Monday, December 31, 2007

Why Iowa?

The Des Moines Register does a fantastic job of covering the caucuses here. They have comprehensive coverage every day on all of the candidates. It is not an effort that you see many daily newspapers in cities this size take on.

Among the many articles in the paper on Sunday were some statistics that make you wonder why a state with such little diversity in its population has the honor of having so much influence on the up coming political year.

There are three million people in Iowa. There are about 1.9 million voters. Republicans account for 574,000, Democrats for 600,000 and 737,000 are independent. About 20 to 25% will participate in the caucuses. That means about 150,000 Democrats.

The ethnicity breakdown is 94.9% White, 3.7% Hispanic, 2.3% Black and 1.4% Asian.

Not exactly a diverse group. But they work hard and a 72% home ownership rate is impressive. Iowa has 16.6 million hogs, that's a lot of bacon, and produces 20% of the nation's corn and 16% of the soybeans. 88% of the state's land mass is covered by farms. Wow.

The state will be in the spotlight on Thursday night and its caucus results will only be really important until New Hampshire votes five days later.

I don't know how much money will be spent for each vote that is cast at the caucuses. Some one needs to figure that out when the dust settles. It will be sobering I am sure. If it doesn't make the case for public financing of campaigns and a leveling of the playing field, then nothing will.

I am pretty much convinced that the celebrity status of the candidates enables them to bring in enormous amounts of money. Senator Obama is a celebrity because of his beautiful speech at the Democratic Convention a few years back. Hillary is a celebrity for a lot of reasons, and Edwards is a celebrity because of his being on the ticket four years ago. That leaves substantial candidates like Bill Richardson and Senator Biden in the wings as far as raising cash goes. If Bill gets into the top three he will become a celebrity for it and funds will pour in. I hope he gets there and his non stop work might make it happen.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Iowa House Party

I started the day at Starbuck's in downtown Des Moines and coffee with Albuquerque Journal reporter Jeff Jones. One thing you see in the Starbuck's here is that it polls first with campaign workers from all the camps. It is hallowed ground by all. It is around the corner from the Ron Paul and Huckabee headquarters and the Hillary and Obama people are there in force. I haven't seen many Edwards folks there but I am sure they are around.

I went to a really well attended house party in Des Moines. It was a 100 year old old home on top of a snow encrusted embankment.

Governor Richardson arrived about 12:45 and stayed until about 2:15. He answered question for most of the time and his short speech was as good as any I have ever seen him do.

There were some all important Precinct Captains at the home and about 80 people jammed into the den. It was a cozy and enjoyable afternoon.

He spent a lot of time answering questions about foreign relations, domestic issues, and energy and environment. There is concern here with climate change and additional coal fired power plants.

I find that in my phone calling and interactions with Iowans that they are very graceful and patient people. I have not had one person hang up a phone or say something less than nice. This may not be a very diverse state, but no one can beat them on friendliness.

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Saturday, December 29, 2007

Connie and Paula's Amazing Adventure

Connie Beimer and Paula Maez made it to Iowa this morning after a not so perfect trip. Southwest Airlines lost their bags so they had to wait around in Kansas City for five hours to find them. They then left for Des Moines and were held up for bad traffic accidents on the Interstate. But they made it in late last night. They came by the HQ for a short time before heading off to their assignments in Cedar Rapids. They will attend several house parties for the Governor there today.

Connie and Paula met up with old friends Liz Guiterrez and Lori Martinez.

So, Connie Beimer is in Iowa and her husband Rodger is in Pasadena, California to decorate the Rose Bowl Parade Float. My wife Bobbi is there with him while I am in Iowa trying to figure out why 150,000 Iowans most likely get to decide who our next President might be.

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The Sun came out this morning in Des Moines. It is very cold and will get super cold over the next couple of days. But these rays brighten up the place greatly. That is the classy Iowa Capitol Building above and a nice picture below.
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Friday, December 28, 2007

Friday Iowa

I went over to the main Richardson HQ after spending the morning hours calling Democrats in some counties south of Des Moines. Surprisingly most people that answer are very pleasant and talkative. One person said they had received seventeen calls over the last three days. I think they must be tiring of this frenetic activity. I was watching a local news station a while ago and there were five commercials in a row for candidates. Strangely, all were for Democrats.

The crowd at the HQ was impressive once again. Most of the younger folks were going out to canvass on the ice encrusted streets. The older activists stayed inside and made more phone calls.This afternoon I met with some the Public Interest Research Group representatives to discuss the Governor's energy policies. This got the top attention of Dave Rogers, the Richardson political director for Iowa. We met with Mary Rafferty and Melisa Stodieck of Environment America. They are attempting to get pledges from all of the Presidential candidates on seeking development of Clean Energy nationwide. This should be easy for Governor Richardson since he has already advocated almost all of the points they think are important.


I visited the Press boiler room for the Richardson campaign this morning. Most of the people were out at a major foreign policy speech by the Governor at Des Moines botanical gardens.

That would be the place to be this morning because it snowed again last night!

The hotel restaurant at the Quality Inn is a regular mish mash of campaign workers. There are a lot of Hillary Clinton workers staying here, as well as Richardson's folks. Everyone looks a little tired and pasty. That is probably because they have not seen the sun here in a while. O Fair New Mexico! I miss the light already.

Obviously, the Pakistan situation is on everyone's mind here today. It will be interesting to see how it affects the coverage of the race here. Off to work now.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Iowa 2007

Dave Simon, our State Parks Director and I arrived in Kansas City ontime and then drove for a few hours to Des Moines. It is very cold outside and lots of snow, but the roads were clear.

I am already impressed with the level of effort here for Richardson. Their are a lot of New Mexicans here and some others from all over the country. It seems relatively organized. As we drove into Des Moines we heard Governor Richardson commenting on the events in Pakistan. That is getting all the attention today.
This is one of the main gathering points on 9th street for the workers.

This is one of the boiler rooms. My headquarters for work will be at the Quality Inn Motel. This kind of effort is going on all over the state.
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Wednesday, December 26, 2007


How does one pack to go to a flat state like Iowa? In the winter. With snow. And blizzards. And gale force winds. At 15 degrees Fahrenheit.

Well, I guess I will just layer with the many new sweaters I got for Christmas. I will wear warm socks and shoes and even take my longies!

Why am I doing this? Well, mostly for Bill Richardson and a little for the experience. I happen to think this is a pivotal election that will determine this nation's place in the future. Who wouldn't want to be part of that process? Especially if you have kids.

I will see a lot of friends there too and the Governor will be having a nice New Year's Eve party I am told. Meanwhile, Bobbi and my sister in law Jan will be in warm Pasadena, California to help decorate New Mexico's Rose Bowl Parade Float. Strangely, she need to take longies too because they will be working in warehouses kept very cold to preserve the flowers on the floats!

I will blog as much as possible from Iowa if my cameras and keyboards don't freeze up.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Day

The kids and the dogs had a great time opening gifts this morning. Noelle, Justin, Karly and the Beagles looked over the goods. Last night we had a great Christmas Eve reception for Justin and Karly. It was the New Mexico Wedding reception from the marriage last October. Many of Justin's old friends and parents came by. It was a nice evening.

I got a High Definition Camcorder which I will use in the future for some blogs. I have to figure out how to use it and find software for editing. I also got sweaters which I will need in Iowa next week.

Friday, December 21, 2007


I just noticed this is the 829th post to my blog. I started it in June of 2005 and average at least five or six posts every week. I have a lot of fun doing it although I will endeavor not to rant so much about bush next year. No, I will not capitalize his name. He doesn't deserve it.

Our family has started gathering for Christmas. Noelle got home from Phoenix last night after a quick drive. She does it faster that I use to do it when I was stationed at Luke Air Force Base in 1968. I remember on one trip back to Phoenix I almost killed my self when I swerved my 1960 Plymouth Valiant to miss hitting a mountain lion just east of Flagstaff.

Justin and Karly get home at 11PM this evening and I got the dogs shampooed and groomed for them.

I will blog occasionally over the holidays. I hope you all have good times too.

Hmm, speaking of the old Valiant, here is a list of all the cars Bobbi and me have ever driven or owned.

1958 Volkswagen

1960 Valiant

1970 Volvo

1973 Pontiac Grand Prix

1978 Pontiac Grand Prix

1978 Volkswagen Fox

1983 GMC S-15 Pickup(the only lemon I've owned)

1984 Dodge Caravan

1990 Saturn

1992 Dodge Caravan

1995 Mazda Millenia

1996 Honda Civic (Totaled by a dump truck with only 1300 miles)

1996 Toyota Camry

2001 Volkswagern Beetle (Diesel)

2002 Volkswagen Passat

2004 BMW 325

2007 Toyota Camry Hybrid

2007 BMW 328I

I have few vices. The one I do have is nice cars. Some of these cars Bobbi drove for a long time, but mostly I get a new one every three years which is why I mostly lease them.

This was more an exercise in memory for me than anything that might interest you all. I didn't mention one car I had. It was a 1985 Pontiac compact station wagon that I won in a raffle. I kept it a week or two. It was junk.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

TV Anchors & Iowa

There is twitter amongst the media and bloggers about television news anchor persons. Since I used to be one so may years ago I will chime in too.

Channel 7's Big 7 News circa 1972(Sideburns were in!)

TV anchor persons on the news casts are the ones who get to lead off the news hours or half hours with the latest sex story or car accident. They are usually very nice looking folks, no fat people allowed, and they are under 40 years of age. Well, Dick Knipfing at Channel 13 is the exception to that rule. He is the guy that originally hired me back in 1966 as a news photographer. I then discovered that I could write and read the news too. I was supposedly the first Hispanic anchor in the market and I was honored to do it. Especially since back in those days we covered news rather than tabloid kinds of stuff. We covered the legislature and its issues and the political races and their candidates stand on the issues. Ah, the good old days. (Well, I have to admit we were pretty much into car wrecks too.)

I think it is a little sad that the three anchor women who have left and were all Hispanic are not being replaced with other Hispanics. If I were the station managers I would take one more look at the demographics of this market to see who lives here.

On the subject of Iowa I will be leaving in about a week to help Governor Richardson's effort there. I have never been to Iowa. It is the only state I have not been too so I can mark that off my map. I am looking forward to blogging from there and will take lots of pictures of the process. It should be fun.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007


I hate it when this happens. I am happy with something that bush did. Two things, actually. He signed the energy bill, which is weaker than it should be thanks to his protecting subsidies for the profit soaked oil and gas industry friends, but he signed it!

And he came to the conclusion that most first graders could make, that we have way too many nuclear weapons and that we should have a lot less. He has included this notion in his budget.

There. I have said something good about him.

Now, something bad. As Commander in Chief, how could he condone this kind of thing in the military? It is bad enough having religious tests for politicians and presidential candidates, but doing it to they guys that have all the really big weapons is really ominous.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


I got up extra early this morning and took my sister Carlota to the airport. She will be spending Christmas in Africa. She gets to spend forty hours on a plane before she gets to Entebbe, Uganda. She is attending a tribal wedding there.

I noticed in the dark this morning that the Mayor and Airport manager had painted lots of no parking markers on the little inlets on Sunport Blvd. This is where legions of folks pull in off the road to await cell phone calls from passengers who luckily didn't have their baggage lost by our increasingly pathetic airlines. Then I get home and read the paper and the story is all laid out there too.

Score one more hassle for the airport visitors and passengers. This is totally unnecessary. Yes, there is another poorly lit and out of the way airport cell phone waiting area on the North East Side of the airport. I used it once and watched a drug deal go down in the mostly deserted parking area.

Mr. Mayor and airport manager, would you please stop thinking of ways to make air travel and airport hassles even worse?

Meanwhile the city council says traffic light cameras will keep on clicking away for a while at least. I really don't have much against those cameras and most people I talk to think they have made intersections safer. However, I am against the enormous fine structure that the Mayor is using to pad the city coffers.

Monday, December 17, 2007


I noticed today that Martin Heinrich has one less opponent in this district's race for U.S. Congress. I hear from the grape vine that he did well in his travels to Washington, DC last week. I am hopeful he can get the last of his opponents to drop out of the race so that he wont have to waste money in a contested Primary election. He will need his money to beat former bush campaign chairman Darren White in November. White is the anointed bush person to run. He has opposition from my old acquaintance from UNM days in the late 60's, Senator Joe Carraro.

I am hopeful you all can send Martin an online donation. Do it here!

Now this is a Washington Post story everyone must read. It is truly astonishing that the lines between engineering and biology are being blurred. Synthetic DNA that is being manufactured by the labs will undoubtedly be of great help in the future. But is is also scary. Think of loosing a virus that turns everyone into a neocon!

We have all been wary of genetic engineering and its moral and ethical conundrums. However, that pales beside this new synthetic which might hold great promise for energy production or great fear in loosing upon the world something naturally not evolved here. (I know, somethings and some people are already pretty bad.)

And now in Albuquerque and the Southwest the newspaper tells us we have a new thing to fear. The Quagga mussel? I think I won't worry about this one just yet.

Friday, December 14, 2007


Yesterday I made a comment about County Commissions being one of the biggest hindrances towards planning for growth and resource management in the west. I think one of the reasons for that is the lack of strong and sustained media coverage of those Commissions.

I have the sense that no Mayor of Albuquerque can ever go on to win higher office any more because of the constant media coverage on city government. The media have a bulls eye target when covering city affairs, and that is the Mayor. Everyone knows who the Mayor is and they remember it every time they hit a pothole or their garbage pickup gets missed.

When it comes to a County Commission there are anywhere from three to five elected officials and no one strong leader for the media to latch on to for coverage. So there is no one really held accountable. Certainly not the county managers who are hired by the Commission.

Since the counties use their political acumen in the State Legislature to screw the cities they have garnered a lot of power. In Albuquerque's case it was the theft of the municipal water system into a Water Authority that the county thought they could dominate.

Since the television news operations have pretty much checked out on serious local news coverage of government in favor of the sex or bad weather story of the day, then it is really going to be up to the Albuquerque Journal, soon to be our only daily paper, and bloggers to cover these important county government stories.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I attended a Brookings Institution meeting in Denver yesterday that was meant to add comment and critique to a report they will release next summer about the Inter Mountain West. They had asked about 30 folks from around the west to advise them on some of their preliminary findings. They have identified five 'Megapolitan' areas that will lead the nation in economic and population growth in the next few decades. The Albuquerque/Santa Fe corridor is one of the areas. The other areas are Denver, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas.

The representatives from the Denver area noted during their meeting that Albuquerque was now their biggest competitor for economic development. They pinned that directly on the leadership of Governor Bill Richardson's. The also lauded him for the foresight in buying the rail line in New Mexico all the way up to the border with Colorado.

I will be laying out some interesting statistics about what we will see in the future for New Mexico when I get them compiled. It is dramatic and it can be a positive thing if it is done right.

I personally believe one of the biggest obstacles towards proper planning for the the future in the west are the County Commissions that spend little or no time thinking about how to handle the development that is headed our way. The cities have pretty much been built out in many places or their planning and development requirements make it easy for counties to show the developers an 'easy' way of making a buck. Little thought is being given to the burdens that will be put on the taxpayers by understaffed county governments and corruptible county commissioners.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Ever since Southwest Airlines started flying to Denver the fares for that 400 mile ride have dropped considerably. I am taking advantage of that today as I go to a session put on by the Brookings Institution on how cities must grow in the future and what role the federal government might have in that. It should be an interesting four hours.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Remember that in the final analysis just three things sustain life on earth. They are the oceans, forests and croplands.

The Albuquerque Journal had a good story on Sunday about an immense water mining scheme near Datil, NM that would pump billions of gallons of water out of the aquifer for industrial, municipal and agricultural uses. The scheme is being fronted here by Attorney Chuck Dumars, the contract attorney for the Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District. He is the one that is always complaining about MRGCD Board Member Bill Turner being in a conflict of interest for his water banking and engineering firm. Dumars isn’t doing anything illegal and his use of his knowledge of the New Mexico system of water rights is understandable.

Dumars is doing this on behalf of an Italian businessman. So I am sure that many people will be concerned that ‘a foreigner’ will possibly own a large pool of New Mexico water. Actually, the big concern should be whether any one other than society itself should own water.

What is next, the atmosphere? Actually, many people think they own that too. I say that because of the way they freely pollute it.

American corporations are currently buying up much of the water in many third world nations. Yes, they will provide clean water but at what price. And if you can’t afford the price do you drink from the ditch?

Monday, December 10, 2007


While I respect Marty Chavez for doing the right thing and dropping out of the Senate race against Tom Udall, I have to chuckle at his invisibility over the last few days.

I know he must be feeling 'down' about now but his inability to appear in the media to announce his withdrawal is strange for a guy who will call a news conference to announce new floor wax in the lobby of city hall. His decision to leave the Senate race was posted on his website at 5:30 on a Friday afternoon.

Now there is a headline story in the Journal that generally accuses him of being in a conflict of interest with his Senate campaign manager, Mark Fleisher, and Fleisher's gig as a lobbyist with SunCal, the developer and owner of thousands of acres of west mesa land. I am not sure there is a conflict, but Marty never talked to the media on this one either and they apparently were satisfied with his press officers statements on the subject.

There is the old adage that you if you live by the sword you die by the sword. It looks to me that Marty has thrown his sword away.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Chick Magnet

My brother Tom and his wife Jan brought over their new puppy tonight. It is a Husky. My brother says it is a Chick Magnet and that you ladies come up and want to cuddle. Obviously, not him but the dog. This is their third Husky and he is red colored.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Storm Clouds

I just liked this view and its contrast from our bedroom door this morning looking west. It was one of those rare times when the sun peaks through a cloud layer at a low angle and saturates objects with bright light against dark storm clouds.

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Golden Compass and Marty Chavez

We went to see "The Golden Compass" and it was a winner. All children should go see this movie about free will and standing up to authoritarian dogma. It is also a movie that every girl should appreciate because of the strength of the young heroine.

All during the movie my cell phone kept vibrating. When I got outside I discovered all the messages that were left about Mayor Martin Chavez resigning from the race for US Senate. I think maybe he had a compass he was looking at too, and it said he couldn't win. Marty is not a stupid politician and he knew that his hard campaigning got him nowhere fast and things weren't likely to start working no matter how much he tried. So he did the right thing. His news release on the Journal web page said he would return to the Mayor's Office to follow through on some programs he is interested in seeing completed, so I guess that means he wont decide to run for Congress either. If he does he will look to be job hunting. (We have all done that! Right?)

Now Tom Udall has clear sailing through the Primary but I think he has to be aware now that he is already the BIG target for the Republicans. They will start unloading on him right away and he has to be prepared for that. Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce vs. Tom Udall. Our entire congressional delegation fighting it out!

The movie ending of "The Golden Compass" was really more like an intermission until the next part of the series is produced. Kind of like this political season.


The religious right is currently on record of saying the movie "The Golden Compass" is anti God and promotes atheism. Naturally, that will get more folks in the door including Bobbi and me. We will have a long lazy weekend while I enjoy my angst over bush and cheney promising to veto the energy bill sent over by the House of Representatives to the Senate. The Senate republicans are keeping it from coming to a vote because it will do away with tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry. Don't forget how much money they are really making right now. Don't forget that usually when this happens there is a windfall tax, not a subsidy. Can the bush administration get any more morally bankrupt than it is?

Thursday, December 06, 2007


There is a nice A.P. story on all of the Presidential candidates and the jobs they hated most through their careers. It was a story that really humanized them. Bill Richardson hated laying sod in Cape Cod for a summer. Hillary Clinton didn't like gutting salmon in Alaska. Barrack Obama augured ice cream at a Baskin Robbins.

It got me to thinking about some of the jobs I had in my youth. My first job was as a busboy at the Village Inn Pancake house when I was a sophomore at St. Pius X High School. You haven't scrubbed until you try getting syrup off tables.

I then worked in a door making factory in the North Valley and then delivered the goods to the construction sites. Those things were heavy. I also kept inventory on parts and learned how to match keys and lock sets.

I joined the Air National Guard and went to basic training and then to Photo School. I had always loved photography and the military provided me with a great opportunity.

I made money taking wedding photos after that to help with tuition expenses.

Also, while a college student I worked at a dry cleaners and laundromat. I worked at the old First National Bank in the mail room and as a courier. It was a great job. I was eventually promoted to be a Trust Auditor. I hated that job and it convinced me to not become an accountant.

I then got activated into the Air Force in 1968 and was sent to Phoenix. I wasn't allowed to do photography but was assigned the interesting job of sitting in F-100 fighter jets every night and shooting their 20 millimeter cannons at a target. My job was to make sure the gun camera was aimed at the target to correctly record the hits.

After being mustered out I returned to work at the bank, got my degree, but was then called by my friend Dick Knipfing and offered a job as a news photographer and reporter at Channel 7. I continued that work for 7 years and then got into politics when I signed on as Governor Bruce King's press secretary.

I can honestly say I learned something from all of these jobs, but the only one I didn't much care for was the busboy thing. I watched some of the older guys having to work in the restaurant because they had no education and it convinced me that a college degree was a must.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Oh, Wait a Minute

Any organization that has more than one hundred employees will always be somewhat incompetent. That is some unwritten natural law I think.

The bush administration is probably worse on most things because they really set out to 'kill the beast' of government so they naturally did not want it to work. But, you have to wonder if that included fiascoes within his administration's analysis of intelligence data on Iran. (Of course, they just wanted to invade another country to enrich the defense contractors and open up new oil production possibilities for their buddies. )

Well, they really look stupid in a bad way now.

Now move on the a story in the Albuquerque Journal this morning about the Albuquerque School System 'finding' $108,000,000 in new capital funding. It is the result of double dipping and reaping interest income on funds sitting at the bank. But at least this makes the Board and Administration look incompetent in a good way. I have no doubt there is a good use for those found funds as long as the incompetence doesn't spill over into managing the funds for construction.

This APS story will cause problems with the tax payers who think they are being taxed into oblivion right now. The sad thing is no one will react with the same kind of fury over the money being wasted by fighting a war based on a lie and the ensuing corruption that revolves around no-bid contracts to supply the war.

Finally I suggest you read Thomas Friedman in the Times today. See it here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

City Government

It may be that we need to buy ten fiddles for the Albuquerque City Council and Mayor. They will need something to do when the city budget burns down everyones projects, subsidies and union pay raises.

The first meeting of the new city council didn't go too well when four of the members boycotted the Monday evening lawmaking session. The four members didn't like the fact that Councilor Brad Winter, who ended up as the new President of the Council, had lied to them about who he would support for the job. I can tell you that this is pure Brad Winter behavior. When I was Mayor we found we could never rely on his support. I don't think it is because he lied though. He is just one of these elected officials that will always seem to support the last point of view that is presented to him before a vote. Like many elected officials today, think Marty Chavez, he has no strong core beliefs. He just wants to stay in the game.

All this is going on while the city revenue situation is smoldering. It will soon break into a major 4 alarm fire while this nonsense of boycotting on the council continues.

I noticed today in the Journal that state government has revised downward its revenue projections. It was mainly due to the housing bust and the state's share of the gross receipts tax revenue off of home construction. Well, the state still has money coming in from $95 a barrel oil. That is something that the city of Albuquerque can't rely on. So with the Mayor's double digit budget increases over the last six years the city is in for a large wakeup call. Get out of the way as all of the budget cuts will bring special interests and professional victims in front of the council to argue that they simply can't get cut.

Mayor Chavez will have his hands full as he runs for the Senate and the budget hearings occur at the same time. I am sure his nemesis Brad Winter will use his Council Presidency to make this a big issue.

Saturday, December 01, 2007


I always get a kick out of stories that can appear in the same edition of the New York Times or the Albuquerque Journal. Today is a case in point.

1. The Pope says Atheism is a bad thing. Near by is a story that God fearing people want to cut off the head of a teacher because she gave the wrong name to a teddy bear. (I think Christians and Moslems worship the same God and have agreement on many Prophets) I will leave it up to you to decide which is more dangerous.

2. Evel Knievel. famous for jumping over buses on a motorcyle, had his obituary next to Roger Smith, former CEO of General Motors. Smith certainly had more impact on people and the nation but the cultural icon of a daredevil will trump gravitas anytime.

One last thing. I think Tommy Lee Jones should just buy a home in Albuquerque. We saw his third movie in three months that was shot on location here last night. It was "No Country for Old Men." It was excellent and had me tossing and turning all night.