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.