Monday, October 31, 2005

Okay, Who is Scarier!


Wake Up Call

Every morning at 5:30AM sharp the radio wakes me up to the wonderful sounds of the folks at National Public Radio. I drift in and out of consciousness for 30 minutes or so before I turn towards the radio with my good ear to listen. This morning was a bummer. There was bush with his sing-song delivery talking about his Supreme Court nominee, and yes it was from my standpoint the worst possible choice because it will cause a definite meltdown in the United States Senate. It will endanger all moderation and the long cherished and effective tool for minority views, the filibuster. Both Republicans and Democrats have used this tool, but now the republicans will change Senate Rules kill the filibuster and when that happens any pretense that senators like Pete Domenici are anything but right wing politicans will disappear. Call him and let him know that today. Show up at his next public meeting and let him know. This is the time for a real fight and accountability. (The photo here is of Actor James Stewarts great portrayl of a filibustering Senator in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.)

bush's appointment of Judge Samuel Alito Jr. will endanger my daughter's right to control her own reproductive choices. It will split this country terribly.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Don't Hold Your Breath

Senator Harry Reid has called on bush and cheney to apologize for their aides alleged crimes. Don't hold your breath. These are not the kind of guys who know the meaning of the word apologize. Let's see, so far no apologies for lying about WMD's, no apologies for poorly equipping American soldiers in Iraq, no apologies for letting people experience the wonder of living on their roofs for five days in New Orleans, no apologies for ignoring 9-11 warnings, and no apologies for screwing America's underclass in favor of the tax cuts for the rich.

Bill Maher had a great comment on his HBO show the other night. He was wondering why bush and cheney did not just call in their staffs to a big conference room and ask who leaked the information on Valerie Plame to the press. Wouldn't that have saved lots of time and money? Well, I think the reason they didn't do this was because they both already knew who did it and probably gave their blessings.

bush and cheney are independent oilmen at heart. They are used to risk. They drill a well and hit it big. They drill a dry hole and they walk away to roll the dice again. Problem is, they are killing lots of people along the way, both Americans and Iraqis.

My buddy Rodger Beimer called this morning to read the latest bumper sticker art to me. It said that "bush makes Nixon look good". That is an understatement.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Watch Heather and Steve

Keep a close watch on New Mexico Congressional Representatives Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce to see if they represent their taxpayer constituency of if they take care of their rich corporate contributors. Let me explain. I spent a good deal of my government career fighting something called the 1872 Mining Law. This was passed when Ulysses Grant was President. It is a law that virtually gave away taxpayer owned resources to mining companies on public lands. In 1872 it made some sense as a way to populate the frontier west and develop its hard rock minerals. In 2005 it is an atrocity.

President Clinton banned the practice of letting miners buy their mining claims for as little as $5 an acre. Yesterday, the House of Representatives Resource Committee in Washington overturned the ban and essentially propose giving away to American and foreign national mining companies valuable public lands. Look here to see who they are!

In the New Mexico that inventory comprises some 170,231 acres including 44 mining claims with in five miles of Carlsbad Caverns National Park.

If this proposal reaches the floor of the House and Pearce and Wilson vote for it they should held accountable to Americans whose pensions and health insurance are being cut in the bush drive to slash the budget. What a ripoff!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Political Junkie O.D.

It is the best of times for political junkies. How much more can we take? Look at the news today. It is like a giant candy store for people like me. This stuff really gets the endorphins gushing.

First, Robert Vigil throws in the towel. Yesterday I had my agency budget hearing at the Legislative Finance Committee. I walked into the committee room and witnessed people and press milling around. Unusual for budget hearings I thought! Oops, wrong room. It was the Vigil impeachment hearings. This was about 1:45PM. The committee was getting ready to wind up again and after some gossip with some folks who were wondering why Vigil hadn't just resigned, I left. I think they were still meeting when the resignation occurred. I don't know why Vigil waited so long to do it. I am glad he did finally resign. The only thing he really accomplished was keeping his attorney Sam Bregman in the news and indicted former State Treasurer Michael Montoya out of the news. The amount of money he allegedly got away with makes Vigil look like a minor player.

Then we have the stimulating build up to Washington's version of Wheel of Fortune. Spin the wheel and see who gets indicted on the political outing of a CIA agent. The spin machine is in need of lubrication for this one because I don't think the White House line of "criminalization of politics" is going to work at all. And then this morning the meltdown of bush's Harriet Miers nomination concluded. I am so high. This is the best of times. I bet Joe Monahan is having a stroke! Now we get to watch the whole Supreme Court nomination process repeat itself. Any bets they will make that announcement as soon as tomorrow to coincide with possible indictments?

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Infantile

The state Republican party is throwing a tantrum over Governor Richardson's travel plans to Virginia and New Jersey to support Democratic Governors candidates. Here is part of a story from the Albuquerque Journal this morning, " Marta Kramer, executive director of the state GOP, said in a statement that Richardson is trying to advance his own political career. "Why else would our self-professed 'moderate' governor be showing his true colors by supporting the most liberal gubernatorial candidate in Virginia history?"

Does th
is officially denote whining? Does this constitute an infantile tantrum? I think it really is minor league stuff and shows the weakness of the GOP in this state right now. As I recall, Governor Johnson did the same thing on both political and issue travel while Governor.

Minimum Wage Post Mortem

Brian Sanderoff of Research and Polling Inc. has come out with his analysis of the recent municipal election. He pretty much had all races and issues figured out, as usual, before election day except for the minimum wage ballot question. His pre election polling and exit polling on election day showed the issue winning. It failed and I think the reason is that people would just not want to admit they voted against something like that. So they lied to the pollers.

Also, in the city council districts where the issue got a good majority of the votes there were only about 7,500 votes cast. In the districts where it did not do well the voter turn out was about 11,500 votes. Do the math.

Once again, the well funded unscrupulous campaign by the Chamber of Commerce is what really carried the day against the minimum wage. I wonder once again if they will reach out to heal the wounds they caused in this community. There is a lot of negative feelings out there about them right now, and rightly so.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Now This is Funny


Now this is funny. Click here!

Read It and Weep


I have always thought Bill Moyers was one of the best political writers in our country. A writer with a soul. Please read this all the way to the end. It is long but worth the ride.

What's Wrong Here


This is a picture of an honor guard carrying the casket of an airman who lost his life in a training accident in World War II. His remains had been frozen in the Sierra Nevada in California since the 1940's. He gave his life for his country in what has been called "The Good War". Apparently those in charge thought it would be good to get a picture of him being sent off to Hickam Field in Hawaii for identification.

Why then is it so difficult to get pictures of our young men and women who have died in Iraq as their caskets arrive in this country? This is the kind of thing that just makes me think that our government is nothing but a gigantic spin machine run out of the White House.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Winning for Earth


The midterm elections in 2006 will be crucial in efforts to construct a sensible and visionary Energy and Environmental Policy for the United States. Right now, we are only about thirty votes away from that kind of policy in the House of Representatives. Let me explain. Right now the same thirty moderate Republicans consistently oppose their party line and vote the right way on environmental issues. The problem is that there are about the same number of not so moderate Democratic members who vote against these issues. This trade means that most environmental votes lose in the house by a margin of thirty to forty votes. So, what reasonable people should work towards in this next election is finding and supporting fifteen to twenty pro conservation candidates who can win, whether they are Republicans or Democrats. That is all we need!

Nationally, despite most peoples concern for our environment, climate change and energy policy, they don't translate their concerns into demanding their delegations vote the correct way. The reason for that is that, although they are concerned about these issues, only about a quarter of people list these as a major factor in the way they vote. Only about 10% of voters say that this is their top issue and only about 36% say these issues are in their top three reasons for voting for or against a candidate.(Duke University Poll released 9/20/2005)

The good news is that people are much more tuned in and sensitive to local environmental issues. Water quality, open space, and land use issues do get people voting correctly much of the time.

My advice now, unsolicited, to Patsy Madrid as she starts her race against Heather Wilson is to work hard at getting support from the conservationist community. She can take a lesson from Governor Bill Richardson on how he reached out to this constituency. This is a two way street however and the enviros should be on the phone today getting her lined up on the issues, both local and national, and then offering to help her campaign if they feel they can support her. I know I will raise money for her and work hard for her.

These issues should not be partisan. They are moderate issues that just about everyone can embrace as being important to America's future. Most Americans describe themselves as moderate and we need to elect moderate candidates to mirror the voters. Now we must face the reality of this. We need to raise lots of money to elect these moderates.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

To Die For



It was one of those days to die for in New Mexico. This is a picture of the Rio Grande Bosque between Pena Blanca and Santo Domingo. I had to drive over that way this morning to check up on some projects. It was an absolutely beautiful autumn morning. We are so lucky to live here.
Click on the picture to get a large view.Posted by Picasa

Friday, October 21, 2005

Vigil vs. Rove-Libby

It is interesting to look at the front page of the Journal today. It has interesting stories and looks good. I am proud of our Governor's work in Korea. I am scared that we now have military guarding our borders, like they used to do in East Germany. The revelation that city and state police continue to get in fist fights in public makes me think they are out of control. Uh, officer, between round five and six could you help me find the robber who held me up?

Mostly though, I am astonished that Robert Vigil and his mouthpiece Sam Bregman continue to trump the news on the President's and Vice President's chief aides facing indictment.

I wonder what people think about Rove and Libby's involvement in outing a spy at the CIA for political purposes? Do our citizens in Albuquerque really believe that the Vigil story is more important to them than this breakdown in our national leadership? Probably, the Editors at the Journal are doing their job in being a local news provider, but still you have to wonder if the Vigil story really out ranks the bush and cheney's predicament.

An interesting note!

I put a sitemeter on my blog because my ego was really yearning to know how many people are reading this drivel. It actually is surprizing the number of hits I am getting. The only thing I will say is that there are over a thousand a week.

One of the features of this sitemeter is being able to see who is on line at any time. You don't know the individual, but you do see what domain they are coming out of. I actually get a large amount of hits from state and local government. But there is one that opened my eyes quickly. It was the Department of Justice. So, who could that be? The FBI, the Homeland security guys, the janitor at the local US Attorney's office, or whatever? Should I be careful about what I am saying? I worry about this, seriously, because I am not exactly on the same page as bush's Department of Justice. Do you suppose the Army on the border would stop us from fleeing to Mexico?

Okay, that was dumb. Conspiracy theory to the max.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Rocky Mountain Progressives(Liberals)

I attended a meeting in Phoenix yesterday of Rocky Mountain Progressives. I am beginning to hate using that word. It really means Liberal but the far right has so demonized the word that people are afraid to use it. The meeting was non partisan as there were moderate Republicans at the meeting.

It was a fascinating day long discussion on the possibilities of putting together a "think tank" for the intermountain west. This new well funded institution would become the "Cato Institute" for the west, except it would be a moderate to progressive group that would develop expertise and messaging on issues of special importance in the west. These non partisan issues could be energy, water, land protection, sprawl, healthcare, education, immigration and many more. It would interest itself in the new demographics of the west which are becoming more diverse everyday.



If you think that moderates and progressives can't get elected in the west think Governor Bill Richardson in New Mexico and Governor Janet Napolitano in Arizona. One thing that is clear from extensive polling and focus groups is that people in the intermountain west are much more moderate and progressive than you would think. They care a lot more about the "Pillars" of society in America than the political leadership on the right wing do. Senator Harry Reid wrote about Pillars in coal mines holding up the communities above them in his autobiography "Searchlight". These Pillars can be construed to include Social Security, Education, Medicaid, Labor and Worker safety, Public Health, Pension programs, GI Bill and Veterans Benefits, Environmental Protection, Civil Rights and Unemployment Compensation. These Pillars really protect all Americans, from the poverty stricken to the affluent. The neo conservatives are chipping away at these pillars constantly in DC along with bush's team, and it appears it is now starting to backfire on them. We will know for sure after the midterm elections next year.

A western "Think Tank" must be non partisan. It must be a source of trusted information for the media and all progressive groups. It must deal with issues from the perspective of the special resources we command and needs that are unmet. It will deal with our "Pillars" in the Rocky Mountains.

The forty participants yesterday, many from government education, and non government organizations were unanimous in the need for this kind of institution. They see it as a much needed "Echo Chamber" that would echo their concerns but have the independence to be taken seriously by government, political and media interests. There is some indication that there will be funding for this effort. It would be a very positive thing for the intermountain west.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Cobble

This is a must read from my friend Steve Cobble in DC. I think it makes a lot of sense to take him seriously and work to defeat bush enablers in the next few weeks. Steve is a New Mexican from Las Cruces.

39%


The latest national polls are showing that bush's approval ratings have fallen to 39%. Why do I think that is still to much of an approval rating? How can that many poll respondents still think he is worthy of approval? My guess is God. Fundamentalists probably add to that number quite a bit just because they see bush as an ally of God. And there is probably nothing that will change their minds. These are the same folks who hated Bill Clinton even though he was an intelligent, hard working, and involved President. He just wasn't seen as Godly.

I will travel to Phoenix late this afternoon for a meeting of westerners on a proposal by several foundations to open and fund a "Rocky Mountain Think Tank" This is an exciting prospect and could really help shape policy in the region. Certainly our issues in the area are somewhat different from many other regions of the country and it is time we started thinking about them in a more concentrated way. Natural Resources, energy, water, public lands, western cities, rural economies and growth are all intertwined and need special focus which such a think tank could provide. This institution would be non partisan but would be progressive in nature.

I hope this will happen over the next year or two. Our quality of life in the west could depend on this deep thinking.

Bobbi and I finally heard from our daughter Noelle. She is taking scuba lessons somewhere off the coast of Malaysia. Sounds exciting.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Blanket Accusations

I know there are many people right now in New Mexico who seem to want to paint all of New Mexico Politics with the same brush as they paint the New Mexico State Treasurer's Office. This is really unfair. Yes, there are certainly some bad apples out there and I hope they get what is coming to them, but most elected and appointed officials do their jobs honestly and mostly professionally.

Partisans in the Republican Party are trying to paint all Democrats right now as being corrupt because the State Tresurer is corrupt.(allegedly) Yet, I don't hear the Republicans calling themselves corrupt because of the continual revelations of political corruption surrounding the White House and financial corruption surrounding the indicted Tom Delay and his gang.

I certainly don't think all Republicans are corrupt because of those problems and it would strain credibility for anyone who says that to me. The same is true when I read about the Republican mudslinging.


Right now this partisanship and its ridiculous rhetoric is having the effect of making Independants look good. I am watching "Commander in Chief" on TV these days and it is appetizing to watch Geena Davis' portrayl of an Independant President. I have heard that comment from more than a few folks.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Back from DC

It is always fun to go to the nation's capitol, even when it is in the hands of the Vandals. It is good to get inside the beltway occasionally to see the feeding frenzy underway. The one good thing going on there right now is that the press is paying more attention to exposing the labyrinth of the right wing, fundamentalist zealots, and big business. Just read this extensive story in the Washington Post today. It is almost like a trashy novel, except that it is true. I don't think the old axiom that power corrupts is as strong as my notion that money corrupts.

I am beginning to think that the mid term elections for Senate and Congress are going to be immensely exciting. Polls are consistenly showing a sea change for Democrats, but that has happened before. People usually don't like congress, but like their congressmen(women). Organization and execution will count for everything in the next 12 months. In the meantime the Democrats can't come up with a unified front. Senate Leaders, House Leaders and Party Leaders all have a different approach and there has been little work at bringing them together.

Bobbi will be home in about ten days from DC. We will then prepare for our trip to Bangkok to see our daughter Noelle who is there for a semester. Right now Noelle is on fall break there and is floating around South East Asia somewhere with her friends. The first stop for her was Malaysia, but that is the last I have heard.

Friday, October 14, 2005

DC Gossip

I have been making the rounds this morning in DC. My contacts tell me that Patricia Madrid will make her announcement on Monday that she will take on Heather Wilson for that congressional seat.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee will most likely pull out the stops for Patsy and raise her money for this race. One always has to hedge their bets with the DCCC however because they are a brutally mathematical machine. They base all of their decisions on numbers and if halfway through the election campaign they feel there is a stronger candidate somewhere else in the country that needs more help, they will walk out all all promises to other candidates. It makes sense but leaves many enemies.
Patsy will make a good candidate and I will help her take down another 'compassionate conservative' republican any day. Did you ever wonder why they came up with that phrase anyway? Liberals don't have to put the word compassionate in front of their label for people to figure out who they are.



Last night Bobbi and I went out for dinner and a movie. We saw "Good Night and Good Luck." It is the movie about CBS News, Edward R. Murrow and Fred Friendly taking on fear monger Senator Joeseph McCarthy in 1953-54. I actually remember those broadcasts. My dad really didn't like McCarthy and thought he was dangerous. He was dangerous and the pioneering broadcasters exposed him.

Think about this, today we have Fox News.

I attended Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism in 1970. Fred Friendly was then head of the faculty and was an inspiration to me in my early career as a journalist. I feel honored to have known him.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Discourse

I arrived in Washington right on time about 2pm and within 15 minutes was in a spirited discussion with my cab driver from Afghanistan. We agreed taking out the Taliban was probably good, although that victory isn't complete by any means. He lamented the fact that bush invaded Iraq because it is destablising his country and family who remain in Afghanistan. He said he hoped Americans would vote their displeasure at the polls in the midterm elections next November. Then I get to Bobbi's apartment and there is a "DEMS '06" bumper sticker waiting for me.

There is never any lack of political discussion in this town.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Travel


I will travel to Washington, DC for the next few days. I will probably do a few short blogs from there as time permits. Everytime I go there I have a rush of conflicting emotions. It is a great city that represents through its cultural attractions the best of America. At the same time it now seems that our greatness has been turned over to incompetents and worse. I just hope that house of cards continues to crumble and that reasonable politicians hold the balance of power after next years elections.

Conscience


Just yesterday I blogged about Mayor Chavez's lack of environmental protection vision for Albuquerque's quality of life. I still think he can change his philosophy to understand how important this is for our city's future. His job is tougher now with his partial victory in court yesterday that clears more obstacles to the splitting of the Petroglyph National Monument with a highway.

This is a loss for Albuquerque in the long run. We should be happy that the west face of the Sandia Mountains was put under protection years ago by a much more visionary city leadership, or we might see roads diagonally slashing their way halfway up the mountain today.

I feel being in opposition to the Paseo del Norte highway through the Petroglyphs doesn't mean you are anti growth or anti economic development. I think it is about limits and decency.

It remains to be seen if there will be fall out from our Pueblo neighbors as we get ready to disrupt an area that they deem sacred. I frankly don't know what you can say to them at this point that would mean anything. Whether you support the road or not many people might have a little bit of a guilty conscience right now. Or maybe not.

Conscience is thoroughly well-bred and soon leaves off talking to those
who do not wish to hear it.

Samuel Butler

Something to Ponder

This is a little messy because I couldn't reformat it, but it is worth reading.


Military History of Washington, DC VIPs

Democrats:

* Richard Gephardt: Air National Guard, 1965-71.

* David Bonior: Staff Sgt., Air Force 1968-72.

* Tom Daschle: 1st Lt., Air Force SAC 1969-72.

* Al Gore: enlisted Aug. 1969; sent to Vietnam Jan.

1971 as an army journalist in 20th Engineer Brigade.

* Bob Kerrey: Lt. j.g. Navy 1966-69; Medal of Honor, Vietnam.

* Daniel Inouye: Army 1943-47; Medal of Honor, WWII.

* John Kerry: Lt., Navy 1966-70; Silver Star, Bronze Star with Combat

V, Purple Hearts.

* Charles Rangel: Staff Sgt., Army 1948-52; Bronze Star, Korea.

* Max Cleland: Captain, Army 1965-68; Silver Star & Bronze Star,

Vietnam.

* Ted Kennedy: Army, 1951-53.

* Tom Harkin: Lt., Navy, 1962-67; Naval Reserve, 1968-74.

* Jack Reed: Army Ranger, 1971-1979; Captain, Army Reserve 1979-91.

* Fritz Hollings: Army officer in WWII; Bronze Star and seven campaign

ribbons.

* Leonard Boswell: Lt. Col., Army 1956-76; Vietnam, DFCs, Bronze

Stars, and Soldier's Medal.

* Pete Peterson: Air Force Captain, POW. Purple Heart, Silver Star and

Legion of Merit.

* Mike Thompson: Staff sergeant, 173rd Airborne, Purple Heart.

* Bill McBride: Candidate for Fla. Governor. Marine in Vietnam; Bronze

Star with Combat V.

* Gray Davis: Army Captain in Vietnam, Bronze Star.

* Pete Stark: Air Force 1955-57

* Chuck Robb: Vietnam

* Howell Heflin: Silver Star

* George McGovern: Silver Star & DFC during WWII.

* Bill Clinton: Did not serve. Student deferments.

Entered draft but received #311.

* Jimmy Carter: Seven years in the Navy.

* Walter Mondale: Army 1951-1953

* John Glenn: WWII and Korea; six DFCs and Air Medal with 18 Clusters.

* Tom Lantos: Served in Hungarian underground in WWII. Saved by Raoul

Wallenberg.

Republicans

* Dick Cheney: did not serve. Several deferments, the last by

marriage.

* Dennis Hastert: did not serve.

* Tom Delay: did not serve.

* Roy Blunt: did not serve.

* Bill Frist: did not serve.

* Mitch McConnell: did not serve.

* Rick Santorum: did not serve.

* Trent Lott: did not serve.

* John Ashcroft: did not serve. Seven deferments to teach business.

* Jeb Bush: did not serve.

* Karl Rove: did not serve.

* Saxby Chambliss: did not serve. "Bad knee." The man who attacked Max

Cleland's patriotism.

* Paul Wolfowitz: did not serve.

* Vin Weber: did not serve.

* Richard Perle: did not serve.

* Douglas Feith: did not serve.

* Eliot Abrams: did not serve.

* Richard Shelby: did not serve.

* Jon Kyl: did not serve.

* Tim Hutchison: did not serve.

* Christopher Cox: did not serve.

* Newt Gingrich: did not serve.

* Don Rumsfeld: served in Navy (1954-57) as flight instructor.

* George W. Bush: failed to complete his six-year National Guard; got

assigned to Alabama so he could campaign for family friend running for

U.S Senate; failed to show up for required medical exam, disappeared from

duty.

* B-1 Bob Dornan: Consciously enlisted after fighting was over in

Korea.

* Phil Gramm: did not serve.

* John McCain: Silver Star, Bronze Star, Legion of Merit, Purple Heart

and Distinguished Flying Cross.

* Dana Rohrabacher: did not serve.

* John M. McHugh: did not serve.

* JC Watts: did not serve.

* Jack Kemp: did not serve. "Knee problem," although continued in NFL

for 8 years.

* Dan Quayle: Journalism unit of the Indiana National Guard.

* Rudy Giuliani: did not serve.

* George Pataki: did not serve.

* Spencer Abraham: did not serve.

* John Engler: did not serve.

* Lindsey Graham: National Guard lawyer.

* Arnold Schwarzenegger: AWOL from Austrian army base.

* Ronald Reagan: due to poor eyesight, served in a non-combat role

making movies.

Pundits & Preachers

* Sean Hannity: did not serve.

* Rush Limbaugh: did not serve (4-F with a 'pilonidal cyst.')

* Bill O'Reilly: did not serve.

* Michael Savage: did not serve.

* George Will: did not serve.

* Chris Matthews: did not serve.

* Paul Gigot: did not serve.

* Bill Bennett: did not serve.

* Pat Buchanan: did not serve.

* Bill Kristol: did not serve.

* Kenneth Starr: did not serve.

* Antonin Scalia: did not serve.

* Clarence Thomas: did not serve.

* Ralph Reed: did not serve.

* Michael Medved: did not serve.

* Charlie Daniels: did not serve.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Chavez Agenda


First, Congratulations to Marty Chavez on his reelection.

Mayor Marty Chavez set out his agenda for his next four years in the Albuquerque Journal today. It is not remotely visionary except for his idea on making Albuquerque's library system technologically superior.(See my earlier blog on this from last July) If he could get about 500 or more no cost internet stations in our Libraries that would be great. All you have to do is visit the Salt Lake City Library or the San Francisco Library to see how it has made those libraries into community gathering places.

The disappointing thing about Marty's 'vision thing' is that the word environment never crops up in any context. His water conservation program which he started in his first term and which both of our administrations improved upon over the last 8 years was more of a system of assuring water supplies for future growth. It was more of a economic development initiative than an environmental one.

I hope Marty will get serious about making Albuquerque a leader in alternative energy, increased public transportation, and protection of open space. This is what will serve new generations of Duke City residents. He needs to hire a senior policy advisor to work on these issues, much as Governor Richardson hired Ned Farquhar. It is really remarkable he hasn't done so, but he could remedy that quickly and it would be to his credit.

The most important environmental issue is one that is rarely mentioned, and that is the lack of a conservation ethic in our culture.
Gaylord Nelson

Monday, October 10, 2005

Stability


Earthquakes, hurricanes, tornado outbreaks, tsunamis, floods extreme weather and whatever else you can think of seem to be defining humanity's weakness right now. Mother Nature trumps us.

Good old New Mexico! The one place the state can rejoice being last on the list is in the number of natural disasters we have to endure. This is a benign place to live, mostly. Practically speaking everyday we can get out of bed knowing the chances of perishing in a natural disaster is about zero. I can remember one earthquake back in the mid 60's or so that I actually felt. One small tornado struck in 1985 during a political debate I was participating in near the State Fair Grounds in Albuquerque. That is pretty much it! The only question we need to ask ourselves about are the effects of global warming on our usually gentle climate. We can't run away from that one or assume our geography will protect us.

Generally though, we should all realize we live in a place that is pretty safe from Mother Nature. It is the Land of Enchantment after all.

Here is another great Bill Moyers speech.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Saturday Album


I have had a busy Saturday morning. Bobbi and I got up early to travel to Santa Fe where I addressed the annual New Mexico Wilderness Alliance conference. This is a great group of people.


This is Dave Foreman, an Albuquerquean who is known nationwide for his work on wilderness, land protection, and species protection. He gave a heartwarming speech.


This is Bob and Philinore Howard. They are long time public land advocates. They are conservative politically but have the good sense to know that being conservatives and environmentalists at the same time makes a lot of sense.



After leaving the conference we stopped by Pena Blanca on the way back to Albuquerque. We have been doing a huge amount of work on our family properties there. We have 40 irrigated acres that were in need of reclamation. Hundreds of Siberian elm trees have been taken down.

These are some of the guys who have been doing this tough work. They all are really wonderful guys and very articulate. They like to talk politics.

This is Ben from San Felipe.
This is Sam, the foreman of the crew.

This is Bill, who works with our Lessee.

I really love taking pictures of people like this. It sounds corny, but they are the salt of the earth.

We cannot despair of humanity, since we ourselves are human beings.
Albert Einstein

Friday, October 07, 2005

Right and Left on the Golf Course


I am a member of the Albuquerque Country Club. I have been a member since about 1991, off and on depending on circumstances. I just love to play golf and it is the only athletic endeavor I have ever been marginally good at. The Club's golf course is beautiful and you can get a round it in about three and a half hours. They have also just completed(mostly) an extensive renovation of the facility and it is really beautiful.

I have made many friends at the Club over the years. I also have some old high school friends who are members so it is always fun to go late afternoons for a quick 18 holes and a beer afterwards.

I must say I am beginning to notice a shift in my some of my right wing golf buddies attitude on bush. They are no longer quick to defend him and some have even voiced their opposition to him. This has occurred in just the last two months. I never thought I would see this. I think Iraq, the deficit and Katrina have formed a toxic soup for bush and he is currently swimming in it.

Maybe this is just a glimpse of some good trend. I certainly hope so. The whole interesting thing here is that even while some of my golf buddies and me were galaxies apart on our political beliefs we could still have fun on the golf course. We can always good naturedly insult each other on politics or blown putts. We could always keep the lines of communications open.

And finally, you must read this. It is long and important. I say that as a former journalist. Someone once said,

"Television was once a vast wasteland, but now it is only half vast."

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Food Fight


I had blogged earlier about the lead story on Channel 7 News last night being about a

FOOD FIGHT!

I thought it was kind of silly but then I pick up the Albuquerque Journal this morning and see it as their lead story. It trumped the fact that our disgraced and indicted State Treasuer Robert Vigil showed up to work yesterday. (This story was a front page one too.)

Now, Robert Vigil and his attorney Sam Bregman are setting up a Food Fight in the special session of the legislature over Vigil's impeachment. Rather than Vigil just gracefully doing the state, the legislature and himself a service and resigning, Bregman has convinced Vigil to be a headline grabber. This is Bregman's style. Don't forget Bregman, who ran against me for Mayor in 1997, destroyed his candidacy when he did a news conference on the steps of the Bernalillo County Court House. His subject that day was an attack on another candidate, former Governor Dave Cargo. Bregman essentially said that Cargo was unfit to be Mayor because he was a defense attorney, while Bregman himself had dedicated his career to putting people in jail as an assistant district attorney. It was the fastest meltdown of a candidacy in local politics that I can remember. Bregman came in fourth that year, right behind Cargo.

Sam, you have come a long way.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Turnout


It appears that apathy was the big winner yesterday in the election. There was slightly more than a 30% turnout of elegible voters. That hardly is worthy of calling yesterday's results a mandate for any of the measures or candidates. Less than 15% of the city's elegible voters decided the Mayor's race and the minimum wage question. It appears a lack of inspiration and vision won the day.

All we can do now is work towards the elections next fall and concentrate on making sure there will be some changes made in Congress.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

City's Lost Soul

I think our city has lost its collective soul with the defeat of the minimum wage ballot proposition in the election yesterday. It appears the Chamber of Commerce has been successful in its effort at denying a 'leg up' to all of our most needy workers. This is after their most affluent members got bush tax decreases at the expense of those same minimum wage workers. And so the chamber of commerce has wounded and divided our city and they will need to figure out a way to fix it. Soon.

Yes, it was a close vote and nearly half the people voted for it. Nearly isn't enough when large amounts of money are used to fund development of lies to be thrown at a public too busy to do fact finding themselves.

I will now attempt to boycott all Chamber of Commerce members when I make my purchases, whether it be a car or a taco. It won't mean much to them I am sure, but it will mean something to me. Maybe, I will do all my major purchases in Santa Fe since their voters passed a much more generous minimum wage bill.

Many men of course became extremely rich, but this was perfectly natural and nothing to be ashamed of because no one was really poor, at least no one worth speaking of.
Douglas Adams

Voted

I voted about 9 this morning before leaving for Santa Fe meetings. There were a few people there but I think it will be a modest turn out. Chavez will most likely win tonight with no runoff because of his million dollar plus campaign. Who knows what will happen in the council races? Probably not enough to stop a developer oriented Mayor's office and Council. I think the good news is that the minimum wage will pass.

Some people would describe this election with a metaphor of seeing your worst enemy going over a cliff in your meticulously restored classic 1932 Cadillac. You don't know whether to cheer or cry.



And as Monty Python used to say, Now for something totally different! Read this.

Looking Back

I was saddened to see that my St. Pius X High School Coach Leon Palimsano passed away over the weekend. We had stayed in touch sporadically over the years. I always thought a lot of him because of the decency he always showed to his students. I met him in 1959 as a freshman in P.E. class. My brother Tom and I, (identical twins) were the smallest guys in our class and so we were subject to a lot of that high school hazing. Coach Palmisano put a stop to it one day when some big jock was knocking me around. He took that guy and pinned him against a locker and told him what would happen to him if he ever saw him hassling anyone again. Then, Coach Palmisano appointed my brother and me as official scorekeeper and timekeeper for the basketball team. That pretty much put us out of harms way.

I know I am pretty hard on religion in this blog sometimes, especially with the catholic church in which I was raised. However, I still appreciate the sense of justice, ethics and morality that was pounded into us.

Coach Palmisano symbolized the best of those teachers. He was really a great guy. You know a teacher has fullfilled his role when so many students think of them that way.

Monday, October 03, 2005

Immorality

Specialist Marshal A. Westbrook, 43, of Farmington, New Mexico became the first State National Guardsman to die in Iraq on Sunday. He leaves a wife and five children. What a horrible tragedy to befall any family!

This tragedy will live on for this family in many ways. A husband lost, a father gone forever, a struggle for this large family to get by in the future. Thank you Governor Richardson for passing legislation that will give a large insurance settlement from a state purchased policy for this family. The family will also get some insurance from bush and rumsfeld. However, in fact, those five children will be paying off the cost of this war well into their adult lives because bush, his cronies, and the congress don't want to pay for it now. So, that is another net loss for those children. This whole situation is immoral.

I can't understand why, in a country where over 40% of the people believe that God made the universe in seven days, that we don't think about this immorality more. If everyone is that religious in this country then our general detachment from this kind of thing is not just inexplicable, it is bizarre and surreal. We are a country at war with real human and economic costs and yet we seem more into American Idol TV shows than the ever mounting death toll for Americans and Iraqis.

And to top it off. Read this.

When a citizen gives his suffrage to a man of known immorality he abuses his trust; he sacrifices not only his own interest, but that of his neighbor; he betrays the interest of his country.
Noah Webster



Sunday, October 02, 2005

Depression


I had actually prepared a blog this morning listing all the reasons I was depressed. I just deleted it after talking to my good friend Erik Pfeiffer in Hawaii. Erik is the former Economic Development Director for the City of Albuquerque. After I left the Mayor's office he bought a boat and he and his wife Canoe moved to Mexico, and then on to Hawaii. This is a picture of his boat, the YuBa. He spends a lot of time throwing coconuts into the water for his dog to chase. I think he has the right idea.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

22 Year Pregnancy



About 22 years ago when I served as Commssioner of Public Lands my administration envisioned a Master Planned Community on state trust land south of the Albuquerque International Airport. The Land Office owned close to 13,000 acres up there. It was less than five miles from downtown. It is a beautiful piece of ground. We named the project Mesa del Sol. The project has finally given birth.

We started a Master Planning process for the property which was held in trust for mainly the University of New Mexico. My assistant Commissioner Pleas Glenn deserves a lot of the credit for the early heavy lifting on the planning of this effort. The University loved the project but then killed it because in their greed they decided they wanted the land in title instead of the profits going into the state permanent land fund. They have partially succeeded in that movida, but frankly I don't care anymore. This is a project whose time has come.

Forest City, an internationally acclaimed developer will lead the project. Today they held a ground breaking with numerous political and community leaders. Mayor Chavez even said nice words about my involvement. (I hate it when that happens because sometimes I don't reciprocate. See yesterday's blog)


The festivities on Friday were to break ground for the extension of University Boulevard across Tijeras Arroyo and up onto the mesa. Governor Richardson and the Legislature anted up some money along with the federal government and city to get this done. It is a great cooperative effort.

I think this project will be a quick winner. As long as the economy retains some strength it is quite possible this will slow the development on the far-far westside because it is so close in to the city core.

That is good. I just wish I had recieved one of those plated shovels. They are small enough to carry in your car trunk for emergencies.

We have to deal with where we are. We have to create cooperatives, we have to create intentional communities, we have to work for local cooperation where we are.
Jerry Brown

My Big Sister Again

My big sister Carlota just got back from Europe. This is her guest blog.

M. Carlota Baca, Executive Director, NMAG

I have just returned from two weeks in Europe and it was fascinating to see, read and hear the news of our hurricanes, our war and other issues from that distance. I spent some time with a very close friend who lives in Bern, Switzerland and another week with three Santa Fe friends in Nice, France. I closed out my vacation with a beautiful and solitary long weekend in my favorite city in the world, Paris.

Perhaps I can best tell you something about how we are regarded in Europe by telling you this little story. It’s just one little anecdote, but it seems emblematic of so many other encounters I had with so many people I met on this trip. (French, Brits, Czechs, Germans, Swiss, etc). We are told that everyone hates the U.S. or is appalled by its political behavior. I’m not sure that this is true. In fact, I think I am far more appalled than our critics abroad about our government’s diplomatic incompetence and domestic insouciance.

On my last Sunday in Europe, I was in my beloved Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, listening to a youth orchestra. All the musicians in the bandstand were teenagers and they were all wearing very funny and inventive hats, though the music they played was pretty serious stuff….some Beethoven, some Gershwin, and some Haydn. It was one of those lovely crisp days when all Parisians venture outdoors with their children, their dogs and the grandparents.

As I sat on a park bench, reading the Herald Tribune and listening to the music, an elderly French man with a cane approached and gestured at the bench, asking if he could sit. “Je vous en prie,” I said and patted the bench. He was very surprised (and pleased) that I spoke fluent French. I lamented to him that this was my last day in Paris and that I was heading back to the States the next day.

After some general pleasantries about the fine weather and the music, he said in an almost formal way, “Because you are an American, I want to tell you that I am so sorry for all the catastrophes in your country.” I thanked him for his sympathy, but he went on. “The savage attacks of September 11th, your war in Iraq, and now these terrible hurricanes. It must make you feel like everything is against you. But you are a strong country and you will prevail. We don’t always agree with your government, but we remember The War. I was a soldier then and you saved us from the Nazis.”

When I told him that my late husband’s brother was part of the D-Day landings in Normandy, the old gent reached over and touched my hand and got tears in his eyes. I didn’t quite know what to say or do and I think he realized that we should change the subject. But first, he went to a vendor across the path and got us each a lemon sorbet. What a treat! Then he went on to the new topic.

“I so much remember and love your old Western movies,” he said. “John Wayne, Jeemmy Stewart, Robert Mitchum, Henri Fonda, they were the greats!” (I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I hate Westerns.) He went on and recounted to me his favorite dramatic moments in High Noon, El Dorado, Shane, Stagecoach, and Red River, none of which I’ve seen. It was—I have to admit—a wonderful performance and I was riveted to that park bench for 30 minutes listening to him recall even certain pieces of dialogue and their metaphysical significance. Because he was French, of course, the films spoke to him not about saloons and shoot-em-ups, but rather about the Human Condition—its conflicts, its resolutions, its tragedies and its triumphs.

After an hour or so, we stood up and he thanked me for the conversation with a little bow. Then he said again how sorry he was about all the problems we seem to be having in the U.S. He wasn’t smug in the slightest nor did he display any hint of schadenfreude (pleasure derived from the misfortune of others). He was really very sympathetic, especially about September 11th, about which he was “veritablement horrifi√©.” We said “Adieu” and he limped off slowly, leaning on his cane. I ambled back to my hotel just a block away.

It was a sweet way to end this trip, chatting with such a gallant old man who loves our movies, is grateful for our World War II rescue, and who is distraught about all the poor people in Nouvelle Orl√©ans. Had this been one of the conversations I had had at numerous dinner parties in Bern, it would have turned into a serious geo-political discussion. But this little chat was just right because it wasn’t too important and because in its own modest way, it was memorable. I’ll never forget that man and that bench will henceforth be my favorite one in the Luxembourg Gardens.

And, I guess I have to reconsider my dislike of Western films and rent a couple of those movies.