Friday, February 28, 2014

Misc.

Senator Martin Heinrich had it right yesterday when he criticized Republicans who voted against a bill to restore Veteran benefits.  The GOP guys said there had to be an offset in other parts of the budget to make up for the additional expense.  Too bad they didn't do that when they voted to invade Iraq some  years ago.  When one stops and thinks about these characters they almost seem comical.

Timing is everything.  Just as efforts are underway to widen the scope of nuclear waste disposal at the Waste Isolation Plant near Carlsbad, it is reported that more than a dozen employees may have been exposed to a radiation leak.  Although I am a strong environmental advocate I have always been conflicted with our nation's nuclear waste storage dilemma.  Does the temporary storage of this waste create more danger than the WIPP site?  I have to think so.  We can't just wish this deadly materiel away.  It has to be dealt with and burying it at WIPP has to be considered.

UNM Athletics is on the hunt to find the Lobo fans who threw cups onto the basketball court floor.  I hope they find them and ban them from the games.  I stopped going to games in the 70's because of these kinds of behaviors.  

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Chuck and Francis and Courage

How are Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Pope Francis alike?  They both want to change backwards and wasteful cultures into more modern and efficient systems.  Good Luck with that.

Last night I watched a PBS Frontline show about the workings of the Vatican and the toll it took on Pope Benedict.  I actually never liked him much, but now I think I was unfair.  At his core he knew he needed to change the church and its secrecy and corruption.  He just wasn't competent enough to do it.  He could not take on the church's Curia and bureaucracy because he was not an experienced fighter.  Now, Pope Francis, who is not afraid of the entrenched has taken up the gauntlet.  He wants to change things and turn the church into something better than it is and that means combating the careerists in the Vatican.

At the same time we see U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel propose cutting back our military/industrial complex to a modern and cost effective level.  He understands we can not be the police force for the world any longer.  Like the pope he will take on his own version of the Curia.  That would be the U.S. Congress and our defense contractors.  This will be a massive culture shift and it will directly affect profits, which means more PACS and Super-committees funneling even more money to the candidates to fight this long overdue modernization.

What the Pope and Defense Secretary are showing us is that they have courage.  How long has it been since we have seen people with real courage try to change things.  I think of President Johnson, a southerner, pushing through the Civil Rights Act.

But now, we see our own Senator Udall saying he will protect defense spending in New Mexico.  The same for Congressman Steve Pearce.  Instead of pounding swords into plowshares they stick with the old tried and true system of funding a warrior nation that just can't stop fighting wars every few years.  What a shame.  Where is the leadership and courage o these two elected officials, and the hundreds like them?


"On some positions, cowardice asks the question 'Is it safe?

Expediency asks the question 'Is it politic?
Vanity asks the question 'Is it popular?'
But conscience asks the question 'Is it right?'




-- Martin Luther King

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Gilding the Lily

Sandia Labs in Albuquerque released their latest economic impact report for their operations in our region.  They spent nearly one billion dollars on goods and services here.  Most of that is money that came from the government in contracts for research.  Who knows what things could be going on there?  (Read Daniel Suarez's new book Influx)

At any rate one would think that this economic lily could not be gilded.  But it can be if there were just a little leadership in Albuquerque and New Mexico.  Think of the brainpower and experience that retires from the labs in the state every year.  Has anyone thought about pairing those smart people up with technology upstarts here?  Could the city or state perhaps fund an effort to organize this?  Somewhat along the lines of UNM's new Innovate Albuquerque project.

These retired scientists and administrators are a wealth of knowledge.  I bet they would love to stay busy helping move things along in our economy and business efforts.  Someone just needs to take the lead with some funding and organization.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Misc.

The Defense Secretary wants to downsize our armed forces to reflect the fact that we are no longer engaged in a significant ground war.  This is great news.  The defense industry and right wing hawks won't like this because profits will suffer.  But if the money that is saved could be put to good  use along with available manpower to rebuild America's infrastructure then lets do it.

It is astounding to realize that or country has a military presence in over 150 nations around the world.  That includes 66,000 soldiers in Europe and 50,000 in Japan and 28,000 in South Korea.

The political party county conventions were held this weekend.  Did anyone notice other than bloggers?  And then I find out that the Democratic Party will hold their state wide Convention at the Route 66 Casino west of Albuquerque.  Some candidates who will be looking for delegate votes for their position on the ballot better bring extra help to round up the votes from the slot machines and crap tables.  Prepare for cigarette smoke.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Misc.

I am almost certain that the Governor of Arizona will veto that bill that allows businesses to deny service to gay people.  How could she not do so?  Even her, that finger shaking in the face of Obama lunatic!  Even the business community wants to see that bill vetoed because they know there would in fact be a very big boycott of Arizona from tourists and modern day businesses.  I am planning a golfing road trip and I can assure you my stops in Arizona will be dropped if this bill is signed.  As it is, I always top of my gas tank and buy munchies enough to get through the state without leaving tax dollars because of Arizona's anti immigrant laws.
Also, a list of every legislator who voted for this should be made public and their businesses and professional practices should be singled out for boycott.  A merciless boycott.  All of the Christian groups who supported this bill should be identified and ostracized.

I am very curious to know what is going on the the Internal Affairs investigation of the Albuquerque Police Department Academy.  When the media found out about it the probe was stopped in favor of an administrative action.  This is certainly something we need to be made aware of, and soon.  Could the Mayor show some courage and let us know soon?  Or perhaps one of our invisible city councillors?


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Silliness

I read a news release this morning from the State Democratic Party and it's Chair Sam Bregman touting the fact that State Public Education Chief Hanna Skandera was not confirmed by the NM Senate.  The head line said, "NM Senate Dems Stall Nomination of Anti-Education Nominee Skandera."

This kind of sophomoric rant from the Party does nothing to help its credibility.  Even Susana Martinez would not nominate an "Anti-Education" person to run the public education system in New Mexico.  Skandera might be incompetent, and probably is, but someone who hates education?  Come one Sam!  You really need to look over these news releases before your minions send out this drivel.  It is embarrassing!

The New Mexico State Legislature will end its short 30 day session today.  They failed to pass any measure whatsoever that would raise our minimum wage.  In this poor state I personally see this as almost criminal negligence.  Everyone of those folks who were opposed to this needs to really examine their fitness to serve in public office.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Assistance

The Department of Agriculture has declared Lea County a disaster area because of the prolonged drought.  That means that farmers and ranchers in the area are going to get assistance from the federal government.  Believe me, they will line up for it like their cows after the last blade of grass in the desert.  You will remember that is the government most of these "John Wayne" types hate and see no use for.  Meanwhile, their elected representatives in Santa Fe are working hand in hand with the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, the editor of the Albuquerque Journal and others to stop any hike in the minimum wage for poor people having to work for so little.  That was a disaster brought on by American Bankers and Wall street.  So, assistance in the farmers and ranchers minds should only be given in certain disasters.

Speaking of minimum wage, one of my golfing buddies put this up on his facebook page.  I had not looked at this issue from his standpoint before, but he is right on.  Low wages constitute another form of welfare to big business that results in the taxpayer taking up the slack.

"It's hard to believe that many employers are making the government support their employees by paying them so little they qualify for food stamps (SNAP) or other programs. Now they're cutting back 401(k) contributions so that the government will have to pick the costs of supporting them in their retirement too. At what point does someone say "STOP"?"


Tuesday, February 18, 2014

GMOs

I am on the fence about Genetically Modified Organisms.  Specifically, plant food crops.  I am not on the fence about requiring food producers to label their products as being genetically modified.  They should be required to do it by law.  People deserve to know what they are eating and big Agriculture needs to let them know.  Also, if a crop is made more productive by genetically improving it, then that crop seed should not be held captive indefinitely by any blood sucking corporation like Monsanto.

If you want a really good laugh about food production you need to watch the comedy series produced by the natural food restaurant Chipolte.  It debuted on HULU TV yesterday and it is really hilarious.  You can get to it for free through HuffPost here.

What I find interesting in this four part series is that an American Corporation, Chipolte, is taking on a controversial issue and not doing it from a right wing perspective.  In fact, it is down right left of center.

Finally, here is a good read in Politico by local private investigator Michael Corwin.


Monday, February 17, 2014

Misc.

It is really phenomenal that Mayor Berry quick drew his gun and hired a new police chief for Albuquerque's Police department in such a short period of time.  I certainly think that his action will hobble his new pick because so few people know who he is and what he stands for.  This likely will cripple his ability to remake the department, if that is what he wants to do.  His three priorities that he listed upon his selection were muffled.  For example, what does it mean that the APD leadership is airtight?  I have no clue.  But it  is over all good that he brought someone in from the outside, even if we know little about him other than he has been a republican functionary for a long time.  Hopefully, that doesn't mean he is unable to carry out his job in a non partisan way.

As I mentioned some time ago, Archbishop Sheehan will tender his resignation in July and the Pope can decide whether or not to accept it in a timely manner.  I hope he does accept it and then can appoint a new leader that is a product of the Pope's own vision.  Like having a man lead this diverse Archdiocese of Santa Fe who under stands it is 2014 and not 1814.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Comcast Again

I just got my bill for internet service from Comcast.  It went up $2.00 a month.  No explanation or notice.  It is just their attitude of 'go screw yourself' because we  have nowhere else to go.  This points out why these corporate vampires should not be allowed to merge with Time Warner.  I have now contacted all of our delegation to tell them to ask the Justice Department, FCC and whoever else has legal status to stop this merger.  It is not in the best interests of this nation which already has poor internet service compared to even some third world countries.

Misc.

Two out of towners and one local are the finalists for the new APD Chief position.  This is a decision for the Mayor that will leave a legacy for our community.  He needs to not rush this, but he will do so because his style is to shoot first when it comes to APD.  Pun intended.  We have received little information on the candidates and it would be sad if embarrassing stuff drifted in after a decision is made.  My inclination would be to wait 30 days and then pull the trigger.  Pun intended.

As I recall when I served as Mayor it took us abut four months or so to do a search and hire our new Chief.  He was a good one from the outside.  Jerry Galvin came to us from Toledo, Ohio.  He shook things  up for the better at APD until Marty Chavez fired him and brought in the old guard and old ways to the department.  The mess we have today is the result, with our hapless current Mayor failing to pick up the pieces.  In their defense the department is a world unto its own and it just rolls along for its own purposes.

The Governor, Lt. Governor and others showed up to an announcement of a new company that will bring a couple of dozen jobs to Rio Rancho over the next few years.  The owner of the company says New Mexico's lack of regulations and low taxes are the reason he will move from California.  It is almost like we have become a third world country where everything comes on the cheap.  Lets see, lax regulation might mean less job and environmental safety.  Lower taxes mean less money for education and infrastructure.  I know, I am whining here and right now jobs are needed but I just have this sinking feeling that this is as good as it gets for a while.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Two Mileposts Looming

You will know for sure if our Democracy has failed in America by watching two upcoming mileposts.  One of them is the proposed merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable companies.  If this is allowed to happen then you will know that corporations now control our nation, and not the people.  To allow such a monopoly to exist is counter to the well being of all Americans.  If the federal government, our President and Congress allow this to happen then you will know we are truly screwed.

The other milepost is the Keystone Pipeline.  If that climate destroying project is allowed to proceed you can be pretty comfortable in knowing that the Fossil Fuel bosses in the world still control everything.  They may be more dominant than their partners, the Defense Industry.  This pipeline project is about profits.  Not jobs.  It is about moving one of the dirtiest types of oil from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico for refining and then export.  If the President allows this to go forward the world takes a step forward to climate disaster.  The odds are that he will allow it.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Legislature

I want someone to fund a poll amongst both democrats and republicans and all other registered voters to ask them questions about the legislature.  I can tell you right now that probably one in twenty knows who their legislator might be.  One in fifty might know who the Speaker of the House is.  One in 200 would know who the Senate Pro Tem is.  And one in a thousand might know who heads the committees.  And I am being pretty generous with those numbers.

It makes one wonder why the pettiness in the legislature and Governor's office makes any difference to those few who might care.  While the numbers of people who know anything about the legislature is minuscule, they command a lot of attention and positioning amongst the law makers.  All the strange stuff that happens up there are like episodes in a poorly watched TV miniseries.   You know there is one but is so poorly produced you just don't watch it.

However, in about 24 hours we will be able to watch one miniseries that will make even the jaded politicos drool and binge watch.  That is Netflix's House of Cards.  Can't Wait.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Hemp

One useful thing the Legislature could accomplish this session is the legalization of Hemp as a crop.  The cousin of Cannabis was a victim of reefer madness backlash and is illegal as a crop in New Mexico.  Many other states see the value of Hemp as a product for food, fiber and dozens of other good uses and have made it legal.  And Hemp uses 50% less water than cotton and other crops.

This is a decent cash crop that could help many small New Mexico farmers and it required little irrigation.  Hopefully, our legislature won't let it fall victim to the debate on legalized marijuana.  It is not the same thing.  But of course on most things like this our legislature won't charge into the future unless forced to do so.  The one hope is that the conservative agricultural lobby might see some value in this hemp crop legalization.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Local Scenery





My friend Ned Judge took this time lapse from his porch in Corrales.  The Earth Abides.

Friday, February 07, 2014

I Don't Care About Apathy

I have some acquaintances who seem to be signing out.  I feel that way sometimes too.  When we talk about the issue of the day we more and more seem to shrug our shoulders and say there is nothing to be done.  I kind of wonder of that is normal for us folks approaching the age of 70.  Maybe it is a natural defense against stress and worry.   Of course those of us who fret about things all the time will probably not get total relief, but the angst probably won't be quite as severe.

I haven't written about Omaree, the 9 year old boy who was kicked to death by his mother, after the system as a whole shrugged its shoulders about his endangerment.  What is to be done?  But this morning I figured it out.  Lets all just use common sense.  That seemed to be missing in the boy's case.  Putting two and two together isn't that difficult, even for hardened police officers and child welfare workers.  Everyone seemed to have ignored their own gut feelings.  If someone erred in their judgement there must have been someone involved nearby who might have said, take a second look.  Like that 911 operator did.  No one listened.

Everyone is on guard now.  They will be more vigilant until they aren't.  And so there needs to be some sort of system that reenforces the front line providers to listen.

Another example of this is the legislature not passing a tough DUI penalty for repeat offenders.  Members say they don't know the ramifications of such penalties.  Well, I do.  It is common sense.  It will keep offenders off the streets.

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Something in the Water?

They say that the Roman Empire failed because everyone drank out of leaded cups and it made them stupid.  They could no longer understand what was in their best interests and they couldn't make rational decisions to protect their civilization.

It makes one wonder if there are leaded pipes at the New Mexico State Capitol.  How else could one explain the death of a bill to keep guns out of the legislature and the building that houses it.  I can't imagine the lawsuits that will happen when one of our mentally insane people buys his assault rifle at a gun show, while on hiatus from the state hospital, and then visits the building to waste the source of all the strange voices he hears.  Will he first go down into the chambers?  Or will he just start in the hallways or perhaps the daily briefing for the young pages who work for the lawmakers?

Truth is stranger than fiction.

And then there is the leadership of the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce.  They are fighting attempts to get additional funding for early childhood education in this state.  This is the most lackluster Chamber in the history of our city.  They are doing nothing to insist on a public private partnership to come up with an economic development plan for our state.  They just sit around a try to protect low taxes and the resulting bottom ranking of our state in just about anything.  No matter that many states are now seeing bipartisan efforts at increasing early childhood education.  New Mexico just has to be the odd man out.

Here is that great graph again from the Wall Street Journal.  It says it all for the leadership in New Mexico.  If there were any leaders in the business community, like the old-timers Bob Hoffman and Larry Willard,  there would be some action taken.

Lesson #1

All the New Mexico statewide candidates have filed their petition signatures up in Santa Fe.  Now, they have to waste time and money trying to get delegate votes amongst the chosen few who get involved in these conventions, rather than going out to see everyday voters.  It is a system that has outlived its usefulness.  But that is the system we have to live with.

New systems also now exist in politics.  And lesson number one is that they can shoot you down quicker than a meager showing at the convention.  The system is comprised of Facebook, Twitter, Text Messages and emails.  So, my advice to all of the candidates is to only comment on the weather on any of these modern day communication devices.  If you want to use them however, just make sure anything you write is vetted by at least ten people who hope to get a job from you if you are elected.  They will most likely not want to endanger their chances of employment and will edit your missives brutally.

It is the safest bet!


Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Again!

New Mexico sleeps as its economic outlook quickly goes under like the Titanic.  The news of the city of Albuquerque's plunge in the eyes of the film industry will pretty much mean nothing to the future of Governor Martinez and Mayor Berry.  These two do-nothing non leaders seem to escape every downturn in our collective well being.  Susana just keeps talking about drivers licenses for the undocumented and Mayor Berry just shrugs his shoulders and moves on.

What is really compelling here is a complete lack of an economic recovery plan.  And the responsibility doesn't solely rest with these two hapless pols.  The legislature, city councils, county commissions and private sector are all sitting at the table while  this economic gruel is served up.  The lack of creativity in the kitchen is hidden by the local media either through incompetence, coverup, or lack of real working journalists.

This is actually getting very serious for our state.  Throw in threats to our water supplies from climate change and Texas and things look scary.  Even income inequality seems absent  in our state because there is so little going on.

What would it take to wake people up to the need for new leadership in New Mexico?  Put in a comment.  

Monday, February 03, 2014

Misc.

That game was a letdown.  Guess their chile was worthless.

The Journal article on Poverty on their front page this morning was a breath of fresh air.  There was no local followup with political leaders to explain New Mexico's continued laggard status in the world of the needy.  The consensus is that food stamp and anti poverty programs really keep people afloat and without them things would be much worse.  Of course the Republicans see that a perfecty acceptable by continually trying to gut food stamp assistance.

There was a puff piece on the Chamber of Commerce and their shared goals with the governor.  No explanations from anyone on how the corporate tax cut last year has done much of anything to help our dismal economy.  Oh, but they want more subsidies to train workers for jobs, but no thanks on the minimum wage reform.

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of my favorite performers, either purposely or accidentally over dosed and died.  These brilliant people seem to realize how silly celebrity status really is.  They seem to keep looking for some meaning in things and resort to finding happiness in getting high.  What a conundrum and a lesson for us all.

The third week of the legislature starts and little has been done in this election year.  Why do they even meet on election years?  Their sole responsibility seems to be not offending anyone which might cost themselves votes.  What they should do is just pass two year budgets the year before an election and then stay at home.  I have always thought two year budgets make a lot of sense.  But that would require real planning which these legislative bodies don't want to mess with.


Sunday, February 02, 2014