Legislators Misinformed on Key Bills & Legislative Session Begins Tomorrow; Biden’s First Days Packed with Actions; Tribute to MLK, Jr.

In addition to MLK, Jr. quotes and video, we offer a timely depiction of the historic evolution of the white supremacy MLK, Jr. fought to end. We also offer more on Biden’s plans for his first days in office, details on our legislative strategy, and our regular Monday retrospective on last week’s posts. Read on! Life is gonna start looking up!

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) has been signed by 85 countries and now has been ratified by the required 50, so it goes into effect on Friday, January 22, 2021.  The Santa Fe Chapter of Veterans For Peace has committed to expanding in two ways its usual Friday noon vigil on that date.

The first form of expansion is to contact as many local area peace and justice organizations as possible, urging them to participate in the Cerrillos & St. Frances vigil on Friday January 22 at noon.  Nuke Watch New Mexico and CCNS have both committed to participate with their eight foot banners proclaiming that nuclear weapons are illegal.  VFP Santa Fe is having a six foot banner made for the event as well. But you can bring your own.

The second form of expansion will be a caravan from Santa Fe to Los Alamos following the Santa Fe Vigil.  In Los Alamos we will engage in a socially-distance, masked vigil at Ashley Pond, the site of the construction of the first nuclear weapon.  Again, VFP will be encouraging as widespread participation as possible. 

News in Brief: Two briefs today, one from Heather Cox Richardson (another MUST READ), and a preview of what Biden proposes in his opening days. What a difference a day makes!


From Letters from an American: “Heather Cox Richardson, January 16, The Historic Evolution of White Supremist Extremism.” This is one of the best of HCR, as she concisely covers how right-wing terrorism, fueled by racist and anti-government rhetoric, has evolved from the mid-19th century to today. MUST READ. Normally, HCR covers five emerging issues in one piece. Here she is focused on just one thing. It is very important we all understand the roots of what is happening.

From The Washington Post: “Biden plans a flurry of executive orders, new legislation for first days as president”. In a separate report, Biden is purportedly prepared to offer a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants. From The Washington Post:

“The day he takes office, Biden is planning to return the United States to the Paris climate accords and repeal the ban on U.S. entry for citizens of some majority-Muslim countries. He will sign an order extending nationwide restrictions on evictions and foreclosures and implement a mask mandate on federal property.”

The Washington Post: “Biden plans a flurry of executive orders, new legislation for first days as president”

Biden’s Return to “Normalcy”
Would NOT Satisfy MLK, Jr.

In Saturday’s post, I described how Biden will have to be pushed if we are to achieve truly bold change, the kind of change needed by our essential workers, our communities of color, our students, our children and our planet. One reader complained that I shouldn’t bash Biden and I should quit wasting energy on socialist dreams that will never come to fruition. I respectfully disagree. I also don’t feel I’ve been bashing Biden, but rather applauding his intended actions while being honest about his historic ties to neo-liberalism.

I applaud Biden’s plans for his first days in office, hell, it is standing ovation time, sigh of relief time, pause and reflect time. Only last night, there were reports indicating that Biden could cancel the Xcel pipeline, perhaps as early as Day I, with other reports of dramatic reversals of federal funding prohibitions related to reproductive rights. When added to the list of policy reversals in the quote above, we certainly must appreciate that a new day has dawned, that many things will be different.

But we also must resist returning to the “normal” that delivered mass incarceration, rampant unsustainable exploitation of our planet, obscene wealth accumulation, and colonialist foreign policy initiatives on behalf of corporate America. We must do better than “normal.”

Certainly, it is a relief to escape the daily racist, xenophobic rants of a madman, and the first steps being announced by the Biden team are several steps in the right direction. But to invoke MLK, Jr., we are still a very long way from the mountaintop and Retake will not be bashful about pushing for the Green New Deal, Medicare for All, college debt forgiveness, transformation of public safety funding and polices, restitution or reparations for indigenous peoples and people of color, disinvestment in the military-nuclear industrial industries, and many other social, racial, and climate injustices. We are running out of time. And there is no better day than today to invoke Martin Luther King, Jr.

“”True peace is not merely the absence of tension; it is the presence of justice….

“And one day we must ask the question, ‘Why are there forty million poor people in America? And when you begin to ask that question, you are raising questions about the economic system, about a broader distribution of wealth.’ When you ask that question, you begin to question the capitalistic economy. And I’m simply saying that more and more, we’ve got to begin to ask questions about the whole society”Speech to Southern Christian Leadership Conference Atlanta, Georgia, August 16, 1967….

Call it democracy, or call it democratic socialism, but there must be a better distribution of wealth within this country for all God’s children.”– Speech to the Negro American Labor Council, 1961.


Never a Bad Time for The Dream

10am Today! Senator Harold Pope will be a panelist on the MLK Day event hosted by the Dona Ana County NAACP and the NM Martin Luther King Jr. State Commission. This event starts at 10am. https://naacpdac.org/martin-luther-king-jr-event/

Speaking of Justice: Cut to the 2021 Legislative Session

We are getting a clearer picture of how the session will transpire in a Covid-Zoom world and it should result in making it far easier for all of you, especially those who live 2-3 hours from the Roundhouse, to participate fully. As Senator Wirth has stated now twice in Zoom Conversations with Retake, this is not the time to be timid. It is time for bold action.

Today, we outline how we will facilitate your effective advocacy in the opening week and beyond. The session starts tomorrow, so let’s get going!!! Thanks to Senator Stefanics for telling us the Senate schedule for the first six weeks. As I write this, it is still unclear if the first day will include an in-person or a Zoom opening address from the Governor.

  • Day 1Senate organizes. Vote for Pro-Tem, Announcement of committee chairs and members’ assignments and vote on rules to govern the session.
  • Week 1Introduce bills. Senate Leader Wirth introduces bills and assigns their committee paths.
  • Weeks 2-3: Virtual committee hearings. The public can participate remotely by Zoom. Some public comment will occur, but each chair will largely determine rules for how many folks will be able to comment from each side on a bill. Our bill summaries provide good speaking points if you want to offer comment or send emails to your legislators. More often than not, calls will result in your just reaching a secretary where you can just tell him/her of your support for the bill. However, if you have a legislator’s text #, that is an excellent way to send a link to one of our summaries or a bit of counter-argument to what they will be hearing from the opposition. See below for our strategy for recording debate and votes.
  • Week 4: Floor voting, maybe introduce more bills. Here there will be lengthy floor debates. If you’ve ever watched floor hearings, you know that legislators are rarely listening to each other. They are reading bills, texts, and emails. So this is a great time to let your legislator know your views. All sessions will be streamed.
  • Week 5: Virtual committee hearings. See above
  • Week 6:  Floor voting. See above.

It is highly likely that the House will follow a similar schedule and process, so we have another week to get ready….see below for what we will be doing to prepare.

Legislative Priorities Survey. The 2021 Legislative Priorities Survey is now closed. We will publish a summary of results soon. We also plan to prepare summaries for over 70 Democratic legislators, which will include statewide results and results for their district. That will take some time. But look for a general summary of results by Tuesday or Wednesday this week. Fortunately, as the schedule above outlines, we’ve got a week to prepare.

Review the Transformational & Priority Bills We Support. We are constantly updating our bill summaries and will be adding dates in bold red fonts on Monday or Tuesday so that you can easily identify new information. Click here to see our bills.

Get Involved. Sign Up For Legislative Alerts. It is too late to take the survey, but not too late to sign up to receive our Legislative Alerts. We send out Alerts whenever one of the bills we support is being voted on in committee or on a chamber floor. The Alerts include bill number, a summary of why it is important, speaking points, and legislator contact info. This year, we will also provide information about how you can watch the hearings on Zoom and offer public comment. We have our work cut out for us. So, tomorrow we will initiate a series of Alerts offering you counter-arguments to the misunderstandings we are hearing from legislators during our Senate District Zoom Conversations. We need to use this week before committee hearings begin to help our legislators arrive to committee hearings understanding the bills we support, how they benefit NM, and how industry-crafted misinformation is untrue. Click here to sign up.

Get More Involved: Join Our Senate District Advocacy Teams & Attend Our Weekly Legislative Advocacy Strategy Sessions.

The Senate District Advocacy Teams are proving extraordinarily important. The misinformation we are identifying in Zoom conversations with legislators is what informs our development of counter-arguments, which we will send to you via our Alerts so you can share them with your legislators. For Team Members, there is very little effort involved: sign up, await your team coordinator’s news of a Zoom Conversation with your Senator, and join the conversation. You will learn a tremendous amount about how the legislature works and get to know your State Senator. For more information and to sign up, click here.

A Look Back

Thankfully, this past week was a tad less of an onslaught than the previous one. Trump seems to have retreated into silence, a most pleasant relief. (Thanks to his being banned on several social media platforms.) And while many posts below warn of the threats looming at this week’s inauguration, at least for a week there was a respite. I always offer recommendations for which posts to view if you missed them: I’d most recommend the post on Reconciliation, Retribution, Punishment and Forgiveness. But the post of counter-arguments to community banking lobbyists’ misinformation about the public bank legislation is also very important. Read on!

A Week We Won’t Soon Forget. But We Will Prevail

Monday, January 11. We examine the implications of the previous week, beginning with the euphoric victories in Georgia, quickly followed by one of the darkest days in US history. We include two News in Briefs & a thought-provoking video from Arnold Schwarzenneger about the parallels between Kristenacht in 1938 and Weds., Jan. 6. If you missed it, Schwarzenegger describes his personal experience with fascism, growing up in Austria. We need to keep our eyes wide open, as this right-wing extremism isn’t going to go away soon or easily. Trump may fade away, but his followers have been empowered and emboldened. Please also review the News In Briefs, as together they offer hints of what may be ahead and how we must act.

We link to articles on democratizing the workplace. the place of worker-owned cooperatives in our economic recovery, the initiative to pass legislation prohibiting renewing contracts with private prisons or entering into new contracts, and how reforms in our tax policy can address systemic racism in NM. Despite the horror of Weds., Jan. 6, the overriding message we want you to take away is in the image above: We Will Prevail.

Click here to read this post.

Reconciliation, Retribution, Punishment, Forgiveness: How Do We Understand and Manage the Fascist Threat We Face?

Wednesday, January 13. I think most of us have grossly under-estimated the threat we face in this country, assuming that far-right domestic terrorists are a small segment of mostly uneducated, angry white men. It is much larger than that, and far more dangerous. Today we examine Senator Heinrich’s call for “moving on,” Neil Young’s assertion that the terrorists are also victims, and Rev. Holly Beaumont’s thoughts that we are facing a far more professional and dangerous movement. We also examine an extraordinary blog from Gwen Frisbie-Fulton, whose deeply personal observations about just one terrorist leader should be a real lesson to all of us. At the bottom of the post are two videos, one an interview with the producers of The Social Dilemma, and another, an important interview with Waldon Bello, a student of fascism, an activist, and a former Philippine legislator.

Click here to read the full post.

Amending the ETA, Yes or No: Chapter One, Plus a Review of Biden’s Recovery Plan Including $15 Minimum Wage

Friday, January 15. We examine Chair of the PRC, Steve Fischman’s views on the ETA Amendments, plus info on Sierra Club lobbying training for amendments to the Produced Water Act. Finally, video of our Zoom Conversations with Sen. Wirth & Speaker Egolf. If you haven’t seen them, they are really important videos as they lay out very clearly the formidable challenges ahead in 2021.

Click here to read the full post.

Sen. Wirth on Need for Strong PRC Regulation;
Countering Misinformation on the Public Bank

Saturday, January 16. Our three News in Briefs focus on COVID and the recovery, with an excellent piece on not having illusions about 2021 and a Biden-led return to “normalcy.” Another NIB describes how it may not be a good time to start shopping in person again due to the new COVID strain spreading rapidly. We also include a one-minute video of Senator Wirth offering testimony during the 2019 Senate floor debate on the Energy Transition Act. He lays out quite clearly the importance of PRC oversight of inflated utility claims. Most importantly, there is a detailed rebuttal of community banking lobbyists’ contentions that the development of a public bank would undermine community banks. So not true. Here is one area we need to advocate with our legislators and this piece gives you the tools.

Click here to read the full post.

In solidarity and hope,

Paul & Roxanne

Categories: Election, Political Reform & National Politics

Tags: , , , , , , ,

3 replies

  1. Hi Paul and Roxanne

    No time right now to expand, but it appears on first read that many of the Priority Bills could be somehow linked to or discussed within the contexts of the Transformational Bills that are already flushed out.

    I do not know how this could be done, but it seems that in order to seduce certain legislators to vote for something they have little or no energy to invest in might be persuaded to do so if their interests in other bills were somehow wedded to a similar, but more palatable one. Just wondering.

  2. Thank you, Paul and Roxanne.
    Everybody: we’ll see you at noon on Friday the 22nd at the corner of St. Francis and Cerrillos! Or later (around 2 p.m.) at Ashley Pond in Los Alamos.

  3. BTW – the following comment you made today is about as concise a statement of our current condition as I have ever read.

    ‘But we also must resist returning to the “normal” that delivered mass incarceration, rampant unsustainable exploitation of our planet, obscene wealth accumulation, and colonialist foreign policy initiatives on behalf of corporate America. We must do better than “normal.” ‘

    This makes the HCR read on home-grown fascism critical to our understanding of how entrenched in human behaviors IS the imperialist, dominator POV.

    A few days ago I wrote that human society is, en masse, under the mental stranglehold of Stockholm Syndrome. From top to bottom, all of us are responsible for looking behind the curtain to discover who our ‘benign despot’ torturers really are, and how many layers down in the pecking order we currently exist.

    This pecking order is what enables oppression, extortion and bribery to exist.

    Until the paint finally wore off, I used to wear a little metal button that simply said ‘Question Authority.’ Wow, did that ever send the rednecks into a frenzy.

    Now, I think, objectively, that it is imperative to question all authority if we are to get even a whiff of MLK’s picture of ‘justice’ as anything more than a deceptive bottle of hemlock labeled as ‘essential oil.’

    It does NOT mean we openly rebel, but rather engage in a deep dive into personal responsibility for both self and all ‘others.’

    If you view ‘My Octopus Teacher’ you will learn that there are many ways to take the high ground that avoid a descent into darkness.

    Mick Nickel

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