It seems that the fate of our country and that of so many other countries now reside in the school yard, where pimply faced boys, dressed as grown-ups, scream, “We’re winning!We’re winning!”Declarations of us winning and them losing have become our new foreign policy and we have placed our future in the hands of cretins and lunatics.It doesn’t matter that the other kids, the powerless bystanders in the yard, are being blown to bits.
I remember the “Mission Accomplished” banner on the deck of the aircraft carrier some years ago, and I felt a sinking feeling of despondency and nausea because I knew that this was going to be how the Bush administration henceforth measured our merit on the international playing field.Silly photo-ops and dimwitted “plans” that covered the next news cycle.
I can’t recall a time when we have so diminished the role of intellect and rationality in our conduct of international policy, or indeed, of our own domestic discourse.Can any intelligent person fail to feel embarrassed about the dumbing down of our country’s leadership?How did we end up with such a mortifying level of incompetence?
We asked for it.We voted for imbeciles and then we voted for them again.Not to be outdone, other countries did the same, succumbing to the egomaniacs and martinets who grabbed power and forced their citizens to choose sides in the increasingly pointless game of “Who’s on first?”.We have no monopoly on stupidity.
The feeling of powerlessness and the behavior of inertia have brought us to this playground of carnage.Perhaps most of all, we have selected team captains who just aren’t very bright.They haven’t a clue about history.They haven’t a clue about strategy.They place their faith in simple-minded predictions of biblical Armageddon.And they have no notion of consequences because they have no ability to think critically.
And so our country and its citizens are just waiting.Waiting for the next election.Waiting for the next congressional session.Waiting for an end to it all.Meanwhile more kids in the yard are being blown to bits.
Like the kids who didn’t get chosen for the team, we’ve sulked back to the sidelines, watching with dismay as the captains have pissing contests and fight over the ball.I am ashamed and heartbroken, and I am angry.
Bobbi and I decided to take off for Santa Fe's annual Spanish market.
I had not been to it in a long time. It is definitely the place to go if you are into Retablos and Santos.
There were many New Mexican Artisans displaying their work and there were also a lot of contemporary artists exhibiting.
This is my sister, Dr. Maria Carlota Baca and Bobbi at my sister's home in the hills of Santa Fe. Tomorrow my sister will put her thoughts down for a guest blog.
We had a great discussion at lunch about bush and his legacy. (Good food and the Zia Diner, good service, slow kitchen, but worth the wait.)
Last Friday night Bobbi and I had dinner with a good friend who just returned from a 10 week stay in Africa. He has been very active there for years with Gorilla programs and has made many friends. He said his African acquaintances used to say that America was a blessed country and a great country. Now, they say America has lost its way and will no longer be a good example to follow. All this in just the years of the bush administration.
Governor Richardson is doing something today that you won't see many other Governors, Senators or Congressmen doing. He is sticking his neck out.....a long way.
Richardson is calling for more hearings to be held on the proposed Desert Rock coal fired power plant on the Navajo Reservation near Burnham. Even though Richardson does not have jurisdiction over the site he has asked that more testimony be taken in Albuquerque and Santa Fe on the draft environmental impact statement for the plant. That plant will increase New Mexico's emissions of green house gases by 15% if it is built. The Governor is showing courage because this could cost him political support in some circles in the Navajo Nation. He is representing the interests of the whole state here.
Navajo Leaders are pushing to have the plant built, although there is growing opposition by tribal members who have been camped out at the site for months. Certainly, this anachronism of a plant will have an impact on the whole state and Richardson is doing exactly the right thing.
I hope some of the recent whiners who feel the Governor isn't radical enough on clean or renewable energy will take notice.
I was never much of an athlete. My brother and I were the smallest guys in the class so no body thought we would be very helpful when picking teams and stuff. So we never got much playing time. We finally lost last place for size when we entered High School. There was one guy smaller than us but we treated him with respect. The jocks would stow him in a school locker. They were such nice catholic boys!
Eventually, I just did some sports on my own. I was good at shooting baskets and catching baseballs, but I was no star. My friend Roy Soto introduced me to racket ball in the 80's and I finally beat him a few times. I became a slightly above average golfer when I took the game up at 40. I still enjoy it.
Right now athletes are taking a beating. I don't think Cole Porter was thinking about this 'ANYTHING GOES' kind of attitude that our superstars have right now when he wrote his musical.. NFL players running dog fighting operations, baseball players using steroids to hit homers, bike racers getting caught using virtual pharmaceutical cocktails to get through their pain. NBA refs betting on NBA games. Various other jocks beating up people or worse.
I guess when you put them on a pedestal and pay them more than just about anyone other than hedge fund executives, they get a feeling of entitlement. But that is generally our fault for idolizing their physical talent while not thinking about other more important things. At the same time, you wonder about their long term prospects, essentially turning into senior citizens before their time. Bad knees at 28 and chronic pain and mental dullness from head injuries in the contact sports.
This kind of attitude that some athletes have remind of of the busy/cheney team. Anything Goes for them too.
An acquaintance of mine received a letter from Mayor Martin Chavez requesting that they serve on Marty's Finance Committee. No where in the letter did it say what the Finance committee was for, just that he had one and would this person serve on it.
Things are hard enough raising money in upcoming efforts to unseat our war hawk heather wilson.(yes, just like bush and cheney I will no longer capitalize her name because of her war mongering.) Martin Heinrich has probably raised over 200K now and it still working it hard. There are at least three other folks thinking about running against Martin. Here is my advice to them. Don't listen to political consultants who tell you can win, because all they are trying to do is get your business. Call 100 of your best friends and ask them for $1000 each. If you cant find at least 50 friends who will do that, then just forget it. You won't be able to raise the money you will need and you will just cut into money that might go where it is most needed. I happen to think that is to Martin Heinrich in that race.
Also, don't send any money to Marty Chavez until he fesses up to what he is running for. You might be funding him to run against some else who you might prefer. Now, having said that, if Marty runs for the right thing I might even send a check. Really. Anybody who has served as Mayor of Albuquerque deserves sympathy. Yuk.
A group of Veterans from the Iraq War have sued the Veterans Administration for delays in health care, denying disabilities and lack of mental health treatment. This story may not have gotten much attention today because CNN was so interested in hyping its use of YouTube for the Presidential debates, but this should be on everyone's radar and soon.
I am a Veteran. I have never availed myself of the services of the Veterans Administration because I felt others probably needed it worse than me. I am fortunate to have health insurance, something many Veterans don't have. I do have nagging problems from my service years, especially in my continuing loss of hearing from my exposure to jet turbines. The ear protectors in the 60's consisted of little rubber plugs that did little to stop nerve damage. I am now walking around with $4000 hearing aids. I had thought I would go to the Veterans Hospital and sign up for some, but I just felt others probably needed that face time a lot more than me. The Veteran's Hospital here seems to be a very good one from experiences I have witnessed with some of my Veteran relatives. They got excellent treatement and surgeries. I was impressed with the legions of volunteers at the facility. There were a lot of Vets there waiting in the lobbies, but they seemed to be doing okay. I have heard this is one of the best facilities but the crowding is evident.
Since bush and cheney didn't go do a tour in Iraq maybe they should be required to get their treatment at the maligned Walter Reed Veterans facility in Washington, DC. Maybe that would make them realize these men and women who were sent in harms way for an immoral war would get better treatement for their mental and physical injuries.
Currently, as of Sunday noon, the Albuquerque Journal's unscientific poll is showing the NFL's Atlanta Falcon Quarterback Mike Vick is in deep trouble. Fully half of the folks responding say the NFL should suspend him for running a dog fighting operation and another 28% say he should go one on one with a Rottweiler in a cage. He probably deserves both and maybe more. At least his reputation is shot. Dog fighting, senseless, brutal and ongoing in this country. The animal protection groups fundraising will be a cinch for a while. My highly decorated Viet Nam vet brother had an interesting comment yesterday. He couldn't figure out why people aren't wishing the same thing for bush and company. In their case the killing and torture occurred to human beings. Senseless, brutal and ongoing despite bush proclaiming mission accomplished some years ago.
This horrendous airliner crash in Brazil could be used as a metaphor for our governments inaction on climate change. President bush and his allies in Congress have been continually warned about the buildup of green house gases. The powers that be in Brazil were continually warned about an unsafe runway. bush and his minions say curbing carbon emissions will be harmful to the economy. The Brazilian decision makers said closing the dangerous runway would be harmful to Sao Paulo's economy. bush and his allies push ineffective and wasteful use of bio fuels as a solution to emissions. Brazilians put a new layer of asphalt on the short runway.
Well you get the picture I am sure. We haven't quite had our plane crash yet, but we are speeding down the runway.
I noticed this morning there was another stupendous payoff in a medical malpractice case. $24 million or so. Last week a jury awarded $54 million against a nursing home for the death of an elderly patient. You wonder if the defense counsel in the cases just go out and slash their wrists after something like this happens. You wonder if these awards will raise the cost of all nursing home and hospital fees so they can cover ever inflating insurance rates because of the enormity of the payouts.
A friend of Bobbi's said she disagreed with such payouts, but that if they were going to happen then a new system for distribution of the proceeds should be considered. Some fair amount should be given to the plantiffs and their attorneys, but a majority of these huge payouts should go into a special fund to help improve government oversight of the facilities and training and retaining of employees. Most of those employees are minimum wage folks who turnover at incredible rates.
About the only news I hear about Heather Wilson, our pro war/pro bush, pro WMD advocate, is scraps about the US Attorney fiasco. Her usually efficient press operation is ominously quiet. They are apparently hard in the camp of 'no news is good news' after Heathers winter of discontent. I was reminded of her when I saw the numbers on how much money she had raised during the last quarter for her reelection effort. $372,000. That is about twice as much as Martin Heinrich's $181,000 raised during the same period. I am a lot more impressed with Martin's totals than Heathers. He started with nothing and worked hard to raise that amount.
Now, Bryon Paez, a nice guy, has entered the race against fellow Democrat Martin Heinrich. I like Bryon but he won't have my support in the Primary. He is a lobbyist for Butch Maki's group in Santa Fe and I can imagine some of their clients can expect publicity because of Brion's entrance into this race. It will be interesting for us to see who he lobbied for and what positions he took for his well heeled clients. I hope someone will look into that.
I have heard some people murmur that Paez is getting into the race at Mayor Martin Chavez' urging. The reasons being it hassles the up and coming Heinrich and also helps cobble together an organization for Marty's upcoming Governors race. Marty reported he has raised $45k over the last few months, but wont say what it is for!
15 months to go until general election day in 2008.
There is definitely something happening with Congressional Delegations and Governors in the Nation's Inter-Mountain West when it comes to public land issues. We public land advocates are beginning to see politicians who thought the word 'wilderness' had something to with satanism are now reversing them selves in dramatic ways.
Think about long time Wyoming Senator Craig Thomas deciding that the Wyoming Range should be protected from oil and gas drilling. I think hell froze over when he took that position. The Senator then suddenly passed away before he could push the issue. A couple of weeks ago the Wyoming Governor, a Democrat, had to appoint a new Republican Senator to fill in for Craig. The only litmus test the Governor gave prospective candidates was on continuing Craig's quest to protect this land. He appointed the one who said he would do so.
Think of our own Senator Domenici suddenly backing off his hell bent wish to let Yates Petroleum drill onOtero Mesa. The prospect of ruining an aquifer might have had something to do with it, but who cares? I am glad he has at least agreed to delays.
Think of Montana's Governor Brian Schweitzer promising to help buy out Plum Creek Timber rights to help protect the Swan Valley in Montana. He has the full support of the Montana Senior Senator Max Baucus.
Think of our own Governor, Bill Richardson who has led the way for western polilticos on public land and wilderness designation in New Mexico.
I am not sure why all of this is occurring. Some say it is because politicians have stuck their finger into the wind to see how it is blowing, and it is blowing hard enough to protect them from the extractive industries. Others say that they are starting to think about their legacy and have decided to earn one by protecting great western landscapes. I guess it really doesn't matter as long as they do it. It won't happen however if anyone lets up on the pressure to do it. So we all must keep up the grass roots work.
I just returned from Swan Valley Montana. It was a great trip and the Wyss Foundation did a lot of good work during its meeting in helping to save great places in the West.
My first stop was in Hamilton, Mt. where I had lunch with my niece and her family. They moved there about six weeks ago and have already fallen in love with the country and rivers. That is Sara, Kelley, Kevin and Jason.
These Pictures are of Holland Lake, where we held our meeting. You can see our dinners were in magnificent surroundings. I will leave again tomorrow for another meeting in Salt Lake City. I wonder when I am going to get my airplane cold.
I participated in a national news conference about the damage Off Road Vehicles are doing to our watersheds and wildlife in the west a couple of weeks ago. Not all off roaders are bad people, but here is an email I got from one of them. I deleted his email address
From: Scott Fulrath [mailto: Sent: Saturday, July 07, 2007 10:20 AM To: Subject: Is this the same whinney a** bureaucrat from "Irresponsible ex environMENTAList whacko Rangers for "Responsible (meaning NONE)" Recreation coalition" trying to shut down off road activity?
You morons have already crammed all the off roaders into little tiny little overcrowded spaces, now you whine about them being so concentrated and try to find any excuse to get that shut down as well? You people are the problem, not the solution. So what if a damn weed gets run over or if it takes a while for a track to disappear? DEAL WITH IT! What is it about the baca name that makes them all such america haters?
This is the kind of stuff that Honda Motor company and other manufacturers support through the "Blue Ribbon Coalition" lobby. This is the group that lobbies for and gives money to these off roaders to fight meaningful legislation. I have crossesd Honda off my car buying preferences until they stop this stuff.
I will be off for a few days to attend a Wyss Foundation meeting in Swan Valley, Montana. It should be a lot of fun.
I don't know why Pete Domenici finally saw reality about the Iraq war. Maybe it was to save his slowly eroding image or maybe he is just tired of seeing the death and destruction brought on by this immoral and unnecessary war. It really doesn't matter to me what reasoning he used. I am just happy he has done it. If it will shorten this American tragedy then I am all for it. We can leave it to history to decide his part in this whole thing, but now he is lending his seniority and respectability to ending the war. Overall, that is a good thing. Meanwhile his protoge, Heather Wilson, continues her hawkish behavior.
Ben Luce, the my way or the highway renewable energy proponent, has continued his meltdown. After praising Governor Richardson's renewable energy package after its legislative approval ( which he lobbied for and supported) he then did a 180 degree turn and said it was awful. Now he is angry that PNM had provided an executive to help the Governor with Republican legislators on numerous issues during the session. Ben thinks it was a conflict of interest. I wonder if he feels that way about the Governor appointing many good environmentalists and conservationists to boards and commissions and executive jobs in state government. If you follow Luce's philosophy then Sandy Buffet who heads the Conservation Voters Alliance would have to step down from the Game and Fish Commission and Dave Simon, former head of the National Parks advocacy group in the west would have to step down as State Parks Director. This list could go on for a long while.
The Governor has been a leader on Environmental and Energy issues in the West and Ben Luce and his new non profit organization seem to want to punish him for it. I won't be making any donations to that group. I don't think they see compromise as an important thing.
There was no more vexing problem when I was Mayor that the issue of the homeless in Albuquerque. It was constantly a non winner as far as public policy decision making. No matter what we would try, there was always passionate and sometimes hysterical reactions. Mayor Marty Chavez actually has my sympathy as he tries to wade through this morass. One thing is for certain, he won't make anyone happy as he tries to lessen the impact on the Barelas neighborhood from the over population of homeless services in that area. Sometimes, I fault the service providers for not wanting to address the issue because it might not be good for them as organizations. They should cast a wider net than that.
The Wages of Fear
The Albuquerque Journal is once again on its peculiar obsession with what the salaries of public officials are. They have always followed this thread for some reason. I rarely see this in other major daily papers. If we need to pay top notch administrators to lure them in to government service then I don't have a problem. I have always had this feeling that the Journal reporters and editors salaries are so low that they just can't help themselves. You can see how many of them have left Journalism for other jobs in government. You can't blame them really. Someday, I would like to see a story on what those reporters do earn. But really, it is none of our business. I will gladly pay the Journal subscription rate hikes because I am into my love hate relationship with the daily paper. To be fair, they haven't raised the rates in a long time and I know the newspaper business is suffering greatly. Not long ago, in the Daily Onion satirical newspaper, a headline story was about the last newspaper reporter in the country being fired. Lets hope that never happens.
As I was doing my 40 minutes on the elliptical cross trainer yesterday I was watching the History Channel give a run down on all the Presidents of the United states in the 1800's. James Buchanan or Warren Harding vie for the 'worst President ever' award. as seen by historians. I am worried that bush will not garner that spot because of the vilification, deservedly so, of cheney. Rodger Beimer sent me this good piece from the New Yorker about cheney. As I read it I sort of forgot about bush in my anger. We shouldn't let that happen. bush is the really bad guy and no one should forget it. Let's hope historians make sure that bush does indeed end up on the bottom of the list.
It is just amazing to me how the media these days reports on a couple of issues. Take for instance the movies. Every Monday morning you will see the media talking about which new movie made the most money over the weekend. They don't mention whether or not the movie is any good, or if it is X-Rated, or violent, or good family fare. They just concentrate on how much money it made. And who came in second, third and fourth....etc. Yes, the media outlets have good reviews on Fridays, but what is so important about how much money a movie made. Well, I read today the movie Ratatouille was the winner this week. We saw it Friday and it was very enjoyable. Its a good family movie with lots of adult humor too which the kids might miss.
The media likes the money list format so much so much they now have started using it on how they report Presidential Campaigns. Just read about 70% of the stories on the campaign in the last week and it would most likely be centered on how much money each of the candidates has raised. It says very little about where this deluge of cash came from. It says little about candidate positions on social security, global climate change, poverty or the war. It just is now much money they sucked in. Yes, money is important for Presidential campaigns, but so is the candidates positions on these issues. Yes, the media does some reporting on candidates positions, but mainly they seem obsessed with the money race.
I thought Bill Richardson had the best line last week in the Democrats debates in New York. He said that when people complain about how to pay for social and poverty programs they should remember that no one ever seems to be concerned about how we pay for wars.