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.

Sunday, November 03, 2013


I can't for the life of me figure out why anyone wants to run 26 miles in a marathon.  I see where a Kenyan won the New York race.  I am pretty sure his victory insures Ted Cruz's dad will want him sent back to Kenya immediately.  

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Let's Roll

I think it would be fun to find 27,000 Atheists in the city of Albuquerque to ask for an amendment to ban the practice of religion in the city limits.  That would be about as constitutional as this fundamentalist christian move on the abortion question.  At the very least we should now pass a measure that takes away any tax exemptions from property that churches own because the groups are nothing more than lobbying firms.

We were discussing this on our hike this morning and have decided that the ballot language itself is a violation of campaign laws since it is nothing more than a campaign advertisement for the religious right's abortion stance.  The fact that the City Attorney, City Council and Mayor did not write the ballot language but left it up to the fundamentalists is beyond belief.  The City Council should all be recalled for this.  The Mayor should be recalled for wasting money on the law suit that will ensue and his lackadaisical attitude on constitutional rights.   And the planned raise for the Chief Administrative Officer Rob Perry should be diverted to help pay for the law suit.  He has failed in his responsibility to protect city taxpayers.

Friday, November 01, 2013


The new Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell gave a speech yesterday at the National Press Club which has given some small rise in expectations from public lands conservation groups in the nation. Of course you will not have heard about it because the media is way too focused on the 'he said/she said' debate on the Affordable Care Act roll out.  Conservation issues are invisible in the media.

For those who care, Jewell hinted at the President's possible use of the Antiquities Act to declare more National Monuments in America.  Since congress is doing little on landscapes protection this might be the only way to get things done.  Congress did pass a designation for the Rio Grande del Norte Monument in northern NM due to the full support of the delegation and local communities.  Jewell is also insisting on the full funding of the Land and Water Conservation Fund and a more balanced approach to energy development on public lands.

This all sounds inane to most folks.  But coming from an Obama administration official it is a breath of fresh air since President Obama has done very little up to this point on using his executive powers to protect our western landscapes.