advertising for about a century, but those days are about as dead as your 8-track tape player.

The service rep asked Kathy why we were canceling (a foolhardy question) and Kathy started to recite our litany of complaints:

1) The quality of the “journalism” has declined steadily, and it started from mediocrity
a) Lame, obvious, puff-piece “news” on the front page day after day, with recent lead stories ranging from Mother’s Day to Graduation to School’s Out, including a staged photo of LCPS students tossing their homework in the air in a recent edition
b) Ignoring or burying serious national and global news
c) Ignoring dissent such as anti-war protests, even at a time when hundreds of Las Cruces were marching through the streets
d) Constant rah-rah endorsement of military, veterans, local growth, the Spaceport, not only on news pages but in the self-serving propaganda pieces that masquerade as editorials
e) Non-existent copy editing, with so many typos, dropped stories and repeated stories that these “employees” would not have passed a high school English class back in the day

2) Utter lack of respect for readers and subscribers
a) Last week we got a Silver City edition delivered to our home in Las Cruces because apparently no one bothered to look at the front page before rolling it up and tossing it in our yard
b) The constantly shrinking page width, and the ridiculous 10-column classified and legal pages
c) This week, the point size of the type was reduced, without a word of explanation
d) Arrogant billing policies whereby our credit card has been automatically debited at six-month intervals without our consent (our own fault for not objecting immediately) so that we’re actually paying a higher rate for the “self-renewing” subscription we never ordered
e) Consolidation with the El Paso Times, which has resulted in pathetically early deadlines, a classified section made up mostly of El Paso ads, and a declining sense that the Sun-News is a local, Las Cruces publication. After shipping its press to Farmington and eliminating its Las Cruces copy desk, the latest move has been a near-complete style makeover that has left the paper looking just like the El Paso Times.

Kathy didn’t itemize quite all of the above, but she could have if the service rep had been interested in hearing more. We’re obviously not alone in rejecting this rag, as it’s clear that advertising has diminished along with news coverage, local classifieds and probably the number of subscriptions (we’d have to obtain an ABC audit to verify that, but I’m pretty confident).

The mainstream news media, and especially metro daily newspapers, are clearly an endangered species, thanks in part to the Internet; the trend in declining circulation and advertising has of course been exacerbated by the economy. But the years of inflated ad rates and an attitude that newspapers are above accountability and can put on a face of objectivity even as they further their own capitalistic agenda (promoting endless growth, militarism, insensitivity to social justice) has given us a media that does not serve the people. In hard times, the people will pull the plug, exactly as they are doing. And they won’t be plugging back in anytime soon.

It will be a shock to go cold turkey the first few days, but we’ll do more on-line reading, we’ll have less paper to deal with and our self-esteem will go up just from quitting that nasty, expensive Sun-News habit.

I believe in quality journalism. I’ve been influenced by it, I’ve taught it and I try to practice it. I believe there is still a place for printed newspapers, though mostly on the community level, where the local news coverage and commentary are less readily available by other means. Democracy needs the watchdog effort that newspapers and other media with integrity provide. You won’t find it in the Sun-News.

By Steve Klinger

We just canceled our longstanding subscription to the Las Cruces Sun-News. This had been a long time brewing, shop and today we feel like liberated people.

A daily newspaper has been a long-engrained habit for my generation, but as much of the industry heads over the falls, it’s time for newspaper companies to do the only thing they have left (other than enhancing their online products), and that’s to try to salvage their remaining subscriber business by starting with a major mea culpa: They need to acknowledge they have been arrogant and complacent beyond all justification.

Yes, newspapers were pretty much the only game in town for certain types of news and advertising for about a century, but those days are about as dead as your 8-track tape player.

The service rep asked Kathy why we were canceling (a foolhardy question) and Kathy started to recite our litany of complaints:

1) The quality of the “journalism” has declined steadily, and it started from mediocrity
a) Lame, obvious, puff-piece “news” on the front page day after day, with recent lead stories ranging from Mother’s Day to Graduation to School’s Out, including a staged photo of LCPS students tossing their homework in the air in a recent edition
b) Ignoring or burying serious national and global news
c) Ignoring dissent such as anti-war protests, even at a time when hundreds of Las Cruces were marching through the streets
d) Constant rah-rah endorsement of military, veterans, local growth, the Spaceport, not only on news pages but in the self-serving propaganda pieces that masquerade as editorials
e) Non-existent copy editing, with so many typos, dropped stories and repeated stories that these “employees” would not have passed a high school English class back in the day

2) Utter lack of respect for readers and subscribers
a) Last week we got a Silver City edition delivered to our home in Las Cruces because apparently no one bothered to look at the front page before rolling it up and tossing it in our yard
b) The constantly shrinking page width, and the ridiculous 10-column classified and legal pages
c) This week, the point size of the type was reduced, without a word of explanation
d) Arrogant billing policies whereby our credit card has been automatically debited at six-month intervals without our consent (our own fault for not objecting immediately) so that we’re actually paying a higher rate for the “self-renewing” subscription we never ordered
e) Consolidation with the El Paso Times, which has resulted in pathetically early deadlines, a classified section made up mostly of El Paso ads, and a declining sense that the Sun-News is a local, Las Cruces publication. After shipping its press to Farmington and eliminating its Las Cruces copy desk, the latest move has been a near-complete style makeover that has left the paper looking just like the El Paso Times.

Kathy didn’t itemize quite all of the above, but she could have if the service rep had been interested in hearing more. We’re obviously not alone in rejecting this rag, as it’s clear that advertising has diminished along with news coverage, local classifieds and probably the number of subscriptions (we’d have to obtain an ABC audit to verify that, but I’m pretty confident).

The mainstream news media, and especially metro daily newspapers, are clearly an endangered species, thanks in part to the Internet; the trend in declining circulation and advertising has of course been exacerbated by the economy. But the years of inflated ad rates and an attitude that newspapers are above accountability and can put on a face of objectivity even as they further their own capitalistic agenda (promoting endless growth, militarism, insensitivity to social justice) has given us a media that does not serve the people. In hard times, the people will pull the plug, exactly as they are doing. And they won’t be plugging back in anytime soon.

It will be a shock to go cold turkey the first few days, but we’ll do more on-line reading, we’ll have less paper to deal with and our self-esteem will go up just from quitting that nasty, expensive Sun-News habit.

I believe in quality journalism. I’ve been influenced by it, I’ve taught it and I try to practice it. I believe there is still a place for printed newspapers, though mostly on the community level, where the local news coverage and commentary are less readily available by other means. Democracy needs the watchdog effort that newspapers and other media with integrity provide. You won’t find it in the Sun-News.
By Steve Klinger

One hundred and twenty days into his first term as president, cialis 40mg
Barack Obama has galvanized opposition from both the left and the right, clinic
though his personal popularity and favorable opinion ratings remain very high. Where George Bush was the cowboy sheriff, firing from the hip with a snort and a smirk, Obama is the lawyerly professor, gathering input, offering compromise, explaining his practical, non-ideological approach in speeches, town hall meetings and press conferences.

Yet for all his promise of change and his rhetoric of inclusion and transparency, the policies emerging from the early days of the Obama administration are frustrating to progressives, and some bear disturbing parallels to the administration he loves to repudiate. Maybe it’s the all-powerful shadow government calling the shots, or maybe there’s some truth in the adage that the ultimate responsibility of the office has a sobering effect on the idealism of former presidential candidates. Or maybe Obama’s idealism needs a jump start after four months of shock and awe from dealing with the nightmare he inherited.

We can of course disregard the hysteria from the right, labeling Obama by turns a socialist, a tyrant, a spineless wimp and the anti-Christ incarnate. That was inevitable, and Obama was foolish to extend an olive branch to the ideologues who continue to march in lock step, even now as a shrinking, obstructionist minority. (Message to red states: If at first you don’t secede, try, try again. We’ll help you pack your bags!)

But from the left the criticism of Obama has been both valid and at times unfair.

Despite Obama’s rejection of extreme interrogation methods, and especially waterboarding, he has shown no interest in a thorough investigation and even a nonpartisan prosecution of the policy-makers. How can torture be totally wrong and yet legally forgivable?

Obama has been steadfast in his determination to bring health care reform to Americans, a welcome and long-overdue approach, yet he refuses to seriously consider a single-payer system, which is the only avenue that will reduce medical costs in an environment of social justice.

Obama has condemned the greed and moral depravity of Wall Street, yet his bailout programs and stimulus initiatives put far too much money in the hands of those who created the problems and not enough in the hands of those who need immediate relief. His version of Roosevelt’s New Deal is a pale impostor, with trickle-down capitalism instead of massive public works projects, and his key economic appointment, Timothy Geithner, seems unable to think outside of the rarified box in which he was incubated.

These are all valid concerns heard from the left and issues for which Obama’s feet must be held to the fire. As he himself noted, it’s not enough to vote for change; each of us must embody it and pressure those at the top, starting from the grassroots level. And as Howard Zinn so pointedly observed (http://www.progressive.org/zinn0509.html), Obama is above all a politician; he will take the path of compromise and triangulation unless he is pressured to do otherwise.

Obama is beholden to the rules of the game in Washington, which quite simply boils down to the prevailing power of money. As long as corporate interests finance Congressional and presidential campaigns, issues like meaningful gun control (the assault weapons pouring into Mexico) and single-payer health care are off the table. Could Obama spend his political capital and force the issue: probably, but he doesn’t want to take on a battle he thinks he’ll lose, so it’s up to citizens like us to choose our issues and force his hand.

National security/foreign policy is a more complex area to evaluate because so much information is classified or filtered through partisan prisms and therefore much harder to evaluate. But reversing course on military tribunals, while it may be repugnant in principle, is not a decision I take issue with, as long as at least some basic human rights are respected. The problem is that some terrorists we have tortured in the Bush-Cheney era and hardened into mortal enemies of our nation –even if they were not so to begin with – cannot be set free, and other nations won’t take them. Guantánamo can and should be closed, but there is no way to provide civilian trials for some of its inmates (the “evidence” is either hearsay or inadmissible coerced confessions), and criticism of Obama’s response to an abominable situation he didn’t create strikes me as unfair. What would progressives do with the few dozen Gitmo detainees who can’t be tried, yet can’t be set free?

What troubles me more are Obama’s protectiveness of executive power (White House e-mails and guest logs, for example) in cases when transparency has no virtuous counter-argument, and a persistent, almost reflexive pragmatism when principles such as the constitutional duty to prosecute torturers are sacrificed to short-term political expediency. And sadly, if predictably, Obama has thus far embraced the culture of militarism and empire, with a little lip service to nuclear nonproliferation. What we need is a mindset of espousing alternatives to violence – a high bar indeed to set for a mainstream politician, but the only path to continued evolution of the human species.

If Obama is to make a difference it must be not with lofty rhetoric but with leading a government that actually protects and defends its neediest citizens from social and cultural evil, safeguarding them not only from foreign attack but from domestic predators of every stripe and from the self-serving instincts of their own leaders. That’s the Obama I voted for, and for that I will hold him accountable.
By Steve Klinger

One hundred and twenty days into his first term as president, approved
Barack Obama has galvanized opposition from both the left and the right, though his personal popularity and favorable opinion ratings remain very high. Where George Bush was the cowboy sheriff, firing from the hip with a snort and a smirk, Obama is the lawyerly professor, gathering input, offering compromise, explaining his practical, non-ideological approach in speeches, town hall meetings and press conferences.

Yet for all his promise of change and his rhetoric of inclusion and transparency, the policies emerging from the early days of the Obama administration are frustrating to progressives, and some bear disturbing parallels to the administration he loves to repudiate. Maybe it’s the all-powerful shadow government calling the shots, or maybe there’s some truth in the adage that the ultimate responsibility of the office has a sobering effect on the idealism of former presidential candidates. Or maybe Obama’s idealism needs a jump start after four months of shock and awe from dealing with the nightmare he inherited.

We can of course disregard the hysteria from the right, labeling Obama by turns a socialist, a tyrant, a spineless wimp and the anti-Christ incarnate. That was inevitable, and Obama was foolish to extend an olive branch to the ideologues who continue to march in lock step, even now as a shrinking, obstructionist minority. (Message to red states: If at first you don’t secede, try, try again. We’ll help you pack your bags!)

But from the left the criticism of Obama has been both valid and at times unfair.

Despite Obama’s rejection of extreme interrogation methods, and especially waterboarding, he has shown no interest in a thorough investigation and even a nonpartisan prosecution of the policy-makers. How can torture be totally wrong and yet legally forgivable?

Obama has been steadfast in his determination to bring health care reform to Americans, a welcome and long-overdue approach, yet he refuses to seriously consider a single-payer system, which is the only avenue that will reduce medical costs in an environment of social justice.

Obama has condemned the greed and moral depravity of Wall Street, yet his bailout programs and stimulus initiatives put far too much money in the hands of those who created the problems and not enough in the hands of those who need immediate relief. His version of Roosevelt’s New Deal is a pale impostor, with trickle-down capitalism instead of massive public works projects, and his key economic appointment, Timothy Geithner, seems unable to think outside of the rarified box in which he was incubated.

These are all valid concerns heard from the left and issues for which Obama’s feet must be held to the fire. As he himself noted, it’s not enough to vote for change; each of us must embody it and pressure those at the top, starting from the grassroots level. And as Howard Zinn so pointedly observed (http://www.progressive.org/zinn0509.html), Obama is above all a politician; he will take the path of compromise and triangulation unless he is pressured to do otherwise.

Obama is beholden to the rules of the game in Washington, which quite simply boils down to the prevailing power of money. As long as corporate interests finance Congressional and presidential campaigns, issues like meaningful gun control (the assault weapons pouring into Mexico) and single-payer health care are off the table. Could Obama spend his political capital and force the issue: probably, but he doesn’t want to take on a battle he thinks he’ll lose, so it’s up to citizens like us to choose our issues and force his hand.

National security/foreign policy is a more complex area to evaluate because so much information is classified or filtered through partisan prisms and therefore much harder to evaluate. But reversing course on military tribunals, while it may be repugnant in principle, is not a decision I take issue with, as long as at least some basic human rights are respected. The problem is that some terrorists we have tortured in the Bush-Cheney era and hardened into mortal enemies of our nation –even if they were not so to begin with – cannot be set free, and other nations won’t take them. Guantánamo can and should be closed, but there is no way to provide civilian trials for some of its inmates (the “evidence” is either hearsay or inadmissible coerced confessions), and criticism of Obama’s response to an abominable situation he didn’t create strikes me as unfair. What would progressives do with the few dozen Gitmo detainees who can’t be tried, yet can’t be set free?

What troubles me more are Obama’s protectiveness of executive power (White House e-mails and guest logs, for example) in cases when transparency has no virtuous counter-argument, and a persistent, almost reflexive pragmatism when principles such as the constitutional duty to prosecute torturers are sacrificed to short-term political expediency. And sadly, if predictably, Obama has thus far embraced the culture of militarism and empire, with a little lip service to nuclear nonproliferation. What we need is a mindset of espousing alternatives to violence – a high bar indeed to set for a mainstream politician, but the only path to continued evolution of the human species.

If Obama is to make a difference it must be not with lofty rhetoric but with leading a government that actually protects and defends its neediest citizens from social and cultural evil, safeguarding them not only from foreign attack but from domestic predators of every stripe and from the self-serving instincts of their own leaders. That’s the Obama I voted for, and for that I will hold him accountable.
By Steve Klinger

I’ve been watching with a buttoned lip as Obama has had a town hall meeting with half the country and still found time to appear on every news show plus Colbert. I’ve watched him extend an olive branch to Republicans, website like this
sweet-talk blue dog Democrats and provide a collegiate lecture on everything from fiscal policy to health care. Every day I am thankful that we dodged the McCain Express and have a president who thinks rationally, viagra sale solicits advice, public health
considers alternatives and expresses reasons for at least some of his decisions. I remain convinced that Obama cares about ordinary Americans and believes in his heart he is doing his best by them.

I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon of critics who will never be satisfied with anything short of absolute pacifism and total, instant redistribution of wealth, or the doomsayers who continue to predict societal collapse on a daily basis.

But all that said….don’t you miss Dubya the gunslinger even a little bit? There’s something about having a president swagger up to the podium, plant his hands on his hips and say, “I’m the decider!” that fills the belly with gross comfort, like eating a pound of chile cheese fries, even if you know they’ll do you in.

Of course, the kinds of things Bush decided almost destroyed civilization. Most of Obama’s problem is that he has inherited Bush’s infernal mess. But that’s not my point.

I am increasingly starting to believe that Obama underestimates himself. He needs to think back to LBJ and across the spam of generations to his role model, Lincoln. When he’s tempted to compromise on health care and back away from a public option (not to mention the single payer approach he knows in his heart is best), or when he pushes a watered down energy bill that perpetuates the coal industry, he needs to remember his own miraculous election campaign.

The man has public opinion on his side. His charisma (Republicans excepted, of course) is unparalleled in recent political history. He has science and history on his side to support arguments for stronger positions on global warming, against big banks and insurance companies, etc. He has the example of eight years of catastrophic failure by the very forces who oppose him now.

You can argue all you want that the votes aren’t there, that it’s all he can do to get weak legislation through because conservative Democrats and obstructionist Republicans – all bought and paid for by the obscene power of the corporate lobbyists – just won’t support progressive change. And it’s true from a certain perspective: mathematically, the votes aren’t there now indeed. But they weren’t there in 1965 either, when Lyndon Johnson hammered through civil rights legislation and Medicare, lacking even a shred of Obama’s personal appeal but knowing he held the high moral ground — and he could use his leverage as president to twist arms in Congress and win votes one by one. They weren’t there a century earlier when Lincoln determined he had to free the slaves to save the Union and then wage a war to restore it. And they weren’t there in 1933 when FDR envisioned the New Deal that produced the CCC, the WPA and Social Security.

I was resigned to the expediency of passing the wimpy energy/climate bill currently before Congress until I read Dennis Kucinich’s withering analysis of its shortcomings – on coal, on compromised timelines for greenhouse gas reductions, on all the pulled punches that undermine the good intentions of the original legislation. Even then, ordinary logic tells me a weak bill is better than none at all.

But are those really the alternatives when a leader as unique as Obama has the bully pulpit at his disposal and public approval ratings in the mid-70s? Just as he came from nowhere to beat a field of strong candidates, he has that rare capacity to captivate public imagination and support as chief executive, if he chooses to use it and does so with passion and conviction. Only his fear of failure can hold him back.

Ironically, and he’s way too smart not to realize this, it’s his lowered sights and his readiness to compromise that will likely produce failure in the longterm and provide the forces on the right with an avenue to regain power.

I’m not sure what tactics will best get his attention, though I can think of a few things I’d say to him at a town hall meeting. But I do know that those of us at the grassroots level must not buy into the conventional wisdom that compromise is better than gridlock. It’s a false equation, because strong leadership can change the dynamic and break the gridlock.

We must find a way to hold Obama’s feet to the fire on the crucial issues of global warming, health care, financial reform, nuclear disarmament and an end to empire building. But first  we must reawaken his belief that together we can accomplish the change we know is desperately needed.
By Steve Klinger

After seven months we’ve finally got a handle on the essence of the Obama conflict-resolution style. I don’t know what took him so long to figure out the real power of the office, caries
but I wish Bush had embraced it. After all, see
the best thing critics had to say about W was that he’d be a great guy to sit down and have a beer with. Unless he had decided to smoke you out and bring you on, rx
that is.

Getting back to Obama, who has proved the antithesis of Bush in style, if not always substance: If the president invites you for a beer at the White House you can hardly say no. And once you’re there I think it will be a good beer, not Coors Light — maybe even an Arrogant Bastard. You’ll enjoy it, you’ll talk things over, see each other’s point of view. And if you’re still at loggerheads, why, the president will offer you another beer.  You can’t go away angry, so you’ll be knocking back those brewskis until you see eye to eye.

It’s very important that this bonding ritual be done with a threesome at most, so there is no group mentality taking over. Very quickly, the guest list will grow. The first happy hour is already set. It will include Henry Louis “Skip” Gates and Cambridge Police Sgt. James Crowley, who along with Barack will defuse racial tensions in America once and for all.

After that we could try Nancy Pelosi and John Boehner. Blue Dog Democrats, anyone? How about Mike Ross of Arkansas, along with Henry Waxman, so Obama can convince each that they’re both decent people, and let’s get on with it.?

Once a health care bill is back on track, the sky’s the limit. Let’s line ‘em up: Lou Dobbs and Amy Goodman, Bill O’Reilly and Keith Olbermann, Michael Steele and Rahm Emanuel, Rush Limbaugh and James Carville, Sarah Palin and anyone with press credentials.

Want to talk disarmament? How about Hillary Clinton and Kim jong-il.  Palestinian sovereignty? Netanyahu and Khaled Meshal. Best of all, before the 2012 election rolls around, with a promise of safe passage, we can round up Osama bin Laden and Dick Cheney to drink a few IPAs and defuse this smoldering Al Qaeda-national security misunderstanding.

Beer and a clap on the back from Barack Obama. Just the ticket to soothe the savage beast. I think I know what BHO’s next book will be titled: The Audacity of Happy Hour.
Texas secede from the Union? Sorry, salve Rick Perry, the State Department beat you to it. On its website listing of 16 foreign countries visited by Secretary Hillary Clinton, State had Texas right there between Turkey and Switzerland. Although there wasn’t anything parrticularly “foreign” about Clinton’s stop in Texas last month, the surprising classification seemed even more curious after the Texas governor’s behavior at an April 15 “tea party” in Austin. State later revised its list, but Perry is still sending mixed signals about his position.

After praising veterans in the cheering crowd Wednesday, he said: “I’m just not real sure you’re a bunch of right-wing extremists. But if you are, we’re with you.” He also said that Washington has abandoned the principles of limited government and is overburdening Americans with taxes, spending and debt.

Later, in a press conference, Perry responded to question about his seeming encouragement of some in the crowd who had been shouting, “Secede!”

“There’s a lot of different scenarios,” Perry said. “We’ve got a great union. There’s absolutely no reason to dissolve it. But if Washington continues to thumb their nose at the American people, you know, who knows what might come out of that. But Texas is a very unique place, and we’re a pretty independent lot to boot.”

According to a Huffington Post poll, about 75 percent of Texans responding said they wanted the Lone Star State to remain in the Union, but that leaves a significant number opposed—and I’ll bet you the percentage in favor of secession would be a lot higher if non-Texans could vote.

SK
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, ailment
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, order but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, advice
but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
By Steve Klinger

I don’t often come down on the same side of an issue as Nancy Pelosi, adiposity
but at least I suppose I can disagree with Harry Reid on his opposition to the establishment of an independent “truth” commission to study U.S. interrogation policies and practices.

Reid is a card-carrying member of that widely populated Democratic Party order of invertebrates that has backed down from every opportunity to act with integrity that has been placed before them. I’m not surprised at his position, pestilence
but I had hoped Barack Obama would show some more backbone. The smokescreen they have thrown up is laughable: that an independent inquiry would risk a partisan fight that would detract from Obama’s economic agenda.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but the last time I checked, the Senate Intelligence Committee, which Reid and Obama prefer handle the initial investigation, is composed of a nearly equal number of Democrats and Republicans. It is therefore pretty likely to be about the most partisan forum you could find to investigate the volatile torture controversy. The whole point of an independent panel would be its nonpartisan nature.

Obama, ever the pragmatist, can certainly raise the objection that any study could detract from and weaken his agenda, but when did convenience take priority over the law and moral imperatives? The point is that the United States has signed international compacts outlawing torture and inhumane treatment of prisoners, and has established the sanctity of human rights in its own constitution. Acknowledging that we violated those standards in the past but no longer do so would be like Ted Bundy saying he’d knocked off a few women but didn’t do it anymore.

Aside from the semantic arguments about what constitutes torture, the real issue is that in saying we must move on and not dwell on the past we are essentially condoning behavior we have condemned, which sets the worst possible precedent for future administrations. Further, it establishes us as rank hypocrites, who condemn human rights violations of other governments and continue merciless embargoes against those governments while clearly lacking the willpower to swallow any version of our own medicine.

The big red herring in this discussion is the contention by some conservatives that waterboarding and other tactics work and have brought us valuable, actionable intelligence. Whether torture works is entirely beside the point. If it’s productivity you want, slavery works. And if it’s mass murder, atomic bombs work. But that doesn’t make them right.  Until someone is brought to justice for the criminal and immoral acts we know occurred, we cannot hope to restore our international standing or our own pride in what America purports to stand for.

The CIA interrogators who were assured the orders they were following were legal should not be the targets of this investigation; those should be the justice department officials who set the policies and rationalized torture. But clearly those policies did not originate with apparatchiks.  They came down from higher authorities: Rice and Cheney, very possibly Rumsfeld, and George W. Bush himself.

The Senate Intelligence Committee under Dianne Feinstein will show very little of that if it is the primary investigating body. Or else it will prove hopelessly polarized and blatantly partisan.  That’s why an independent truth commission, if a credible one could be created, would be the only hope of a nonpartisan, or postpartisan outcome. Barack Obama knows that in his heart of hearts, but apparently we need to keep reminding him that pragmatism is no substitute for the standards of national conduct we repeatedly invoke when it suits our purpose in condemning others.

As for his agenda, it will either take care of itself or it won’t. Even if it does, it won’t be worth much in a nation that has traded its moral compass for a leaky lifeboat in need of constant bailouts — with dollars or rationalization.
[Mayor Ken Miyagishima e-mailed the following statement on the quality-of-life tax with the weekly City Council Information letter. Editor]

FYI: I do not support the quality of life tax as this time for the following reasons:

I believe we (council) can do more to increase funding to avoid raising taxes such as:

1. Proceeds from CLC license plate will generate approximately $150, buy cialis
000 to be dedicated to the recreation fund.

2. We are currently looking at helping both the Museum Foundation and Branigan Foundation to generate income, cialis 40mg
thus reducing city funding. This could also generate approximately $100, tadalafil
000 – $150,000

3. I believe we could sell some small “Pocket parks” that according to staff could be as many as 20 very small, seldom used pocket parks. What is a pocket park? Basically a small piece of land within a subdivision that the developer “donated” to the city to be used as a park. Savings: $150,000

As you can tell, this could raise or save about $400,000 to be used toward recreation.

Thank you, KEN MIYAGISHIMA

By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, order
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, viagra order
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, buy it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

How about a show of hands? How many supporters of the “quality-of-life” tax in Las Cruces were waving their signs against taxes at the teabag party on April 15?

Of course, drugs
this tax is different. Just ask a soccer mom. Or a rec league weekend warrior. The tea parties were all about federal taxes, pilule
taking my money and giving it to some lazy unemployed person or a big investment bank when the government ought to be saving money. The local sales tax boost would enhance recreation opportunities right here in this community.  Everyone should get on board and sign the petitions now being drawn up so the City Council can either approve the tax directly or send it along for a public referendum.

And besides, it’s only ¼ of one percent, a measly quarter on a hundred-dollar purchase. How selfish can you be to not support this tax and expect those who participate in the sports to pay their own way with user fees?

OK, since you asked, I’ll tell you. We are in a recession, in case you hadn’t noticed. And sales (or gross receipts) taxes are among the most regressive; they take a larger proportion of income/assets from the poorest individuals. Those on a fixed income are the hardest hit, and probably the least likely to use the sports/recreation facilities as well.

Advocates of the tax will have 60 days to get at least 2,136 valid signatures on petitions to get the initiative before the City Council.

The proposed tax may be small, but it would come on top of the spaceport tax and push the city gross receipts rate closer to 8 percent. Now is not the time for non-essential taxes. Surely the teabaggers agree with me and are aghast at this effort to add a new tax to the burden of Las Crucens.

Seems kind of quiet out there. Don’t all protest at once.
By Steve Klinger

The governor brought his traveling health SWAT team to Las Cruces on Monday, cheap
to give southern New Mexicans a New Mexico perspective on the swine flu and what the state is doing to monitor and contain the outbreak.

Other than a photo op and an amusing moment when Richardson jokingly tried to hand an off-topic question about the College of Santa Fe to HSD Secretary, capsule
Dr. Alfredo Vigil (it was a question, mind
the governor said, about the health of the college) there wasn’t a whole lot of  compelling or new information. There were instead, a lot of expressions of concern and advice to practice good hygiene, keep sick kids at home and stay calm (which Richardson repeated in Spanish. There were repeated explanations about why all school athletics is being shut down, though only 14 schools have been closed so far. And one bright journalistic light had to have an additional point-by-point explanation of how schools that closed would be at a competitive disadvantage if other school teams could continue playing and practicing.

Most of the speakers somewhat defensively observed that some people think authorities are overreacting. Vigil insisted the H1N1 virus is a big deal, because it’s a new strain to which no in the world has immunity. Reminding his audience that 30-40,000 people die of seasonal flu annually in the United States, he said the swine flu “could cause widespread problems” even if it proves to be mild.

I don’t buy into theories that federal officials are magnifying the dangers of the outbreak as a “diversion” to distract the public from all the bad economic news, but I wouldn’t say the media can be so easily exonerated. Anderson Cooper has sounded like he’s describing the Black Death, and our own Las Cruces Sun-News has found a new purpose for its sleepy front page, blasting bold-faced headlines about the flu crisis along the border and carrying ‘expert’ opinions about a flu death rate of 10 percent – enough to send nervous readers right into their HazMat suits. When a six-year-old boy died after becoming sick at school last week, the S’news was fanning public fears it might have been the swine flu, even though neither school nor medical officials offered that connection in announcing the death.

What we do seem to have is a media pandemic: a newspaper industry on life-support and ratings-hungry cable news channels that seem to have been simultaneously afflicted by a control syndrome whereby they are compulsively driven to play the fear card to keep the public’s interest by scaring them half to death with a steady barrage of hyperbole, interspe