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Monday, October 11, 2004

Power to the People; Kerry Visits SF

By Julia Goldberg

John Kerry’s Oct. 11 speech in Santa Fe laid out a five-point plan to wrest US dependence on the Middle East for oil, while sending the expected zings toward the current administration.
Kerry was introduced by New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, the former Secretary for the Department of Energy, and was flanked by loyal Democrats and local leaders, including state Rep. Ben Lujan, US Rep. Tom Udall and Santa Fe Mayor Larry Delgado.
After paying tribute to Christopher Reeve, Kerry began by discussing New Mexico’s historical importance. "For 60 years, New Mexico has been at the leading edge of change and innovation," Kerry said. "In a very real sense, we won World War II right here in this state." Referencing the initiative that led to the Manhattan Project, Kerry launched into the need to make the US energy independent, noting that Bush’s energy policies had done the opposite. "The only people George Bush’s policies are working for are the people he’s chosen to help. They’re working for drug companies. They’re working for HMOS. And they’re certainly working for the big oil companies."
Kerry then discussed the rising gas rates, noting that "A thirty percent increase in gas prices means a lot more profit for this President’s friends in the oil industry. But for most middle class Americans, the Bush gas tax is a tax increase they can’t afford." Kerry also criticized the president for meeting behind closed doors with the energy industry and then going to the Supreme Court "to protect the identity of his secret energy advisors."
Kerry’s five-point plan includes speeding up investments in technologies to save energy and create alternative fuels; reduce energy bills; diversify sources of energy; strengthen the grid and create 500,000 new clean energy jobs. Regarding the last point, Kerry acknowledged New Mexico’s wind farm in Quay County. "America once led the world in the production of clean energy products and the payrolls that go with them. We have to do it again—whether it’s in wind or biomass, solar or clean coal."
The visit was Kerry’s eighth to the state, a fact he noted at the beginning of his speech. "It’s great to be back here in New Mexico, while George Bush is in a state of denial." Kerry said he was in Santa Fe for "Fresh air and good, clean thinking."

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Chris Heinz, Ralph Nader, My Clan

October 5 in Santa Fe, New Mexico was heralded by torrential rain. Lightening crackled the sky. Thunder pounded our walls. A gas line broke on the south side of town rendering many homes and businesses without power. The sky stayed dark and rain fell well into the gray morning. Welcome to the first day of early and absentee voting.
I began my day by scooting over to the Santa Fe County Courthouse where, I'd been told, Chris Heinz, stepson of John Kerry, son of Theresa Heinz Kerry, would be talking with new, young voters on hand to either register or vote. This wasn't entirely true. Heinz was there, surrounded by the middle-aged and older, answering their questions and making lighthearted jokes in the wet morning. He seemed mildly amused by my questions ("Do you have an Oedipus Complex?" The answer is no, FYI). In truth, it's hard to want to know much from the potential First Step Son, although he seems like a good frontman for the campaign—he looks so much weirdly like JFK Junior it's enough to make even a cynic entertain a few conspiracy thoughts.
Speaking of conspiracies…
It looks like Ralph Nader is once again back on New Mexico's ballot, wreaking havoc with early voting, since the ballots, as I understand it, will again have to be reprinted. Sheesh! Bad news for the Dems (or so they say. My guess is anyone that intent on voting for Nader might not vote for Kerry anyway, but what do I know?). Meanwhile, in our other high-profile voting case, new voters will only have to show ID if they registered by mail. That should make for some confusion at the polls.
Our last voter project, Oct. 1, was a big success. DJ Apollo was awesome. I interviewed him a bit about hip hop and politics and hope to get that interview into the paper, or somewhere, soon. Next week, I'm planning a bit of an election diary for the cover story. Local Democrats registered about 30 voters, which is pretty amazing given how saturated the voter-registration rolls are. We definitely did our part. Now it's just about the election (and planning the election party, of course).
Meanwhile, the VP debate is tonight and my family is in town so I can watch it with a bunch of rowdy East Coast liberals. I am looking forward to this debate even more than the presidential ones because the contrast between Edwards and Cheney seems more exciting. Edwards is so hot; Cheney is so not. (Clearly my values have devolved beyond repair).

Friday, October 01, 2004

Democrats, Debates, DJ Apollo (not necessarily in that order)

Well, tonight, Oct. 1, is our last voter project. DJ Apollo will be here from San Francisco for the event and local Democrats are hosting voter registration. Rolls close on Oct. 5, so this will be a good venue for local Dems to give a final push. Meanwhile, Andy should be coming with the video camera so we can get some more footage and I'm coming with the digital camera to get more pics for my "election diary" I'm trying to pull together for an upcoming issue.
Interviewed protesters today at the corner of St. Francis and Cerrillos Road. It was very loud with all the cars honking! People are really worked up.
The debate was, I thought, weirdly boring. My email this morning was out of control. It seems like everyone in American stayed up all night recording their thoughts on it. I wonder if we will ever return to a time when everybody isn't a pundit. I'm getting to the point where my entire interest in politics has become entirely postmodern. I was almost surprised to see actual candidates last night. The entire election feels like a ghost in the machine.
CNN had all these undecided voters hooked up to weird electronic devices to record their reactions in "real time." Apparently, bloggers and the like are making this an exciting event because we can get reactions in "real time." My reaction, recorded here, also is in real time. At least, I think it's real. It's not immediate. I don't know why the idea of an immediate reaction is more valuable than one that comes a day or two later. Guess it's good I edit a weekly paper. Still, this whole immediacy concept seems to have overtaken any other political value. Politics as reality TV. Look, this is what's "really" happening, and yet there's just as much spin. It's just spin happening at a rapid rate which, in my "real time" view makes it less, not more, valuable, because it's solely reactive and not contemplated at all. Also, for what it's worth, the "senior political analysts" on CNN are being paid too much. Their analysis is less thoughtful and interesting than the random cyber blogger. One guy's basic contribution was to say something along the lines of "this is about undecided voters, because it's harder to change your mind once you've made it up." Thank you Einstein. What kind of meaningful political analysis is that? Of course, all Bush seems to say is that Kerry changes his mind too much, and Kerry counters with saying Bush hasn't changed his mind enough. So here's my senior SFR political analysis of Election, 2004:

Bush: It's bad to change your mind
Kerry: It's bad not to change your mind
Media: This is about people who haven't made up their minds.

I really don't think Thomas Jefferson would be very impressed.