Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Uncle Jaime

It was my uncle Jaime Baca's 90th birthday today.  Many of  his friends and colleagues from St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Rio Rancho gathered for a luncheon for him at the Chamisa Hills Country Club.  My brother Tom and I posed with him before the event.

Jaime has been a Deacon at the Church for many years and is greatly respected.  You can see it in this birthday cake produced by one of the parishioners.  It was a thing of beauty.

Jaime is a retired Bernalillo Public Schools teacher.  He had many harrowing experiences as a gunner in a B-24 Liberator Bomber in the  5th Air Force in the Pacific during WWII.  He escaped many brushes with death.  He is one of the finest men I have ever known.

It was a bright, sunny and breezy day in Rio Rancho.  A bit to cool for a round of golf but the beautiful Sandias made up for that!


New Mexico, more than most, will feel the effect of less defense spending.  But that doesn't mean those jobs have to disappear.  They just need to turn into something else.

Maybe the Governor and Mayors should get to work on this.

The U.S. economy has contracted in the last quarter.  One of the reasons given is that the defense budget is shrinking.  Hooray.  Up to a point.  I think it is great we are spending less money on our warrior ways.  Those dollars in the end don't really produce anything.  The weapons systems are designed to destroy assets.  Not build them.

But, that money we have been spending should mostly be redirected into research and development of renewable energy.  We know right now that putting up solar panels on every roof top is a winner, so lets redirect some of that money into such a coal killing project.  It is a helps with climate change issues and it builds infrastructure.

The rest of those defense dollars that we will be saving ought to be jammed into the nation's efforts at improving our roads, highways, bridges, rail and other transportation systems.  This would create lots of jobs while improving our chances of staying off of collapsing bridges.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


I watched a phenomenal story on CBS news this evening about a young soldier who lost both arms and both legs to an IED in Iraq.  Surgeons transplanted a human arm onto him and it works.  His courage and outlook was good.

What isn't good and upsets me most is that young man will never be normal.  The men who put him on his road of suffering have all but escaped any recrimination or responsibility for putting him in harms way after lying about the need for war.  Those guys are george bush, dick cheney, and donald rumsfeld.  They should go down in history with the worst of war criminals.  There should never be any suggestion that these men can be historically rehabilitated.  


The issue of the year is sane gun control.  So of course the New Mexico Legislature's first committee to look at closing loopholes in private gun sale background checks has tabled the motion.  Will it see the light of day?

The big Pharma groups in Washington are trying to limit the sale of generic drugs.  This would cost the taxpayer dearly under our new national healthcare.  I assume all of these CEO and Boards are republicans soaked in greed.  They might be a real death panel.

The New York Times Science page today has interesting piece on all the little things that can kill you.  Like falling in the shower.  It says to pay attention to these little things. I guess not passing gun control legislation is one of the big things that can kill you.

The Republicans and the President and Dems are in a race to reform our immigration laws after the GOP realized that Latino voters count.  This is a good thing.  Now if we could just get our nation's environmental movement to recognize this fact too.  I challenge anyone to look at the boards and staff of national, regional and local environmental nonprofits and see  if there are any Latinos there.  I can tell you they are few and far between.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bosque VS. Walmart

I snapped this picture of the Bosque early this morning as the sun was peaking over the Sandias.  It was a beautiful scene.  I am glad I can go out and take walks again on my new knee.

The Bosque is a very special place for many of us in the Valley.  Whether you live on the east or west side of the Rio Grande it is a place of quiet nature.  Well, kind of quiet.

The Albuquerque City Council will soon have to decide whether a big box Walmart will settle itself into the scene near the Bosque School on Coors road.  This controversial siting decision by Walmart and its minions has been denied by the Environmental Planning Commission and the City Hearing Officer who upheld that decision.  There are over 7000 pages of written record and thirty hours of recorded testimony for the Council to peruse.  Nobody will ever convince me they will read those 7000 pages or listen to that testimony.  They will just sit and listen for a couple of hours and then make a political decision.  The question is will the five republican councillors and Mayor Berry just bend over for Walmart and enable them to build in this inappropriate place.  Or will one or two brave GOP councillors break ranks and do the right thing.  Let us hope so or the city will most likely be in for litigation that will cost us taxpayers deeply.

There are many places for Walmart to build their stores.  This site is not even close to being appropriate.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


 One of the front page headlines in the New York Times is about the crush of lawsuits against the new healthcare law that requires contraception be made available by the policies.  The religious nuts and far right wing says it violates their beliefs.  So, if you work for a church or a business owned by a fundamentalist you might be shoved aside.

A remarkably good headline story in the Albuquerque Journal today is how 70% of child births in New Mexico are paid for by medicaid.  Just listen to what anti tax right wingers say about this.  If you know any of them ask them to read the New York Times story.  I wonder if they might see any connection.  Strangely, the Journal didn't even mention contraception in its story.  No comments from family planners.  Just from the head of the chamber of commerce.  Weird.

My wife Bobbi says if contraception isn't allowed as coverage for women then no public monies should be allowed for erectile dysfunction drugs.  It too is a pill having to do with fertility and it is covered under the health care law.

And then on the other end of the equation we find that 24% of medicaid expenditures are spent on just 8% of medicaid recipients who are in nursing home care.  A whole industry has grown up around keeping people alive that have zero quality of life.  These companies exist on tax dollars earned by keeping folks alive no matter how much they suffer.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Internet Gone Wild

Yesterday I got several emails from folks saying the Land of Enchantment had a bad day after the introduction of a bill by Representative Cathryn Brown that seemed to say a woman could not have an abortion after rape or incest because it would destroy the fetus, which was evidence.  This went viral on the internet and will be there forever it seems.  One friend called from Tucson this morning saying Arizonans are pointing to NM as being crazier than they are.

After watching Rep. Brown explain that she did a bad job of reading the poorly drafted bill and that it was not what she intended at all, I think I do believe her.  She said the bill was meant to make it a crime for the perpetrator to coerce a woman to have an abortion to get rid of evidence.  But, it is probably too late for that apology and contrition.  It will be interesting to see if everyone from Huff Post on down will run this followup.

And here for the laugh of the week is something sent to me by my friend Ned.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


The University of New Mexico has lost out big time because of the greed of the Board of Regents and administration back in 1985.  It has now been announced by Forest City, the developers of Mesa Del Sol south of the Albuquerque International Airport, that they are pulling out.  This development should be a prospering community by now but the conflicted Board of Regents back in 1985 killed the development of the planned community because they wanted to figure out a way of taking the land held in trust for them by the State Land Commissioner and getting it into their own hands, thus depriving the permanent fund of the money.  I was Commissioner at the time and had worked closely with UNM to make sure the planned community would work.  I even parceled out a 480 acre section for them to  use as they needed.  They agreed to the process but when bids were opened on the first 2700 acre allotment the Board of Regents, heavily salted with conflicts of interest from westside developers, stopped the process and the winning bidder walked away.

Nothing was done with the project for years and the west side took all of the development.  Mesa del Sol withered and missed the boom.  The permanent fund lost big time and now that money is gone forever.  And UNM's current administration gets screwed for it.  

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Remember the Age of Aquarius?  Could it be returning?  Democrats and Republicans talking to each other in Santa Fe.  The Governor willing to compromise away her pogrom on immigrant drivers licenses.  Gay marriage legislation being introduced in the Round House.

Well, it is all a start.  And it is strangely driven by politicos looking at the shifting opinions of the people.  Many more are deciding that continuing the culture wars just aren't worth destroying the country.  One big shrug and many move on.  This is good and we need to ride this pendulum swing as long as possible.

I am making progress too.  Twelve weeks after surgery and I returned to the Golf course yesterday for 18 holes.  The sunshine and decent weather were a great tonic.  Yeah, I am a little wrecked today, but not as bad as I thought it would be.  My new knee is not painful at all.  My other one however is starting to scream again.  I will get that one replaced in a year or so.  

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Sometimes timing is everything.  Look at some of the republicans in our New Mexico State Legislature.  Rep. Nora Espinosa introduces a bill that would require New Mexico to ignore federal gun laws.  Another republican from Ruidoso wants to make it legal to carry concealed weapons into bars.

One really wonders how on earth such stupid people can be elected.  But is is really something we deal with in reality.  Kind of like poor timing.  The massacre of family members in the south valley of Albuquerque will certainly rain on this lunatic parade.

Did these bills ever have a chance of passing?  Probably not.  But the introduction of such legislation really shows off the pandering to lunatics that legislators are willing to undertake in order to hang on to their feeble political offices.

One last comment, if the father of the massacred family did have a felony in his past, why did he have firearms in his house?  There is something very strange with this tragedy.

A Point

One of my blog readers made a good point yesterday.  He was lamenting the fact that Senator Tom Udall was worried that his emails were running 10 to 1 against any gun control legislation.  Bubba Munster, a.k.a. Frank Conway, wonders why that has anything to do with good government.  So do I.

But if the email volumes are deciding what policy in the U.S. Senate should be then everyone of us needs to send an email to our delegation.  I guess emails equate to common sense now so we need to play the game with some of our more timid Senators and Congressmen.  Yes, all of them.

In the meantime, I am happy to see that Udall's quest to reform the filibuster in the Senate is actually getting traction.  If he can pull that off then there is one less thing to make the DC scene dysfunctional.  We should know if he is successful in a few days.

Monday, January 21, 2013


Another massacre, this one in our midst.  A son kills his family members with an assault rifle.  More children dead.  A father who was respected as a Pastor and Chaplain.  He owned guns and didn't keep them in a gun safe in a home with ten children.  Phenomenal and tragic.

We sat around yesterday and wondered why the Albuquerque Journal, who covered the tragedy well, and the rest of the media has never brought the Governor in for an interview on gun violence.  Or the Mayor.  I saw the Governor on TV last night pressing for more tough laws on sexual predators, but once again no one asked her about gun control.  Why does she get a 'bye'?  Every time she doesn't want to make comments her staff says she is unavailable.  She is a coward on the tough stuff.

And why has Mayor Berry not joined the U.S. Conference of Mayors group who are calling for more sane gun control?  Why hasn't he been questioned about gun control?

Shoddy and partisan journalism is the reason why.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Memory Lane

I had a nice trip down memory lane last week after getting an email from an old acquaintance, Peter Katel, a long time accomplished journalist.  He and I first met when I was working for Governor Bruce King as State Liquor Director in the late 70's.  He worked for the Albuquerque Tribune and was respected for his fairness and doggedness.

We met for coffee.  He has returned to Albuquerque after a great career working for the likes of Time and Newsweek.  Like me, he is lamenting the demise of decent journalism on all levels in America.  I know I constantly wonder what that means for the future of this country.  It probably isn't good.

You can visit Peter's website and learn more about him.  There is a section in there about his heroic mother's efforts in Europe during World War II.

Friday, January 18, 2013

TV and the PRC

I went to the gym this morning as I start a program to gain strength in my leg after knee surgery.  While working out the TV morning news shows were all about disgraced bike racer Lance Armstrong.  I mean real extended coverage now that his interview with Oprah has aired.  Even more coverage on the interview than the coverage on the 'suspense' leading up to the broadcast.

This cheater got more ink and airtime for his disgrace than bush, cheney or rumsfeld ever got for getting thousands of Americans and Iraqis killed in a war based on their lies.  At least it seems so to me.

What the media should be using their time on now is the NRA's use of the President's daughters as fodder in their pro assault rifle campaign.  Where is the national outrage?  Is it submerged?  Let's hope so.

Now that the Public Regulation Commission has tried to embarrass their head Insurance Department Director John Franchini, it would be the perfect time to for the legislature to just put together another amendment to do away with this posse of Bozos.  John is the most honest and competent Insurance regulator ever and when the likes of Karen Montoya who knows absolutely zero about insurance issues can gather votes to suspend him, it is time to put these folks out for good.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

2nd Amendment Jihadists

Charlie Domenici of Charlie's Sporting Goods said in the Journal this morning that this isn't a free country anymore because the President wants stronger gun control laws.  Charlie, whose store I frequented many years ago thinks any changes aren't good.  At that time you could wander through the store and not see any assault rifles for sale.  Just some WWII surplus carbines and M-1 Garands maybe. He can't seriously believe that stronger back ground checks and not selling to the mentally ill infringe on his freedoms does he?  Well, he is just following the nonsense that abounds in this country when you have a Governor like Susannah Martines who espouses stronger controls on issuance of drivers licenses than assault rifles.

The gun lobby is beginning to remind me of Islamic Jihadists in their fervor and hate of anyone who supports gun control.  They will give no quarter.  Only their one true god, the assault rifle, commands their every move.  It is downright frightening.  And then their NRA, the Al Qaeda of the movement, does anti gun control TV commercials showing the daughters of the President.  This is really sick.  Now they might be in real trouble with the first lady.

Yeah, post is a little over the top.  But so are the NRA and their minions.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Moving Vans

Rodger Beimer pointed out to me over coffee this morning that the moving van industry says New Mexico is one of only four states where more people are moving out than are moving in.  I wonder if the Governor and Mayors have noticed this factoid.  This bad news was also brought forth by UNM Economist Lee Reynis in the Journal this morning.  It should be the only thing that legislators are talking about today.

We also were talking about how much worse this could get when the federal budget comes out.  My best guess is that New Mexico will lose at least one military base.  Which one?  I think a likely candidate would be Holloman, AFB in Alamogordo.  It would devastate that part of the state.  A case to prove that is Roswell, NM.  Some 47 years ago it was announced that the Air Force was shutting down that 25 year old facility.  Walker AFB became a memory just as planning was underway to celebrate its Silver Anniversary.  Roswell has never recovered.  Even after almost 50 years!

This is why the legislators and Governor need to work together.  First off, and I am going off the reservation here, we need to support the Governor's efforts on lessening the liability of the manufacturers of equipment to be utilized in New Mexico's Spaceport operations.  If the trial lawyers are allowed to kill this effort, it will be on them to explain the loss of a future industry in an area that will need jobs if Holloman AFB does get the axe.  It may be that the new Senate Leader Mary Kay Papen will lead the way on this.  Former Senate leader Michael Sanchez voted down this effort once before even though his brother former Speaker of the House Raymond Sanchez was a lobbyist seeking its passage.

Ah, the webs we weave.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Please, Oh Please

Dear Legislators and Governor,

Please, Please!  There are 113 of you in this session.  Would it be possible to get one original idea on how to help our job situation in New Mexico?  Surely, 113 of you could come up with just one idea in 60 days that would help all New Mexicans.  We surely cant depend on the Media to do this because they are to busy reporting on the fight for control of the Senate.  That really doesn't mean spit to almost all of us.  What might be meaningful is for a bill that would set up a lobbying effort to protect our state's federal jobs.  You know, the decent salaries that keep us afloat.

Actually, just any innovative thing that moves the Land of Enchantment forward would be most welcome.  I know you can do it if you really try.

Jim Baca

Monday, January 14, 2013

The Legislature

Members of the Legislature, the Governor, the Albuquerque Journal and others have all set their priorities for the upcoming 60 day session in which most of the work gets delayed until the final two weeks.  That is normal.  What is upsetting to me is that none of the law makers or others have even indicated any concern for the number one issue facing this state and world.  And that is the relentless use of fossil fuels and an ensuing climate disaster.

Maybe it just requires to much science.  Maybe the oil and gas boys just wont give permission to even think about it to their mascots in Santa Fe.  Maybe the members just think that they can't do anything about it so why bother!   But that is where they are wrong.

Here is a idea I would like to see as a start and an indication they are thinking hard about the future.  How about taking all current oil and gas subsidies away from those tycoons of yesterday and turn it over to a fund to install solar panels on all public buildings in the state.  Schools, city halls, county court houses and even the state capitol.  That hundred million we give to fossil fuel corporations would go a long way in our quest for a sustainable state government, and a cleaner air shed.  This project would create jobs too!  And help an economy that the Governor and Mayors in this state seem to be helpless to grow themselves.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Suppression Coming Right Up

It is hard to find a more fanatical right wing republican than Rod Adair.  And he has just been hired by the Secretary of State Diana Duran to run our state's elections.  He is an ally of the extremist political advisor to Governor Martinez, Jay McClesky.

The Democratic party must immediately start camping out in the bureau of elections to make sure voter registration rolls are secure from manipulation under Adair's leadership.  He will be a big fan of voter suppression when it comes to the poor, progressives and others who might not see extreme conservatism as something that is good for their futures.

I wonder if the media will give this disastrous appointment some scrutiny and analysis.  I wonder if the legislature might be able to take action to protect the long time effort of keeping this Bureau of Elections out of the hands of extreme partisans.  We all remember the great leadership of the late Hoyt Clifton in that position.  That is the kind of person that should fill such a an important role.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Lines

I thought Governor Martinez liked to go hand out Pizza to people who had to stand in lines.  Well, voter lines anyway.   I wonder where she was yesterday as 800 folks stood in line to vie for 200 jobs at the new Target Store.  Not exactly high paying jobs....but something at least.   Oh, standing in applicant lines means she might get asked questions on her job creation efforts.  She wouldn't want that.

Maybe the Chamber of Commerce folks in Albuquerque could help.  Is it my imagination or have they been entirely invisible during this job meltdown in New Mexico and Albuquerque?  A friend of mine said yesterday that there are no leaders left in our business community who could gather round all the movers and shakers and get things rolling.  The Larry Willards, Bob Hoffmans, and Chuck Lanier types no longer exist in the Duke City.  And without active involvement of the Mayor and City Council to get things moving then we stagnate.


I see where the Albuquerque Police Department has suckered the press into showing another video of them catching car thieves after they take a 'bait car'.  It is very easy for them to show themselves in a positive light with a media that pays nothing for really crummy video.  Why not just hire a police captain as assignment editor at the TV stations or a police sergeant to run the city desk?  They would do it for free I bet.

I got a piece of mail from my State Farm Insurance agent offering to reduce my rates if I were to join their 'Drive Safe and Save' program.  So, I went to the website.  After reading up on it I decided only an idiot would participate. All you have to do to get a small percentage discount is to allow mega corporation State Farm to track your automobile usage and travel with your onboard GPS system.  Just what we need.  More loss of privacy to the marketing vampires of big insurance companies.  Do they really need to know every inch of travel you do?  What will they do with the information?  Sell it to other mega corporations?  Hand it over to Homeland Security?  Tell the world that you visit your favorite massage spa on a regular basis?   They really do think we are all stupid.

I have been insured by State Farm since I was 15 years old on a drivers permit.  They are an okay company when it comes to claims.  But this gives me pause about what direction they are headed in.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Self Preservation

The Governor had some self preservation genes kick in and has wisely accepted Medicaid expansion in the State.  She must know that as the state continues to hemmorage jobs that healthcare access will indeed become more serious.

And the news that the Albuquerque Metro area continues to lose jobs can not be ignored for both her and Mayor Berry's reelection campaigns.  As I read the story in the Journal the largest metro decrease in jobs occurred in Albuquerque.  3,900 jobs!  Not good at all.  And of course this news story has no comments from the Governor or the Mayor.  They are republicans after all .  Why should they be contacted?

Wednesday, January 09, 2013


Honestly, does the Governor and her rightwing handlers have mush for brains?  As I recall Susanna got a lot of state government workers to vote for her.  But now in some sort of twisted logic she is turning the possibility of a pay raise for state employees into something about small business.  She says small business does more with less and so public service employees should go just go screw so many words.

Last time I checked if a state employee, or any employee, has more income then they will spend more and those small businesses will do well.  But, it seems that this administration is somewhere in Gary Johnson's La La land when it comes to basic economics.  Martinez just shrugs over the possible loss of federal jobs.  Shouldn't she be traveling to Washington every ten days to make sure our federal facilities keep jobs for New Mexicans?  Has she ever done this?  If she is the GOP's right wing Latina sweetheart, wouldn't they work with her on saving these jobs?

Frankly,  she is just over her head and has no clue what to do, but wait!  There is always those immigrants drivers licenses to take away.  That can keep her busy while we melt.

Thursday, January 03, 2013


Steve Pearce, our tea party congressman and oil and gas mascot from the southern district actually voted for Eric Canter to replace Speaker Boehner in the Congress.  Even Canter voted for Boehner.  One can only wonder what synapses are firing in Pearce's brain when he does stuff like this.  It is remarkable.  And what did he gain for his district and state when he did this?  Lets see, federal budget cuts coming and he has how many military bases in his district?

We are leaving our cold weather in NM for a visit to our son and his family in upstate New York.  Probably colder there with a couple of feet of snow awaiting us.  But more importantly we get to see our 26 month old grandson Simon in the flesh.  Weekly computer sessions with him are nice, but being able to hold him in our lap and read to him will be a lot more fun.  Our heavily armed housesitter, with out need of an assault rifle, will be here taking care of the cats.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013


Yesterday's post omitted the word 'not' in a crucial place.  I do not believe that $179,000 is adequate to support a home in Washington and a home back in the home state for a Congressman or Senator who rely on that salary  alone for income.  Even if the spouse works and makes 100K a year.


I had this feeling that the Congress settling on the figure of $450,000  for higher taxes might take into account what the member and his family might be earning.  Do you think?  Having said that, I don't think people realize that the salary for these guys of $179,000 is not enough to support a home back in their state and a residence in DC.  That is why you saw guys like Martin Heinrich sleeping on the floor of his office in DC.  Members like him with no wealth face a tough road.

Yesterday afternoon as we were walking into see a movie downtown one of the TV News guys was standing alone with a microphone stuck out in front of the lens asking people what they thought of the 'fiscal cliff'.  It was a typical modern TV news story.  It required no real journalism or investigation.  It is what they do best.  I told him on camera to go out and do a real story that required some real work.  I doubt that made the news last night.

One of the things that is really aggravating me is watching TV commercials from two bit lawyers urging people to file for Social Security disability.  And of course the lawyer says he will take a cut if he is successful.  There are currently 8.7 million people collecting such checks.  And we wonder why Social Security is spending to much.   Even as a left of center kind of guy I don't think it should be easy to get this disability without a lot of investigation.  I don't mind helping people who are down on their luck, but I don't like freeloaders living their lives on fraudulent claims brought by desperate lawyers.

Also, we are in that period after the holidays of endless TV ads that sell stuff like ear wax removers and headlight restorers.  Why not just transfer the ear wax to the headlight?

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Things I Want to See

There are some things I would like to see happen in 2013.  First and foremost is for the President and Congress to get serious on the issue of climate change.  Nothing is more important.  All the other issues become irrelevant if the USA continues to ignore this global challenge.

Secondly, I would urge continued support of renewable energy.  The oil and coal boys can't see past their next quarterly reports and bonus awards and they use windfall profits to help elect their mascots to political office to thwart renewables.   All current oil and gas subsidies should be turned over to the solar and renewable sector.  And a lot more than that too.

The NRA should just go away.

Governor Susanna Martinez should show some vision in public works projects rather than drone on like a broken record on immigrant drivers licenses.  This vision thing is actually really important.  She should fire all of her right wing advisers and hire some futurists.  Her inaction shows a vulnerability which I never expected.

The Democrats should find a decent candidate and spend two years getting ready to take back the Governorship.  It can be done.

Mayor Berry should just force the Chief of Police into retirement.  Show some huevos!  Get some new outside blood to run that department.  And Berry needs to shore up his economic development department.

Senator Martin Heinrich should use his position on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to protect our watersheds and landscapes.  Of course, that is just what he will do.

Senator Tom Udall should take his campaign to reform Senate rules to the nation's people.  He described to me yesterday how one Senator is holding up over 200 bills on public land protection because he is anti public lands.  One Senator!  The problem is that Udall is not a publicity seeker but his instincts are right on.