Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Sympathy

The Tasmanian Devil's demise at the Albuquerque Bio Park is getting more angst out of the Mayor's Office than the deaths of many homeless and mentally ill victims of APD's shooting spree.  It is truly amazing that Mayor Berry and his chief of staff would show such an emotional response to this act of cruelty.  From a PR standpoint it was not the greatest thing to do.  But, he is acting no differently than many people these days.  Last night on Channel 13 the longest running story was about a mistreated dog.  At least Channel 13 has covered the APD mess with some professionalism.

Today in the Albuquerque Journal, Mayor Berry said that mayors come and go, and so the public needs to get involved in looking at APD's problems.  That is true, but he also has a responsibility to do the same in an open and vigorous manner.  That means he needs to sit in on those meetings.

Albuquerque will be getting another once over on APD as Rolling Stone magazine is on the prowl for  the APD story.  The magnifying glass will once again be on us.  But, I am sure that most attention in the next few days will be given to the Tasmanian Devil death, an endangered species.  It will get world wide attention.   If the guy who did this ever gets caught, I am confident he will get more punishment than those cops who shot the homeless guy in the back with their assault rifles.

P.S. That ballot I worked on as I voted yesterday was in fact the longest one I have ever seen.  I was blacking out little circles for fifteen minutes.  A lot of ink.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Misc.

I did not watch the debate last night between Gary King and Governor Martinez.  I didn't see any point in doing so because I will go vote for King today at an early voting site.  Probably, the only ones watching were pollsters, political bloggers(not me), campaign workers and all those consultants who are paid to make the Governor look like an informed and caring pol.  Day for Night.  Making her look like something she is not.

We had dinner guests over last night and the sample ballot on the dinner table brought lots of comments for its incredible size.  All those Judge races and retention questions make it mostly a crap shoot for the candidates.  No one knows them or pays much attention to these races.  They are important, but there needs to be a better way of handling these judicial elections.  I  will probably just vote for the democrats in most cases, although some of those judges aren't great.  I will take some of the advice of the Judicial Standards group who rate the sitting judges for retention.

I will vote for the marijuana question, but not the tax for mental health services in Bernallio County.  They are those two non-binding and frivolous questions thrown on to the ballot by the democrats on the County Commission.  It was a dumb thing to do.

The reason I will vote against the mental health question is its funding source.  Another increase to the gross receipts tax means that once again an extremely regressive tax will fund these needed services instead of a tax that hits the poorest the least.  And, if the County proceeds with the tax  then surrounding communities will send their patients here at no cost to them.  There needs to be a statewide solution to this problem.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Joe Friday and Congressman Steve Pearce

I loved Joe Friday on the old 50's TV Show 'Dragnet".  He always said, "I want just the facts ma'am....just the facts."  And so in case the pea brained republicans, like Congressman Steve Pearce, are wondering where the response capabilities to the Ebola virus is, here is a reminder of what they have done with the budget sequestration.  One item, a 98 million dollar cut in emergency response should give some clues to how things have worked out.

  1. On March 1, 2013, as required by statute, President Obama signed an order initiating sequestration. The sequestration requires CDC to cut 5 percent or more than $285 million of its fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget. CDC applied the cut evenly across all programs, projects, and activities (PPAs), which are primarily CDC national centers, offices and centers. This means every area of CDC was affected. In addition, the Prevention and Public Health Fund allocation in FY 2013 was almost $350 million below FY 2012. In total, CDC’s program level, including the Vaccines for Children mandatory program and other external sources, was almost $1 billion (or 10%) below FY 2012.
    The reductions to CDC’s funding accounts are as follows:
    •   Immunization = $100 million
    •   HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STI and TB Prevention = $62 million
    •   Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases = $13 million
    •   Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion = $195 million
    •   Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities = $7 million
page1image24848

  •   Environmental Health = $17 million
  •   Injury Prevention and Control = $7 million
  •   Public Health Scientific Services = $19 million
  •   Occupational Safety and Health = $9 million
  •   Global Health = $18 million
  •   Public Health Preparedness and Response = $98 million
  •   Cross-cutting Activities and Program Support = $35 million
    IMPACTS OF FUNDING LEVELS IN FY 2013 (COMPARED TO FY 2012) INCLUDE:
    Reduced ability to ensure global disease protection:
Jeopardizes polio eradication efforts:
o Sequestration forced CDC to reduce support to purchase oral polio vaccine by over 40,000,000 doses.
o Cuts to UNICEF funding jeopardize plans for vaccination rounds later in 2013 and into 2014 to respond to ongoing outbreaks in Syria, Horn of Africa, and Cameroon along with planned aggressive campaigns during the December April low transmission season in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan unless other resources can be identified and secured.
  •   $25 million cut to global efforts to eliminate polio, prevent measles outbreaks, malaria, and pandemic flu.
  •   $13 million in cuts to our efforts to prevent and respond to outbreaks of other emerging infectious diseases, such as the MERS-Coronavirus emerging globally now.
    Reduced support for state and local public health efforts:
  •   $160 million less in funding to on-the-ground public health in the United States, a system
    already strained by state and local budget cuts.
  •   CDC's ability to support state, local, and international health departments was reduced.
  •   $33 million will be cut from state and local preparedness ability to respond to natural and man-made disasters.
    Reduced ability to prevent domestic HIV/AIDS:
$40 million reduction in HIV prevention.
o 175,000 fewer HIV tests would be conducted.
o $7 million reduction to CDC’s HIV testing activities.
Reduce ability to prevent the leading causes of illness and death:
Programs to prevent cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes are being cut by almost
$200 million due to sequestration and Prevention and Public Health Fund allocations. 

And here is a good post this morning from Bubba Munster.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dennis Gets It Right

My friend Dennis Jett, retired from the US State Department as a career Diplomat and Ambassador, has a great Column today in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Excuse me, but we never ‘won’ in Iraq
Don’t blame Obama for the rise of the Islamic State; its roots go deeper than that
October 16, 2014 12:00 AM

By Dennis Jett

It’s often been said that generals always fight the last war, especially if they think they won it. That old adage remains as true today as it was when the Maginot Line was built in the 1930s to prevent a second German invasion of France. And it is as true for politicians as it is for generals.

The proof can be found in the current debate about the so-called Islamic State, a terrorist organization so vile that even al-Qaida disowned it. While it may not be popular with fellow thugs, the Islamic State has managed to take over much of Iraq and Syria. Predictably, Washington seems more interested in assigning blame for the situation than dealing with it.

Sen. John McCain, for instance, said this about the war in Iraq: “We had it won. Gen. [David] Petraeus had the conflict won, thanks to the surge. If we had left a residual force behind, we would not be facing the crisis we are today. Those are fundamental facts. We had a stable government. But the president wanted out, and now we are paying a very heavy price.”

None of these “facts” is true. The Bush administration laid the groundwork for today’s mess when it negotiated a Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government that stipulated American combat troops would be gone by the end of 2011. The Obama administration tried to negotiate a continuation of their presence, but the Iraqi government refused unless U.S. troops were subject to the Iraqi judicial system, a condition to which no president would agree. No Iraqi politician was going to agree without that provision. So, goodbye U.S. troops.

The surge also did not “win” the war. It won only a temporary lull in a civil war that started when American officials disbanded the Iraqi army and kicked members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party out of their government jobs. That left all the people who used to run the country (ruthlessly) with no stake in its future. They were not simply going to go home and quietly watch their children go hungry.

Instead they ignited an insurgency that grew into civil war, which the surge was supposed to extinguish. If there is any historical fact that Mr. McCain should have absorbed it is this: Vietnam demonstrated that American troops cannot win a civil war for a regime that is incapable of defending itself. Iraqi security forces outnumber those of the Islamic State by 20 to one but show no willingness to fight.

The service and sacrifice of our troops in Iraq was incredible, especially since the only thing most of us on the home front ever did to support the war was to take George W. Bush’s advice to “go shopping.” That sacrifice notwithstanding, a surge of 30,000 troops in a country of 28 million people, especially when 25,000 never left Baghdad, was not going to win the war or even do much to reduce the carnage.

Two other things brought about the lull in fighting. First, many of the foreign jihadis who joined the fray alienated the Iraqis. Second, and most important, many of those who used to have those jobs in the military and government were put back on the payroll. Once they began drawing paychecks again, they started defending the existing political order instead of trying to destroy it.

The relative calm lasted as long as the insurgents were kept employed. When the Americans stopped paying them, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki continued to do so, but only for a time. He was more interested in converting the Iraqi armed forces and police into a Shiite militia loyal to him than he was in keeping happy Sunni supporters of the former regime. When they lost their paychecks, they resumed the civil war and many became members of what we now know as the Islamic State.

The man Mr. McCain claims won the war is the same David Petraeus who wrote in The Washington Post that “Iraq’s security forces are developing steadily and they are in the fight. Momentum has gathered in recent months. With strong Iraqi leaders out front and with continued coalition support, this trend will continue.” That gushingly optimistic article was published in September 2004. Six weeks later, Mr. Bush was reelected and a little over two years after that Mr. Petraeus pinned on his fourth star. Mission accomplished.

The Iraqi leaders Mr. Petraeus praised are as responsible for restarting the civil war in 2014 as American officials are for creating it in 2004. But don’t expect the architects of the Iraqi disaster to admit that. They prefer to echo the McCain version of history.

In a lengthy article for Foreign Policy titled “How We Won in Iraq,” Mr. Petraeus credits the “victory” to the surge of American troops. He mentions only in passing that putting 100,000 insurgents on the payroll might have had something to do with it. He spends most of the article praising those who worked with him and by extension himself. He throws in three sentences at the end describing how to regain “victory” — all that is required is a “surge of ideas.”

Mr. Petraeus mentions Mr. al-Maliki seven times, but never critically. He praises him for being “willing to undertake the vast majority of the necessary changes” when it is clear that the former prime minister’s corruption, incompetence and relentless sectarian exclusionism has made Iraq what it is today.

Mr. Petraeus will be speaking in Pittsburgh Oct. 28. For $25 to $65, you can hear about how he won the war.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

At Sea

The Governor of New Mexico and the Mayor of Albuquerque are once again silent on the issue of the day.  Ebola is in Dallas with a second patient diagnosed at the hospital where a nurse is also down with the virus.  Of course Governor Rick Perry took the advantage of free air time to talk about the disease, and promptly made a fool of himself.

Has the Mayor or Governor ordered the State medical infrastructure to give them a report on how they would respond to the discovery of any cases here?  They really should insist on a public statement from both government and private medical providers about this.  But they remain in the cocoon of silence, hoping for the best.  That is GOP leadership these days.  Do nothing.

And then there was former republican and now libertarian Governor Gary Johnson on TV last night suggesting that marijuana might be helpful in the crisis.  At the least it would make us feel calm.  And at least he is saying something!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Misc.

The Albuquerque Journal had an excellent story on the problem of high school dropouts this morning in Albuquerque.  You can cite  poverty  as the main reason so many kids leave school.  It was an important story but somehow the reporter never got around to talking to the Governor or Mayor to see if they had any ideas on how to help with this issue.  Some people are arguing on the Journal facebook page that they don't have any responsibility for the problem.  That is arguing that elected officials are not supposed to be leaders.  Of course that is exactly what we have to deal with in Albuquerque's City Hall and the State Capitol.  No leadership.

I have talked to someone who is putting all of their travel plans on hold for the future until the Ebola outbreak is contained.  I can understand that, but one thing I don't get is how people can think Ebola is so dangerous while climate change is not!  They are very selective in the science the choose to accept I suppose.

Maggie Toulouse Oliver, Democratic candidate for Secretary of State, will go up on TV with ads soon.  I watched it and it is professionally done.  It has probably been done for some time, but I suggest that she get another one together talking about the voter suppression attempted by her opponent and the Governor.  Even the US Supreme Court has ruled against such attempts. We really need her in this office, so send her some money. 

And while you are at it send Democratic Land Commissioner Ray Powell a few bucks to keep the Land Office from being totally controlled by the oil and gas industry.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Signaled

Republican Senate Candidate and war profiteer Alan Weh has signaled the direction he would take as a U.S. Senator.  He was caught on tape at an Albuquerque Business gathering by saying, "so what?" to the dilemma of people making $4 an hour.  He doesn't think anyone under the age of 26 should get a minimum wage.  This is your modern day republican speaking in front of members of the Economic Forum in Albuquerque.  These are the supposed movers and shakers in our business community.  Except they have been sitting on their collective butts for years by protecting what they have rather than growing the economy in this state.  They are leaderless and bereft of ideas.  It hasn't always been like this with those folks, but something has happened to these once community minded people.  It is a very sad situation.

The whole question of a minimum wage hike in this country should get more attention, especially in New Mexico.  I remember my first job at a lumber yard back in 1963 provided me with a $1.25 an hour wage.  I lived on that for a summer before starting at the University.  I also earned minimum wage in my other jobs while in school and I got regular raises.  This was back when the income tax rates were high and the economy was booming and the local business leaders were good at what they did and were generous in giving resources to the community.

Gary King's campaign finally has some TV time purchased.  His  new ad is effective on the minimum wage and the Governor Martinez era meltdown of the economy here.  But, it probably is too little and too late to make a difference.


Saturday, October 11, 2014

Food for Thought

I am somewhat bothered about reaching back into the 90's for a democratic presidential candidate for the next go round.  Of course I would vote for the democrat, whom ever it is, but the thought of having another Clinton or Bush in office makes me think this country just can't move on.  Yesterday I blogged about the ability of the internet to hold us back from progress.  My favorite blogger, Bubba Munster, posted this comment yesterday and I wanted to put it on the main page.  It should get you thinking.

"That's true about the right wing internet. It's a vast area you might not even be aware of unless you stumble upon it. 

When I was on Facebook I'd see an occasional posting from my brother Bill, the family Republican (married a Baptist preacher's daughter and, I think, got caught up in the ecstasy). They have their own memes and web sites, tea bagger sites, news sites, and it's all interconnected. The Left might take a look and see how it's done.

But it's pretty dumb, too. Bill never posted a single a thing that I couldn't easily point out the central flaw in. But it never mattered, either. With them, it's not an intellectual endeavor, it's emotional. Their heart is stirred by odes to entrepreneurial spirit or Ronald Reagan's city on a hill and they are made afraid by scary religions and images of brown hoards and a disappearing America that never existed.


The dumbing down of America may well be unstoppable, but there was a previous America that wasn't well educated, either, and it managed to assume quite a bit of political power, which was expressed through unions and various Socialist and Populist parties and by the Democratic Party, eventually.

For all of the benefits of our post WWII public education system, that was remarkable in educating people and making college open to practically all who wanted to attend, that generation, of the well educated, hasn't been able to stop public education's ongoing gutting, nor the dumbing down, nor the evisceration of anything else from the New Deal era like increasingly higher wages and living standards.

The reason: Democrats stopped being a class based party and became Republicans who are socially liberal, and stood by doing nothing while war was waged on the unions.

The only thing that will unite working people, that ever has, is class identity. It will unite people across region, race, gender and ethnicity. The rich have it, but they've managed to make working people believe we live in a classless society. And they have waged Reaganomics, which is nothing but a war of the ruling class against the working class, a scheme for the massive redistribution of wealth upward, and the Democratic Party eventually went along with it.

It all started back in the 70s with Bill Clinton and Al Gore and their Democratic Leadership Council, and Tony Coehlo, the congressman from California, when he was put in charge of fundraising and said we should go after all that Wall Street money, and they did.

Now you have New Mexico Democrats who won't even utter the word "union" in public, who veer far, far away from anything that hints of populism, whose campaigns and votes once in office make mockeries of working peoples' economic interests, as they slash rich peoples' taxes ever further, cut Medicare and Social Security, cut veteran's benefits, cut Head Start, and look away as college becomes a disappearing dream for more and more kids. But they're fighting hard to save the middle class. Just listen to them."

Friday, October 10, 2014

Without a Clue Rant

The Albuquerque Journal profiles on our local congressional candidates shows just how clueless and out of touch most republican candidates are in the current era.  Michelle Lujan Grisham's opponent wants to cut down rules and regs in the federal government and turn over most responsibilities to the state.

Think Texas.  Those folks there let a man from western Africa loose from a hospital with out even checking to see if he had Ebola.  He is dead and the private sector hospital and the Governor's office under Rick Perry seem rather stupid.  (In Perry's case--stupider.)

Is now really the time to be saying that the CDC, who has taken budget hits from republicans, should turn over its responsibilities to states?  Think Susana Martinez.  Would she fund a state agency correctly to do such work, or would she continue to find ways to cut corporate taxes for our corrupt business system in the country.

Sometimes the dumbing down of America seems unstoppable.  The downside of the internet is that it let morons become organized and manipulated by the wealthy right wing.