Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Not any New Years resolutions this year.  I do have some hopes.  Here they are.

  1. Journalism in America gets serious again.
  2. The Tea Party continues a meltdown.
  3. More movies like "American Hustle" that have great stories.
  4. 20 more lbs. off my aging body.
  5. Some republican leader in NM actually does something to increase jobs.
  6. Religions quit killing people for their deities. (HAH!)
  7. The Albuquerque Journal gets a new editor.
  8. We have little wind this spring.
  9. The drought eases in the Southwest
  10. Reality television shows end.
Pretty feeble list I realize but, things that jumped out at me.

Monday, December 30, 2013


The word is out that the Albuquerque Journal will cut back its northern New Mexico and Santa Fe editions to once a week.  Those ten employees in the Santa Fe Bureau will probably be history soon.  The continuing meltdown in our state economy under Susana Martinez continues.  But you won't see the right wing editor of the Journal ever let it be shone in his newspaper.   The Wall Street Journal is taking up the slack with this story.

I feel very sad for those journalists who will need to hit the road out of the state to find work.  If they can find work anywhere as a newspaperman then they will be lucky.  It is a dying job market as young people and advertisers go digital.  It is inevitable.

The New York Times had a good story on this Country's miserable internet infrastructure.  Blame corporate greed for that.  Think Comcast especially who over charge and underserve this city in order to buy more systems in other markets which they will then exploit.  Some of the cities' with the best internet systems are ones that the cities built themselves.  Think about that Mayor Berry.

And finally, there are words of wisdom in this latest blog by David Brin.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Governor's Race in NM 2014

We will be bombarded with emails and phone calls in the upcoming Democratic primary for Governor in New Mexico.  The effort to get nominating signatures is already under way for the candidates who have announced.  If they are smart they will have hired consultants to gather those petitions and check the signatures prior to filing.  Volunteers always try to help, but often they don't get valid voters.

My guess is that only two of the candidates have a shot at this primary victory.  One is Alan Webber, publisher and author, who will run out of Santa Fe.  The other is Lawrence Rael, my former CAO during my Mayor's term and then head of the Middle Rio Grande Council of Governments.  The rest of the candidates include Attorney General Gary King, a good and honest man but seemingly lacking vision and charisma that will electrify the democrats.  The rest are state legislators who are not well known state wide.  That is fatal when you don't have huge amounts of money to spend.

Money.  That is the winning factor in this primary.  Webber has lots of money so we have heard.  It remains to be seen if Rael can raise enough.  Of course, organization is important too and so far it seems Rael is starting up a worthy machine.  I had called Webber a few months ago to sit down and see what he was all about.  He never called to make the appointment which makes me believe his organization wasn't functioning yet, I guess.  Gary King and Rael have called.   King wants money and Rael wants to talk over ideas.

Of course anything can happen.  But I am looking , like many others, for someone who has some vision and track record in making big things happen.  Rael and Webber have that background and I think this battle will come down to them slugging it out to just get on the ballot at the convention and then to win the primary.  I think it will be an interesting race.  Even if I am wrong about all of this!

UPDATE:  Webber's staff said they did try to contact me about a meeting but I can't find the email.  

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Lighted the Way

Well, the luminarias didn't light the way for baby Jesus into Jim and Bobbi's house this Christmas week.  However, they did a great job of inviting in the common cold and in one case the flu.  Even Bobbi, who gets about one cold every 25 years, went down.  Daughter Noelle and her husband Luke left a day early to fight the flu at their own home.

But, Christmas Eve was nice as everyone carbo loaded on tamales and posole.  It strengthened us for fighting off  the viruses. I got a new golf putter and Bobbi got her new tile job in the kitchen.

A place in Mexico for the winter always sounds better this time of year.  

Monday, December 23, 2013


I am taking a few days off from blogging, unless a real need arises.  Our daughter Noelle and her husband Luke are coming in for a visit.  I will spend a lot of time refereeing between their two dogs and our two cats.

We will also welcome Sue Orth, Noelle's mother in law.  Posole, tamales, and everything else bad for diets will reign for a few days.

This is Noelle 24 years ago helping with luminaria bags.  She will do the same tomorrow.

This is our son Justin with Bobbi and I getting his first Christmas tree 33 years ago.

Now he and his wife Karly have two little boys of their own.  They are in upstate New York with her mom and dad this holiday.

I want to wish everyone a great holiday with friends and family.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Real Soon

Real soon you will be hearing from the oil and gas boys that they pay lots of taxes and provide a lot of jobs.  Yes they do.  A new U.S. Energy Administration report says that NM is the third largest net producer of energy for the country.  The production of oil and gas has increased for sure.  Oil is the king right now.

But don't buy into the ads you will see soon on how oil and gas taxes pay for everything in New Mexico.  Lumped in with that will be royalties which are actually a payment to the State Land Office and BLM for the publicly owned oil and gas that the producers extract.  They would like to fool you into thinking they are taxes.  They most assuredly are not.  They are paying for a product but want you to think it is something else.

And increased activity in the oil patch, while good in a short term, does little to advance the economic fortunes of our poor state.  This is a must read article on that issue.  The Governor continues to show a lack of planning to grow us past the boom bust cycles of natural resource extraction.  And she continues to get away with it.  The problem, unlike Texas, is a real lack of diversification in manufacturing.  We have an economy that has oil and gas and government spending keeping it depressed in the long run.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The People Lead

The New Mexico Supreme Court has followed the Constitution and the lead of the people in okaying same sex marriage.  It is a victory against fundamentalist bible thumping.  A good day.

But the real lead of the people today came in a smack down to the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission which had to back down on its gutting of renewable energy credits.  I was taken by surprise how fast they reversed themselves.  I think that once they understood that a major and growing economic sector was in danger that they had better revisit their idiocy and change their ways.  It was that or realizing that they would be defeated at next election.  Those folks who voted in the first place to gut solar energy should be defeated anyway.  They have shown their love of the fossil fuel boys in their first action and they probably won't change their colors.

As an aside I hope New Mexicans will help lead efforts to rebuild the National Institute of Flamenco's Conservatory which was destroyed by fire yesterday in Albuquerque.  I have been a supporter of this group for some time and we are real fans of that dance.  You can help them by clicking here.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The News

It was so exciting last night at 10PM to be watching the lead story on Channel 13.  With a straight face Dick Knipfing sat there and introduced a two minute story on the fact that someone killed some chickens in the South Valley.   Yes, a two minute story which is pretty long these days, was done on the premise that this is good for ratings I guess.  Feathers everywhere and the local media just continues to slide into complete oblivion.

Now, a story that Knipfing, who is close to Archbishop Sheehan, might find time for is that when the cleric turns 75 next year he will be forced into retirement.  Then we will get a new Archbishop and the events leading up to that will be very interesting.  As our new Pope of the People takes charge you can expect a whole new genre of clergy being elevated in the hierarchy.  Already, the Pope is liberalizing the committees who pick the new Bishops and Archbishops.  We could well get a new one that is totally living in the modern era.  That would be refreshing.  

Same Ole

It is truly hard to fathom that Governor Susana Martinez is now asking for private dollars to influence the legislature into denying drivers licenses for immigrants.  If anything, this shows that Jay McCleskey is in full control of the 4th floor.  His xenophobia has seeped into Martinez's every pore and she looks silly.  And the private dollar appeal to influence the legislature is bizarre coming from her.  She is always complaining that the democrats are selling influence, and here she is encouraging it!

The Department of Interior, according to Rueters news service, is abandoning its plan to revamp the onshore oil and gas royalty rates charged for development of public lands.  Those rates are a hundred years old.  The Obama administration says they just don't have enough data to figure out what to do.  What B.S.!  Just go and see what rates the private landowners and state land offices are receiving for royalties.  It would take ten minutes.  Once again the dirty oil guys roll the President.  Unless, this is a tradeoff of some sort for denying the Keystone pipeline.   Hmmmm?

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Visionary Accomplishments

I decided I needed to be fair to Governor Martinez and Mayor Berry and list their visionary accomplishments during their time in office.  I will also list what I consider to be Bill Richardson's.

Bill Richardson

  1. Rail Runner
  2. Space Port
  3. Film Industry
Governor Martinez
Mayor Berry
Actually, this is very sad.  Even in the midst of this economic disaster in New Mexico one would think that our GOP leaders could find some inspiration somewhere to grab an opportunity to show some vision.  And don't forget that the Governor and Mayor are doing zilch on the economic development crunch.  

Monday, December 16, 2013


There's an annual contest at the Griffiths University , Australia , calling for the most appropriate definition of a contemporary term.
This year's term was...... 'political correctness'.
The winning student wrote:
Political correctness is a doctrine, fostered by a delusional, illogical minority, and rapidly promoted by mainstream media, which holds forth the proposition that it is entirely possible to pick up a piece of shit by the clean end.'

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Land Protection in NM

We finally have a U.S. Senator who understands unreservedly the importance of protecting New Mexico's landscapes.  Martin Heinrich is that Senator.  When I first met Heinrich back in 1997 he was working on natural resource issues.  He was running a program in New Mexico that took kids from all over the U.S. into the wild country and taught them camping and hiking skills.  After his election to the Congress and Senate his love of the spectacular vistas in the Land of Enchantment has not fallen prey to fossil fuel Pacs that sway so many pols.

Certainly Senators Bingaman and Udall have helped, but not with the passion of Senator Heinrich who has personally worked on these land and water issues long before entering the political arena.

Now Heinrich and Udall have introduced a bill to protect a half million acres around the iconic Organ Mountains in Southern NM.  This follows on the heels of the designation to the Rio Grande del Norte Monument in Northern NM.  This new legislation is the result of much citizen activist input, but that would not have been enough without Heinrich's passion for protecting or greatest assets.  It really shows that electing the right people does make a difference.  He is more than a Senator.  He is a visionary leader on environmental issues.

Another Petition

Senator Tom Udall is out with a plea to sign his petition to get congress to take away unlimited corporate money in political races.  Udall, who was one of the few Senators willing to stick his head out on weakening the filibuster that the GOP has used to make government come to a stand still, is of course right on this issue.  But the petitions that abound to congress are absolutely useless in getting things done.  Unless you want to collect a lot of email addresses and supporters.

The only thing that will settle the corporate money in politics is to get a non corporate controlled Supreme Court.  And Udall did more for that in his courageous attacks on the filibuster which have now freed up appointments to judicial posts from the Obama administration.

I get a dozen requests a week to sign a petition that no Senator or Congressman really takes seriously.  If  you want to make an impression, show up at their office demanding to see them or bring a mob to their next town hall.  And keep at it.  Hand written letters are good too.  Not form letters.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sister Carlota Baca

No, this isn't my big sister from Santa Fe, Dr. Maria Carlota Baca.  This is my great great aunt Sister Carlota Baca who died yesterday at the age of 104.  She celebrated her 85th Jublilee as a nun with our Lady of Missionary Sisters this year.  She was a woman devoted to helping the poor and worked for many years in border towns with Mexico doing just that.  She was lively and un-dogmatic.  She just wanted to help those in need without any quid pro quo.  She was born in Pena Blanca, NM in 1909 and lived a long and meaningful life.  She died in the Victory Noll Center in Huntington, Indiana.


Bobbi and I go to a movie every week or two.  Usually, on a weekday around 5pm after she gets away from work.  We get senior citizens rates along with matinee prices.  Saves a bundle.

We went and watched Philomena last night.  It might be the best movie we have seen this year.  I highly recommend it for anyone who ever had to deal with nuns.  It is an all around good story.

We have decided we are really tired of special effect movies and violent movies.  Special effects are okay only if the stories are good and the effects aren't the leading roles.  We are tired of movies and TV shows that promote dysfunctional groups of people who are disgusting in every way.  Like those inbred alligator hunters on cable TV.  Yuck.  We watched one of those episodes one time and decided programming that promoted stupidity were off our lists.  Bobbi likes some reality shows, especially about dancing and clothes design.  She records them and speeds through the forced drama and commercials.

We just want intelligent movies and lot of them.  Thank goodness for the foreign movie selections on Netflix.  An occasional Hunger Games Movie is okay.  Our next movie to see is either the "Book Thief" or "American Hustle."  

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Bubba has a real gem of a post here.  I was just thinking about this over the last couple of days and wondered when our democratic reps and Senators would stop doing whatever the spin masters of the party are ordering for the day and come into the state and talk about how we can no longer compete to be the lowest ranking in everything.  Why should we be down there with the deep south when we have so much more going for us?

Politics today is all about staying on message.  Every time a pol has a news conference it seems they need a peanut gallery standing behind them to show they empathize.  Everything is rote.  Is there a style book for how to do all these things for any democratic office holder?  I am beginning to think so.  It is getting boring and I would like to see spontaneity in some of their actions.  Michelle Grisham Lujan sorting canned goods at the food bank in high heels just doesn't do it for me though.

P.S.  Here is a nice post from Rodger Beimer on the sale of Taos Ski Valley and his memory of its early days.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Journal Laments

There was another lame editorial in the Albuquerque Journal today blasting the feds for allowing a certain amount of eagle deaths from being struck  by electrical generating wind mills.  The logic was there are no breaks for the fossil fuel boys so why should wind energy get any.  Well, for  you science challenged members of the editorial board, one reason is that wind energy will not destroy our planet as fossil fuels could do.  I can't imagine what your science reporter John Fleck must think when he sees this kinds of drivel in his employer's paper.

Speaking of that employer, who is it?  Tom Lang's name is still on the Journal Masthead, but he hasn't been seen around the newspaper in  years.  His brother Bill is supposedly now running things at the Journal along with his other businesses, but I find that hard to believe with the editorial page being so sophomoric.  So it seems to me that the Editor, Kent Walz, is the guy running the show.  It appears to me he is a puppet for all causes that are right wing.  And he appears to be a mascot for the oil and coal boys.

I read an article the other day that says New Mexico's populace is pretty progressive.  From a business standpoint you would think that would make a newspaper publisher's marketing scheme reflect a more balanced publication.  One can only assume that letters of complaint about the paper's bent never make it to the owner's desk.  Is the editor not forwarding them?  Of course people always will complain about any story a newspaper does.  I understand that.  But this leakage of an editor's far right wing view into the reporting and editing of daily stories is over the top.  Count also the stories that he is stifling, like the miserable performance of the Martinez and Berry administration on growing a prosperous economy for our city and state.

So if letters are written about the Journal's grievous shortcomings, address them to Bill Lang.  Not the editor.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


I wonder if one could file a reckless endangerment suit against the Public Regulatory Commission for their decision to let dirty fossil fuels rule the day instead of renewable energy.  One could argue that the corrupt and conflicted members are endangering the future health of our children for picking coal, oil and gas as their preferred energy sources.  The same might be true for the City of Albuquerque, UNM and other governmental and private agencies who are members of the NM Industrial Energy Consumers organization that pushed for this assault on the Solar Energy Industry.  That has been a growing industry in the state that holds real promise.

And then there is the Farmington police department.  They are proud of the fact that they have received a fully armored vehicle for use in their work.  The surplus war machine was given to them by the Defense Department.  Don't you know that they are itching to use it.  It is bad enough that our police academies are turning out U.S. Marines instead of public service Police Officers.  Just look at our current shooting spree by cops all over the state.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Powell's Land Office

I have liked Ray Powell for many years.  He is a gentleman.  He is naturally not a boat rocker which is why so little reform has taken place at the State Land Office under his tenure.  But  he is honest and that is really important in that office of Land Commissioner.

However, I think his plan for trying to get more federal land from the Bureau of Land Management into state ownership is fraught with dangerous possibilities.  His basic assumption that the land will provide revenues is pie in the sky.  This million acres he wants will provide little in the way of revenue since the only use will possibly be for grazing.  Right now, at least, the Feds will have folks on the ground to oversee proper practices of the cowboys.  If the state were to receive the land then protection would disappear given that the land office has not more than 15 land specialists to oversee 13 million acres of mineral and surface estate.  Don't you know the cowboys would love no supervision?  The water implications are also very important.

It would be impossibly difficult for the state to get title to the mineral rights on that federal land. They probably aren't worth much, but the difficulty in transferring mineral rights will be hard to over come.

Also, this BLM land belongs to all Americans.  Not just New Mexicans.  It is in American's interest to keep title to these lands.  Especially since they could hold value for renewable energy at some time in the future.

Sorry Ray.  This whole thing seems little more than a campaign for reelection issue which has little chance of happening.  If you really wanted to make a difference for education funding then raise the grazing fees(after the drought ends) and charge maximum royalties on the dirty energy guys.  The economy is steaming up again and soon the time will be right for such a move.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Bobbi Wows Them

During our Carribbean Cruise Bobbi decided to join the Dancing with the Stars at Sea competition.  She was great.

Bobbi Dancing from James Baca on Vimeo.

She came in second place much to our chagrin.  Everyone thought she won but one judge scored her low.

Home Again


Wednesday, December 04, 2013

American's Shame

We are at sea all day as we head for Half Moon Cay.  It is a paradise crescent isle owned by the cruise line.  Bobbi and I will swim with stingrays and go snorkeling.

When not on shore you meet a lot of people on the ship from all over the world.  Political discussions abound with most every non American showing great respect for President Obama and great concern for America's inability to control guns.  Yes, they judge us by the gun issue quite a bit.  They just can't understand why someone can go buy an assault rifle or even automatic pistols.  They can't believe that the manufacturers and their NRA mascots can stop sensible gun regulation.  I can't either.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Magen's Bay Beach

St. Thomas Virgin Islands.  This is what we did.  I could see coming here and spending some time.  Nice hotels around...lots of eateries.  Good local beer.  All around relaxing.  

Monday, December 02, 2013

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Fort-de-France, Martinique

This is a picturesque hodgepodge of architecture.  Mass was heavily attended at the old cathedral.

The National Ballet was giving a free concert.

A pretty laid back place on a Sunday morning.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


We hung around Barbados today, its national day of independence holiday.  Most touristy things were closed so we got a cab and went on a tour.  Beach Bars.  Wet Ankles.  Watching the locals.  A nice day.

Friday, November 29, 2013

St. Lucia

We floated by the famous Piton peaks today in St. Lucia
We spent the day racing around the island with our rented cab and our great driver Joy.  He took us here and there to see the sights.

We went to a beautiful little fishing village where everyone lives to be a hundred we are told.  The peacefulness was apparent.

Thursday, November 28, 2013


Our Thanksgiving dinner group on the Noordam.  We were joined by a couple of really interesting folks from Scotland.  Malcom was a deep saturation diver for 25 years working on deep wells and pipelines.  He is now into renewable energy and sells heat pumps.  The wine steward is posing too!


Lattes on the Beach

Beers on the Beach

St. Maarten

This is a pic I snapped as we entered Phillipsburg, St. Maarten this Thanksgiving morning.  Going to look for the pot of gold in few minutes.

Turkey Tonight

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

At Sea

We were at sea all day.  Rodger, Ed and I waved to Fidel and Raul as we passed by Cuba.  

And then our daily routine on all cruises is to meet in the Crow’s Nest at 5pm for drinks.  It is a panoramic bar that sits above the bridge on all Holland American ships, known as the Dam Ships.  We are on the Noordam for this voyage amongst the Carribbean islands.  Starting with Jolene and Ed Mahr, Bobbi and Jim Baca, and Connie and Rodger Beimer.  The big news today is that Bobbi won the Jive dance competition for the day and is now on the finals on the last night of the cruise.

Monday, November 25, 2013

On Board

This is a selfie off our balcony on the Noordam as we prepare to ship out.  Enjoy the cold weather.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

On the Briny

If the snow lets us out we will leave for a twelve day sojourn into warmer climes.  Our cruise will take us into numerous ports, which all look the same but they all specialize in some great alcoholic drink and cuisine.  There will be snorkeling and walking and generally a feeling of staying warm.  We will travel with old friends who are great to be with on a trip like this.  We are looking forward to touring the Rum distilleries.

As I write this I am seething that Sears and Walmart won't help all those families of Bangladeshis who died in sweat shop fires last year.  The factories made clothes for them.  Sears and Walmart feebly say they didn't know they bought clothes from them.  We decided they will no longer have our business and we have been loyal to Sears for many years.

One thing about these cruises.  About five days in to sailing you just sort of tune out of worrying about these kinds of things for a week.  That is a good thing.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Four Days

Those four days of mourning fifty years ago can be summed up by this column by the great Jimmy Breslin.  Thanks to one of my golfing partners, Scott Scandland. for sending it along.

Digging JFK Grave Was His Honor
Jimmy Breslin

Newsday's Jimmy Breslin wrote the following article for the New York Herald Tribune in November 1963.

Washington -- Clifton Pollard was pretty sure he was going to be working on Sunday, so when he woke up at 9 a.m., in his three-room apartment on Corcoran Street, he put on khaki overalls before going into the kitchen for breakfast. His wife, Hettie, made bacon and eggs for him. Pollard was in the middle of eating them when he received the phone call he had been expecting. It was from Mazo Kawalchik, who is the foreman of the gravediggers at Arlington National Cemetery, which is where Pollard works for a living. "Polly, could you please be here by eleven o'clock this morning?" Kawalchik asked. "I guess you know what it's for." Pollard did. He hung up the phone, finished breakfast, and left his apartment so he could spend Sunday digging a grave for John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

When Pollard got to the row of yellow wooden garages where the cemetery equipment is stored, Kawalchik and John Metzler, the cemetery superintendent, were waiting for him. "Sorry to pull you out like this on a Sunday," Metzler said. "Oh, don't say that," Pollard said. "Why, it's an honor for me to be here." Pollard got behind the wheel of a machine called a reverse hoe. Gravedigging is not done with men and shovels at Arlington. The reverse hoe is a green machine with a yellow bucket that scoops the earth toward the operator, not away from it as a crane does. At the bottom of the hill in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Pollard started the digging (Editor Note: At the bottom of the hill in front of the Custis-Lee Mansion).

Leaves covered the grass. When the yellow teeth of the reverse hoe first bit into the ground, the leaves made a threshing sound which could be heard above the motor of the machine. When the bucket came up with its first scoop of dirt, Metzler, the cemetery superintendent, walked over and looked at it. "That's nice soil," Metzler said. "I'd like to save a little of it," Pollard said. "The machine made some tracks in the grass over here and I'd like to sort of fill them in and get some good grass growing there, I'd like to have everything, you know, nice."

James Winners, another gravedigger, nodded. He said he would fill a couple of carts with this extra-good soil and take it back to the garage and grow good turf on it. "He was a good man," Pollard said. "Yes, he was," Metzler said. "Now they're going to come and put him right here in this grave I'm making up," Pollard said. "You know, it's an honor just for me to do this."

Pollard is 42. He is a slim man with a mustache who was born in Pittsburgh and served as a private in the 352nd Engineers battalion in Burma in World War II. He is an equipment operator, grade 10, which means he gets $3.01 an hour. One of the last to serve John Fitzgerald Kennedy, who was the thirty-fifth President of this country, was a working man who earns $3.01 an hour and said it was an honor to dig the grave.

Yesterday morning, at 11:15, Jacqueline Kennedy started toward the grave. She came out from under the north portico of the White House and slowly followed the body of her husband, which was in a flag-covered coffin that was strapped with two black leather belts to a black caisson that had polished brass axles. She walked straight and her head was high. She walked down the bluestone and blacktop driveway and through shadows thrown by the branches of seven leafless oak trees. She walked slowly past the sailors who held up flags of the states of this country. She walked past silent people who strained to see her and then, seeing her, dropped their heads and put their hands over their eyes. She walked out the northwest gate and into the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue. She walked with tight steps and her head was high and she followed the body of her murdered husband through the streets of Washington.

Everybody watched her while she walked. She is the mother of two fatherless children and she was walking into the history of this country because she was showing everybody who felt old and helpless and without hope that she had this terrible strength that everybody needed so badly. Even though they had killed her husband and his blood ran onto her lap while he died, she could walk through the streets and to his grave and help us all while she walked.

There was mass, and then the procession to Arlington. When she came up to the grave at the cemetery, the casket already was in place. It was set between brass railings and it was ready to be lowered into the ground. This must be the worst time of all, when a woman sees the coffin with her husband inside and it is in place to be buried under the earth. Now she knows that it is forever. Now there is nothing. There is no casket to kiss or hold with your hands. Nothing material to cling to. But she walked up to the burial area and stood in front of a row of six green-covered chairs and she started to sit down, but then she got up quickly and stood straight because she was not going to sit down until the man directing the funeral told her what seat he wanted her to take.

The ceremonies began, with jet planes roaring overhead and leaves falling from the sky. On this hill behind the coffin, people prayed aloud. They were cameramen and writers and soldiers and Secret Service men and they were saying prayers out loud and choking. In front of the grave, Lyndon Johnson kept his head turned to his right. He is president and he had to remain composed. It was better that he did not look at the casket and grave of John Fitzgerald Kennedy too often. Then it was over and black limousines rushed under the cemetery trees and out onto the boulevard toward the White House. "What time is it?" a man standing on the hill was asked. He looked at his watch. "Twenty minutes past three," he said.

Clifton Pollard wasn't at the funeral. He was over behind the hill, digging graves for $3.01 an hour in another section of the cemetery. He didn't know who the graves were for. He was just digging them and then covering them with boards. "They'll be used," he said. "We just don't know when. I tried to go over to see the grave," he said. "But it was so crowded a soldier told me I couldn't get through. So I just stayed here and worked, sir. But I'll get over there later a little bit. Just sort of look around and see how it is, you know. Like I told you, it's an honor."

Thursday, November 21, 2013


The political leadership in New Mexico should be indicted for malfeasance.   The one shining light in New Mexico has been its positioning as a possible leader in renewable energy because of our great capability of turning sunlight into energy.  The Governor and PRC Commissioners have turned what could have been an economic gain into a loser by reducing by half what our power generators are required to do to meet renewable generation.  And they could have easily met the requirements before this stupid move.  Did PNM have something to do with this?  Will any journalists find out?  PNM, our once great local Corporate presence has morphed into a bottom line only company.  Shame!

And Mayor Berry of Albuquerque sits by along with the city council and watches our transportation system unravel.  This screen shot of a study completed last month shows just how bad our airport is doing.  Was this study shared with any journalist, or were the city pols afraid of the reactions that might come from the public?  Certainly, the chamber of commerce should care but they are to busy being mascots for the Mayor and Governor.  And the right wing Albuquerque Journal publisher.  Click on it to make it bigger.

A close reading of this would explain why you pay $4 for a bottle of water at the airport.  The city needs to up its take because the airport could fail without it.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Same Ole'

I just downloaded the new book by Joyce Kearns Goodwin titled, "The Bully Pulpit, Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism."

I will read this book on our upcoming cruise around the Caribbean starting on Monday.  This book shows how these two old time republican presidents took on the mega-trusts and how journalists in those days did what they were supposed to do.

It will be a timely read in that I just got news that ethically challenged elected officials are now trying ever harder to do the wrong thing when dealing with our modern day political trusts.

The first item is  Senate Bill 258, a bill introduced by Sen. Barrasso and other western republican senators (not Heinrich or Udall) in Washington which will be marked up in the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee on Thursday.  It grants to federal livestock permittees 20-year grazing permits, replacing the current 10-year permit. Additionally,  permit terms could not be revisited for NEA review for 20 years once the permit is issued. Also it states, the renewal, reissuance, or transfer of a grazing permit or lease by the Secretary of Interior  shall be categorically excluded from the requirement to prepare an environmental assessment or an environmental impact statement if the current lease holders want to renew.  This gang of leaseholders have again attempted to carve out subsidies that no one else out side of government would ever grant to a business group.  It is insane.

Second, our own gang of Public Regulatory Commissioners in New Mexico just drove a stake into the heart of renewable energy production in New Mexico.  This was put out by the Sierra Club on Wednesday afternoon, and it is a heart breaker....except for fossil fuel.

"Today, three members of the Public Utility Commission adopted amendments to its renewable energy rule that will essentially cut in half the amount of solar energy that New Mexico utilities are required to produce, and also reduced the amount of renewable energy they are required to add in the future. Commissioner Becenti-Aguilar, Lyons and Hall voted to allow utilities to receive two Renewable Energy Credits (RECS) per kilowatt-hour for solar and three RECs for energy such as biomass and geothermal. Commissioners Espinoza and Montoya voted no, citing concerns about lack of public comment on this proposal and overall reduction of renewable energy production.

Currently, the Commission’s rule requires that 20% of a utility’s renewable resource portfolio be from solar power and 5% from renewable resources other than wind or solar. This rule change will effectively reduce the amount of solar energy required to be generated to 10%, and other resources are reduced to 1.5% of the renewable portfolio. The Renewable Energy Act requires utilities to provide 15% of renewables in 2015 and 20 percent by 2020. But the 2-to-1 credit for solar would reduce the total percentage by giving solar and other resources credit for generation that was not actually produced. The effective reduction would be approximately 3.5% to the required amount of renewables."

I wish Teddy Roosevelt would walk into the PRC Chambers with his Big Stick!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Voters Leashed the Dogma

Let's hope this battle of the christian right's efforts to collar us with their dogma won't revisit us anytime soon.  I am so proud of Albuquerque's voters for voting down the attempts to limit women's rights and choice.   No matter how unconstitutional it was, the Mayor and City Council let it go to a vote because they are cowards and self-serving.

And in somewhat of a back fire on the Mayor he now faces a democratic majority on the city council with the election of Diane Gibson.  She is the recipient of the many votes of folks who don't like the tactics of the right wing fundamentalists.  Her runoff election in District 7 received a large infusion of pro choice voters who decided to help her.


It is heartwarming to see the Cuba School Board and Administration just say no to moving their graduation ceremonies to a different day in order to satisfy one religious sect.  I was really worried that the fundamentalists would carry the day.  You don't often see such government elected officials stand up for rationality.

The Albuquerque City Council and Mayor Berry sure didn't stand for rationalism when they allowed, with out any vetting, a ballot initiative written by religious fanatics to go on to a vote when it was clearly unconstitutional.  Once again they should all resign in disgrace for their cowardice and malfeasance.  This million dollar cost is abhorrent.  Think of how this money could have been used on something productive and enlightening.  Maybe even some newly curated exhibits for the children's science museum?

I hope the voting public shows the same rationality as the Cuba School Board.  A slap in the face to fundamentalism and the dark ages would be a good thing.

Monday, November 18, 2013


I was wondering when this move to get more people onto statins to lower cholesterol would be revisited.  It turns out the calculator that people  use for advice is deeply flawed and would result in many folks going on these powerful drugs when it wasn't really necessary.  Gee, that would have meant a windfall for big Pharma wouldn't it?

I had been on those drugs for many years because my numbers always hovered over 200.  I just blindly took them.  And then about six months ago I talked with a friend about how at the age of 68 I was experiencing a lot of muscle pain.  He said the statins might  be responsible.  So I did a little research and found out that the statin's side effects could be severe muscle pain.  I went off them for a couple of months and the pain went away.  My numbers went up of course.  I went back on them and felt terrible.  Then I went off them again.  I am better again.  I will stay off them as along as possible. There is no history of heart attacks in the family.  I don't smoke and I get exercise on the golf course and morning walks.  So I guess I am just rolling the dice but I have decided it is better than being in a state  of constant fatigue from muscle pain.

One can only marvel that such a flawed calculator could be put out by major heart research organizations and big Pharma.  I wonder if the right wing will come after them as they have Obamacare.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


The last three days in the rainy, windy, snowy city of Salt Lake city was fun.  We got work done and had a great gala party to celebrate the 30th anniversary of our wilderness protection group.

One delightful thing about Salt Lake City is the Salt Lake Tribune daily newspaper.  It is informative, well written, wide ranging and not a carrier of right wing causes.  It is neutral in its coverage.

There was one interesting story coming out of the nation's most conservative state.  Some Utah legislators, Mayors and County Commissioners want to hike gasoline taxes so they can use the money to improve their transportation systems.  They include republicans.  Can you imagine any republican in NM sticking their neck out like that?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Heading North

I will be off to Utah for a couple of days to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.  I have been a board member there for twenty years.  This is one of the most successful and resolute regional landscape protection organizations in the United States.  Any one who knows the Red Rock country of Utah would appreciate the work done by them.  It would be great to send them a little donation to keep up their work on protecting this land.  Click here to help.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Albuquerque Chamber

Frontier Airlines is leaving Albuquerque.  Southwest Airline's vast schedule here will soon only be half vast.  And now Amtrak is giving us a rail job by saying they may cut passenger service to Albuquerque unless we pay them to maintain the tracks.

Nothing is being done about it so far as I can determine.  Which might be a good time to  bring up the subject of the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce.  What, exactly, is their leadership doing do deal with these economy busting happenings?

It might be time for a complete housecleaning at the Chamber.  The Board needs to find new executive leadership that thinks in visionary ways and actually accomplishes things.  It is pretty obvious that the Mayor's office and Governor's office have no economic master plan.  Just ask them to see one.  Wanna bet there is nothing on paper or any committees meeting about such a plan?  So, normally you would think the Chamber would take on some extra chores to try and stop the bleeding.  But no!  It is just business as usual from a mostly invisible and political leadership.  That business is somewhat like most elected officials.  Hang on to their job and aura of importance.  (I've been there)

But these times are very tough and real work and innovation is needed.  The current team at the Chamber is failing.  Big Time!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Journal Stringers

I think if it weren't for the bloggers the Albuquerque Journal and its skeleton staff would  have no sources.  Rodger Beimer's Blog, Joe Monahan's Blog and mine seem to be feeding news stories on a regular basis the to emaciated daily rag.

They discreetly wait a week or two before doing the story on their own with never mentioning the lowly bloggers who pointed them to a decent story.  The latest example is their above the fold story today on pending partial desertion of Albuquerque by Southwest Airlines due to a change in the federal law.  I blogged about this on October 29th.

The story on the airline was thorough and good.  What caught my eye was the shoulder shrugs of the city and state officials who should be coming up with a plan.  They seem to be willing to be bystanders as the airport continues to lose service.  Where are the proactive business people and pols who might make some effort at trying to keep airlines interested in Albuquerque?  The Mayor and Governor are out to a long lunch and the chamber of commerce is a joke.  They are to busy being mascots for the right wing Journal editor.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Days of Future Passed

Days of Future Passed is the name of one of my all time favorite Moody Blues Albums.  The title reminds me of the last three days spent with an old friend.

From the first through eighth grade at our Lady of Fatima Heights Catholic School in Albuquerque my best friend was Mike McDermott.  We were practically joined at the hip.  But we went to different high schools and his family moved to San Antonio Texas and we lost touch with each other for 54 years.  I often thought of him and tried to find him but had no luck doing so.  This is a picture of my brother Tom on the left, Mike in the middle, and me.

About six weeks ago I got an email from him.  He had been watching a Lobo football game and noticed that the name of Turner Branch on the UNM football stadium.  He googled the name and it took him to a webpage on the Journal site explaining why Branch's name was on the stadium.  Next to that story was a story about my brother Tom's Vietnam Helicopter missions which became a 60 minute documentary on NATGEO.  The story mentioned he was Mayor Jim Baca's brother and that made Mike think he might have found us.  He was then directed to my blog and got my email.

He sent his phone number and asked that I call him.  Long story short, he just came and spent three days with us.  It was like we had never been apart for these five and a half decades.  We toured all our old haunts.  Revisited infamous happenings.  Talked about our adventures lives and families.  Played golf.  Ate Chile. And had a great time.

Mike lost his wife Colleen four years ago.  He is a Viet Nam Vet who carries a purple heart, a retired iron worker, school teacher and career counselor and he still lives in the San Antonio area.  He is a good democrat surrounded by republicans who he gets along with. He is mostly a voice in the wilderness amongst them.  We agreed we are not going to wait another 50 years to get back together.

Sunday, November 10, 2013


We had a house full of veterans for Sunday evening dinner.  On the left is Mike McDermott-Buck Sgt. US Army, Tom Baca-Major US Army, Jan Baca-1st Lt. US Air Force, Jim Baca-Staff Sgt. US Air Force, Dave Miller-Petty Officer 3/C US Navy.  


There were a couple of op-eds in the Journal today regarding the upcoming election on abortion in the city  of Albuquerque.  One is by Archbishop Sheehan.  It is sophomoric, dogmatic and embarrassing.  He says even if the ordinance is unconstitutional at least some babies will be saved.  So naturally, screw the US Constitution!

The other oped is by  .  She makes a rational and legal argument for the other side of the question.  She totally demolishes his poorly thought out essay.

Another embarrassing thing in the Journal today was the article on the death of former rightwing GOP party chair John Dendahl.  He was an interesting intelligent guy who was really in the vanguard of today's take no prisoners attitude of the Tea Party.  The quote about him was that he took a position on something and didn't care what the consequences were.  And that is a good thing?

Friday, November 08, 2013

Rail Runner

The Rail Runner is going on five years of operations soon.  Like many things we tend to look at it as it passes by and don't really think about what it took to bring into reality.  This is a video I took on its opening run to Santa Fe in 2008.

RailRunner from James Baca on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 07, 2013


If fellow blogger Joe Monahan's pollster is right then the anti abortion foes will be handed a defeat this month by rational Albuquerque voters.  His poll sows a much wider gap than I think there is and after word of this gets out the Archbishop and fundamentalists will pull out all stops to pass the ban on certain abortions.  Some bible wielding fundamentalists decided we needed this after conferring with higher powers in heaven.  This will be a fun one to watch, but the issue will remain thorny no matter what happens.

This could also become a barbed issue for the republicans running the Mayor's office who let this expensive and unnecessary election take place.  The ordinance would have been unconstitutional but the Mayor was willing to waste a million dollars in a special election so the emotional issue would stay away from his election.  This self serving waste of taxpayer money will follow him for a long time.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Misc. Wednesday

Item.  The New Mexico Game and Fish Department says poaching of deer and elk are increasing in New Mexico.

Item.  The Tea Party and republicans have managed to reduce the amount of food going to poor people in New Mexico.

Item.  Does anyone think about the cause and effect of actions they take in politics anymore?

Item.  KRQE did another story on a hungry dog last night.  I have not yet seen a story on the reduction in food stamps to the poor.  Probably because hungry puppies get more ratings than hungry kids.

Item.  The Albuquerque City Council will take away cars of prostitutes and johns in a great blow for crime.(ahem)  Meanwhile the innocent families of many of them will not be able to go to the food bank in search of food because they have no car.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Luck of the Draw

So now NASA scientists are saying there are as many as 8 billion earth like planets in the goldilocks zone around stars like our sun.  And we end up with the Tea Party and the Taliban on this planet!  Think of the odds of such a political delusional philosophies being on any of those other planetary bodies.  One of the Tea Party faithful, a guy named David Barton, a right wing historian, is thinking about running against republican US Senator Cronyn in Texas.  This guy is saying that god has removed his protection from earth because of abortion.  That is why we are having these devastating storms you know. And earth quakes and other crap too!

And then one can't just wait for exclamations from the religious fundamentalists on why billions of  earth like planets aren't mentioned in the bible so they can't be real.  They will get around to it as soon as they stop campaigning to get this unconstitutional anti abortion bill passed in Albuquerque.

Monday, November 04, 2013


It is kind of sad to see the Valencia peanut crop in the Clovis and Portales area go with out any buyers since the Sunland Processing Plant declared bankruptcy after their problems with salmonella last year.  Their peanut butter sickened many folks.

The company really screwed the farmers in the area by withholding their planned bankruptcy information while the farmers planted.  Bad actors for sure at Sunland.

At the same time the farmers are faulting the Federal government for not helping them.  In the last five years the Feds have shoveled over five million dollars in subsidies to some of these farmers.  Those subsidies have been falling as they should, but to blame the feds for not being of more help while these same conservative farmers hate government and elect the likes of tea party darling Steven Pearce to Congress is a little over the top.

There is no better peanut that Valencia peanuts and I hope the farmers stay in business and a buyer is found for Sunland's plant.  Maybe the Governor's economic team should finally do something and go out and find a food processor to buy the facilities and make that good peanut butter.