Monday, May 30, 2011

Heather Wilson Pay to Play

People and the media need to stop and think occasionally about the hypocrisy that republicans always seem to get away with.  First, think of the pay to play allegations that the republicans are constantly leveling at former Governor Bill Richardson.  The Albuquerque Journal loves to write and rewrite about it constantly.

But, since the Journal is so right wing these days, they ignore the scandalous pay to play schemes that GOP Senate Candidate Heather Wilson has been involved in.

Heather has casually admitted in an Albuquerque Journal interview that she  has been making her living for the last three or four years as a 'defense and intelligence' consultant.  Now, who would her clients be?  Would they be the private corporations that manage our national labs?  Such as Lockheed Martin?  Heather spent years as a congresswoman making sure that taxpayer money flowed to these groups and other defense contractors.  They in turn used Sherman McCorkle of the Technology Ventures group, which they funded, as a major political supporter and fundraiser for her.  Now that she is out of office they continue the pay to play scheme with her by giving her fat contracts.  And those contract funds, no matter what they say, are really funneled into the corporations by wasteful defense contracts funded by the American Taxpayer.  You know, the weapon's budgets that are constantly over running budgets.

I think Heather Wilson needs to immediately make public who is providing these contracts to her, how much they pay, and identify the actual work she is doing for them.  No need to mess with classified information, which they will certainly say keeps them from divulging the information.  Just the basic facts will do.

If the Editor at the Albuquerque Journal does not aggressively follow up on this issue, then you can completely cross them off the list of ethical and professional newspapers.

Friday, May 27, 2011


The US Congress has passed an extension of invasion of privacy upon all Americans when they rebooted the so called "Patriot Act" of the bush administration.  Thankfully, most of our delegation voted against it, except for that great defender of liberty Congressman Steve Pearce.  Bingaman, Udall, Heinrich and Lujan voted the right way.

I had to chuckle at the story in the Journal this morning about the study to figure out why people get sick in the State Capitol Building every session of the legislature.  As any cruise ship Captain, crew member or passenger can tell you it is from handshaking and contaminated surfaces.  Most experienced cruisers wont shake hands with you.  They bump elbows.  There are antiseptic dispensers everywhere on ship and you are encouraged to use them often.  In fact, on Holland America ships a crew member often makes you treat your hands before going into the dining areas.  Also, never run your hands along the banisters.

And then you get on airplanes to leave the cruise and they are nothing but little virus filled aluminum tubes that were last cleaned in the 80's sometime.  So of course that is where I picked up my third cold of the year.  Even after wiping down the seats, trays and armrests with disinfectant towels from Bobbi's magic travel purse.  I had gone three years without a cold and now have made up for it this year.  The cruise was worth it.  If you want to see my movie of the cruise go here.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Pearce Math

Last April Congressman Steve Pearce of Hobbs tried to get an earmark of funds for some Texas land developers who were supporters of his.  He failed in that one.  Now he is trying to get assistance for ranchers and farmers due to the drought in New Mexico.  This one is a little more legitimate, but still it is a bail out for a specific group, mostly conservatives, who supported his candidacy.  And he is in favor of keeping oil and gas industry subsidies even while they are seeing record profits.  And don't forget his support of the Republican tax breaks for the rich which have helped put our federal budget in the crapper.

Also, he is a big supporter of slashing medicare programs.  That didn't work so well for that republican House candidate in upstate New York who lost yesterday in a special election in a traditionally conservative district.  He lost because he took the same positions as Pearce takes now.  I certainly don't know if that translates to his congressional district but this should be a wake up call to tamp down the rhetoric.

Pearce will have enough problems with GOP infighting between Lt. Governor John Sanchez and Heather Wilson in their newly joined Senate primary race.  It all started out with a slap in the face to the Lt. Gov by the Governor who said basically that Sanchez needed to take a hike from his assignments in her administration.  She said this was because she didn't want her reform policies to be hindered by his running against her onetime transition chief Heather Wilson.  If the governor wanted reform she would have asked him to resign or take a leave of absence.  Instead she insults  him. Don't you just love it?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


While cruising around Europe and looking sporadically and New Mexico at USA news I came to the conclusion that environmentalism is essentially invisible to politicians, the media, and the public.

I saw that Governor Martinez, during a time of nuclear crisis in Japan, decided the person who enforced safety on the nuclear waste dump near Carlsbad for nineteen years should be transferred to overseeing food safety.  An industry gift from the Governor to the nuclear crowd. Is this good for New Mexicans?  Hardly.  Where is the uproar?

President Obama continues to smooch with the rape and pillage crowd on public land protections.

Environmental groups continue to look inward at their own funding and organizational problems, to the point of nausea.

Industry funded p.r. campaigns have made scientists look like buffoons on climate change.  People fall for it.  Tornado and hurricane outbreaks are being looked at as one time events by a gullible public who will not take the time to use some logic on increased violent storms brought on by a heating climate.

This is all bad stuff.  When we were in Europe all our tour guides lamented the severe drought in Spain, Portugal and France.  None of them made a connection.

There needs to be a full retooling by the enviro community to become relevant again.

Monday, May 23, 2011


We are dehydrating in the New Mexico high desert air shed.  Unlike the sea air on our ship the Eurodam.  After these two great weeks in western European moderate humidity it feels good and bad at the same time.  And of course I brought home a little 'airplane' cold.
This was a wonderful cruise we went on.  We now have six under our belts and we think next big trip will be a driving tour of Spain, Portugal and France.  Not England though since driving there would be a death sentence because of their driving on the wrong side of the road. I am not sure I could do it.

Of course we saw all the nice things in Europe.  We didn't get tours of the underbelly.  Our tour guides always told us there was a lot of unhappiness and economic upheaval.

But, the people were genuinely friendly and the countryside always beautiful.
Back to reality and my regular politcal whining tomorrow.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

In Brugge

Ever since I saw that movie "In Brugge" a few years ago I wanted to visit there. 

On Saturday we made our last stop at Brugge ,Belgium.  Famous for chocolate and beer it is also a World Heritage Site. 

It is stunning and fairytale at the same time.It was just a lot of fun to wander around on foot and on canal boats.

 Poor Bobbi wasn’t able to go because she woke up with a migraine, so it was a dark room for her all morning.

This is a picture of our dinner mates in the main dining room every night.  They are Catella and John from New York  City, Margarita and John from Texas, Jim and Mizzi from California, and Bobbi and me.  We all got along well and three of the couples were good lefties.

And finally our good cocktail hour friends Dan and Susan from Tennessee.  We met them in the cab to the hotel in Barcelona and remained good buddies.  He is a good golfer.

Friday, May 20, 2011


We visited the beaches of Normandy all day. 
We started at Gold Beach in the British Sector.
 The remnants of the artificial harbors were scattered about.  It was a beautiful day and we managed to get there before high tide.  It came in fast and chased us off the sand.
We then visited the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach.  It is a very profound place.

The Omaha Beach itself was somewhat invisible from the heights because of the tides.

We then went to Point du Hoc where Army Rangers climbed up steep cliffs to destroy artillery emplacements.  The artillery was not there and the bunkers were minced up by 750 tons of bombs.  

Thursday, May 19, 2011


I got a tour of the guts of the ship on our day at sea.  Twelve of us were given the privilege for a price.  It was fascinating.  I didn't know that all uniforms for the crew are made on board by a team of tailors.  Engine room was loud.  There are six engines driving electric generators.  Bridge was Star Trek.


There are some very weird people on this ship.  It so happens that the Weekly Standard, a right wing war mongering magazine, is holding a seminar on board the Eurodam during our voyage.  It is the angry white guy and big haired ladies crowd listening to right wing speakers.  Neo con Bill Crystal was here.
And then this character showed up.  Remember John Bolton of  the bush administration.  He was an architect of the Iraq war.  He got on board in Lisbon and was running around with other right wingers in Santiago de Compastello.  I keep having fantasies about meeting him near the railing on the Promenade deck.
No, I wouldn’t throw him overboard, but I would have a few insults for him.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Pilgrims at Santiago de Compastello

Pilgrims celebrate the end of their hundreds of  miles of trekking to get to Santiago de Compastella.   We saw many pilgrims on the road traveling to this Medieval Cathedral.  

It is relatively a depressing place compared with the Gothic style we have been seeing.

St. James is buried here and many pilgrims come to see his resting place under the Altar which looks pretty much laden with gold.
The ceilings and vaults are pretty simple.  It is a medium sized cathedral with an ornate exterior.
The countryside around this part of Galicia in Spain is stunning.

Thursday is a day at sea before coming into Cherbourg France for a tour of the D-Day Beaches.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Lisbon Day 2

 We had a very good touring day of Lisbon’s Belem district. 

We started the day with a tour of the Maritime Museum.
It is house in part of the Mosterios de Jeronimos, Monastery of St. Jerome. 
It is called the Pepper Cathedral because it was built with the King’s profits from the Pepper trade. 

He  held a monopoly on the commodity.  And of course the poor people gave money with a promise of getting into heaven.

We went into the cloisters where the monks lived.  They lived lives of poverty, but did it in style.

We were lucky to have Luisa Gomes as a guide.  She pointed out all of the little things. Like the faces to the left of her to depict the peoples in the new world that Portugal discovered.

I thought I needed to show an altar in a small earthquake/firedamaged cathederal in the Baixa district.  It is in honor of Our Lady of Fatima.  I attend her name sake school in Albuquerque from grades 1 to 8.  It was a good school that taught good values via the guilt method.

It was a really good day.  Tomorrow we head to Vigo Spain and tour to San Compastello.


We came into Lisbon about noon today and got a good view of the city.  This is what we see outside our cabin verandah.  We got a good berth for the ship.

Lisbon and Portugal are really hurting financially.  The European community is bailing them out at the price of demanding complete reform , including their healthcare system.

We walked around quite a bit but the museums were closed on Monday.  Tuesday we hired a private guide for the Museum circuit.

We went a a nice Fado bar in the Alfalma section of the city. 

We walked there from the ship.  It is very interesting ‘soul’ music and we drank wine and ate a small dinner there.  Very entertaiing.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


We sailed into Cadiz, Spain early this  Sunday morning and set directly off for Sevilla.  I am glad we did so. 

What an incredibly beautiful town. 

We managed to sneak into the Cathedral there despite Mass being celebrated.  I think there were more lookers than worshipers in this biggest Gothic church in Europe.  

It is the third biggest in all the world.  Outdone by only  St. Peter’s Bascilica and St. Paul’s.

The visit to the Alcazar was breathtaking. 

It stands  up against anything we saw in Istanbul as far as Moorish architecture and art.  This tribute to the Moors was actually built by a Christian King.  Go figure!

The Plaza de Espana at the sight of the 1929 International Exhibition was massive and beautiful.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


We took a strenuous walk along the top of British  Gibraltar this morning, and then down into some caverns and back up to the tunnels that were built to repulse the Spanish and French in the late 1800’s.  

This piece of rock has been fought over numerous times and Britain and Spain still have bad feelings about it.  My advice is to get over it.  It is 2011.

The road connecting British and Spanish Gibraltar was reopened in 1985.  It is one of only two roads in the world that bisect an active runway.  They close the road so airliners can land and take off.  Interesting to watch.
The Barbary Apes in Gibraltar are a big deal.  They are not to be trifled with and their only fear is snakes.  So our guide had some rubber snakes, which she waved at them and they behaved.

We head for Cadiz, Spain and a day in Seville on Sunday.  I noticed that a bunch of my blogs from earlier in the week disappeared.  I don’t know why.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The kids in the bus had a great time today.  These tourists buses are the only way to go and not expensive.  You get off at all the must see places and then get back on again.  The buses run by every five minutes.

We zipped by Sagrada Familia, but elected to go back in the evening because of the crowds.

We then went to a Gaudi designed Park that started life as a real estate development. 

It went bust and the city bought it out. 

Things never change, but in this case it really paid off. 
Lots of people there.  Including an amoeba from the planet amebus.

We visited the archeological museum and the great complex including the National Museum.
Then we had a very late lunch on Las Ramblas.  Tonight we will dine late, as most Catalans do, and have Paella.

This is truly an incredible city.  The weather is perfect.  I would not want to be here in summer though.  Tomorrow we board our ship the Eurodam to start ten days of cruising and excursions.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bobbi's Magic Purse

I have a theory that inside Bobbi’s travel purse there is a wormhole to countless universes.  I say that because what ever I request she is able to bring it forth from her purse. 

She has carried this purse on every trip for years.  It produces water, first aid, foodstuffs, pharmaceuticals, toiletries, antiseptics, spare cameras, batteries, and everything else necessary for supplying the common cruiser.

I don’t know what we would do without it.

We are now on the Eurodam and sailing for Gibraltar after a day at sea.  We need some downtime after a full two days in Barcelona.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011


We went to a tapas bar near the waterfront tonight that was recommended by my good friend Luisa Casso, now a big whig at Coca Cola.  The name of the place was  Cal-Rep on Placa de les Olles 8.  We got there about 7:20pm and had to wait for it to open.  When it did there were a legion of folks in line behind us. 

It may be one of the best meals Bobbi and I have ever had.  We had potato omelets, clams in a sauce from Valhalla, Sardines fried in spices (had not had one since my grandfather gave me one in 1954 out of a can.  Hated it and it took 52 years to have another. ) Also, we had calamari, baby squid with chickpeas and steak tartar, which was really good.
The waiter ordered for a really nice lady and us from Sao Paolo, Brazil who quit her job to spend a month in Barcelona.  She is a world traveler and quite impressive.   We had a great time. Her name was Zuliana.  Honestly, the food they brought us is stuff I never would have ordered, but it was really good.  We didn’t finish the sardines though. 

It was one long bar that sat about twenty people.  A rank of of folks was lined up behind us waiting for their turn.  The wait could be long.  It cost about $100 with all the wine you could drink and we drank a lot.

Of course the music hall here is pretty neat.  You don't see structures like this built anymore.

There are two million people in Barcelona and half of them own scooters or motorcycles since there is plenty of free parking for them.