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Fancy Lady Pickin'

Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer at SBCC

Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer play some roots music at the South Broadway Cultural Center.
Wes Naman

Acts of Sedition

In yesterday's New York Times, your very own Alibi gets a brief mention in relation to the PEN/Katherine Anne Porter First Amendment Award that's been granted to our good friend, Laura Berg. You might recall that Berg is a psychiatric nurse at the local Veterans Affairs hospital who got a lot of attention a couple years ago when a letter she printed in the Alibi led to threats that she would be charged with sedition.

The letter wasn't particularly inflammatory. It simply accused our current president and his crew of waging an unjustifiable war in Iraq. Her employer overreacted, confiscated her computer and implied she would be investigated for sedition, the act of attempting or planning to overthrow the country through use of force.

The ACLU and Senator Jeff Bingaman, along with some help from your friendly neighborhood Alibi, raised a big stink about this crude attempt to intimidate Ms. Berg into submission. Here's our original story on the controversy and our feature-length interview with Berg.

A $10,000 check comes with the prize. Crime doesn't pay. We all know that. But who knew exercising your constitutional rights could be so lucrative?

Congrats to Berg for transcending a threat to her freedom with enormous courage.

Random Thoughts on New Hampshire

Let me start by telling you what you already know: Both Clinton and McCain staged impressive comebacks last night in New Hampshire.

As is so often the case, the pollsters and talking heads were the big losers of the evening.

The guv did OK for a middle-tier candidate, nabbing 5 percent, so he's not coming home just yet. In related news, many New Hampshire voters seem to think he'd still make a good vice president.

Sure is a blast watching this horse race, isn't it? I wish I could've been there in person. New Hampshire is one of four states in the U.S. I've never visited. This isn't because I have any particular gripe against the Granite State. It's not like Maine, a state for which I have a passionate loathing. (What do I care about lobster! Over-priced! Over-rated!) And don't even get me started on Vermont. New Hampshire is on my list of states to visit, along with Alaska. I just haven't gotten around to it yet. Perhaps in 2012.

I've occasionally daydreamed out loud about moving to ol' N.H., largely because it would be no small thrill to see the words "Live Free or Die" printed on my license plate. Plus, as a general rule, I hate political parties, and a large number of New Hampshirites seem to feel the same way.

Still, it's patently unfair that states like Iowa and New Hampshire play such a huge role in determining who will be the next leader of the free world. Yes, the current system cranks up excitement, but there are other more sporting ways to make presidential elections entertaining.

What if we threw in some federally mandated randomness, for example? (I think this might require a constitutional amendment, but how hard could that be?) The order of primaries and caucuses could be picked at random every presidential election cycle, with set intervals every week. To make it really interesting we could start with just one state-say on the second Tuesday of January-followed by two states on the third Tuesday, five states on the fourth Tuesday, then a whopping 10 states on Super Tuesday. Then everyone else.

Sounds like fun, no? The main attraction would be that the rest of the states would have a chance get involved when it matters instead of just glaring at the action from the sidelines. After all, as the bumper sticker says, "democracy is not a spectator sport." Or it shouldn't be. In a just world.

Still there's a chance that at least Democratic votes will still matter come Super Tuesday, Feb. 5, when the New Mexico Democratic Party holds its caucus along with a bazillion other states. Wouldn't it be nice to be relevant?


The Daily Word, 09.20.07

The Daily Word

Another person got run over by the Rail Runner.

Drinking from the toilet: It’s not just for dogs anymore.

The adventures of Honey Bee continue ...

A bully conference was held at Hotel Albuquerque earlier this week. (You know, for teachers to deal with bullying, not bullies to learn how to bully.)

Michael Samora fails intelligence test--will act as own attorney in homicide case.

“Super committee seeks APS superintendent”

Is St. Pete in trouble?

Lord of the Flies New Mexico-style is doing all right in the ratings.


The Daily Word, 09.13.07

The Daily Word

Kent Nelson is going to jail.

Who’s keeping track of the plutonium?

Humberto visits Texas.

NM GOP launches attack on the mayor.

An interesting debate on who should take over APS.

Early voting for city elections began yesterday.

Speaking of which, here’s a transcript of last night’s online debate between district 6 city council candidates on the Journal’s website.

Expect more inane blathering from the president in tonight’s televised speech.

Maybe Bush should read this before he takes the stage.

What’s this about?

Damn Foreigners

I flew back from Europe a couple days ago where we attended my mother-in-law’s (re)marriage before borrowing a car and driving from the Netherlands deep into the heart of Germany. My father-in-law has a house in Der Harz, a beautiful mountainous region where we drank beer and ate sausage for breakfast, lunch and dinner, in between absorbing local culture. Part of that local culture included some sort of harvest festival in which the locals dressed up in costumes to represent the entire history of their village, from the stone age to the present. The lengthy parade also included this horse-riding cock. Mysterious! Weird!

During the seven-hour drive, we saw windmills everywhere, the modern kind, which integrated nicely with the landscape. A half dozen or so seemed to decorate almost every hillside. Made me ponder how the trillion dollars we’re blowing in Iraq might’ve been more wisely spent at home. The German economy, by the way, is doing quite nicely. Unemployment is low. Property is cheap. And I bought a pair of long underwear for the equivalent of $2. That, my friends, is progress. (You can sort of barely see the windmills in the crappy photo after the jump.)


The Daily Word, 09.06.07

The Daily Word

Register your least favorite gang member here.

Mayer vs. Mayor—the shakedown at Animal Services.

Wanna buy a rifle? Just hop on the bus.

Locked and loaded—school board votes to arm APS police.

District 6 city council candidate fails to list 1988 shoplifting conviction on Journal questionaire.

New Mexico gets its own guitar.

Fred Thompson is running for president. No one cares.

Writer convicted for a murder he described in one of his own novels.

Pavarotti is dead.

So is Larry Craig.

You mean this money? This money right here?

Dirty Money? I’m Keepin’ It!

Just saw this juicy tidbit on Haussamen’s blog. Alan Fabian is the CEO of the Centre for Management and Technology. He’s also the former co-chairman of presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s national finance committee. Fabian just got indicted on almost two dozen counts of fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice and perjury. Turns out several House Republicans accepted political contributions from Fabian, and our own Rep. Heather Wilson took in more than any of them. Romney’s returning Fabian’s money. According to The Hill, however, Wilson is keeping her share, which amounts to $2,500—pocket change for the famously well-endowed Republican, but a substantial chunk of cash nonetheless.

November ’08 isn’t that far away, Heather. You might want to reconsider.


Political firebrand Millie Santillanes died over the weekend while being prepped for gall bladder surgery. She was 74. Alibi readers will remember her as the city’s most vocal supporter of Hispanic cultural pride during the heated debate over the Oñate memorial. She ran for mayor of Albuquerque during the ’80s and lost, but remained a powerful force in local politics right up until her death, most recently as city clerk. We didn’t always agree with her, but we’ll miss her presence. The city won’t be the same without you, Millie.

A Dirty Business

With any luck—and we’ll need at least a little luck—New Mexico will soon get the full-scale ethics overhaul it so richly deserves. An impressive if imperfect strategy for ethics reform looks like it’s going to make it through at the federal level. Earlier this week, our own guv’s ethics reform task force released some suggestions for cleaning up our act here in New Mexico. Lord knows we need it. The task force is recommending a special legislative session to exclusively address these proposals. It’s easy to be cynical about this kind of thing, but a lot of the task force’s ideas are excellent—maybe even essential. Public financing for state-wide offices along the lines of what we now have here in Albuquerque? Why not? An independent ethics commission to monitor the shady dealings of our shadiest public officials? Sure! Requiring lobbyists to wear ID badges when they’re floating around the Roundhouse? Not as crazy as Monahan makes it sound. The task force is closing shop at the end of the month. Then it’ll be up to our legislature to push something through that’s more substantial than we got last time around. We’ll see.