New Mexico Senator Tom Udall Visits Roswell, Hosts Roundtable With Farmers And Ranchers Affected By Drought

As Congress takes a break from Washington, DC, many are returning to their home districts to talk with constituents on a variety of issues.  Today, New Mexico Senator Tom Udall was in Roswell, hosting a roundtable with local farmers and ranchers currently struggling with the, I’d say, devastating drought facing the entire state.

Honestly, I was not fully prepared for this discussion.  I am in no way an expert on the issue of oil and gas, farming, ranching, nor the dairy industry for that matter, so most if not the entire conversation was a bit daunting.

A common theme amongst those in attendance was a passion for the work. Regardless of my own person feelings on the environment and what we should be doing to slow down the effects of climate change, I had to admire their conviction.  Of the ten or so in attendance, all had been farming or ranching their entire lives or their families had a long history of holding down their respective lands. Experts in their respective fields, I’d say.  While there were hints of forward thinking in terms of technology, efficiency and lowering carbon footprints, it was also clear that the same tired old ideas of yesteryear are still in play when it comes to energy here in southeastern New Mexico.

Regarding energy, for example.  A local farmer from Roswell, who explained that he wears a variety of different hats, including expertise in gas and oil, said that, “if we get away from producing coal, it will be a huge cost increase that cannot be solved.”  Senator Udall did not provide a response to this, but I immediately felt discomfort with this comment.  I’m immediately reminded of what the priorities are for this region of the state when it comes to any energy plan.

Livelihood vs. Climate Change

Just last year, President Obama was in Maljamar attempting to sell his comprehensive energy plan and sort of catering to gas and oil here in southeastern New Mexico.  But since his reelection in November, he’s not only talked about climate change, but he’s also prioritized it, both in his inaugural address and at this years State of the Union.  So my question is this.  How do you sell the effects of climate change and the deterioration of our environment to local gas and oil people who depend on this as their livelihood?

Especially here in southeastern New Mexico?

To find a successful solution to climate change, policy makers need the backing of those who attended today’s roundtable with Senator Udall.  But to be on board also means supporting an applicable piece of long-term policy that will make a significant difference and not just an attempt to squash an issue temporarily with some watered down piece of policy.  We can no longer continue to ignore this idea that perhaps oil and gas have contributed to our current drought challenges.  It is the incredibly large elephant in the room, except no one with real political power is willing to point that out.  Especially in this part of the state.

We don’t have a drought just because mother nature decided to take a break.  We have a drought because we, as a society, have done very little to produce alternatives to energy. Instead of finding solutions to help pull ourselves away from our dependence on oil and gas, we continue to increase and at a very rapid speed, which in turn directly impacts our land.  Unfortunately though, we don’t talk about climate change in these parts the same reason you don’t bring up the gun issue.  People get real upset.  At today’s roundtable with Senator Udall, there was desperation from those at the table, who were worried.  Not so much about what may come from this drought, but how much more government may interfere with their businesses if the issue become much more serious.

The question remains.  To what extent do we push the limits on the environment before we can finally say, “it’s time to do something?”  Around here, no one is willing to take a stab at that question which will be very problematic for any future debate on energy.

Senator Martin Heinrich Makes Case For Comprehensive Immigration Reform. Will Rest of New Mexico Delegation Follow?

March 18, 2013 2 comments

Today I participated on a call with United States Senator, Martin Heinrich from New Mexico, along with various organizations from across the state, many of which are involved on issues related to social justice, human and immigration rights.

The Senator’s office invited many community leaders to participate on this call because it was around a hot topic that could finally mean something in the coming weeks and months: comprehensive immigration reform.

Following the plight of immigrants in my own family and as an activist for the last ten or so years, this call was important in a lot of ways.  First, it tells me we might see some results this year.  Second, it says that as a border state, New Mexico is at the forefront of the conversation on border security and that our opinion on the issue should matter.  Finally, despite the horrendous record of our own Governor (must I remind you), our congressional delegation (minus the guy who’s last name rhymes with fierce but is not) have an opportunity to be leaders in ongoing discussions around the issue.  By contacting those of us on the ground to participate in a dialogue, my hope is that we can help the Senator frame his policy on this very important matter.

I had an opportunity to pose a question to Senator Heinrich prior to the call and the question was repeated almost verbatim throughout today’s conversation and that question was, “what is the Senator’s stance on deportations and the separation of families?”

His answer was simple.

“Illegal crossings [on the border] are down 90%. We must recognize what works and we must have real consideration for our communities”

An activist from Santa Fe made it clear, “the border is already secure,” Senator Heinrich may have confirmed it with this very simple statement.

But why does the Obama administration, Democratic Senator’s like Charles Schumer and those on the right continue to insist that we have to incorporate an overhaul in border security in order to make comprehensive immigration reform happen?

At the local level, we have seen horrible injustices to families who have been separated because of a horrible immigration system.  Actually, “system” is giving the federal government too much credit.  Instead, what families are experiencing, and have been for many years, is a bottle neck of uncertainty. Laws at the local and state level continue to deprive individuals of basic human rights, being subjected to intolerance and racial profiling at the hands of law enforcement who have no idea how to handle culture-sensitive issues or any immigration issue for that matter. More importantly and you would think this was common sense, but law enforcement should not be dealing with these issues.

Calls (and visits) with congressional leadership should continue and while Senator Heinrich was very happy to continue this dialogue from now on, it is important the we continue to push the same debate with the rest of the New Mexico delegation.  It is obvious that if the President is talking “border security” and continues to deport millions of people by separating millions of families, those of us working on the ground in New Mexico should be facilitating this debate and encouraging our leaders to do the same.

But we’ve been here before.  The question though is what will we do to make sure that promises made are no longer broken?  We must no longer rely solely on the a broken system of checks and balances.  We must demand that these promises be fulfilled by organizing our communities.

The Senator ended the call with, “este es el año.”

We must make it so.

Why Worry About An Outward Bigot, When It’s Your Own You Have To Worry About?

January 24, 2013 1 comment

Imagine how much more effective our New Mexico Legislature would be if “legislators” in Santa Fe, were actually “legislating” bills that help create, oh, I don’t know…jobs, maybe? Instead, our legislators, who are currently in their second week of a 60-day legislative session, are dealing with the Governor’s attempts to once again, continue with her ongoing attacks on immigrants.

This is the third year in a row New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez will go up against immigrant activists and public safety proponents, targeting drivers licenses and attempting to repeal a law allowing undocumented New Mexican residents to obtain drivers licenses. For the third year in a row, Governor, you will be stopped.

But at what expense to the rest of New Mexicans who need to work?

“I am once again asking the legislature to repeal the law that gives driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants,” said Martinez, a Republican. “I am always willing to discuss this issue with legislators from both parties and explore ways to find common ground, but I believe the most effective solution is to simply repeal this dangerous law.”

Governor Martinez is in no way interested in any compromise, which Democrats in the Senate and House have attempted to do the last two years.  While I am in no way in favor of the compromise being put forth by some legislators in the Senate and House, it is, by far, a much greater attempt for middle ground than the absolute repeal of the law.  But that’s what the Governor is committed to.  Full repeal of the law and going back in time.

This law allowing undocumented immigrants to acquire a drivers license, was brought forth to a vote and was made into law back in 2003 — way after 9/11 and way before this Tea Party, uber-conservative wave that swept the nation the year Susana was elected.  The purpose of the 2003 drivers license passage had nothing to do with the state declaring “safe haven” for undocumented immigrants, but instead it allowed for a much safer and less-costly situation for New Mexicans paying for auto insurance.  When you have a drivers license to drive in this state, you can acquire insurance, which not only reduces costs overtime for insured drivers, but you don’t have to deal with high costs that come with uninsured drivers during an accident.  It’s a win-win.

Except for the Governor.  Her only goal is to follow other anti-immigrant and in my own opinion, push very anti-Latino policies, in order to reach national political prominence.  To do this, she is playing the role of “enforcer” and following the likes of Governor Jan Brewer in Arizona who will ignore the Federal Government to do her own thing in her own state, despite the numerous attempts, on both sides, to find compromise.

Susana Martinez became popular because she was 1) Latina 2) endorsed by Sarah Palin at the height of her own popularity during that “wave” I mentioned earlier and 3) she was a Latina going against her own.

Why have the anti-immigrant bigot do it when you can get an ambitious Latina to do it herself?

I’m absolutely appalled at this ongoing witch hunt the Governor has towards immigrants.  More frustrating is we have to endure it once again, for the third year in a row.  We have to have a meaningless debate rather than focusing on real issues affecting all New Mexicans.

Next week, many immigration activists, including myself, will be in Santa Fe, protesting this attack on immigrants and pushing our leaders and legislators to do the right thing:  vote against the repeal if and when it comes to a vote.  However, if legislators plan to move forward with a compromise, fine.  But in the end, the Governor is not going to go for it.  She wants the repeal and she will bet her entire legacy on it.

Let her.  It will make her re-election bid that much more wonderful for the rest of us, who are going to work hard to make her a one term Governor.

I’m Not Saying That I’m Anything Like President Abraham Lincoln…

January 17, 2013 2 comments

But I’m currently reading, “Lincoln:  Team of Rivals,” and the more I read, the more I feel a deep connection to President Lincoln.  There are a lot of things he and I have in common.  For one, we’re both very emo.  

The author discusses President Lincoln and reports on his friends/family who made references to the President suffering between a cross of depression and melancholy.  

The passage that hits me the most is this one:   

“Periodically, when the distance between his lofty ambition and the reality of his circumstances seemed unbridgeable, he was engulfed by tremendous sadness.”  

I can testify to this passage and how powerful it is.  There are days in which I feel like I’m still waiting for my life to begin.  Waiting for that one thing that is going to catapult me to the place I am destined to be.  But what am I waiting for?  Why do I stress over whether or not I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing at this exact moment?  Why do I dwell on if I do this and not that, will it lead me elsewhere?  

I’m a true believer in “you make things happen.” But I’m also a true believer of having no regrets.  But like Lincoln, I am engulfed with tremendous sadness when the distance between my own lofty ambition and the reality of my circumstances, seem unbridgeable.

Goal for 2013 is to use my reality and circumstances to reach my lofty ambitions.  

It’s that simple.

Or is it?  

Ok…no questioning it.  Just do it.  


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Inauguration Saga: The Tale of A Small Town Girl Who Could Never Seem To Make It. Part Deux

January 12, 2013 Leave a comment

In 2008, I volunteered (as much as you can in a blue state) for President Obama in California. Even drove to Vegas to do some GOTV. That’s how much I was committed to his campaign. Low and behold, right after the election, a friend (with the help of now Senator Tom Udall) I was given access to the the inauguration via a purple ticket!
On January, 21, 2009, I woke up from my cozy couch in Arlington, VA, where I was staying with my good friend Jon. I decided that I was going to catch the bus at 3a and take it into DC so I could meet my other friend and get my golden ticket.
Let me just point something out. I was wearing the worst thing imaginable. If you were from the northeastern part of the country and understand how low the temps drop towards the end of January, you too would have looked at me like I was crazy. Anyway, I was standing at the bus stop waiting for my bus to DC…freezing.
1.5 hours later, I was still at the bus stop. Still freezing. Four buses had already passed by, waving me down that there was no longer any room.
By 4:30a, Jon met me down at the bus stop and we decided to grab a cab. Low and behold…that was also impossible. After running up and down one of the main streets in Jon’s hood, we ran into another group of idiots looking for transportation down to DC as well. After what felt like hours running after every cab we saw, we finally got the help of a very nice cab driver (in a van!!!) and she was kind enough to take eight of us into DC. However, there was a caveat. She was not going to be able to take us all the way in. Instead, she would only take us as far as Capitol Hill, off of I-395 and we’d have to walk the rest of the way.
Because Jon and I had different color tickets (his was gold and mine was the purple, which I still didn’t have in my possession) we had to split up near the, “Obama is the Devil because he believes in Sodomy” sign.
Sidenote: That sign should have tipped me off on the rise of the crazies.
So I leave Jon on the south side of the Mall. Somewhere in the middle of a cascade of gazillion people and I start my trek to meet my friend. It’s barely twilight at this point, sun should be coming up shortly and I’m cold as…well, the northeastern part of the country in the middle of January (and did I mention it doesn’t get cold like this in SoCal?)
It was around 5:30 or 6a when I finally got my act together, determined to meet with my friend with the purple ticket. But in doing so, there was a problem. My friend had the ticket.
Because there was so much security all over the damn place, I had to find ways to get through without having to present my ticket…
Rather than boring you with all the details (because there are many, like jumping over fences, my jacket getting caught on top of a fence, dodging police, sprinting through the I-395 tunnel) let’s just say that I finally got to my friend at 9:30am…3 hours after I started the trek, six hours from the time I was at the bus stop in Arlington.
But one thing before I joined my friend Alison (oh yeah, my purple ticket holder had a name)…when I arrived to our meeting place, there was a sea of people and they would not move. Let me put it to you this way. Jesse Jackson was standing just a few feet from me, stuck in the middle of the crowd, waiting impatiently just like the rest of us. I mean, seriously. If this famous civil rights leader wasn’t getting through, neither was I. 

Back to the story. So I finally run into my friend Alison, underneath the tunnel. Although there was already a line, I was strictly informed that I will not be able to cut to stand with her. I cut.
It was great to finally see her and to finally have my purple ticket. We were just steps away from our entrance to the inauguration and I had made it just in time. By this time it was around 10a, so I was convinced things were going to go my way.
We continued to wait. And wait…and wait. I mean, at first it was awesome because the energy was so great. People were happy, songs were being sung. It was just a great atmosphere to be in. I mean, c’mon? I was in a tunnel, about to witness our first Black President take the oath of office.
But when 11am arrived, I was starting to worry. I was already hearing people talk about Aretha Franklin taking the stage. Then there was the benediction…all of this while we were all under the tunnel. People were beginning to get upset. 

Finally the line started to move and I saw a bright light, heading towards the end of the tunnel (I wasn’t dying). We reached the outside and I knew we were going to make it. But we didn’t. When we reached the gate, we were told that everyone who had a purple ticket had already been admitted and that there would be no more admittance due to security. I was absolutely devastated. 

So my friend and I jetted. We reached the closest bar and it was standing room only and slightly hazardous, I’d say. So we didn’t stay.
Instead, we went back, hoping to get back in, but we could not. We stood with other people who had purple tickets and were not allowed and incredibly disappointed. The saddest part about the whole thing was that there were two older African American ladies, who I am sure were old enough to remember the Civil Rights Movement, unable to watch President Barack Obama be inaugurated and instead watching it from a phone, just yards away from the real thing.
So we left. I left the Capitol and walked to Dupont Circle where I unexpectedly met up with my friends Carlos and Teresa at The Front Page. There, they told me about the inauguration and what they got to witness and were so excited. They were truly excited about the fact that they had witnessed history that day. I may have started to cry at this point.
By this time it was after 3p and I was exhausted. Metro at Dupont was down and the bus…ugh, the bus. So I walked to Foggy Bottom. I figured it would be better. 

It wasn’t. 

I walked south on 23rd, to the Lincoln Memorial and across Memorial Bridge…to Arlington Cemetery. There, I caught the metro and took it to Pentagon City, where I met up with Jon, who took me out to dinner. He got to witness one of the greatest moments in our history. I may have cried at this point as well.
I must have talked 30 miles that day.
Fast forward to today.
I worked for Organizing for America (OFA) in Colorado in 2012, hoping to reelect President Obama. A successful campaign was ran and we were victorious! 

Last night I got an email with great news for OFA alumni. There are going to be tons of activities for alumni during inauguration week this year, including a visit to the White House, and that I should definitely go. This would be the last chance to RSPV. 

I took the chance, booked my flight and sent off my itinerary to my inauguration partner-in-crime, Jon. Yay!! I was going to be able to make it happen this time.
This morning, I grabbed my Iphone first thing and checked my email. There was an email from Jon, in response to my itinerary.
It said…in the only way Jon can say it, “Angelica My Luv… I think you need to change your return day. MONDAY is the inauguration… you won’t be able to see it if you are at BWI. :(“
Right away I called my airline to get things straightened out, but no such luck. It was going to cost me double what I paid to fly out the following day. There is no way I could afford to rebook my flight for all the inauguration events and inauguration day.
Inauguration #2 – Bust
So the moral of this long story is that yes. I screwed up my dates for this year’s inauguration. But as you can see, while the first inauguration was somewhat tragic in my eyes at the time…I can’t really be upset about today’s events because well…I’ve had a good run. It’s such a great story, one I will be able to tell my grandchildren when they too do something really dumb. 

I went to the inauguration in 2009, didn’t witness it, but was there…I worked on the Obama campaign in Colorado this past year, having shook the man’s hand twice. Honestly…what more could I ask for, right?*
This last paragraph is just to help me feel better after what transpired with my airline ticket today.

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How Did We Allow MTV To Stop Playing Music? And Other Sad Things Going Through My Head

Today I was watching Portlandia’s newest episode, “Take Back MTV.”  In it, two characters played by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein, discover that MTV no longer play’s music videos and instead is being run by a bunch of tweens obsessed with reality shows like, Teen Mom.  Google it.  I refuse to link it from my blog.  Anyway, strategizing, they decide to take MTV back to its original form.  You  know?  Playing “music videos” and talking about “music” and “artists?”  With the support of all major public radio funders (which was hilarious), and the help of past VJ’s, Kurt Loder, Tabitha Soren and Matt Pinfield (the loud, bald guy), the goal of putting the music back into MTV, was set.

Spoiler alert:  After a successful coup d’état by Fred, Carrie and the old school MTV VJs, an older gent wakes up to find on this television this amazing and historical occurrence, from the comfort of his living room couch,…to only fall back to sleep.

I tend to complain about MTV myself.  Geez, it’s not what it used to be!  I mean, aside from watching Nev on Catfish religiously (what can I say? I find him incredibly smart and handsome!!!) the whole channel is such a waste.  But the reaction the guy on the couch gives on Portlandia…a reaction of “who cares?”, is the same reaction I picture from your typical person who hates politics and would rather not participate in any civic duty or local action.

Take the last week for example.  All over Facebook and Twitter you had “those” people complain when they got their paycheck last week and noticed that it was shorter than previous months.  “That Obama is taking my money!”  is all I heard.  Except that this was not the case at all.  Had they been paying attention to the politics they so despise, they would have realized that we’ve always had this thing called a “payroll tax” which is deducted from our checks each pay period to pay for Social Security.  However, in 2010, President Obama signed off on reducing the amount of this payroll tax through the tax bill, by two percentage points so that the working middle class would have some change left over each month, to pay for stuff, so that in turn, would stimulate the economy and get things going again.  But people don’t get that.  They just think it’s something that was just thrown at them (or taken from them)

Instead, what they should be concerned about is that like every other year since the President has been in office, the Republican party has been doing something we all like to call, “obstructionism.”  In the case of the fiscal cliff, in order to save stuff like, unemployment benefits, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and surviving the Dairy Cliff, among other things, the payroll tax was allowed to expire, thus raising the the payroll tax back to 6.2% instead of 4.2%.

Imagine if the President was allowed to keep everything he wanted on the table?

Yes, many other things were saved because of the fiscal deal…but despite all of that, many are still very upset about the payroll tax and the $1000 that will be taken from them this coming year.  I mean it’s a cable bill for crying out loud!!!

Yes, the President could have fought harder…he had the leverage like many progressives have said, some continuing to say that the guy is just not a closer when it comes to negotiations.  The President may have also given up enough leverage as he counters GOP BS in two months when we have to endure this torture again with the debt ceiling debate.

But think about it?  President Obama and the Democrats are putting policy on the table to help the working poor, the middle class and the 99% who don’t make a gazillion dollars, and the Republican’s are saying no to everything so we’re having to compromise and yet we still have some working poor, middle class and 99%ers defending the Republican party and their obstructionism?

Does this make any sense to you?

When will American’s finally wake up to the BS?  Fox News and Rush Limbaugh are spewing misconceptions about everything to the very people that these policies are affecting and yet people don’t think for themselves.

American’s remind me of the guy waking up in the middle of Portlandia’s MTV takeover.  He awakes to find the original VJs back to what is right in the world, with music being played and awesomeness being shown, to only go back to sleep because, you know what?  Who cares?

This attitude of complacency is what allows our leaders and lobbyists to take advantage of our communities across the country.  Until American’s begin to think critically, understand what is really going on and fight back, there will continue to be injustices…including your hard earned cash being used to pay for something your Congressman prefers rather than you putting food on the table.

It Loves Me…Oh, Gawd It Loves Me NOT! The End Of A Political Love Story.

December 13, 2012 2 comments

Wow. It’s been so long since my last post that I barely recognized the updates to the WordPress dash. My bad.

But it looks great. I mean, it actually makes me want to write…more often.

So…where have I been? Full disclosure. My last post was written in Colorado, which is where I was living at the time. I decided to go work for the Obama campaign in east Boulder county for seven weeks leading up to election night. After shutting it all down, returning to New Mexico and decompressing with some much needed Elliott Smith, SLEEP, sans CSPAN, and some traveling back east (by the way, did I say sleep?) I am ready to get back into the swing of things. President Obama may have won, putting an end to a very successful campaign against that guy…what’s his name? But while winning elections is one thing…winning major legislation in the next two years will be critical as it will determine the direction of this country. I intend to write about it! (Without the long absences)

I promise. (For the gazillionth time)

Much like what we unrealistically expected in 2008, I wish I could say we woke up the day after this election with every societal ill resolved. No. In fact, we woke up to a complete nightmare, which we continue to see unfold before our very eyes, and with no real end in sight. The difference however, is that we, progressives, are no longer the only ones willing to accept the chaos that is the United States Congress aka Republican Party. At least, that’s my theory.

Republican’s nation-wide are waking up to a fallacy. The demise of a true love story.

Four years ago, it was something special. The Tea Party was just oh, so charming. Sure, it felt too good to be true…but it really did feel good. So what if they were nothing like what you were used to? While your Eisenhower-Republican friends called you crazy, you sat back and enjoyed this idea of a good thing. You were courted. Despite all the baggage from the last eight years, you were willing to overlook it because it was that other guys fault. While you knew that the Tea Party was no good for you, you were convinced that you could make it work. You were so committed to this idea that you marched on the National Monument to denounce health care for all, even though it was a Republican idea just a decade before. You even went so far as to impress this Tea Party, whom you held up on a very high pedestal, to eventually replace strong Republicans and Democrats leaders in Congress in 2010 to get this Tea Party in.

Then came 2012. By this time, you were madly in love…but you’re the laughing stalk of your conservative, anti-Tea Party friends. They know that it’s not going to work out, but here you are holding on to this idea that it might just work. The Tea Party tells you exactly what you want to hear. At one point even convinces you that there might be a future. You just need to wait it out because election day is just around the corner and all the dumb things you’ve done for the party in the past four years will all be worth it in the end.

Then this happens.

The Republican Party is in utter chaos. They have pushed things so far to the right that they would rather wipe out our entire economy than to lose. Even though the demands put forth by the President are exactly what the American people voted for on November 6.

No cuts to entitlement programs. Let the Bush Tax Cuts for the top 1% expire. Extend the Bush Tax Cuts for those making under $250,000.

Instead, what we have is a lying John Boehnor, Speaker of our House of Representatives, attempting to explain his side of the story.

It’s taken four years for supporters of the Tea Party to finally begin to realize what a douche their party was. How could they have been so stupid??

Perhaps they have not completely made it out of the woods, just yet. However, I think our current economic debate (or lack thereof) will put their relationship into perspective pretty soon. (I hope.)

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