Saturday, November 04, 2006

Don't forget to Vote next Tuesday, November 7

One of the first things I did upon arriving in New Mexico was register to vote. I also have my New Mexico driver's license and just received my first property tax bill. Well, two out of three were exciting!

In addition to absentee ballots, New Mexico also makes provisions for early voting to avoid the rush or meet personal scheduling needs. So I voted two weeks ago. Now I am free to remind others to vote and, possibly, encourage people to vote for a change in Washington, DC.

Many have commented that this may be the most critical vote in our lifetime, and I believe this may be true. I do not believe it is any exaggeration to say our constitutional democracy is under threat from within.

While groups from without can do great damage, such as that wrought on 9/11/2001, I do not fear their destroying the United States. What can undo the grand experiment begun when this nation was formed is the dismantling of the checks and balances written into the Constitution. The founders were very conscious of the threats posed by power concentrated in one person or one small group.

We have seen one political party control both Houses of Congress and the White House, with little restraint from the Supreme Court. Within that framework, a very small group dedicated to (1) expanding the power of the presidency, (2) retaining one-party control, and (3) enriching their cronies has been hard at work undermining any structure, process, or person that would lead to constraint, review, or accountability.

We have watched rights to privacy, habeas corpus, trial, free speech and assembly--all be threatened, diminished, and reduced. We have witnessed the granting of unusual and, I would say, completely unconstitutional power to the executive by the Congress. We have stood by as a wall of secrecy has been built around almost everything the White House does.

All this while efforts to deal with the perpetrators of 9/11 were siphoned off into an unnecessary and illegal invasion and occupation of a country that was not threatening the United States; while concrete steps toward enhancing security were neglected; while incompetence and corruption have not only allowed the excessive destruction seen in Katrina but also done little to deal with the aftermath; as employment and wages have not kept up with population growth and cost of living (especially health care).

We have listened to platitudes about supporting our troops while sending them needlessly into danger without a plan, providing inadequate armor, cutting their pay, and reducing their benefits, then standing by and letting them die or return home maimed and injured, all the while making a bad situation worse without making America or the world any safer. We have listened to sermons about moral values and family values while destabilizing the world, taking advantage of the poor, holding back minimum pay, reducing child care and educational funding, doing nothing about those uninsured, watching health care become increasingly difficult to find or pay for, and seeing the number of families in poverty grow. Ignoring the warnings of Amos, we have seen the gap between the extraordinarily rich and the vast majority increase obscenely. Our government has subsidized the wealthy (e.g., energy companies) while burdening our grandchildren with colossal national debt. Talk about tax cuts has obscured what are really only tax deferrals.

The President behaved as though unconcerned about imminent threats to the nation yet flew back from his vacation "ranch" to sign a bill, of questionable legality, over the unfortunate Terri Schiavo. Instead of following the example of Ronald Reagan who vetoed a critical bill because it had 600 earmarks (pork barrel items) in it, he has passed spending bills with 6,000 earmarks, then vetoed only one bill, and that was one supporting stem cell research. This was supposedly out of respect for life, protecting blastocysts that are almost always destroyed in any case, while callously having no regard for the lives of our troops and the lives of the Iraqi people. He has allowed, and in some cases actively spread, death throughout the world and our nation.

So, if the invasion and occupation of Iraq, the response to disasters such as Katrina, the blowing off of education, the increase of general poverty contrasted with the growth of wealth for the few, rampant corruption (I have not even discussed the K Street lobbyists, sex scandals, outing of a CIA agent, and the environment), secrecy, and violation of basic rights aren't working well for you, vote Democratic this November 7 and send to Washington a Congress that will hold hearings, issue subpoenas, and demand answers and accountability.

Thank you.

The BB

The beauty of Albuquerque

I tend to have a distinctive way of viewing nature. My eye is caught by both vast sweeps of landscape and by small details. This becomes evident when I take walks with my a camera in hand. Since I was working in ABQ at this time a year ago, and at the same place, much of what I enjoy now is revisiting the familiar. I look forward to seeing and exploring new things too. Here are some tidbits.

Leaves filtering sunlight against the autumn sky
The Sandia Mountains viewed from Sun Plaza
I never tire of the trees. The cottonwoods and ashes (alamos y fresnos) are now golden