Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Will We Survive?

There is a intriguing article in the New York Times today about whether the world will survive. Read it here.

The story says with technological advances the earth should survive, except it probably won't because of the emergence of the "global village idiot." I thought that was hilarious and scary at the same time. You can guess who I thought of when I heard that term. Haw!

Dendahl Comment

Last night someone left this comment as an Anonymous contributor on my blog. It is really a great piece of work and wanted to leave it on the main page here for you to read. Really, it is more than a comment about our departing Dendahl.

Mr. Baca: It can't be denied that when it came to shameless and brazen, John Dendahl personified the classic definition of the Yiddish word "chutzpah": the young man who killed his parents and then begged the Court's mercy as an orphan. Live by the sword, die by the sword? Surely, the tale of Dendahl is flush with irony: a man who relished character assassination and the art of the cheap shot -- only to be turned on by so-called friends, hypocrites, and opportunistic opponents. For long before John Dendahl turned his sights on Bill Richardson; long before making his name in New Mexico history as the biggest electoral loser in a two-man race for Governor, Dehndahl almost single-handedly brought the Lee Atwater/Karl Rove brand of national nastiness to New Mexico. You know the type: go for the knees, hit 'em in the back -- truth or fairness don't matter, only winning does. Casting decency and dignity aside, focus exclusively on maiming or destroying "the enemy". Known today by the trendy moniker "Swift-boating," and indulged in with giddy recklessness and amoral glee, its signature is the dehumanizing attack: grotesque, over-the-top damnation served up as the awful truth. Yea, a humble public service to alert the good citizens to a horrible evil lurking beneath that false front of normalcy masqueraded by one's opponent. The anti-Dendahl -- the personification of all that Dendahl and what he represents is not -- might be former Rep. Manuel Lujan, Jr. Now a distinguished elder who served with honor and distinction, Manny used to tell a story his father told him, about the two ways to become the tallest tree in the forest. The first was to reach for the sky, and to grow strong and tall. The second was to cut down all the other trees in the forest. Neither father nor son needed to slash and burn to become strong, tall, and beloved in NM. But the one who foolishly and furiously kept chopping away just couldn't understand why the rest of the forest dwellers failed to see how smart, how right he'd always been. When he realized they would not bestow the honor and attention he craved (and knew he deserved), the man left embittered, casting aspersions on the entire village. -- Now whenever a story ends with a bully slinking away with his tail between his legs, there is often a jolly round of "good riddance," and here will be no exception. But that's not where this story should end. In recent history, it is true the Republican Party has cultivated and improved upon the most cynical and ruthless methods of personal and political destruction. But no party can lay claim to virtue; seemingly all fall victim to hubris, a false sense of security when in the ascendent. The moment a ruling political power's moral authority is revealed as utterly bankrupt should be a moment of humility for all. ("There but for the grace of God go I.") Following his electoral triumphs, Lee Atwater unexpectedly faced an unbeatable opponent: terminal brain cancer. In the shock that forced a reappraisal of his life, Atwater was overcome with sorrow as he faced the truth and consequences of his life and conduct. Before he died, in an apology written to a former adversary, Atwater said, "My illness has taught me something about the nature of humanity, love, brotherhood and relationships that I never understood, and probably never would have. So, from that standpoint, there is some truth and good in everything." And in an article for Life Magazine, Atwater wrote, "My illness helped me to see that what was missing in society is what was missing in me: a little heart, a lot of brotherhood. The '80s were about acquiring -- acquiring wealth, power, prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth, power, and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty." "It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime." It is never too late: not for Atwater's protege, Mr. Rove, nor for any of us. We can repent, we can learn, we can grow. May John Dendahl find the space for reflection and understanding that eluded him in New Mexico. May we all see what we might if faced with Lee Atwater's plight, without having to pay such a price. May our leaders gain wisdom from Mr. Dendahl's experience. And may we all, as New Mexicans, no matter the trend from Washington, the degradations from the Potomac or elsewhere, pledge ourselves to a path that honors our past, our future, and our people.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Dendahl the Hypocrite

John Dendahl's meltdown on the top of the fold headline in the Albuquerque Journal this Sunday was astonishing to me. Especially the stuff he was throwing around about public corruption. Wasn't this guy the one who offered $100,000 to the Green Party to run candidates to hurt Democratic office seekers a few years back? If that is not blatant public corruption I don't know what is.

Dendahl has always been an enigma to me. He could be very charming, intelligent and even thoughtful sometimes in person, but put him in a political environment or in front of the media and he became Vlad the Impaler. Strange. I actually sort of admired Dendahl for his ill fated stand on decriminalization of drug usage. That took courage because of the private and government anti drug industry budgets that were fighting such radical a notion. Radical maybe, but not completely off the mark. I sure don't see the drug problem improving at any point soon. The addicts are still committing crimes to feed their habits.

I almost had a stroke this morning while reading the Journal's editorial on Governor Richardson. It was wholly gracious and almost gushing about the big guys run for President. It was a nice thing to see. Bill's 69% victory must also be on the minds of some of the decision makers at the newspaper. That is a strong tide to swim against when you are struggling with the national trends of sinking newspaper circulations.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Insurmountable Work

I always marvel at the amount of work our legislators set out for them selves. Several thousand bills will be introduced at this session. A huge majority of them will never get a committee hearing. Those bills are usually the ones that a lawmaker introduces for constituents even though he or she has no inclination to support them. Other times there will be a hearing conducted for appearances sake and the legislator can say they tried!

Some of the bills get less consideration than the time allotted to the introduction of pages every morning. That is probably a good thing. For the most part the leadership in the Senate and the House knows this and uses such tactics to keep their eye on the big issues. This year that should be campaign reform, reinvestment in school infrastructure with the windfall oil and gas revenue, and dealing with a decent renewable energy package that doesn't just end up being ethanol.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Kimberly and More Cinemark

This is Kimberly Gleason. She sat down at my table at Starbuck's today and said hello. I said hello back and she thanked me for helping her. I had no idea what she was referring to until she mentioned she was a student in the Mayor's Art Summer Institute that I initiated in my first year as Mayor back in 1998. She auditioned and was accepted to the program as a musician in 1999. She then attended UNM where she majored in Theater. She now works in the arts for a program that helps people with disabilities use their creative skills. It is nice to know she is using her talents to help them achieve greater things. Kimberly is also an actress and I am hopeful she can get some gigs with the vibrant film industry here in the State. She said however that it was great to have a full time job. I often run into a lot of these kids who went through that program. They all said it was one of the best experiences of their lives. It is the kind of thing that really is a good investment of public resources.

I got a nice note from a representative of Cinemark today. She had seen my blog yesterday after being notified by Google that I had used their name. She apologized and said she would look into things at their newly acquired theaters here in Albuquerque. Mainly, as a popcorn fanatic, I hope she gets the quality of their seven dollar popcorn back up to the premium levels that existed under Century Theaters. How hard could that be?

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Domestic, bush & Cinemark Sucks

I have been staying busy with domestic stuff the last few days. New granite counter tops in the kitchen took a day and a half of work along with new plumbing in the kitchen and bathrooms. Hopefully, this stuff will all end next week and I can get back to other interests.

I had an interesting conversation with a VP of a large new company in Albuquerque today. He said he was in Chicago last week and some folks there asked him about Bill Richardson. His friends knew little about the Governor. They got filled in and ended the conversation by saying the Governor had real qualifications to be running. This pretty much mirrors what I keep hearing in the media and reading in blogs. Many prognosticators will say Bill is a long shot but that he is likable and hardworking. That might mean a lot before this is all over.

What a thought! A qualified President. After watching news clips of bush last night it is a refreshing possibility . I didn't watch the speech last night. Instead, Bobbi and I went and saw the movie "Pan's Labyrinth". It is a stunning and dark tale told both in the reality of the Spanish Civil War and the fairy land of the labyrinth. Another great film from a Spanish director. We also saw "Volver" the other night. Both these films are worth the price.

P.S. Century Theaters has sold out to Cinemark. The popcorn has degraded, the help is rude, the theaters are not as clean, and you have to endure TV commercials before the movie. Cinemark gets a big fat F from me so far.

Sunday, January 21, 2007


The worst kept secret of the week was that Bill Richardson might announce for President today. Well, of course he did and I visited his website and signed up for a monthly contribution for him. I am not a high roller but it will add up over a years time.

The Albuquerque Journal started a series on our Governor this morning. The detailed story today was actually quite flattering and a good read.

We are two years out from having a new President in this country. That seems a lifetime in some ways, especially after reading this morning that 20 American kids died in Iraq in the last 24 hours.

Richardson should never be underestimated and I feel he is definitely a player for a lot of reasons, but mainly because he has a way of growing on people and his work ethic in a campaign will help immensely.

Saturday, January 20, 2007


The Albuquerque Journal started showing the mugshots of everyone convicted of drunk driving this morning. They started with 180 unflattering photos of folks who didn't beat the system. 120 of them were Hispanic or minority. That is two thirds of the total.

Now, don't get me wrong, if they were DUI then they deserve to be convicted, but these numbers seem to be a little skewed. When we were talking about this at Starbucks this morning some folks said it was because lower income people are more prone to be convicted of DUI because they are not as well educated and they drink more and that it is really a question of economic levels. Another person said that all you need is $3000 for a lawyer and you won't be convicted no matter who you are. Add these two views up and there is a certain logic isn't there? Well, maybe, but the numbers are truly skewed.

Friday, January 19, 2007


As I was grinding away on my elliptical trainer this morning and watching the history channel I had to chuckle. The documentary on the air was about drugs and more specifically marijuana. There was a factoid that was amazing. It stated that since marijuana became illegal, mostly in the 1940's, that over 20 million Americans had been arrested for possessing it and smoking it. That is a lot of business for the criminal justice system and assures lots of funding for them. Many of those people arrested did years in prison.

Now, we hear that Republican Representative Bob Ney has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for corruption in the Abramoff scandal. That scandal was worth millions upon millions of dollars to these corrupt politicos, a lot more than damage morally and ethically than some one who did five years for smoking pot! You really have to wonder about this system sometimes.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Wanna Bet?

So, what issue in the Legislature will get the most coverage by the news media this year? I am including so called TV News in this. I am betting that cockfighting will rule the airwaves since it is a story that TV reporters can easily do without any research or sweat. I am guessing the Associated Press and the large daily newspapers will cover that issue quite a bit too, but I am hopeful they will give the most coverage to the Ethics and Campaign reform issue. That really is the most important thing to watch again. While they are at it, I also wish that someone would insist on funding audits of the campaign reports of all statewide candidates. My opponent in the Land Commissioner election contributed over $200,000 to his own campaign in the last two weeks of the race. This occured while he still had a surplus left in his account. Strange?

I am not sure anyone is even charged with looking into the accuracy and veracity of those campaign reports. The news media merely reports who contributed but they never really get into the harder job of tracking those donations to their sources. That should be the job of the Secretary of State, the Attorney General or the State Auditor. Let's see if one of them will step up to job during the session.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Oil and Gas Industry Blather

The President of the Independent Petroleum Association blathered on in an OPED piece today in the Albuquerque Journal about how the oil and gas industry in New Mexico pays for everything. Essentially the guy takes credit for the state being in such good financial shape. Yes, the state coffers have swollen due to the price of oil and gas skyrocketing last year. But, before you give the industry much credit you should consider just a couple of things. For instance, the industry has been given billions of dollars of your money back in tax breaks by the bush administration. Also, the industry is not being properly audited by the Interior department to make sure they are honestly paying for the oil and gas they are severing from Federal land. (Wouldn't it be nice if someone looked over the shoulder of the current State Land Office to make sure they are getting what they should from these guys?)

Oh yeah, that money they are taking credit for is not coming from just taxes, most of it is coming from royalties that are due. They are paying for oil that is not theirs. That oil is mostly owned by the U.S. or State government and yet they seem to think they should get some sort of brownie points for paying us what they owe for something that belongs to us all. And, it is not like the poor little oil and gas industry is having a tough time. Just look at their net profits over the last few years. Those profits are gargantuan and should have been subjected to a windfall profits tax. Maybe that would have lessened the amount of money they threw into funding attacks on global warming science.

I appreciate the jobs and contributions of this industry to our state, but it gets hard to swallow this kind of puffery. That kind of drivel will be hugely apparent at the Legislature this year as oil and gas industry lobbyists beat their breasts in front of every committee meeting.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Money to Spend

The legislature is convening today with a record surplus in funds awaiting the lawmakers and the Governor's decisions on how or whether to spend it. I thought it was timely that the front page of the Albuquerque Journal today had an unsurprising story that the Public School's roofs in Albuquerque are all leaking after the winter storm and record snow. Hmmm, maybe these two things are saying something to us. I know, it is simplifying things again, but maybe most of that $700 million surplus could be used for one time capital improvements at our schools. How about new science and computer labs at every middle school, and good roofs to cover them?

Well, I know that everyone has an opinion on how to spend that money, but the one thing that should not happen is to put the surplus into the category of recurring revenues. This is a windfall. We will most likely find that out next year if oil prices continue to stabilize.

This brings us another thought. This morning a great editorial in the New York Times really made it clear the Senator Jeff Bingaman is a chief player now in the future of energy policy in the United States. That may be one of the most important roles for any leader in the country and it should be influenced by all of us with letters and calls to the Senator's office in Washington.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Didn't Watch Him

Bobbi and I went to a 7pm showing of the movie "Children of Men' last night. I am one of those people who finds it difficult to even watch bush on TV so a somewhat depressing movie sounded a lot better. I know that sounds silly but it is true. The movie was really intense and I recommend it. It is full of images that you will recognize as being germane to what bush was talking about last night.

So, as Beagle and Athena demonstrate, there was little to get excited about in front of the TV and fireplace last night, except for their new Christmas pillows which they spend most of their time laying on. They really like them.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

South Park and bush

A few of us had coffee this morning and one of them brought up the impending speech by bush on his Iraq Surge. He asked what we thought of it and the only way I can describe our response is that it was just like a scene out of the irreverant South Park TV cartoon.
Quite often the boys in the cartoon will hear something so ridiculous they just stand there for five seconds with their mouths open.

I truly am at a loss for words on what I should say about this, but here it goes. I don't beleive there is anything bush can say to convince me we should support anything he comes up with in hopes of making the situation better. He has been wrong from beginning to end on this war and the only thing that could make him right now is sheer dumb luck.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007


There is an interesting story on the Journal's website about how Hispanic voters returned to the Democrats this year. It says 70% of them voted for the Democratic candidates in 2006 but that they could just as easily switch back to the GOP in 2008. They are being identified as swing voters. Just like everyone else.

You always see these kinds of stories about Hispanics or African Americans but rarely about Germans, or Swedes, or Poles or some other assimilated ethnic groups. It just occurs to me that almost everyone is a swing voter these days regardless of their heritage. It all comes down to their own self interest and that of their immediate familes. I think the only group political parties can count on anymore are the special interests with money to contribute. Big oil, insurance companies, the real estate developers and the healthcare industry pretty much have the power to swing elections because of their deep pockets for funding TV ads. They don't always win, just most of the time. Their influence will only wain when we get publically financed campaigns.

I would suggest you closely follow campaign reform in the legislature this year. I am going to do so and will report back on friend and foe of meaningful ethics and campaign reform in this years session in Santa Fe.

Monday, January 08, 2007

News Papers and the Internet

This whole blogging thing is getting serious. Especially in you are a traditional journalist working for a daily newspaper. This is an interesting article from the New York Times. It basically says many accomplished journalists are leaving newspapers and magazines for Internet based news organizations and blogs.

I started writing this blog in June of 2005 as a way of getting back to my journalistic roots. It has been a lot of fun. I have written almost 600 entries now and I still enjoy it as much as ever. The conundrum is however, most of my little 'two minute to read blogs' are inspired by reading other more traditional publications. If they all start disappearing, (any bets on the survival of the Albuquerque Tribune?) then our sources for information will be more heavily skewed towards digital origins rather than ones that use ink.

A case in point about this is Heath Haussamen's blog in Las Cruces. He was a reporter for the Las Cruces Sun News who bolted to start his own blog and is trying to make a living at it. I advertised on it during my campaign for Land Commissioner. I also advertised on Joe Monahan's blog. Those guys were cleaning up on all the pols but now their advertising has seemed to dwindle. I read both of them daily and Heath has actually asked me to write a monthly column for him. I will try to do it once in a while, but I feel the secret to some of these blogs is to keep things brief. Don't be long winded or the office and government workers wont have the time to read it.

I am not sure how one might make a living doing this blogging unless you get some mighty big breaks like the guy who does the Daily Kos.

Overall, these blogs are all good to have around because it gives so many different view points. When you read something you don't like in your daily newspaper editorial pages, you can go find a blog that makes better points on the other side of the issue. That makes it worth it right there.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Paint Fumes

The only thing the painters left was a few paint fumes and a much more diverse color scheme it the house. We might fine tune it a bit but we are happy with it overall. Bob's Painting did an absolutely great job and I would recommend them.
Athena liked the painters but after getting high on the fumes she decided to sleep it off in the sun.

Friday, January 05, 2007


I don't know of any industry that receives more generosity during bad weather from the taxpayer than the cattle ranchers in America. Right now there is an airlift of cattle feed going on and it is sponsored by us taxpayers. I am not saying it is the wrong thing to do. I just always marvel at the way these conservative livestock operators often send representatives to state legislatures and the halls of congress to kill all assistance programs for other segments of the population.

With grazing subsidies in the hundreds of millions of dollars on public lands in the west and hundreds of millions more in hidden costs, I would like to see members of the livestock industry just admit that they are being treated very kindly by the rest of us taxpayers. They should think back to the days of Franklin Roosevelt and his formation of the Rural Electrification Administration that helped bring power to America's agricultural and rural communities. If the current philosophy of some of these folks were running the congress back in the 30's they would still be burning coal in their pot belly stoves.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Water and Nuts

I always have a tendency to over simplify things. An Associated Press story on the Albuquerque Journal website this morning reports the concerns of Pecan growers in Southern New Mexico over the amount of water they can take for irrigation. It is somewhat symbolic of the common good versus individual needs.

Pecans are a really good cash crop. Travel through the southern part of the state and you will see thousands of acres of Pecan and Pistachio trees. They require a lot of irrigation water to make them produce their valuable crops. Look here for an interesting primer on Pecan production. New Mexico is very productive because it uses new varieties of trees.

Now, along comes the guy with the hardest job in the world, State Engineer John D'Antonio, who says the Pecan growers need to limit their take of water to about 4 acre feet a year for every acre of their orchards. The farmers are allowed to either irrigate from the ditch in wet years or pump from the aquifers in dry ones. Thats about 325,000 gallons per acre foot. Add it up....over a millon gallons per acre a year. That is a fair amount of water for sure. The farmers say they will sue, along with the Elephant Butte Irrigation District, to stop the State Engineer from putting this new policy regulation into affect.

The real problem is that many irrigators are now converting their land to these kinds of orchards because they produce a good amount of income. That will certainly affect New Mexico's ability to deliver the water it owes to Texas and Mexico every year.

You can probably see where this is all going. A giant train wreck. There is only so much water available and some will have to end up with less than they think they deserve. Then it will get ugly and the litigators will tie up the issue in the courts while the pumping and flood irrigation goes on.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Paint Sniffing

It will be five days of paint sniffing around here. The painters arrived at 7:15 this morning. They start with the ceilings throughout the house and then go to the walls. We have had a totally white interior in our 13 year old house and decided to jazz it up with some color. The ceilings all will remain white. We had an interior decorator come in and pick colors and now we are full of angst. What will it look like when it is done? Will it be nauseous? Or maybe just ridiculous? Certainly it will be different.

I am going to be busy with this kind of domestic stuff for a few weeks before starting up my consulting business again. I will be doing some regional and national work on environmental issues and will most likely be traveling a bit. I will also stay involved with the fiber optic technology companies I was working with prior to the campaign.