Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gun Control Is Not The Solution

James Bond's Gun

Social media has gone crazy since the shooting at Sandy Hook. And all my carefully bared down liberal friends are screaming for gun control. They do not understand why I am opposed. It's complex.

The following is a personal message I sent to an internet friend in response to her query of why I am not behind taking guns out of at least the hands of the mentally unbalanced.

It isn't as easy to identify the mentally unbalanced as you think. And they have to be identified to the point that there is a record of that mental problem. At the same time we have restricted mental health professionals with contradictory requirements that make them hesitant to put on the record things that may stick with their patients forever.

I have a friend who is a mental health professional and because of her liability and the chance of being sued sees only patients that can pay her in cash so she does not have to go by insurance demands for reporting. Meanwhile the profession to avoid trouble is coming up with new jargon that is like splitting and resplitting hairs. Lantz's DMI might be disassociative. That can mean anything from does not pay attention in class to excessively shy to serial killer. And will it even work?

The Aurora shooter did not have a mental health record until after he purchased all the guns and ammo. He probably went to a shrink just to see if they would stop him and the wheels ground so slowly that they didn't.

The mall shooter took a gun from a neighbor without permission and this last one used his mother's legally obtained weapons. And you all make it sound as if the guns are easy. And they just picked them up and began shooting so of course they would not take the time to make a bomb from instructions on the internet. The Aurora shooter amassed weapons for months and months and built bombs to booby trap his house. He took the time. The Columbine shooters spent months in their parent's garage stashing ammo and building pipe bombs. They took the time.

I am a liberal. I am not a member of the NRA. I am not ranting about the 2nd amendment. I am just saying that this banning of assault weapons or even a requirement of a background check to own a 10 gauge shotgun will not stop the killing. It will not even slow it down. The Brady Bill didn't work. Taking gun control out of the hands of the state and making it national will not work. Banning guns totally will not work. Mexico has the frame work to get drugs over our borders so they will just start bringing guns. Ooops they already do to those states that restrict gun sales. I live in a border state. I know.

You have a right to your own opinion too but I am tired of the meaningless rhetoric and it bothers me that you and the majority of my liberal friends are buying a "panacea" that will not work. We need to address why there is this much sickness in our society. And how to identify it and how to get those people the help they need before it is too late. 

Every time the United States has rushed to a quick fix on anything it has only made matters worse. My same liberal friends that are fighting to tighten laws on guns are also arguing for legalization of drugs. Two states made marijuana legal this last election. These states are flaunting national laws on drugs. States' Rights rule on guns and any federal action on gun control always runs counter to that. There is a huge difference between New York and New Mexico or Alaska. It is not just the NRA that will fight any move to outlaw or ban guns.

PS while Googling an image for this blog I ran into pages and pages and pages of sites for on line gun and ammo sales. I need a spare clip for my Walther so I book marked a couple. The opening image of the Walther came from Gun Auction.com. I bet if you ask politely they have a source for the kits that can change any semi-automatic rifle into fully automatic too. So are those that want gun control willing to cede internet control at the same time?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Mechanics Lien Laws in New Mexico

The mechanic's lien in New Mexico is being used and abused to the detriment of homeowners and contractors alike. With current New Mexico laws regarding the placement of mechanic's liens no proof is required before placing a cloud over an owner's title.

To file a lien in any court in New Mexico the person filing the lien does not have to prove they are a licensed contractor, had a legitimate contract with the person named in the lien, or are actually owned any monies let alone the amount claimed. The lien, once placed rightly or wrongly, clouds the title of the homeowner for two years making it next to impossible for them to refinance or sell without paying the sum named in the lien.

Removal of the lien before the two years requires going to court to prove they are innocent; a concept which runs counter of the belief that all men are innocent until proven guilty. When I sought legal advice as to the removal of a lien on my property by a contractor no longer licensed I was told to just pay him as the amount owed was less than the legal fees it would cost to go to court. This, in opinion, amounts to legalized blackmail.

A contractor can at any time within that two years move for judgment. And the homeowner can actually have their home foreclosed on and sold out from under them to settle lien even if it is a fraction of the worth of the house. The only recourse for the homeowner is to participate in a lengthy and costly legal action for which there seems to be no alternative or affordable path even if the lien was illegally placed, the contractor has no proof of the contract, or the amount owed. And until the matter is settled in court the title of the property is still clouded and the homeowner hog tied. In my instance the legal action took four and a half years. And extends beyond the license of the contractor or the legal standing of his now defunct company.

Regardless of the legal rightness of either side of the argument changes need to be made in New Mexico's Mechanic's lien laws to avoid the tying up of court time, the abuse by contractors, and the victimization of homeowners.

Other states have amended their mechanic lien laws to be more fair. But as the law currently stands in New Mexico it is merely a legalized form of black mail which damages everyone involved. I have lots of friends that have been a victim of the Mechanic's Lien and who, like me, would never, ever hire a contractor again. So this law damages the construction industry as well as homeowners and the real estate market. And the Construction Industries division does little to monitor this process and its abuse.

After a two and a half year deliberation on the court trial the judge finally found in my favor and released the lien on my property. He found that the contractor did not have a case. I fortunately was assisted in my battle by New Mexico Legal Aid because they saw this as a problem many homeowners that could not afford to fight had and were subsequently losing their homes.

I would be more than happy to meet with any New Mexico legislator willing to take on this miscarriage of equal rights before the law and testify before any committee or answer any questions as to my personal experience with this abusive law.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012


The First Family Still

I was so happy last night when President Obama won re-election in record time against all predictions that we might not know for weeks or months because of all the dirty tricks and fraud and suspected voting irregularities.

Elections have never been easy for me. Much of my youth I seemed to always be voting for the least onerous candidate. And when I was deeply devoted to a candidate they seemed to lose. The 2000 election when Gore had the election stolen from him I was a wreck for weeks. I was so embarrassed for my country. We export democracy and yet we failed at it on our home turf. And when GW turned out to be a drunken fool that leaned on podiums and could not speak proper English I just tuned out.

When Kerry lost to GW in 2004, again by suspected voting machine manipulation, I seriously contemplated moving to Canada. Evidently one hell of a lot of Americans did the same thing. When Barack Obama won the nod of the Democratic party for the 2008 election I didn't dare hope he might win. It was a huge and historic victory. The first black man in the white house! Made up for not having the first woman president in Hillary Clinton.

Had I been the president elect in 2008 as GW Bush and policies pushed the United States off the financial cliff I would have moved to Canada. What an impossible task? There we were as not merely a nation but the world heading for economic free fall. And everyone seemed to believe he was superman. He was suppose to keep us out of the deepest depression the world had ever known and deliver on all his campaign promises. And all against a GOP subset that was determined from day 8 to make him a one term president. And yet he got us the ACA and signed into law a bill to help ensure equal pay for equal work for women. And slowly inch by inch the economy has been improving.

I would not have run again (see previous mentions of moving to Canada) but he did. But there was so very much at stake. With the economy beginning to heal we could not turn it over to a party and the same polices that broke it. And it was clear from the outset that the GOP wanted to return women to the '50's. The 1850's. It was so scary because losing was not an option but also not in our control. There were several indications the GOP was willing to cheat. That was taken so seriously the United Nations sent Election Observers to several key battle grounds. The polls kept saying it was too close to call. This has not been good on my stress levels. But Nate Silver's reading of polling data gave me hope.

I had voted early so on election day I could divert my mind and tummy with something creative with a friend - Nuno felting. And I was so exhausted when I came home I figured I would just go to sleep. But an election junkie I tuned in and watched. At ten o'clock it was all over and Barack Obama was still president of the United States.

I am not sure this will solve all our problems. This campaign has shown that we are a deeply divided nation. Maybe even more divided than the days before the Civil War. But at least we did not turn over the country to the people that broke it in the first place and seemed determined to do anything to get in power including lying, cheating, and bigoted/sexist slurs.

To my list of words I no longer want to hear I add - polls, polling data, cliff hanger, birther, Donald Trump, Romney, Ryan, and Republican. Not another word about 2016 until at least 2015. See campaign reform.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

We need a third party

On October 19th I early voted. For one of the first times in my voting history I voted a straight Democratic ticket. Beyond President, Senators and Congressmen (both national and state) I had no clue who I was voting for. I was voting against a party. So I looked seriously for other options.

New Mexico has in the past been host of a relatively strong Green Party. And I have voted for them in local offices. This election they did not seem to be running any candidates. There were six people running for President. I have a friend that is an advocate of the Libertarian candidate Johnson.

Sadly our current campaign laws and financing make it impossible for a third party to compete. And given the huge division between the two parties we now have we need a third party. Badly. If for no other reason that to make our two party system pay attention to itself and realize how very much they have turned off a large proportion of the populace. While that bile is still lurking in our mouths we need to get serious about campaign reform. No longer than 100 days and no more money spent by a candidate than twice the annual salary of the office they are campaigning for. And definitely no out of state or out of district funds.

A third or fourth party candidate could compete viably in a campaign under such restrictions. And the American people would benefit from having more choices. How many of us are truly red or blue, Jesus or Darwin like the illustration. I think of myself as a centralist more than liberal or conservative. I admit to some believes that are far right (not beyond Attila the Hun but out there) and others that are as far left. But I am not Christian (and the more fanatic the fundamentalist become the more that is true). And while Darwin's work was ground braking current science is proving him wrong in some instances. Like it may be survival of the fanciest and not the fittest. Scientific theory is a moving target. Quite literally were earth sciences are concerned but that is another blog.

I believe in my right to carry a gun, and in the right for same sex marriage. I think the US is not a Christian nation and would fight to defend that. And contrary to my blog friends that did not vote for either of the major party candidates because they did not mention Global Warming, I seriously believe it needs to be a campaign issue. But because of our entrenched two party system the only topics that get heard are those that are important to five or six swing states that because of the Electoral college matter more than the one citizen one vote principle. We are a republic and not a democracy.

If there is good news in this election it is that it has made some people truly upset at the sad state of affairs. We could end up with a Mormon Theocracy if Romney wins or a totally broken Republican party if Obama wins. Frankly I am for the latter because it gives us a real chance to end the Red State/Blue State civil war.

Either way we are going to have a large group of people very upset about the sorry state of politics in the United States. Read up on Article V conventions. Let's change the path we are taking.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Words and Phrases I Would Ban

It has been a long, long, long campaign and a particularly divisive one. I do not even have access to television stations to be bombarded by campaign ads. But social media on the internet has been bad enough. And if I get another request for campaign funds via an e-mail I may just scream

I do not live in a critical swing state. I can image what it is like for poor Ohio. I frankly think the political process is seriously broken and I do not know if I ever want to participate on any level in another campaign ever again. And as I told a friend recently I want to ban several words and phrases.

Do not ever in my presence say we are a Christian nation! We are not. The word Jesus (which I also want to ban) is not mentioned anywhere in any of the federalist papers. Nor do I want to be told that Sandy was an act of God. I never want to see the word RAPE with a modifier. And the phrase legitimate rape should carry a prison term if used in a political speech or a police station.

We are not a democracy. I think the Tea Party has proven that beyond a shadow of a doubt. We are a broken Republic in my humble opinion. I got really tired of hanging chads in the 2000 election and I am really, really, really tired of voter ID requirements. Voting is a right and not privilege like driving or buying liquor. I need a photo ID for the last two but not the first one.

No doubt because of Sandy and the suspected faulty voting machines owned by the Romneys I will get really tired of the word recount. I am tired of dressing the stage at campaign events and photoshopping crowds to double their size GOP. And I am sick to death of the fact that only Ohio and Florida count.

I plan to work hard for an Article V convention to move for campaign and electoral reform. But I am not going to refriend anyone that was abusive to me because of my views not matching theirs. I am fed up.

BTW this is just a short list.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Call for an Article V Convention

Last Friday a friend and I headed east to Raton, New Mexico to cast our ballots in the 2012 United States Presidential election. The two hour drive across the plains gives you a lot of time to think and talk. We did not have to think about our vote because our minds were firmly made up. But we talked about how deeply divided our country has become. This great experiment of ours is not working. Something has to change.

I am reminded of Abraham Lincoln's Springfield, Illinois speech of June 18, 1858 in which he addressed the issue of slave vs. free: "A house divided divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free." It took the bloodiest war in the history of the world to resolve that issue. And the years I lived in the south made me doubt that the wounds of that war were ever going to heal.

Now we are divided Red and Blue, Republican and Democrat, Christian and freedom to believe as you will. Politicians have played on the differences and erected fences against either side talking to each other. Such must have been the tension along the Mason Dixon line in the days before war broke out with brother fighting against brother. To avoid another civil war I think we need to call a Constitutional Convention as provided for in Article V of the Constitution. Our system is broken and it needs fixed.

 "Even though the Article V convention process has never been used to amend the Constitution, the number of states applying for a convention has nearly reached the required threshold several times. Congress has proposed amendments to the Constitution on several occasions, at least in part, because of the threat of an Article V Convention. Rather than risk such a convention taking control of the amendment process away from it, Congress acted pre-emptively to propose the amendments instead. At least four amendments (the Seventeenth, Twenty-First, Twenty-Second and Twenty-Fifth) have been identified as being proposed by congress at least partly in response to the threat of an Article V convention."

What is clearly broken is the election process, including but not limited to the Electoral College. At the time our constitution was written maybe we needed two years to campaign for office. Not so today in this age of rapid communication. And maybe we needed the safeguard of the Electoral College procedure to prevent a do over of the election should a candidate die between election and swearing into office. But not so today. Nor should candidates be allowed to buy an office. Or buy the voting machines that will tally his votes for that office.

We need to put a sense of power back into the hands of the people and that means taking that power from the millionaires and billionaires and mega corporations and lobby groups. "Government of the people, by the people and for the people . . ." Enough already! This election has shown just how bad it can get. And there is a real danger of a popular vote for one candidate and election of the other by unfairly distributed Electoral College numbers.

At the county court house in Raton a 91 year old couple, the Romeros of Raton, were voting early. And a young woman came in with her daughter to vote. The court house staff gave the little girl a sample ballot and pencil to fill out. I hope when she is old enough to vote voting will still mean something. And that it will continue to mean something until she is 91 or older. But if that is going to be true we have to do something decisive and we have to do it soon.

After you cast your vote connect up with others in your state to begin the process of calling for an Article V convention. Save our noble experiment.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


What is it about the whole election process that seems to bring me to wanting to ask the Queen of England if she will take us back?

Mind you I was a very political animal in my youth (voting for Snoopy not withstanding) and my sister would say I am too political now. But there are things I find worth fighting for - women's rights being the primary one this election. What a shock to find that one on the cutting block again. And obviously wishing the rapture would come and the fundamental Christians be whisked away did not work.

Given those two issues alone I definitely cannot check none of the above. In fact for the first time in my history of voting I am not voting for a single solitary Republican. I have been a registered Republican. I have worked for a US Senator that was a Republican. It was definitely a different Republican party. I frankly cannot see myself voting for a Republican candidate ever, ever again. This has been a horridly divisive election. Have have some Republican ex-friends I may never ever chat with again on line.

All of which begs the question of after the election. Regardless of who wins. But it will be worse of the Republicans win. See paragraph about women's rights and Christian Right. But also my truly rude and crude Republican acquaintances will be graceful winners. And if they lose they will be even worse.

I do have some friends across the aisle that have behaved well. We have tap danced around all the forbidden subjects. So win or lose I will be able to talk to them for as long as the world lasts. I am not sure the US will last if the Republicans win all houses. I know I am considering leaving social media. And of course asking England if they will take us back is an option.

But regardless of the outcome of the election we need to change the election process: length and financing has got to be changed.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Here we go again

Warning: This is ultimately a political statement but unpaid.

I will accept contributions, however. I need the money to replace the failed Samsung Galaxy Tab, and to save up for a new desktop.

The Tab was just over 6 months old and the HP Pavilion Desktop is still under the two year warranty and has its second failed hard drive if you do not count the one they first sent with a hard drive that never worked.

Every time I have trouble with my HP I get the MAC users telling me how trouble free their MAC's are. Go away. In the last three months I have had three MAC friends (PC's vs MACS is about as entrenched as Republicans vs. Democrats so I count myself lucky we still talk) that have had failed hard drives. And from what I gather their customer support sucks. HP, the last time this happened, did offer data recovery. Not MAC.

One of my friends with the failed MAC has informed me that 99% of all hard drives be they in a Dell, MAC, HP or tablet or laptop of any of those brands probably come from the same off-shore company. And what incentive do they have for making a dependable product? NONE. It is win/win for them even if we lose. They get to continually make replacement hard drives. And all their people that can speak even a modicum of English get employed in tech support centers.

We have come a long way since my mother's 25 year old Maytag that was still working when Dad bought her a new washer and dryer set. 

So it is not all about American jobs overseas. It is about accountability. Your neighbor working at the assembly plant in Detroit took pride in his role in producing Fords and he did not want to hear us complain about them. But the workers in China do not know us. And if introduced would not even understand what we were screaming. I wonder at times about even the tech support people.

HP does seem to be working on its customer service image. It was once rated one of the worst in the industry. Just a bit better than Dell. I have a friend that told me Dell has gotten better but I have no intention of finding out. But this time from HP I received an e-mail I am able to respond to about the tech problem being experienced. Last year it took me something like 6 days and twice as many phone calls to get my problem escalated (don't you love that word) to someone that might actually own a computer and know that the DVD tray is not a cup holder. It did take me over 30 days to get the computer fixed. And then it didn't work when I got it. Fortunately that time I was able to immediately talk to someone that speaks computer.

So this morning I emailed HP and let them know I think the solution their tech (I do hate using that word for someone speaking from a set list of phrases that constantly has to put you on hold to go ask someone else what to do if that just did not work) came up with is wrong. A recovery disk returning the computer to factory specifications won't work. There are bad sectors on this hard drive. And if I have to go to the problem of restoring all my programs and backing up all my data I want it to work.

I do not want to go back to the incident on the last computer where I insisted it was a hard ware problem and they were adamant it was not. Two days of erasing and recovering and it did not work. Turns out that when they replaced the memory sticks (those had failed in 30 days) they had unplugged the wireless internal modem.

But I do not know that industry today wants anything to work. They make too much money re-selling you a new version of the failed product and promising that major improvements were made. It isn't just that all our money goes overseas it is that it does it again and again and again.

My first computer lasted me over 12 years. I bought a new one because of the internet and a need for more RAM because I changed what I did with it. Since then no computer, except my laptop, has made it past four. It is the manufacturing version of the food industries smaller packages at the same prices. In case you hadn't noticed there is no such thing as a 50 pound bag of dog food any more. And the 25 pound bag is now 17.

I do not think I want to trust my government to a CEO. Their track record with the products I purchase is not that good.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Can we be too scared?

I have gotten to the point in this election and this last two decades when like a cat in a Skinner Box I want to just sit and shiver. Why even bother jumping to the box without the electric shock?

I vote. I always vote. I will vote this time but I have this feeling that it will make entirely no difference. And it is not the campaigning which has been dirty on both sides, or that the GOP tea party was so obstructionist that Obama was not able to effect any change beyond ACA. Or that I am scared to death of what Romney/Ryan will do to this country if they win.

It is that at my heart of hearts I know it will not be fair. For once in my life I totally understand what people under repressive regimes felt when forced to go to the pools and cast a vote they know will not be counted. I have absolutely no faith in a fair election in this country unless the United Nations is called in to oversee the registration of voters, the voting and the counting of those votes.

At is a cumulative effect. First came 2000 and Florida and hanging chads. But that also had a black voting district with major street construction and detours put into effect that morning of the vote. And the strongly Jewish district that supposedly voted for GW after in uttered a slur against their religion.

In 2004 the UN asked to be allowed to monitor our election process and GW refused to let them. The BBC sent over investigative teams and found 11 states with questionable returns. And hundreds of precincts where the exit polls did not match the voting tally. In 2008 I was one of the volunteer poll watchers. And in 2012 we still have voting machines that can be altered from the parking lot with a cell phone. And the Republican Attorney general of NM didn't order enough voter registration forms and those she sent to predominately Republican districts.

Across the nation they are altering voting laws to exclude women, seniors, minorities, etc. Not since the fight for civil rights in the early 1960's as so much been done to exclude people from their right to cast a vote whether or not it is accurately counted. I fear violence on election day. And maybe that is a good thing. I was proud of our people in 2000 when we did not riot after the Supreme Court did what it had not constitutional right to do. But I figured law and justice and right would prevail. But 2004 showed that was wrong. Today I think if there are any irregularities at all in the 2012 vote we should riot. We should overthrow the government. Democracy is dead. It has been a slow death but I do think that what the Taliban wanted to do on 9/11 we have achieved for them.

The trouble is we were always the country that rushed into emerging young democracies and helped them keep the peace. Who will help us? This morning a political commentator said it isn't even about red states and blue states any more. Because of an out dated and abusive electoral college system it comes down to seventeen counties in the entire US. And Mitt Romney has enough money to buy every single one of them.

But even scarier is that he thinks God want him to do it.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

For Sale - The White House

FOR SALE:  This historic mansion set on beautifully landscaped lot in a National Park has 132 rooms, 32 baths on six levels. Built originally in 1800 it was totally renovated in 1952 and refurbished in 1979. The east wing and various balconies and porticoes were additions to the original structure. It comes completely furnished and with a resident staff.

The four year lease on this prestigious residence in its prime location of downtown Washington, DC will be offered at public auction on Ebay beginning the first Tuesday in November. Minimum opening bid of $150 million. Additional related offerings include a large number of congressional seats. Please submit a birth certificate and 3 years of certified tax returns to qualify to bid.


I came up with this wild and crazy idea while sleeping. Properly executed it is an end to our economic woes and we get out of two years of campaign ads. We sell the White House and all congressional positions. We can do it with a bidding war on Ebay.

If it is true that the candidate who raises the most money wins then why vote? Why let the advertising companies and media get all the money? Why live through all those polling calls? We just put it all up for sale and take the winning amounts and put them in programs to aid the other 98%.

And here is the best part of this dream - we do not let any of those bidding for congressional office to pass laws. Hey, they are not in it to help the US anyway. They just want to pontificate on the evening news and get lobbyists to send them on junkets. And they seem to be willing to spend any amount of money, even several times what they stand to make in salary, to get those positions. So since the salary seems of little consequence we eliminate that straight off.

And we are not actually selling the property and seats but short time lease/lends. Everyone knows you cannot sell National Park land. So every two to six years we are able to put it all up for bid again. We will have a constant and dependable income to use in credit references.

And we the people of the United States of America will hold all governing rights. What has the congress done for us lately but repeal our universal health care 33 times. We the people will govern ourselves with a political FB. Legislation can be proposed by any adult registered voter. A law passes with the most likes or shares or a combo of both after a period of open debate and amendment. Don't tell anyone but this is a nice opportunity to put in place an ad hoc literacy law. Clearly you have to be able to read and write to participate.

I like it. If you do just leave a comment or go to this blog linked on Facebook and hit like. Please share.

Oh, and  BTW we are not changing much. It has always been for sale given our current campaign laws.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

We should be afraid - very afraid

Michael Astorga was given the gift of life imprisonment yesterday by a jury selected for the death penalty phase of his trial. The jury reported in the morning that they were hopelessly deadlocked and very afraid. The asked for police escorts and protection. The judge sent them back to continue deliberations and later in the afternoon they returned the verdict of LIFE plus 13 years for the murder of Deputy Sheriff James McGrane. He still faces charges for the murder of Candida Martinez. 

But Michael Astorga is goring to jail where he has been before and wants to be because he can still control his gangs in jail. The jury that placed him there hope he will be merciful. The jury that found him guilty of the murder of Deputy McGrane is scared.

Michael Astorga has been committing violent crimes since he was a teenager. He was arrested in 1994 for battery. In 1996 he and his brother were charged with first degree murder—his brother was convicted but Michael walked. He has a long list of other crimes including another battery charge, property crimes, and a long list of drug crimes including trafficking—usually while carrying a deadly weapon. 

In 1998 he was sentenced to prison for eight different felonies—but we released on good behavior only six years later. After this release, in March 2005, he was arrested for violating parole, but was released again in June 2005. Then, in November 2005 a warrant was issued for Astorga’s arrest for shooting Candida Martinez in the head. She died a few hours later and Astorga walked out of a meeting with his parole officer just a few hours after the warrant had been sworn out for his arrest. 

Michael did not flee New Mexico. Albuquerque was his home turf. He was pulled over for a routine traffic stop by Deputy Sheriff James McGrane. Astorga shot him leaving McGrane’s wife a widow and his children fatherless. He should not have been free to murder Candida Martinez or Deputy McGrane. If our criminal justice system worked he would have been in jail as a repeat offender. Or sentenced to life after the 1996 murder with his brother. Or serving his full sentence for the eight felonies he was found guilty of in 1998,

Astorga has no redeeming social values. He is not going to be rehabilitated and become a contributing member of society. During the death penalty phase of his murder trial for Deputy McGrane he called character witnesses including the Archbishop of Santa Fe, who didn't show up. And his attorney's claimed extenuating circumstances. It would be funny if it was not so serious for our society. Justice is broken. Very broken. He can be bought as in the case of O.J. Simpson or forced by threats in any direction the defendant and his friends want.

Astorga should not be allowed to serve his life plus 13 years in a New Mexico prison. He should be exchanged with another prisoner like him in another state. Take him as far away as possible from his Bros and the system he has learned so well to manipulate.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sometimes you just have to stand up

I was a rebel for almost any cause in my youth. From free speech to against illegal wars to save the mini skirt. I was working on a United Churches campaign to end the draft when a young draft dodger noticed my ERA pin - Equal Rights Amendment. He told me women were not equal and had no right to be. That God said we were the hand maidens of men.

I quietly got up from the desk and leaned over and told him in a whisper I hope he was drafted and walked out. From that day forward my goal was to make women equal in the eyes of the law. On March 22, 1972 the ERA was passed by the congress and began moving through the states for ratification. It ultimately failed. If it hadn't would we be having this current rash of vagina politics? Would presidential candidates be telling us we shouldn't be having sex except to procreate? Would states be passing laws that infringe on our rights to control our reproductive lives? Would companies have the right to refuse to cover birth control prescriptions even if they are used for other health reasons?

I think not.

And I feel a bit guilty that I stopped fighting. I believed that line in the 1964 equal rights amendment that stuck in sex as well as race would be enough. It obviously is not.

I live in a conservative community. And as an artist I depend upon my "friendly" presence on the web to further my reputation and my sales. So there were a lot of reasons to not get involved in fighting this current round of oppression of my sex. And I was trying to be quiet and lady like in my subtle support. Until Rush Limbaugh. And the most recent round of oppressive laws in Virginia (maybe they should change the name of the state to a man's name).

But I have a bumper sticker on the back of my car (which was there when I got the car) which says, "Your silence will not protect you," Audre Lorde. And it occurs to me that my silence might get me burned at the stake. We all need to speak up about this horrid trend of the religious right before we are all victims of the next inquisition. Four million women were put to death by the Catholic church during those times. Now they just want to deny us equal access to health care. It all begins with one small step.

But they are way past that small step. They have allied themselves with the Christian Right (which is wrong) and with one of the two major parties of our country. And it is not just the laws but the attitude. They have made it right for a major public figure to rant for three days against a coed witness before a congressional committee. To defame her sex and her character nationally over and over and over.

And this morning when I thanked Carbonite, Inc for withdrawing their sponsorship I became a victim of the same nasty, sexist abuse. I will not be silent on this issue if it kills me. It feels rather lonely out here but it feels right.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A long time coming - or not

I was in Washington, DC when the process of an Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution of the United States began. It was passed by Congress on March 22, 1972 and began the long uphill battle for ratification by the states. 

It had originally been written by Suffragist Leader, Alice Paul in 1923 so it had already been a long and arduous battle for what seemed to so many of us so simple an issue. It was argued that we would be giving up our protection under the law. Especially labor laws and draft laws. And we countered that if we had equal rights we could protect ourselves. In March of 1982 it was declared dead as it had failed to pass.

This March 22 it will have been forty years since the bill went to the states in the process to become the 27th amendment. The southern states essentially denied all women equality. I fortunately live in a state that ratified the short lived attempt to give women equality before the law.

I was abhorred by recent events led by the GOP and its Tea Party to once again extend our servitude. Men can get Viagra paid by their insurance companies but the majority of the same companies will not pay for birth control for women. And with national health insurance looming the GOP has made it very clear they do not want to pay for our PLAY. We are to take responsibility for ourselves. Well, guys we tried that. And you said we needed protection. And now you won't pay for that protection?

We are suppose to grow up and practice restraint, and yet in 1972 you argued we could not even make our own informed decisions about how much weight we could pick up (most women carrying twins were over the then legal limit) or how many hours we would work.

We still make way less than male counterparts but we must pay the $20 to $30 a month for birth control pills. The men don't want to pay for that. Cheaper than a whore frankly, boys. Not to mention child support. Oh, right you always try to side step that one even to the point that murder by spouse is the number one cause of death for pregnant women. And yet you call abortion murder and are still fighting to take away our right to a legal abortion. The extreme right has terrorized abortion doctors and clinics to the point it is almost safer to go back to the alley way abortionists of my youth.

I am past the age that reproduction politics should matter but I would love to be an equal to a man before the law before I die. Because it is not all about reproduction. Sexual discrimination still exists in housing, mortgages, car loans, credit cards, deposits for utilities, rental leases - the list goes on and on and on.

The recent debate over vagina politics has made it clear it is time to dust off that old ERA button and try it again ladies. Let's make this March 22nd a day for all men to remember. Just say NO to whatever they want.