Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Editor of the Journal

Here is what editor Kent Walz of the Journal and the Lang family think about Americans.  It was written in an editorial this morning.

"Let’s face it. Many Americans just won’t work as carpenters, framers, drywall installers, bricklayers, roofers and painters. They won’t pour concrete or lay adobe. It’s honest work, and the pay is pretty good. But it’s just too hard. It’s easier to collect government bennies, play video games and get subsidized insurance."

This is pretty hard core stuff.  Even for the Journal.  It certainly shows the class bigotry and hate that rules that newspaper's editorial pages.  How can anyone even work there anymore?  Oh, I forgot, they are too lazy to pour concrete.  And, ironically, the Journal wants so called 'Right to Work' legislation to pass to kill unions.  Without unions the pay for concrete pouring jobs will go even lower and why would Americans want those kind of jobs?

Tuesday, December 30, 2014


When will we get proof that our right-wingers really hear from corporations who say they won't move to New Mexico because we don't have so called "Right to Work" laws. They never identify these people and our sap media never asks. They just take it at face value. And so that legislator and apparent working man hater, Sander Rue, who has introduced such legislation should be made to identify those companies that he talked about. There is only one reason for such a law to be passed, and that is to eradicate workers unions.
The new Attorney General, Hector Balderas, has provided proof that he is good at wielding an axe.  His summary firing of over 40 employees was a bit over the top.  It was a PR disaster that really did not have to happen in such a manner.  I am surprised.  He could have asked for everyone's resignation, and then offered to have them apply again to ascertain whether or not they were experienced and efficient state employees.  Yes, they were all at will employees, but little thought was shown in giving them their pink slips.  Some of them probably will walk off with strong institutional memory that Hector could use.  They will also walk off with a real dislike of the new AG.  That didn't have to happen.

Maybe the first person Hector should hire now is an experienced public relations officer who might show him how to do things with class.  

Monday, December 29, 2014


My favorite movie of the year was "The Imitation Game".  My other close favorites were "Interstellar, Grand Budapest Hotel, Railway Man, Calvary, and Fury.  All the other movies we saw were popcorn movies, although "Hunger Games" was pretty good.

On TV everything good we watched was on Netflix, Amazon or Hulu.  We have binge watched "Mozart in the Jungle, Alpha House, The Assets, Hinterlands, Black Mirror" and a few others.  I have also enjoyed FX's "American Horror Story."

Our viewing habits are inching us towards dropping the 250 satellite channels for good.  Just doing that would save $150 a month.  And we would put up an HD antenna on the roof to get those few good network shows.  But not until the final season of "Mad Men.'

My best reads were, "Under the Skin, The Bone Clocks, Blood and Thunder, American Elsewhere, Dreamers of the Day, The Three Body Problem, The Martian, A Calculated Life, The Madonnas of Leningrad, and Revival."

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Danger of Dogma

The editor at the Journal is trying to find ways to make the impending resumption of diplomatic relations with Cuba look bad for Obama.  The Journal insists that the killer of a NM State Policeman back in the early 70's, who then hijacked a TWA airliner to Cuba with two others, be sent back for trial as part of the deal.  It has been made clear that won't happen.  The Journal's position reminded me of the quote from author David Brin.

Saturday, December 27, 2014


That pathetic little 20 foot wide artificial skating rink on Albuquerque's Civic Plaza is the best metaphor I can think of for our state and city's diminished economic standing and outlook.  I mean really, it is so cheesy that it is hard to look at.  And the fact that it made big news in the Journal shows how desperate they are to make things look good for our Mayor and Governor, republicans all.

And then there is the New York Times story today on how the oil and gas producing states are in big trouble from falling energy prices and thus, revenues for the states.   However they never even mentioned New Mexico which is probably going to take the biggest all around gouging of any of the natural resources states.  Our state is the third largest net supplier of energy in the country.  And most of our eggs are in that basket.  But, New Mexico has become so invisible to the nation that we can't even get bad press.  Well, except for Mayor Berry's police department.

I would truly like to be more optimistic in the coming year.  But it seems that the concept of exceptional government and business leadership here will not be discernible for some time to come.

And please read this blogpost from one of my favorite SCIFI author David Brin.  He is a bit of a libertarian, but one that has a lot of common sense.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Senate Republicans

This must be read by every sane citizen to see where our republican Senators stand on reasons.

It was written by my life long friend Dennis Jett, a career diplomat and former Ambassador to Peru and Mozambique.

Republicans Are Blocking Ratification of Even the Most Reasonable International Treaties Why do they oppose the Arms Trade Treaty? Because the NRA tells them to.
By Dennis Jett <>
The world got a present on Christmas Eve, when an international treaty to limit the sale of weapons to warlords and terrorists went into effect <> . The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) aims to limit the number of civilians slaughtered around the world by requiring any country that sells weapons to establish the same kind of export criteria that the U.S. and other Western democracies have in place. It has been signed by 130 countries and ratified by 60, ten more than it needed to become effective. When the U.N. General Assembly put it to a vote last year <> , only three countries opposed the treaty outright: North Korea, Syria, and Iran.
While the Obama administration has signed the treaty, there is no chance it will get the 67 votes needed for Senate ratification. In October 2013, 50 senators sent the president a letter <>  expressing their opposition to the ATT. They included every Republican except Mark Kirk, and five Democrats—Joe Manchin, Mark Pryor, Mark Begich, Mary Landieu and Kay Hagen. (Manchin was the only one of the Democrats who was not up for reelection last month, and all four that were lost.) So the Republicans stand together with the Axis of Evil 2.0 because the National Rifle Association <>  opposes the treaty. The NRA sees it as a potential threat to gun ownership because it does not explicitly provide a guarantee of the “American people’s rights under the Second Amendment.”
In the Senate’s first two centuries <> , it approved more than 1,500 treaties. It rejected only 21; another 85 were withdrawn because the Senate did not take action on them. A treaty that is not approved, rejected, or withdrawn remains in limbo. At present, there are 36 treaties <>  awaiting action by the Senate, dealing with everything from the protection of albatrosses to the testing of nuclear weapons.  
While protecting waterfowl might seem like something reasonable people could agree upon, apparently no issue is too small for the foes of the imaginary threat of a world government. There are more serious questions not being addressed, however, including:
—The United States has six tax treaties with over 60 countries to prevent double-taxation and make tax evasion more difficult. Republicans have prevented approval <>  of the six, costing the country billions <>  in lost revenue each year.
—Drafted over thirty years ago, the Law of the Sea Treaty is designed to bring some order to the world’s oceans and lessen the chances for conflict in places like the South China Sea. Ratified by 162 countries and supported by the oil and gas industry, the Pentagon, environmentalists, and past presidents from both parties, it was opposed by Republicans because “no international organization owns the seas <> ."
—The Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities would apply the standards found in American law to other countries. It is supported by veterans’ groups and corporate interests and has been ratified by 141 countries. Home-schoolers and right-to-life groups <>  opposed it, however, believing false claims that it would interfere with their children’s education and increase access to abortion. When it came to a vote two years ago, 38 Republican senators voted nay.
—The Convention on the Rights of the Child, one of the most popular and respected human rights treaties in history, was negotiated during the Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush administrations with major American input. The United States may soon be the only country <>  among the 193 members of the U.N. that has failed to ratify it. Opponents argue it would hurt traditional families and the rights of parents.
One of the most frequent criticisms of any treaty is that it undermines American sovereignty. But that is the price of international cooperation. Any relationship, whether between two people or among two hundred countries, requires some limits on what one party can do. Globalization has made such cooperation even more imperative; it is impossible for one nation to deal unilaterally with today’s gravest problems. Even the world’s only superpower cannot ignore that fact.
The term “American exceptionalism” never appeared in any party platform until the election in 2012. It made its debut in the Republican platform that year as an 8,000-word section, devoted to the concept that America holds a unique place and role in human history. If the GOP continues to let paranoia prevent this country’s leadership, or even participation, in addressing the challenges created by an ever-more globalized world, that role in history will be short.
Dennis Jett is a professor of international affairs at Penn State University <> and the author of American Ambassadors—The Past, Present and Future of American Diplomats <> .

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Holidays

Our new grand daughters Alex and Katy met Santa in the NICU in Fort Collins, Co.  The twins are now eight weeks old.  We look forward to their arrival home soon so their parents Noelle and Luke can have them full time.

 Bobbi and I would like to wish all of you a great holiday season and a prosperous New Year.

Monday, December 22, 2014


The transition for the Valles Caldera(our old Baca Family Land Grant) in the Jemez Mountains to the National Park Service has happened.  What everyone seems to forget is that former Senator Pete Domenici had cooked up the hybrid management of that area because he didn't like public lands being increased.  No matter it was one of the most beautiful areas in the state.  The effort was doomed from the start because there was not enough money to break even.  Now the area will be managed, for good or worse, by the Park Service.  But of course Domenici's failed gambit of freezing public lands protections in such schemes got no attention.

The Albuquerque Journal had a bizarre and rambling editorial this morning about the great Obama initiative on Cuba.  It tried in everyday to make it look like a bad decision by the president, while at the same time saying it might be good.

And, amidst falling oil prices, another oped on the importance of the approval of the Keystone pipeline was spoon fed to us.  Really, the people who see a need for this pipeline are no different than those people who see no need for a change in our relationship with Cuba.  They are pathetically out of touch with reality.

And speaking reality, here is a good read about religion and we people known as 'nons'.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Drones vs. Torture

It is amazing really.  More people are upset about drones flying around their neighborhoods than are upset about this nation's torture of enemies.  The polling shows it.  Apparently NSA spying isn't up there with drones shooting video of your neighborhood either.

Wynn Quigley's column in the Journal this morning was a keeper.  It is a must read about the average American citizen's tuning out.  People seem to only care about things if it involves social media.  Think about Korea hacking Sony Pictures instead of the CIA.  Remarkable.

I had a conversation with a friend this morning who said a long time democratic voter told him that she hated the negative advertising and the policies of the Governor Martinez, but that she just could not vote for Gary King because he was so despicable.  So the negative ads worked on her even though she hated them.  All is lost.

Friday, December 19, 2014

It Never Ends

The Albuquerque Journal just can't help itself.  Today they let a bloviating finance professor blame the working men and women of America for its decaying infrastructure.  Unions are the problem, along with environmental regulations, which adds up to high costs for repairing our nations highways, bridges and other systems that have been ignored in favor of weapons programs and wars. Let me think, how does a $250 million dollar fighter bomber jet produced by union labor in the defense industry differ from a $8 million bridge rebuild?  I guess I am not smart enough to figure it out.

This guy also said that the multibillion dollar projects that are being done in big cities are to costly.  But he seems to forget that all of that money goes to large engineering and construction firms that are constantly overrunning their estimates and ripping off the taxpayers.  (Same as the defense industry.)  Well, after all, the honchos in these groups are part of that 1% we all hear about.

I have been predicting for some time now that our daily right wing newspaper, which is in very deep financial trouble,  may end up just publishing three times a week.  Or perhaps they will just become an online newspaper.  At least then the frequency of their rightwing editorial pages will be lessened.

So far they haven't quite fallen to the level of local TV newscasts.  Their daily lineup now consists of private security or smartphone video of some sort that is hardly newsworthy.  If Channel 13 shows the video of the fight on a bus again with a cop getting tasered, I will never watch them again.  Ever.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


First the good news.  President Obama will open diplomatic relations with Cuba.  I thought this would happen and if the right wingers in Florida don't like, Screw Them!

The slaughter of innocent school children in Pakistan by armed religious fanatics may well be the end of the Taliban in that country.  Wouldn't it be meaningful to see the same thing happen in this country to the NRA's continued support of assault rifles for everyone?  All those children who died at Sandy Hook Elementary School have not inspired anyone in this country to react as we all seem to want the Pakistanis to react.  I had a friend say yesterday that he thought the NRA was as evil as the Taliban.  They may be.  But the gun manufacturers motive is profit, while the Taliban want a religious state.  The demise of both of these groups as currently organized would be a plus for civilization.

So, as New Mexico sits at the bottom of economic recovery the big issue of the day for the republican legislators and governor still involves drivers licenses for undocumented workers.  If this doesn't point out their lack of ideas, I don't know what does.  In the meantime the government hating GOP in our state stays silent on the fact that the state made out well in the federal budget.  That means at least some high paying jobs will remain intact.

The Albuquerque Journal subscription statement sits right in front of me.  What to do?  After reading one of their insipid editorials this morning I am close to trashing it.  They said that the meteoric rise in generic drug prices is unexplained.  Well Mr. Editor, I can give you the explanation. It is about American Corporate greed and the consumers ability to just stupidly absorb these hits with out raising hell. The Journal needs this explained?  They want someone to look into this issue which is good.  But, they just can't bring themselves to admit the obvious.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


We all should be made aware of which congressmen inserted the language to weaken campaign finance laws into the budget bill.  We must know who is responsible for pimping for the rich who would make our division of wealth even more skewed.  I am betting Congressman Steve Pearce is one of them, or at least complicit.  This wasn't compromise.  It was extortion on a grand scale and we need to take names.

Senator Martin Heinrich has taken a stand against selling public lands to fund an International Mining  Company to walk away from leases in sensitive areas in California.  Heinrich says it would set a horrible precedent, and I agree.   In taking this stand Heinrich has shown he is not afraid to oppose Senate Democratic leadership.  It is refreshing.  Heinrich supports buying out the leases, but not by selling other public lands.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Us Vs. Them

The nice near valley neighborhood we live in has been experiencing some burglaries lately.  Although crime is down overall, we are being especially hard hit this year.  Thieves are coming in through smashed sliding doors, skylights and splintered entryways.  Even with burglar alarms going off they spend 30 seconds grabbing jewelry boxes and such.  It is very unsettling.

Some in the neighborhood immediately want to put up gates.  In my opinion there could be nothing worse than cutting ourselves off from the rest of Albuquerque.  And it would cost a fortune as the HOA would have to pay for all of the public streets, sewer and water lines, the park, road maintenance and such.  It will never happen.  The only thing that will stop this activity is good police work, which we haven't seen yet, or the legalization of drugs that will no longer necessitate junkies breaking into our homes to feed their habits.

The reaction of some of our neighbors is understandable.  But sometimes I sense a lot more going on in these situations.  The ideas of gates turns the issue into one of 'us vs. them.'  Them, being people that are not like us in economic standing, skin color, and security.  I don't think we have a neighborhood full of racists because we are pretty diverse.  But I think people are very angry at the instability of our political system overall which they feel helpless about fixing.  They feel vulnerable and they want to build walls to protect themselves. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

PNM Screws Solar

They will deny it, but PNM is coming after roof top solar advocates with an axe.  They want to charge a $21 a month fee for 'grid maintenance' to those who sell power from their rooftops to PNM to resell.  This is an abomination.  (I love that word).

We put our solar panels on the roof in 2008 and we have been heavily selling to PNM ever since.  In fact we make about $700 a year over what we pay them in the hottest months of summer.  We are fortunate we got in early because we get a good lifetime rate from PNM.  If you were to put solar on your roof now, which is much cheaper than when we installed it, it would be less and this monthly fee would kill the solar industry in New Mexico for residential.

This proposal should be shown an early grave by the PRC in Santa Fe.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Deeper and Deeper

Kim Vesley of the Rio Rancho School district, their longtime flack and an old friend, is piling the bullshit deeper and deeper on the case of the school teacher fired because one of her students wrote something that another student didn't like.

But, first I digress.  I played golf today out at Santa Ana and a young CNM student and former team golfer for that Rio Rancho school joined us and said that the teacher was one of the most popular and effective instructors in the school.  He was really angry they had fired her.  He said that she was a teacher who really taught the students how to think and be creative.  He just kept gushing out compliments on her when I asked him what he thought about the situation.  But, gosh, he was only a student.  Right?

Now back to the bullshit factory.  I had asked Kim Vesely for the biographies of the School Board Members.  She said they didn't keep biographies of their elected officials.  If they don't, they are incompetent.  If they do and don't want to reveal them now then there might be something discoverable about them that would put them in a bad light.  Whatever the reason, it is bullshit.

Just like the statement that Vesley sent out yesterday saying that the fired teacher used profanity and sexually explicit language in her classroom.  OMG! I wonder if her high school students have never heard something like that!

I remember as a sophmore at St. Pius X here in Albuquerque that we were given reading assignments that included George Orwell's "1984".  There was lots of sex in that book for those days.  All the students were talking about it.  But now fifty years later you can't even make a sexual reference in school?  That indicates to me that fundamentalism is alive and well in that institution.

The media has gone silent on this in the last couple of days.  So they might be on to something I am missing.  Time will tell.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Rio Rancho Response

Service Temporarily Unavailable

The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later.

Apache/2.2.14 (Ubuntu) Server at Port 80
This was the response to my inquiry to the Rio Rancho PR department on the possibility of getting the biographies of the School Board Members.  I am guessing their servers are overloaded with outrage from all sides because of this stupid decision to force the resignation of this teacher.

Rio Rancho Schools

Well, the Rio Rancho School District may take away from APD the prize for being the most inept organization at handling public relations.  It appears they backed a loved teacher into a corner because one of her students wrote something that Christian Fundamentalists don't like.  They forced her to resign.  The School district will hem and haw that it wasn't the reason, but certainly it was.  I imagine if one were to look over the school board up there that there would be a few fundamentalists in those seats.  The Albuquerque Journal wrote a great story on this today.  I hope they will follow up.

Apparently, the students at the High School really like this teacher.  She teaches them to think and write.  Apparently not a good thing up there.  If I were the students at that institution I might call for a walk out because of the attacks on their inability to keep good teachers from being fired for bad reasons.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Peeling Layers

I have the feeling that watching the APD come after the DA on her son's crimes as a drug addict will turn into something akin to peeling an onion.  There will always be another layer of intrigue.

Yesterday, Kari Brandenburg, did a great job of defending herself against the cops who leaked a story to a salivating Albuquerque Journal that put the charges out there that the DA kept her son out of trouble by agreeing to pay for items stolen from his victims.  Once again, any parent would do that, but not every parent is a DA whose job it is to charge people with crimes.  Muddy waters.

But for an investigation to be leaked to the Journal in which the cops never even interviewed the DA is highly weird.  There is something else afoot here I think.  It may just be the general incompetence of the APD in dealing with its image.  Or maybe it is a warning shot across the bow that the DA better not indict any cops in shootings of unarmed people.  Although that has not happened anyway.  But maybe Brandenburg in looking around the country feels she must now take action against the cops who gunned down that homeless man in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains.

Someone should call Janet Blair, the recently departed APD public relations person, to see if she would be willing to talk about how decisions like this are made at APD.  They certainly never listened to her because she was not one of the 'club' there.  So of course she probably viewed at an outsider.  That whole 'us against them' philosophy in APD.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Bernalillo County DA

Apparently our longtime and likable Bernalillo County DA, Kari Brandenburg, is being scrutinized for trying to protect her drug addict son from facing prosecution.  Just about any parent would do that I think, although not every parent is a District Attorney.  This is a troubling controversy.

But I have to say it pales beside the failure of her office to ever bring an indictment against the police officers who have engaged in a killing spree over the last few years in the city of Albuquerque.  That is a massive failure of her office and it really needs to be examined by the mainstream media, or at least the Justice Department.  Or, maybe they are looking at it.

The sweetheart relationships between the prosecutors and the cops has always existed.  But it is at a point where there needs to be some sort of ombudsman who can handle these police shootings in front of grand juries.  That system is already flawed enough that alleged perps, who are not cops, have little in the way of tools to use in these one sided legal proceedings.  Someone needs to do some original thinking here that might be turned into legislation.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Tiny Brains

There will be a lot of people gnashing their teeth because a new APS Superintendent may have starting pay of $300,000.  Already some idiots on Facebook are saying $200K should be more than sufficient.  Such tiny brains on some people.  They would pay someone multiples less than a basketball coach?  Yeah, they would.  Tea Party sized brains.

Frankly, I think the salaries should be switched.  Pay the new APS head the millions and the coaches in the NCAA $200K, because right now everything is upside down.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014


Bobbi and I went to see the movie, "The Theory of Everything", which is about Stephen Hawking and his wife Jane Wilde, as remarkable a woman as he was a brilliant cosmologist.  I recommend it as a movie more about a love story than one of those outlier thinkers that fascinate me so much.

Next on our list to see is "The Imitation Game", about Alan Turning during WWII.  He essentially broke the German enigma code by inventing a computer.  After saving his British Government and most of Europe they later arrested him for being gay.  One more silly progrom  against people that has nearly disappeared.  We do make progress, mostly.

These Outliers must live in a different world than us.  They come along once in a generation to really change the way we must view the natural world.  Physicists, Biologists, Economists, and other scientists have really made progress possible because of their powerful brains and curiosity.  I wonder what it is like to be inside that process in their heads.  Pure thinking.

So, the question is,  can we include anyone in the realm of political scientists as outliers.  Some exist I know.  Some would say Jefferson, others would say Marx.  I would think in American History that the Roosevelts were outliers.  But, since then we really haven't seen anyone of their stature ascend the world stage, have we?  We could sure use one of those types right now who has it all.  Charisma, compassion, progressive ideals and the means to make the population understand and embrace them.

But maybe that can't really happen anymore with the role that big money plays in leadership.  We can't go many more generations in this mode of operation.  Really.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

State Government

The silence is eerie, or maybe it is just a lack of media coverage.  I would like to know a lot more about the pending budget disaster as New Mexico faces plummeting revenues due to the fall in price for oil and gas.  Susana Martinez and her minions are silent, but the problem will become real in about six weeks when the legislative session begins.  And, it is always interesting to hear the GOP whine about the federal jobs in the Land of Enchantment being too important to our economy, while at the same time the over reliance on oil and gas royalties and taxes goes unmentioned.  What this is really about is a complete lack of a plan for economic development in the state.

Governor Martinez and Secretary of State Diana Duran are trying to interfere in a lawful recount of votes in the Land Commissioner race.  They are ignoring requirements of state law and the issue will be vetted by Commissioner Ray Powell to the Supreme Court.  Ray has a mountain to climb in overcoming a 700 vote loss to the republican Aubrey Dunn Jr.  But, it could happen.

Back in 1982 I won the primary election for Land Commissioner over the oil and gas backed democrat.  Election night I made a comeback at midnight to win by 780 votes.  The oil and gas boys parked lawyers and operatives in the Secretary of State's office to try and finagle the numbers.  In the end, after three weeks of ups and downs, I won by 1086 votes.  I went on to carry the ticket in the General election with the most number of votes and the largest percentage margin of victory.  It was a good year.  

Monday, December 01, 2014


Sometimes unrelated stories in the media are really about the same thing.  For example, take the question of corporate welfare subsidies.  The Bernalillo County Commission is considering approving a massive land development scheme, named Santolina, on the southwest mesa of Albuquerque.  This will heavily impact taxpayers in the future and will enrich the owners of the property while degrading the quality of life here through poor planning and water shortages.

There is also a story about corporate subsidies somewhere in the lame brained idea of spending up to a billion dollars to dam the Gila River so a few farmers and land developers can enrich themselves at the expense of destroying an eco system and riparian system.  Even the Albuquerque Journal is urging a close look at this.

But, sometimes there is hope.  The NY Times reports that the owner of the coal mine where 29 miners died in a West Virginia mine has been indicted.  He is a notorious political power in that state and his penchant for profit over safety for his workers has caught up with him.  He should spend the rest of his life in prison.  Now, if some of these Wall Street criminals could be given the same treatment, one could have some faith restored in holding people responsible for their crimes.  

Sunday, November 30, 2014


Former City Councillor has Pat Baca passed away.  I always thought he was one of the best local elected officials ever in the City of Albuquerque.  He was tough, compassionate and bipartisan in his approach to city issues.  He was always willing to discuss his positions and work out compromises.  And he was a very honest guy.  He will be missed.

I also will miss Sam King of Stanley, NM.  Sam was Governor Bruce King's older brother and was a guiding light for that King family.  I got to know him well when I was Press Secretary for Governor King, helped run his second campaign and then served under him as the Alcoholic Beverage Control Director.  Sam was interesting in that he was the only King brother that would have an occasional drink.  I think he also got Bruce to go along with the reform of Liquor laws back in 1980.  He was a smart guy and very charismatic guy.

The Albuquerque Journal Obituary Page has write ups on both of these great guys. Thanks to Mark Bralley for the Photo of Pat.

Monday, November 24, 2014


We are off to Fort Collins for Thanksgiving and to see our new twin grand daughters again.  Alex and Katy are gaining weight rapidly after being born 11 weeks early!  Their dad and mom, Luke and Noelle, are in training for sleep deprivation.  They will probably come home in six weeks or so.

I know for the most part, only people who are close to the family can truly appreciate photos like these.  But these girls are a couple of real fighters!

Our house sitter has new weapons and alarm upgrades to keep those bad guys away.

Friday, November 21, 2014


The lunatic fringes that rail against all things Obama or all things progressive can really get a person down.  But sooner or later they will most likely be dying off in droves because they are aging fast.  They just don't seem to understand the younger generations have a whole different take on how things should be.  Think Gay marriage here.

At the same time younger generations need to ramp up some real civil disobedience to address the great right wing tilt of our congress.  It will happen when the division of wealth in this country widens even more, if that is possible.  I hope I am around to see it.

The actions of the President yesterday to push back on immigration might signal the start of a great push back.  It is the kind of fight that might just get the republicans into a corner and force them to become the moderates they once were.  

Thursday, November 20, 2014


The republicans are forecasting Armageddon if President Obama issues an executive order giving certainty to the lives of millions of immigrants.  President Reagan and President bush did the same thing.  So weird.

Governor Martinez intervened in a case to help a young Mexican boy get surgery in Albuquerque, New Mexico for the removal of a large tumor.  (a nice gesture).She asked immigration officers to allow him extra time in this country.  At the same time she supports not letting his parents have a drivers license or immigrant status to help with his recovery.  So weird.

I had a dream last night that a fire fight broke out amongst different medical practices over who would get to use their favorite solutions for my prostrate cancer.  Some wanted to cut, some wanted to radiate and some wanted to do numerous biopsies and hormone treatments.  They were all chasing me because I had good insurance coverage.  Really, I did have this dream.  So weird.  I have decided what to do and I am confident in my providers.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014


Thanks to Senators Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall for their votes against the Keystone XL pipeline. It was a courageous thing to do but also common sense ruled their decisions too.  It is a project that we just don't need.

And thanks to former Interstate Stream Commission Director Norm Gaume for his diligence in keeping the current Commission and staff on notice that they can't do incredibly stupid projects along the Gila River.  His law suits have held the Commission accountable for questionable and illegal actions in trying to get the boondoggle on the road.  Now, if we could get some serious journalists to look into who is pulling the strings on this issue and why they are doing so.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


Get back in your 'wayback' machine to 1986.  After the general election that year Democrat Brant Calkins came out 800 votes ahead of his republican opponent Bill Humphries in the Land Commissioner race.  A few days later a transcription error was found in the San Miguel County vote totals that completely turned the race around giving the win to Humphries.  Humphries was not a bad guy, he was an old time republican who was conservative but not a wacko.  My advice to Ray Powell is to park some sharp people in the Secretary of State's office to make sure she does a proper job of recounting the ballots.  Because you are not out of this yet.

The peculiar hate of government jobs, the ones that pay well and provide benefits, continues in the Mayor's Office.  Mayor Berry thinks we depend on them to much.  Well, if he and his minions were doing a halfway decent job of economic development then they would just become part of a healthy mix.  In fact, if Berry was smart he would pursue the Federal Government locating more back office operations here in Albuquerque.  Much like the US Forest Service has done.  They moved nearly 2000 jobs here some years back and hardly anyone noticed.  But they are good jobs for our city and we could use more like them.

In a plus for Berry it seems he is making an effort at reviving downtown redevelopment that was abandoned by Mayor Marty Chavez.  Molina Health Care is moving 600 employees down there and the UNM/City/Business efforts there may pay off too.  Meanwhile the parochial minded city council can't give up little projects of their own to do one large one for the good of the whole city.  I still say a good multi purpose arena downtown would provide another great center for activity.  But that is big idea stuff that the council can't seem to embrace.

Speaking of Marty Chavez, he is now on the payroll of those who don't want to see internet neutrality maintained.  And he says he is representing Latinos around the country.  I kind of doubt that is true.

Monday, November 17, 2014


No, that is not a misprint of NIMBY, which as you know stands for 'Not in My Back Yard".  NIMBY was the title of the Sunday editorial in the Albuquerque Journal.  It took to task what they think are the rubes who live in San Miguel and Mora Counties for their attempts at keeping the fossil fuel boys from ruining their water supplies.  What do the locals know, after all?  Well they drink the water don't they.  The Journal made a silly reference to them freezing to death in winter because of opposition to drilling and fracking.  Gee, they have been around up there in the north for hundreds of years with out the oil boys already.  And they didn't freeze.

NIMFY to me means 'Not in My Front Yard.'  As in the Albuquerque Journal being thrown there every morning by our steady and true deliverer of the NY Times and Journal.  But honestly, I just can't live with out the insipid editorial pages and right wing editor kick starting my heart every morning.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


We were talking over coffee this morning on whether Governor Martinez, when she considers a run for VP of the USA, will again run against Bill Richardson.  It is the only thing she knows how to do.  She pretty much ran against him twice so far, while ignoring that great campaigner Gary King

I am getting really annoyed with TV commercials shot in slow motion.  Also commercials that show people doing yoga.  Or people doing stupid dances in celebration of chicken wings.  Or guys in three day beards celebrating the end of erectile dysfunction while smiling at their prancing wives.  In fact, every guy you see on TV commercial has a three day beard.  Damn!

If you are into SCI FI you might want to read Cixin Liu's Three Body Problem.  He is a famous Chinese author and the first book of his trilogy has been translated and published.  I read it in two days.  It is magnificent.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Gila Monster

The harebrained idea to dam the Gila River and tributaries will give a new definition to 'Gila Monster.'  Close to a  billion dollars, environmental destruction, and profits for a few farmers will be the result of this Susana Martinez sponsored boondoggle.  And to top it off, the data that the Interstate Stream Commission is using to justify this project is being kept under lock and key with no peer review.  It is insane!  Right up there with the Keystone pipeline project that will take the world's dirtiest form of fossil fuel, tar sands, and pipe it through the USA from Canada to Houston for export.

I call on Senators Heinrich and Udall to continue running interference from the federal level on these destructive and future killing projects.

Friday, November 14, 2014


It will be interesting to see how Governor Susanna Martinez and her minions will handle the coming budget meltdown resulting from the drop in oil prices.  As the boom bust cycle reasserts itself in the oil patch with massive layoffs and curtailed drilling, then I predict New Mexico could go to the very bottom of almost all economic rating categories in the country.  Much of this will occur because Martinez and her neocon staff has done absolutely nothing to grow our economy in other sectors.  Two years from now she will be reviled for her incompetence and her political advisors will be run out of the state.  Of course, between now and then she may well pass the so called 'Right to Work Law' which will put downward pressure on living wages in New Mexico.  We are truly in dark times.

On the national level, with nothing left to lose, President Obama will finally do something about immigration.  Speaker of the House John Boehner said that the American people don't want these kinds of actions taken.  That was why the GOP took the Senate.  But actually they took the Senate because nothing was happening and government was broken.  Now something will happen on this issue that has been festering for years because of GOP inaction.  I am pretty sure the President will be breaking out his executive policy powers on any number of issues.  Good for him.

And the Senate Democrats continue to pander to the people who never support them by rallying around Senator Landrieu from Louisiana who never supports the positions of her own party.  Would the dems really support the Keystone Pipeline just to help her?  It really would not be worth it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Good News

It was great to see President Obama take a strong stand on Net Neutrality.  It is hard enough to get decent service from a monopolized system like we have in Albuquerque where our internet service is pretty much limited to Comcast.  Recently, our neighborhood listserv has been full of complaints against Comcast.  Even though your bill goes up every couple of months, you get worse and worse service.

It was also good to see President Obama and the Chinese leadership make progress on climate change  mitigation.  Most see it as a step forward.  Now, the President needs to bite the bullet and kill the Keystone Pipeline.  This would show a real pushback against the oil and gas industry who value profits over planetary health.

In the not so good news department, I have a feeling that these plummeting oil prices will really smack down New Mexico's budget.  It is funny to see how Governor Martinez and her minions are always complaining that the Federal dollars being pumped into our state are bad because we depend on them too much.  But at the same time they ignore the immense amount of money from oil and gas taxes and royalties that keep out state afloat.  And don't forget the major portion of that money really is not a tax, but a payment for state and federal owned oil and gas on public lands.  

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Noelle's Selfie

Our daughter Noelle took a selfie and it almost looks like a classical painting.  She is holding one of her twins, Katy.  A Pieta.  A Madonna and Child.


Think of these guys as the General Managers of the four main TV stations in Albuquerque.  They did hit the Bonanza with over $13 million dollars in revenues for this last election cycle.  Think of their cook, Hop Sing back in the Kitchen, as the Albuquerque Journal who probably didn't clock a quarter million in ad revenue.  If that doesn't tell you where things are going in newspaper land then you are an aspiring print journalist.

This amount doesn't include cable TV and radio, so the number is much higher.

Of course most of this money was sent in by special interest groups.  

Monday, November 10, 2014


The republicans and the Journal are on the Voter i.d. issue again.  A non issue really, but what is the harm in it?  As you know I don't see any problem with it, but only if the proper infrastructure to make it easy to get an i.d. is put in place.  If any bill is introduced requiring these little pieces of paper, then every single county and city must make available a place to get the i.d. with little hassle.  They must have access to the birth certificate data base nationwide so a person can retrieve their certificates on the spot.  Same with the social security system.  A guaranteed wait time of no more than 15 minutes for anyone required to get these i.d.s should be put in place. If this is not done then no bill should be passed.  What will the paranoid republicans do if it actually costs money to their corporate sponsors via taxes?  Voter suppression costs would probably be seen as a good investment by those one percenters and CEOs.

I got a comment from the Aubrey Dunn campaign management team the other day via facebook.  It  said I should be culled from the human race. That is cowboy talk. Is this what we are to expect from his administration at the State Land Office?  Well, only if you are not from the fossil fuel, mining or livestock industry I guess.

Saturday, November 08, 2014


I wrote a note to a friend in Mexico City today to ask him if he has regrets about moving home and business there in light of the killings of those students in southern Mexico by corrupt government and drug gangs.  He says he is distraught but that this is a disaster for the gangs and the government because, like the James Boyd killing in Albuquerque, the dam has broke.  I certainly hope so.

We kill our students in this country in a different way.  Not violently or instantly.  We just kill their economic futures with our system of student loans and division of wealth.  It is just as tragic.  Why can I finance a new car cheaper than a student can finance a semester of school?  Because the banks and Wall Street run things and their tools, including many democrats, sit by and let it happen.  

Friday, November 07, 2014


I went to the first showing of the movie "Interstellar" last night.  If you are looking for a shoot em up space western, you wont like this movie.  If you are into time, relativity and gravity this is the one for  you.  And it has a good story about the climate slowly ending life on earth and the need to find a new place to live.  Dealing with some of the paradoxes in the movie is fun.

On a personal note it is time for me to start taking some treatments for my prostrate cancer.  We have been watching it for five years and the time has come to get more aggressive.  We will decide on a course of radiation therapy after we endure another biopsy next week.  Not time for panic yet.  Meanwhile, off to play golf.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Unintended Consequences

The election of republican Aubrey Dunn to the Land Office may have unintended consequences for the resource extractors.  The fossil fuel boys, miners and livestock folks may have shot themselves in the foot by heavily funding their tool.

Ray Powell was an honest Land Commissioner, but he was no firebrand or reformer.  He just chose to sit in that chair quietly.  Being there was enough for  him and it was his style of management.  He didn't rock the boat much so there was not much attention paid to the office in comparison with the notorious reign of republican Pat Lyons in that office.  Under his terms extractors got pretty much anything they wanted.

The environmental community did little in the way of watching the operation and maintenance of the Trust Lands while Powell was there.  Mostly because they knew Ray to be above board, if somewhat lacking innovative thoughts.

I have no reason to think Dunn is dishonest, other that the type of campaign his minions ran for him.  Once he gets into office and understands the fiduciary responsibilities he has, maybe he will rise to the occasion.  I certainly hope so.  But just the fact that he took all that special interest money will now shine a spotlight once again on the office.  The environmental community better pay attention to every policy initiative that comes out of that office.  Or they might regret it.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Voter Turnout

The voter turn out and  participation was unheralded.   Thank the Supreme Court of the United States for increasing it.  Of course I am talking about the corporations who have become people and are able to fund their tool candidacies with billions of dollars of one percenter money.

My big disappointment was seeing Maggie Toulouse Oliver defeated.  And it was enabled by those who would suppress the vote.  Ray Powell has been most likely defeated by a liar and cheat.  Yes, he flat out lied with his commercials and the sap public fell for it.

Gary King?  Well, what can one say except that he gave it his all, which wasn't much.

As for the U.S. Senate and the NM House of Representatives going to the GOP, it won't mean much in the final analysis.  Little progress will be made, especially in Washington, DC.

My feeling is that in two years  both on the state and national level that things will change quite a bit.  Now that the GOP is in charge they can be the target of the suppressed rage on the division of wealth in this country.  I am counting on it.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Ho Hum

There will be an overall dismal turn out in today's midterm elections.  People are so nauseated by  the special interest funded TV ads that it is all they can do to keep their dinners down after watching the news.  That goes for me too.

The Albuquerque Mayor and City Council are again a day late.  They are trying belatedly to keep more APD Officers from retiring.  This probably wouldn't have been necessary if they had reacted immediately to the poor leadership and morale problems in the force.  I worry that a lot of the good officers are leaving behind the chaos in order to protect their reputations and mental health.

I will watch election returns tonight out of habit.  I will sit with a laptop to see what is happening around the country.  I hope the local TV News operations will be given permission to break into the mindless reality shows to give us a report once in a while on the local races..

Saturday, November 01, 2014

Prayer and Taxes

The Department of Justice and the ABQ Police Department via the Mayor have agreed on a way forward to change the police department.  The Mayor thanked people for their prayers and the City Council President said the poorest people would have to pay the costs of changing the Department's culture.

As you know my favorite definition of prayer is, 'how to say you are helping without really doing anything.'  That is pretty much what happened for years in the Berry Administration's handling of the shootings of homeless and mentally ill by APD.  It is going to take more than prayers to see this through.  It will take constant monitoring by city hall and I don't have a lot of good feelings about their ability to do so.

And then the City Council President Ken Sanchez says we should raise the gross receipts tax to pay for the changes needed at APD.  Once again the solution seems to run to the most regressive tax available for funds.  The City Council could do us all a great favor and shoot this idea down.  Find the money elsewhere, like maybe giving up each councillors million dollar slush fund for pet projects.  The Council is almost as guilty as the Mayor in getting us into this jam by ignoring the shootings. Be creative please and show some mercy on the poor in not putting the burden on them.

The agreement seems to be credible but will take much more than lip service to bring to fruition.

Friday, October 31, 2014


Senate: Tom Udall
Governor: Susana Martinez
Congress:  Ben Ray Lujan, Steve Pearce, Michelle Grisham Lujan
Attorney General: Hector Balderas
Secretary of State:  Toss Up
State Land Commissioner: Aubrey Dunn Jr.
Auditor: Tim Keller
Treasurer: Tim Eichenberg

These are all of the candidates who have spent the most money.  And they will all probably win.  I really am hopeful that Maggie Toulouse Oliver can eke out a win over that GOP voter suppression tool Dianna Duran.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Warning Signs

And you thought the mud was being slung mostly in New Mexico.  Try Colorado.  After three days there I think that I must have seen the slimiest and most disgusting political ads ever.  They are warning signs to me that our political system is dead.  Thanks to the rich and the US Supreme Court.  Watching TV is now a turn off.  You would think that the local stations would understand  that, but no, they are just part of the problem.  Maybe the biggest part of the problem.  They aren't fostering free speech in airing these commercials.  They are fostering the destruction of a democracy. And they have the ongoing help of a gullible and stupid public who seems to believe what they see with absolutely no evidence presented to them on the veracity of these 30 second character assassinations.

This is actually very serious now.  The scale of lying has exponentially expanded with the unfettered use of corporate money in funding political action committees.  Time is running out.  Maybe a simple law should be passed that every time a lie is found in a TV commercial, the producers and funders of the ad would face jail time.  Well, it is a nice fantasy to daydream about.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


I stopped by one last time this Tuesday a.m. before driving back to ABQ and Luke shot this nice photo of Noelle, Alex and me.  These little girls are fighters.  The technology is incredible.

Little Katy was a short ways off in another cubicle.  She is the bigger girl, but will need some heart surgery at some later date.  There is a little hole in her heart between ventricles.  Apparently not caused by being premature.  Many babies have this.

Okay, back to politics and ranting tomorrow.  No more baby pics.


I am heading back on down to Albuquerque from Fort Collins this morning. The little baby girls are doing okay but they are very small and the next four weeks are very important for their development. Our daughter Noelle is doing great and has a good attitude. Her husband Luke is standing by every minute of the day. He's going to be a great father.

The Albuquerque Journal poll shows that the Secretary of State race and Land Commissioner race are very competitive. My hope is that everyone will go and vote just on these two races if that's all they're interested in because they are very important to the future of our state.  We can't afford to have the republican right-wing take over the state land office. While Ray Powell has not been a mover and  shaker as land commissioner he is an honest man and will not be overly influenced by the oil and gas and agricultural interests that try to run the land office.

Maggie Toulouse Oliver's election to the Secretary of State's office is incredibly important to the future of elections in the state of New Mexico. She has proven her worth as County Clerk and now needs a shot at running the state election code. If the right wing holds onto this office voter suppression will be the main objective. It is one of the most crucial races this year.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Kathryn, Noelle, and Luke

First time holding one of the girls. 

Sent from my iPhone


Alexandra and Kathryn are doing great. They are very small but doing well in the NICU facility here in Fort Collins. I will be up here for a couple of days.

In the meantime I wonder what will be happening in the US Senate races around the country. It seems to me that a lot of incumbents are in trouble just because of the fact that they are there. Sen. Udall's performance in the Albuquerque Journal poll makes me wonder whether or not things are not going to go as the experts think they will.  All of this will affect our new granddaughters. Not immediately but sometime in the future. It is really serious stuff.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

North 7 a.m.

I am on the way to Fort Collins Colorado to see our new granddaughters.   Their names are Alexandra and Katherine. They are very small babies that are in very good shape according to the doctors. Noelle is doing great also.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Not Incestuous

Janet Blair lasted just about a year on the job as PR flack for the Albuquerque Police Department.  She said that she and Chief Eden agreed she wasn't a 'good fit' for the job.  Now,  that just brings to mind all sorts of things.  Probably, we will never know the details because Janet Blair, a formerly hard nosed reporter, won't spill the beans.

But I know what happened.  She was not the product of inbreeding with in the department's career ladder.  She was from the 'outside', and this is precisely why she didn't fit.  The Command structure at APD couldn't tolerate someone who wouldn't drink the Kool Aid.


If churches keep up their practice of endorsing partisan candidates for office, then they should lose their non profit status and start paying property taxes.  Period.  But do you really think that any properly empowered elected official out there will pursue this?  I am thinking not one of them has the courage to take on these exemptions that are being ignored by the fundamentalist Christian mega churches.  It is shameful.

Is it true that all of Secretary of State Diana Duran's TV photos have been altered?  In looking at TV commercials versus candid shots it appears a few pounds have disappeared.  Well, this is nothing new in the world of photography nor is it new in the art of politics where people pretend to be someone they are not.

The most important close race that is winnable in New Mexico is that Secretary of State race.  Please vote for Maggie Toulouse Oliver if we want to keep voting easy and accessible for all of our citizens. I have no doubt that Governor Martinez, Duran and their neo con supporters will work even harder at suppressing the vote over the next couple of years in order to take New Mexico out of the blue state status in the Presidential election.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Time for a Follow Up

One of my readers reacted violently to the story in the Journal this morning for its lack of questioning of the Mayor on his panicking over APD officers retiring.  He suggests the following questions that an enterprising reporter might use to followup on this story.  I agree this story still has legs.

1.  Ask officers who have left or appeared at the recent city retirement seminar to ask them why they were leaving.  Not done.
2.  Ask Berry if this has anything to do with the DoJ? Not done
3.  Ask Berry if the turmoil with Chief Eden and Mayor Berry’s leadership of APD  is causing any retirement?
4.  Ask Berry why he got rid of the longevity bonus in 2010, and didn’t he think that action would cause this crisis?
5.  Ask Berry to prove that the APOA agreed to give up the longevity bonus in 2010.
6.  Ask Berry why Rob Perry, in the 2013 Journal article, saw this manpower crisis coming, yet here we are a year later and Berry did nothing to stop it.  In fact Berry did finally sign a contract with the APOA this summer, yet there was no mention of longevity bonus in this contract.  Why?  Does Berry  know what is going on?
7.  Ask Berry why he is going to try again (he did this every year he has been in office) to dump APD retention problems on the state pension plan (PERA).  Every year the legislature has told him NO, so why doesn’t he fix it at Albuquerque’s level and leave the PERA system out of it.
8.  SB 27, which revamped PERA was done in 2012.  Why is this such a crisis now?  Didn’t Berry read the changes and know they were coming?  The changes to PERA have been known for almost 3 years, a good manager would have planned for them back in 2012, why didn’t Berry?
9.  Ask Berry if he knows the number of public pensions going bankrupt in this country?
10.  Ask Berry why he would do something that harms pensions just to get Albuquerque (the town he has run for five years) out of trouble?  Is this being a good manager or is this passing the buck to someone else?

The Press

Every headline from the media today says the shooter in Canada panicked the whole city of Ottowa.  Really?  The whole city?  I kind of doubt that really happened, but it is indicative of the sheer pandering of the media covering such stories.  Oh, and it sells ads.  It is all about money in the end.  Yesterday two of my golfing friends said they had stopped watching local news because of the negative political ads.  They just find it nauseating to mix that up with lead stories about furry domestic pets in distress.

Why has the current Secretary of State not taken any heat for unilaterally killing the straight party ticket voting on our New Mexico ballot.  This is something that she and our Governor did behind closed doors.  Just think of that as you try to blacken out those endless little circles on this years lengthy ballot.  Duran and Martinez did this with no legislation, public hearings, or transparency.  If Bill Richardson had done something like this the Albuquerque Journal would have raised hell for the dictator type decree.  But the republican right wing editor, Kent Walz, was just serving his masters.

I got several emails from friends yesterday with a link to the Santa Fe Reporter story on the Governor using government resources to aid in running license plates of car's owners with bumper stickers she didn't like.  It is a story that should be looked at once again by others, but it is too little too late to make any difference.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014


The Tasmanian Devil's demise at the Albuquerque Bio Park is getting more angst out of the Mayor's Office than the deaths of many homeless and mentally ill victims of APD's shooting spree.  It is truly amazing that Mayor Berry and his chief of staff would show such an emotional response to this act of cruelty.  From a PR standpoint it was not the greatest thing to do.  But, he is acting no differently than many people these days.  Last night on Channel 13 the longest running story was about a mistreated dog.  At least Channel 13 has covered the APD mess with some professionalism.

Today in the Albuquerque Journal, Mayor Berry said that mayors come and go, and so the public needs to get involved in looking at APD's problems.  That is true, but he also has a responsibility to do the same in an open and vigorous manner.  That means he needs to sit in on those meetings.

Albuquerque will be getting another once over on APD as Rolling Stone magazine is on the prowl for  the APD story.  The magnifying glass will once again be on us.  But, I am sure that most attention in the next few days will be given to the Tasmanian Devil death, an endangered species.  It will get world wide attention.   If the guy who did this ever gets caught, I am confident he will get more punishment than those cops who shot the homeless guy in the back with their assault rifles.

P.S. That ballot I worked on as I voted yesterday was in fact the longest one I have ever seen.  I was blacking out little circles for fifteen minutes.  A lot of ink.

Monday, October 20, 2014


I did not watch the debate last night between Gary King and Governor Martinez.  I didn't see any point in doing so because I will go vote for King today at an early voting site.  Probably, the only ones watching were pollsters, political bloggers(not me), campaign workers and all those consultants who are paid to make the Governor look like an informed and caring pol.  Day for Night.  Making her look like something she is not.

We had dinner guests over last night and the sample ballot on the dinner table brought lots of comments for its incredible size.  All those Judge races and retention questions make it mostly a crap shoot for the candidates.  No one knows them or pays much attention to these races.  They are important, but there needs to be a better way of handling these judicial elections.  I  will probably just vote for the democrats in most cases, although some of those judges aren't great.  I will take some of the advice of the Judicial Standards group who rate the sitting judges for retention.

I will vote for the marijuana question, but not the tax for mental health services in Bernallio County.  They are those two non-binding and frivolous questions thrown on to the ballot by the democrats on the County Commission.  It was a dumb thing to do.

The reason I will vote against the mental health question is its funding source.  Another increase to the gross receipts tax means that once again an extremely regressive tax will fund these needed services instead of a tax that hits the poorest the least.  And, if the County proceeds with the tax  then surrounding communities will send their patients here at no cost to them.  There needs to be a statewide solution to this problem.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Joe Friday and Congressman Steve Pearce

I loved Joe Friday on the old 50's TV Show 'Dragnet".  He always said, "I want just the facts ma'am....just the facts."  And so in case the pea brained republicans, like Congressman Steve Pearce, are wondering where the response capabilities to the Ebola virus is, here is a reminder of what they have done with the budget sequestration.  One item, a 98 million dollar cut in emergency response should give some clues to how things have worked out.

  1. On March 1, 2013, as required by statute, President Obama signed an order initiating sequestration. The sequestration requires CDC to cut 5 percent or more than $285 million of its fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget. CDC applied the cut evenly across all programs, projects, and activities (PPAs), which are primarily CDC national centers, offices and centers. This means every area of CDC was affected. In addition, the Prevention and Public Health Fund allocation in FY 2013 was almost $350 million below FY 2012. In total, CDC’s program level, including the Vaccines for Children mandatory program and other external sources, was almost $1 billion (or 10%) below FY 2012.
    The reductions to CDC’s funding accounts are as follows:
    •   Immunization = $100 million
    •   HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STI and TB Prevention = $62 million
    •   Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases = $13 million
    •   Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion = $195 million
    •   Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities = $7 million

  •   Environmental Health = $17 million
  •   Injury Prevention and Control = $7 million
  •   Public Health Scientific Services = $19 million
  •   Occupational Safety and Health = $9 million
  •   Global Health = $18 million
  •   Public Health Preparedness and Response = $98 million
  •   Cross-cutting Activities and Program Support = $35 million
    Reduced ability to ensure global disease protection:
Jeopardizes polio eradication efforts:
o Sequestration forced CDC to reduce support to purchase oral polio vaccine by over 40,000,000 doses.
o Cuts to UNICEF funding jeopardize plans for vaccination rounds later in 2013 and into 2014 to respond to ongoing outbreaks in Syria, Horn of Africa, and Cameroon along with planned aggressive campaigns during the December April low transmission season in Nigeria, Pakistan, and Afghanistan unless other resources can be identified and secured.
  •   $25 million cut to global efforts to eliminate polio, prevent measles outbreaks, malaria, and pandemic flu.
  •   $13 million in cuts to our efforts to prevent and respond to outbreaks of other emerging infectious diseases, such as the MERS-Coronavirus emerging globally now.
    Reduced support for state and local public health efforts:
  •   $160 million less in funding to on-the-ground public health in the United States, a system
    already strained by state and local budget cuts.
  •   CDC's ability to support state, local, and international health departments was reduced.
  •   $33 million will be cut from state and local preparedness ability to respond to natural and man-made disasters.
    Reduced ability to prevent domestic HIV/AIDS:
$40 million reduction in HIV prevention.
o 175,000 fewer HIV tests would be conducted.
o $7 million reduction to CDC’s HIV testing activities.
Reduce ability to prevent the leading causes of illness and death:
Programs to prevent cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes are being cut by almost
$200 million due to sequestration and Prevention and Public Health Fund allocations. 

And here is a good post this morning from Bubba Munster.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Dennis Gets It Right

My friend Dennis Jett, retired from the US State Department as a career Diplomat and Ambassador, has a great Column today in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette.

Excuse me, but we never ‘won’ in Iraq
Don’t blame Obama for the rise of the Islamic State; its roots go deeper than that
October 16, 2014 12:00 AM

By Dennis Jett

It’s often been said that generals always fight the last war, especially if they think they won it. That old adage remains as true today as it was when the Maginot Line was built in the 1930s to prevent a second German invasion of France. And it is as true for politicians as it is for generals.

The proof can be found in the current debate about the so-called Islamic State, a terrorist organization so vile that even al-Qaida disowned it. While it may not be popular with fellow thugs, the Islamic State has managed to take over much of Iraq and Syria. Predictably, Washington seems more interested in assigning blame for the situation than dealing with it.

Sen. John McCain, for instance, said this about the war in Iraq: “We had it won. Gen. [David] Petraeus had the conflict won, thanks to the surge. If we had left a residual force behind, we would not be facing the crisis we are today. Those are fundamental facts. We had a stable government. But the president wanted out, and now we are paying a very heavy price.”

None of these “facts” is true. The Bush administration laid the groundwork for today’s mess when it negotiated a Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government that stipulated American combat troops would be gone by the end of 2011. The Obama administration tried to negotiate a continuation of their presence, but the Iraqi government refused unless U.S. troops were subject to the Iraqi judicial system, a condition to which no president would agree. No Iraqi politician was going to agree without that provision. So, goodbye U.S. troops.

The surge also did not “win” the war. It won only a temporary lull in a civil war that started when American officials disbanded the Iraqi army and kicked members of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party out of their government jobs. That left all the people who used to run the country (ruthlessly) with no stake in its future. They were not simply going to go home and quietly watch their children go hungry.

Instead they ignited an insurgency that grew into civil war, which the surge was supposed to extinguish. If there is any historical fact that Mr. McCain should have absorbed it is this: Vietnam demonstrated that American troops cannot win a civil war for a regime that is incapable of defending itself. Iraqi security forces outnumber those of the Islamic State by 20 to one but show no willingness to fight.

The service and sacrifice of our troops in Iraq was incredible, especially since the only thing most of us on the home front ever did to support the war was to take George W. Bush’s advice to “go shopping.” That sacrifice notwithstanding, a surge of 30,000 troops in a country of 28 million people, especially when 25,000 never left Baghdad, was not going to win the war or even do much to reduce the carnage.

Two other things brought about the lull in fighting. First, many of the foreign jihadis who joined the fray alienated the Iraqis. Second, and most important, many of those who used to have those jobs in the military and government were put back on the payroll. Once they began drawing paychecks again, they started defending the existing political order instead of trying to destroy it.

The relative calm lasted as long as the insurgents were kept employed. When the Americans stopped paying them, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki continued to do so, but only for a time. He was more interested in converting the Iraqi armed forces and police into a Shiite militia loyal to him than he was in keeping happy Sunni supporters of the former regime. When they lost their paychecks, they resumed the civil war and many became members of what we now know as the Islamic State.

The man Mr. McCain claims won the war is the same David Petraeus who wrote in The Washington Post that “Iraq’s security forces are developing steadily and they are in the fight. Momentum has gathered in recent months. With strong Iraqi leaders out front and with continued coalition support, this trend will continue.” That gushingly optimistic article was published in September 2004. Six weeks later, Mr. Bush was reelected and a little over two years after that Mr. Petraeus pinned on his fourth star. Mission accomplished.

The Iraqi leaders Mr. Petraeus praised are as responsible for restarting the civil war in 2014 as American officials are for creating it in 2004. But don’t expect the architects of the Iraqi disaster to admit that. They prefer to echo the McCain version of history.

In a lengthy article for Foreign Policy titled “How We Won in Iraq,” Mr. Petraeus credits the “victory” to the surge of American troops. He mentions only in passing that putting 100,000 insurgents on the payroll might have had something to do with it. He spends most of the article praising those who worked with him and by extension himself. He throws in three sentences at the end describing how to regain “victory” — all that is required is a “surge of ideas.”

Mr. Petraeus mentions Mr. al-Maliki seven times, but never critically. He praises him for being “willing to undertake the vast majority of the necessary changes” when it is clear that the former prime minister’s corruption, incompetence and relentless sectarian exclusionism has made Iraq what it is today.

Mr. Petraeus will be speaking in Pittsburgh Oct. 28. For $25 to $65, you can hear about how he won the war.