Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Apparently Some Truth Hurts

Seems like the Republicans don't like hearing the truth...

I especially like when she says the party is over - at about 2 minutes in.

Keep Lefting!!!


Friday, September 26, 2008

Healt Policy Analysis

A little out of date, but explains why we keep having the SAME HEALTH CARE CONVERSATION!! Mostly garbage about it being too expensive!

"I should stress that the country has sufficient resources to provide comprehensive, high-quality medical care to everyone who needs it. The U.S. spends 16 percent of its GNP on medical care, almost double the percentage spent by Canada and most countries of the European Union (E.U.) on providing universal, comprehensive health care coverage to their populations. We in the U.S. spend $2.1 trillion on medical care, making the medical care sector one of the largest economies in the world (if the medical care sector were a country, rather than a massive sector within a country). And it has been estimated that this spending will reach 20 percent of GNP in a few years (7 years according to some, 12 years according to others). Lack of money is not the root of the medical care problem in the U.S. We spend far, far more than any other developed country, and far more than what we would need to provide comprehensive health care coverage for everyone. The frequently heard argument that the U.S. cannot afford universal, comprehensive care has no credibility. It is a poor rationale for keeping the situation as it is."

I facilitate a health coalition, which is different than a health care coalition, and we had a great meeting yesterday. I may have over-prepped, but that's better than being unprepared.

Hopefully the 2nd Great Depression won't be announced over the weekend.


Monday, September 22, 2008


Does anyone have a full copy of "Has Socialism Failed?"

3rd Party Voting Strategy

Well the Friday post got me a lot of email. I was hoping for something on the blog comments. But it is still early in the week.

The responses were either positive or "please vote for Obama because it is scary to think of 4 years of McCain." Essentially what I thought might happen. The best one is the myth about my individual vote being key. I'm a poli sci major - it really does come down to blocks of votes. In NM 100 is a big enough block to sway an election most of the time.

In conversations over the weekend it seems like a good strategy for those of us disappointed with the predictable shift to the right that the Dems make after the primaries is to vote third party if there is someone worth voting for, then making sure we get one person who supports Obama but may not be a regular voter, or a new voter out to vote. The goal is to increase progressive votes AND to head off the blame for a possible McSame win! (ugh)

On this one, I do want comments!!!

More tomorrow...


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Friday, September 19, 2008

Why I am Still a Raza Unida Voter

If been putting this writing off for awhile. I thought it would be difficult, but the good thing about getting criticism is that it sometimes helps me with writers block.

Why I am still a Raza Unida Voter

In the fall of 2007 I began encouraging Albuquerque Raza Unida gente to begin trying to increase Raza Unida voter registration. Recently, Xenaro Ayala of Partido Nacional La Raza Unida asked me to explain why I was promoting Albuquerque Raza Unida after having taken some time off of LRU organizing.

What I came to realize is health and democracy are both key values for me. Then came the exciting realization that they are related. This was more than a vague idea that I’ve had for a long time. There was research that showed that societies with strong social equality lived longer and healthier lives. And when I realized the role that Raza Unida could play in that I became inspired.

As a public health worker I have always looked for ways to deal with social inequality and poverty, which have the greatest impacts on preventable disease and death. Like most people I initially thought about things like Universal Health Care. As I did more research I came to realize that virtually all other industrialized countries had Universal Health Care in some form or another for a long time.

Looking deeper into the subject I began to become clearer and clearer that social justice policies such as full employment, living wages, and universal programs had a larger impact on health than individual behaviors and programmatic services. The fact that we often have so many people on the Dia de Los Muertos altars became more than the semi-vague notion of oppression, it became crystal clear in policies and practices.

I also came to realize by reading writings of Vicente Navarro (especially “What is a National Health Policy”) that one of the questions not asked by US public health workers in looking at healthy areas of the world is the type of government in place. I could see clearly that of these countries only one country has no left candidates elected to national office, the US. He points out that in looking at 30 industrialized countries that there are four general categories: Ex-fascist, Liberal, Christian Democrats and Social Democrats. Health improves as one moves from Liberal toward Social Democrat.

The research shows that our efforts toward social justice are more than fairness culturally or socially, but that within our bodies we carry justice or injustice on a cellular level. Living in a society with strong unions, and a multi-party democracy will actually make my children live longer and healthier lives! When I realized that the countries with policies like Universal Health Care, Universal Education, Pay Equity for Women, and other positive policies are also countries with strong Unions and strong Socialist and Labor parties I realized I wanted to support such a society.

Though La Raza Unida does not identify as a “left” party, the ideals are in alignment. I realized that there is a false argument that says that “voting for anyone other than a Democrat is a wasted vote.” That argument tells me that if I vote against my values I will keep a corporate sponsored party in charge to make my life less worse. I knew from experience that policy makers use previous elections to help them decide who to target for current elections.
It came to me that if there is a block of truly progressive voters who are registered outside of the corporate sponsored parties it would make politicians have to factor that in. This would require people willing to vote third party as often as makes sense. By registering LRU and voting Dem the Democrats will know they can count on LRU voters and ignore them. But if they see a pattern of progressive voting they will need to respond. What politicians respond to right now is the largest group of active voters – the so-called “center.” Both parties try to gain these votes and generally ignore their base in order to do so because they know there are people who vote D or R no matter what.

In Bernalillo County, New Mexico many elections are decided with 100 votes or less. A strong block of 100-500 Raza Unida voters in New Mexico could slow the pull to the right that has been happening with the Democrats since I’ve been able to vote. With 500 or more Raza Unida voters in Bernalillo County we could actually run someone for office.

Of course if other progressive parties began to organize then coalitions could be formed. There would be no need to try and attack the two funded parties. Just by encouraging people to vote for their values we would have an influence. If currently elected officials realize they need to win votes from progressive and radical voters and not expect them automatically they will need to check in with our values as much as they do with the “center” voters.

Is this “the” solution? Absolutely not, it has to go hand in hand with us taking every opportunity feasible to organize and take leadership. We will need to go from neighborhood associations, to PTAs, to community based social justice organizations, and of course unions and political parties.
When we become a large enough voter block we will be taken into account when policies and platforms are developed. When we choose to move beyond that we will be able to move from influence to power. This is what our future generations deserve from us.

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Sept. 19, 2008

OK, I think Karlos and I are seemingly in better alignment. That's good. I know I've been in the place to challenge and go at with people - just not in the last 3-4 years. I appreciate the energy and intentions Karlos brings to the table.

He had a good point that my post on the SWOP blog was lacking background and context. I just couldn't believe that the Dems were letting McSame get away with saying they were the Workers' Party!!!!

I think we may disagree on talking about third parties two months prior to election time I think it is always good to talk about real democracy. This is one of the few times people pay ANY attention to any kind of electoral politics. Tough situation.

I will always bring up the connection between strong Unions, Labor and Socialist parties with Universal Health Care, Living Wages, Social Justice, etc... Especially when I know people use the term "progressive" and "Democrat" in the same room. The best one is when people talk about "the revolution" and don't even vote for Kucinich! But I digress....

There are definitely good points made all the way around. I just had another conversation with someone who was asking me to a youth voter registration event. I asked if they would have a list of parties available. The response was familiar - "we can't tell people what party to register with." I find it interesting that we think it OK to NOT educate people while we register them. (I often don't name names on this - rarely even mine, though apparently I'm freakin' obvious to everyone except the Alibi...)

If I go to a salesperson and they don't give me all of my options I feel ripped off! I think it should be the same for party affiliations. People should know all of their choices. Now it is up to us in smaller parties to do some of our own education. But people doing registration can at least give people copies of the list. The different clerks have them. I think I'll print it and take with me when I get trained to be a registrar.

Have a great weekend and keep lefting!!!

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Reposting Recognized Parties in NM y mas

Brother Karlos - I don't think you and I disagree as much as it sounds to you. I've been a volunteer organizer for different activities for a long time. I'm not going to spend a bunch of time arguing with people I consider on my side. Civil conversations are good. But when "You really don't want to debate this with me do you?" is the start of your conversation, I have to say you're right I really don't. I don't want to get into an energy draining conversation.


The Secretary of State in NM Recognizes the following parties:

American Independent Party (AIP)
Citizen's Party of New Mexico (CNM)
Constitutional Party (CON)
Democratic Party (DEM)
First New Mexican Party (FNM)
Independent (IND)
Independent New Mexican Party (NMI)
La Raza Unida de Nuevo Mejico (LRU)
Libertarian Party (LIB)
Natural Law Party of New Mexico (NLP)
New Mexico Alliance Party (NAP)
New Mexico Green Party (GRN)
New Mexico Socialist Party (SNM)
New Mexico Taxpayers Party (NMT)
New Party of New Mexico (PNM)
Peace and Freedom Party (PAF)
People's Constitutional Party (PCP)
Prohibitionist Party (PRO)
Reform Party of New Mexico (REF)
Republican Party (REP)
Socialist Labor Party (SLP)
Socialist Workers Party (SWP)
Worker's World Party (WWP)
Other (OTH)
If you put none, leave blank, or a line through theparty box you are registered as "Decline to State"(DTS)

You can see who is running for President here. Now in this election, unless there is a third party on the ballot I'll vote for Obama over McSame any day. But I don't buy that Obama, or the Dems in general are "progressive". I think in my years as a public health worker I was influenced a great deal by Vicente Navarro.

The way I see it countries that have good policies like Universal Health Care, Universal Higher Education, Paid Vacations for ALL workers, etc. are countries with strong Socialist and Labor Parties. People study Kerala India and northern Italy for their excellent public health without dealing with the fact that they have been governed by left parties - primarily communist - for the majority of the time since WWII.

Once I realized that 17,000 people die every year because they don't have health insurance - and realizing that my parents fit into that category through their passing - I began to look at different reasons why we don't have Universal Health Insurance, part but not all of it is a lack of a strong "left" force in US society. Strong unions and strong left parties are part of that.

I think there are some really good sections in Navarro's article, now that I am re-browsing it... I'll add it hear just because I'm trying to finish up a couple of work things instead of trying to write it in my own words. Maybe tomorrow will be slower. Emphasis is mine...

The leadership of the Democratic Party, since President Carter, has been distancing itself from American liberalism. Actually, most of the Democratic Party candidates in the presidential primaries of 2008 avoid calling themselves "liberals" (Kucinich and Edwards were the exceptions). Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have called for transcending these labels, which is a way of distancing themselves from the (U.S.) liberal tradition. The Democrat who most notably distanced himself from the term and concept of liberal was President Bill Clinton, even though he ran with a clear social democratic platform in 1992--referring to Sweden as an inspiration for his public policies (as noted at the time by the Financial Times) and calling for, among other things, a universal health care program. But, once in power, Clinton followed policies--such as elimination of the federal deficit (reducing federal social expenditures) and approval of George H. W. Bush's NAFTA proposal--that antagonized the grassroots of the Democratic Party. These policies were responsible for the high Democratic voter absenteeism in the 1994 Congressional elections and the victory of the Republican Party (the Gingrich Revolution), even though Republicans received almost the same number of votes in 1994 as in 1990, the previous non-presidential Congressional election.

It was President Clinton (not Prime Minister Blair) who, in 1994, instituted the Third Way--a "middle" way between the New Deal and the Gingrich conservatism that had gained control of Congress. Since then, the leaders of the Democratic Party have been on the center-right on domestic policies, and clearly on the right on foreign policies--sensitive to the economic and financial interests that supported and financed their campaigns for office. The foreign policy of recent Democratic administrations has been more interventionist than that of Republican administrations. And on domestic policies, Europeans are not fully aware of how far to the right the entire political spectrum is in the U.S.A compared with Europe. For example, not one of the 2008 Democratic presidential candidates (except Kucinich, who has left the primary race) has called for a publicly funded national health program (such as exists in all E.U. countries). The proposals for "universal" heath care programs, espoused by most Democratic candidates (except Obama) and some Republicans, are basically a call to make health insurance compulsory for everyone. Just as everyone who drives a car must have car insurance, so everyone would have to buy health insurance. These programs would rely on giving people tax incentives and subsidies (that will primarily benefit the insurance companies), without resolving the major problem of health coverage: the high costs and limited benefits of available health insurance coverage. Health benefits undercoverage is the largest problem in U.S. medical care; not until they actually need it do most people realize that their insurance does not cover the costs of their medical care. In the E.U., no party would dare challenge public funding as the major source of health care funding--not even the liberal parties. This should give an idea of how far to the right the entire U.S. political system has moved.

A primary reason for this state of affairs is the privatization of the electoral process, a characteristic unique to the U.S. electoral system. Candidates must raise a lot of money to buy access to the media, especially television. The TV industry sells time (completely unregulated) to the highest bidders. Most of the money that finances the campaigns comes from corporate America and the top one-third (by income) of the U.S. population. This would be illegal in all E.U. countries. As a matter of fact, many ministers in European governments have had to resign when it became apparent that they received private funds for electoral purposes. Not so in the U.S.A. A major reason why not a single viable presidential candidate is calling for publicly funded, universal health care (which is favored by most Americans) is the enormous power and influence of health insurance companies in the electoral process. Both Clinton and Obama have received considerable funds from these financial interests. Again, in the E.U., such open financial support of candidates would be illegal and considered corrupt. In the U.S.A., it is both legal and untainted by hints of corruption. According to Common Cause, 94% of candidates who won reelection in the Congressional elections of 2006 were the best-funded candidates. Money is the milk of politics in the U.S.A. And people know it: in polls, 68 per cent of respondents do not consider themselves well-represented in Congress. In no country of the E.U. does the population feel such a high degree of alienation from its government. This explains the high voter absenteeism in the U.S. electoral process.

Thus why I'm not a Democrat, not scared to criticize them, and willing to vote Third party as much as possible.




A corporate party candidate is getting something right on taxes!!!

The corporate backed parties often talk about running government like a business and cut spending, and cut taxes. What business runs on less income and to do less? It's a crazy attempt to get individuals to be "self-reliant" and support private business. Because individuals (everyone who is NOT a business owner) are not as worthy as businesses. That's why billions of our dollars can go toward bailouts of corporations, but the laws get tougher on individual families declaring bankruptcy.

Hopefully everyone pays their fair share. Apparently it is not just a good thing, but "patriotic."

And the prison guard union is trying to get rid of the Governator!

* * *
Had a good gig at Old Town last night. Got asked to sit in on a gig with Chuy for Friday. Getting more of those.



Wednesday, September 17, 2008

More Hell in the Handbasket

So Wall Street takes another plunge after our tax dollars bailout AIG. It sure would suck to be a presidential candidate right now. We know that though this is touted as a "democracy" we're only going to get two "choices." A lot of so-called progressives will say, "well, there ARE only two choices and we have to deal with reality." Maybe because non-profits are also funded by corporate wealth... Some will go on to ask "what other parties"?

I think just because they follow the corporate dollars and refuse to look outside of the food trough is sad.



Sept. 17, 2008


This ate my posts twice!!!!!


OK, Hope 16 de Septiembre went well. I was busy with our impending economic collapse so I didn't post on it. I also missed posting about Monday.

I got to see "Los Dedos de Oro" on the requinto. If you get a chance see Grupo Tradicion, they rock!!!

I have a gig tonight at Old Town Plaza with Mezcla Latina, 7pm and its FREE!!!

I also have a gig on Sunday morning in Tijeras with Paul Pino and the Tone Daddies. Sunday afternoon I have a gig at the Fair with the Wild Bunch. And then I have rehearsal that night with Mezcla Latina.

My head may pop, but it should be fun.

Keep Squeezing!!!


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Anemic Hopes

I was asked to be a contributor to a blog of a local organization that regularly talks about social justice. I know many of its members and they talk about revolution regularly. This morning I posted about McCain trumping the Democrats on being the "worker" representative. I even pointed out how anyone who knows better would see through this. There was an attempt to make it sound like a McCain endorsement and then of course the cheap shot at multi-party democracy - calling it an anemic hope.

In 1912 the Socialist Party was able to garner 6% of the presidential vote with their candidate in jail. They came in fourth. The Progressive Party came in second after the Democrats with the Republicans in third. The Prohibitionist Party was fifth, and the Socialist Labor Party 6th with 0.2%. The Socialist Party under Debs garnered 16% in Oklahoma and Nevada! And 5.9% in NM.

An important question may be what happened to the multi-party system that was once viable in the US? This is not to say there are not good candidates registered as members of corporate backed parties. But why would you talk about economic and social justice and support a corporate political party system?

I can see working for candidates here and there, but supporting the system itself seems like an anemic attempt at justice.

Maybe we all need to read about the Non-Profit Industrial Complex.

Now, I support local Dems, at least until I find out they have some corporate support. Because the reality is that is usually the option vs. Republicans. Do I register Dem? No. Do I vote third party when possible? ABSOLUTELY! Because then I am voting for my values.


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For the Worker?

This morning Matt Lauer was interviewing Senator McCain. John was responding to a question about his comments that the basics of the economy are just fine. Matt pressed him on it and he said the basics of the economy are the worker. He stayed on message and never left the worker as his message.

Biden was up next. He mentioned worker in response to McCain and went right into the whole "middle-class" clap trap. So even though I know the Republicans could care less about workers, it also shows that the Dems will avoid going where necessary. This may be the opportunity to start organizing real workers' parties.

All this while banks fall and stumble...

At least this Dem stays on a better message.


Monday, September 15, 2008

The Party That Wrecked America

Thanks for the comments. It's nice to have a little bit of conversation as opposed to one way ranting... which is fun all on its own. But it is good to have parents telling me to not go off on the boy too much. It's a good reminder. I think my frustration is he doesn't take one day side jobs because he thinks he's gonna get a career. I think in a "normal" economy that might have been a better way to see things.

Anyway, Kunstler (see clusterfu*knation on the side) proposes the new name for the Republican Party be The Party That Wrecked America. A big giant fat assumption that the Dems were doing better. He and his contempt for so many things in popular culture show the standard US blind spot - look at the rest of the planet. Everyone will be shocked and awed but other countries, with parties much more pro-worker than the Dems have policies which will at least be a little cushion.

But at least have a laugh...


Sept. 15, 08

Chinga'o! Two major financial institutions fell over the weekend. Greenspan is saying this is a Once-In-A-Century financial crisis. Wow, and they are saying this might trigger a recession... I think we may be on the boat to DEpression. What I'm wondering is how the Republicans will blame this on Barak Obama

As a parent I keep forgetting how tough things are and I give my son a hard time for not having a job. I still need to encourage him, but it will help my blood pressure and his to keep it to encouragement. He's working on selling t-shirt designs and is talking about playing music again. My understanding is that super rich people like live music during these types of times so maybe that's the smart way to go.

On happier notes I played at a wedding on Friday with Paul Pino and the Tone Daddies. Saturday I went to a potluck with members of Grupo Muy Muy and other activists. That was followed up by sitting in for two sets with Wagogo at a house party. I was scheduled for three rehearsals on Sunday and two cancelled. Would have been nice if they would have called ahead of time.

So one group I'm playing in for a long time now is working on new stuff and came to rehearse with them after about 10 days off. The challenge with them is no explicit direction. I was asked about why I don't do the background harmonica parts on "All Day Music" and was like, sure if you want. Then I listened and there are a couple of parts. I'll keep checking that out. I figured out that a problem for me is that we only run through rancheras once in awhile and there really isn't any committment to them. So I don't get to try and work out parts.

I'm going to go check out my Bro's group tonight at the Fair hopefully, and then play next Sunday with a group who I'm only practicing with on Saturday. So next Sunday is two gigs and a rehearsal. One gig this Wednesday. Thursday will probably be jam night!


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Friday, September 12, 2008

Late Labor Day Thoughts

My understanding is that Labor Day was instated to keep people from celebrating May Day. (I'll look it up when I get a chance.)

The author of this article says that the weak labor movement in the US is part of the reason and rightfully so. The way I see it, the parties in power help or hinder labor movements also. So let's review what having a "liberal" and "conservative" party range in politics have given us.

In the US workers work, on average, 1, 824 hours a year... in Norway... 1,363! 461 hours difference, or almost 58 days!!!

How about pay in the greatest country in the world....
"Germany, France, England, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland -- significantly outpace Americans in terms of pay and benefits. This is not only true for factory workers but also for service sectors workers, such a secretaries, janitors, hotel workers, and retail clerks."

Let's see what else, no universal health care, paid maternity or paternity leave, highest poverty rate AND biggest gap between rich and poor.

There's more in the article. Maybe its time to start changing our system. We don't have to undermine it. It does that very well without us.


And a fun video for Friday...

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

My Kids

The make me proud. My son, my daughter, the nephews and nieces, god-kids and the "adopted" kids who claim me as "pops", "Mr. Henry" or "El Jefito".

Reminds me that things are good.


Wednesday, September 10, 2008


I was watching Palin talk about Obama being an organizer and her comment that Mayor's had responsibility. A weak attempt at a cheap shot, but one that excites Republicans apparently. I think the hardest thing for them to vocalize is that the purpose of organizers is to make the government take care of the people. Something that goes totally against the individualistic values of the Republican party.

And the fact that Democrats are often on the receiving end of organizers is something that a lot of organizers are failing to mention now. If we're going to have real democracy we'll need a lot more organizers. To deal with the not-so-slowly creeping conservatism coming into the "liberal" party's platform and the "change" President we'll need a lot of organizers! Maybe we should pitch into the Palin Organizers Fund!




Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Getting back into the groove!!!

I did get the record version of the Esteban Jordan polka below alright. Still needs polishing. Especially the second half. Hey Machi, please email me that interview!

Below is a way cool video of a 3 way accordion jam!


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