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Saturday, November 28, 2015


“While we still do not know the shooter’s motive, what is clear is that Planned Parenthood has been the subject of vicious and unsubstantiated statements attacking an organization that provides critical health care for millions of Americans. I strongly support Planned Parenthood and the work it is doing and hope people realize that bitter rhetoric can have unintended consequences.”

That's the statement issued by Vermont's Senator Bernie Sanders about the terrorist attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs yesterday. Say what you will about Sanders, he doesn't cower under his desk when there's a controversy that might cost him a few votes. He does what's best for his country, not what's best for himself.

Below are the statements about the Planned Parenthood killings issued by my congressional delegation to Washington, Michelle Lujan Grisham, Martin Heinrich, Tom Udall, Ben Ray Lujan and Steve Pearce.


An anonymous comment on my previous post in which I cast shade on New Mexico's criminal justice system directed my attention to a nationwide study released a few days ago by the Center For Public Integrity that gives New Mexico a D minus in state government accountability and transparency, placing it near the bottom of the nation. (Where we do have company. Many states get either a D- or failing F.)

The section on New Mexico includes an informative article by local investigative journalist Gwyneth Doland that provides some context for our results. Dolan writes that the creation some years back of a Judicial Standards Commission has done much to clean up that branch of government, but a similar lack of oversight for the executive and legislative branches has opened to door to an ongoing history of scandals, such as those involving Governor Susana Martinez' fundraising or her awarding of a casino contract, which are currently being investigated by the FBI, another that led to the recent resignation of Secretary of State Diana Duran, who is supposed to oversee campaign finances but was spending her own donations on a gambling lifestyle, and another that led to the recent resignation of state senator Phil Griego, a real estate agent who got the legislature to buy property from a client in a deal that netted Griego a $50,000 kickback, or, if you will, commission.

The Center for Public Integrity is a Washington DC based NGO funded primarily by the kind of people who fund public broadcasting, like the John D and Catherine T MacArthur Foundation and billionaire George Soros. It includes a staff of former public broadcasting and network TV reporters and has won four Pulitzer Prizes for investigative journalism.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Crime In New Mexico

Someone tried to steal my 2003 Chevy S-10 pickup truck from the parking lot of the soon to be fashionable Tierre Pointe apartments on Los Volcanes Road. While it was being repaired I rode my bicycle or used a semi tractor.

A couple Fridays ago as I was finding my way to my credit union, which is across the expressway from where I live, I found my way to the biking/pedestrian/jogging overpass on I-40 just east of Coors. As I crossed it and glanced out over the city and the very grand Rio Grande Valley, I realized that while after 15 years I generally still appreciate New Mexico's spectacular scenery, when I cruise around Albuquerque in a motor vehicle, its majestic setting fades into a background filled with aggressive drivers, time constraints, perpetual worries -- my personal reality. So I turned around and went back and snapped a couple pictures with my cell phone camera.

Albuquerque from a mountain bike

Los Volcanes viewed through public art from more inspired times

The would be thieves had pried out the door handle and removed the cowling around the steering column, but apparently had been unable to get the truck to run because of an anti theft device that came with it from the factory.

It had happened October 26, and Allstate had had it towed to Reliable Chevrolet across from the Cottonwood Mall, which has a body shop, and they were almost a month getting it fixed. I finally started calling my agent and Allstate and I got the truck back last Friday, November 20.

When I saw that the final tally was $1,900 and something, almost twice the estimate, I questioned the woman at the desk. She got the adjuster to come out and he explained that the service department had had the pickup most of that time. There was damage to the steering column. A feature that prevents the vehicle from running unless a key is inserted into the lock had had to be replaced.

I bought the truck used so knew not of that feature. The ignition lock was sloppy when I bought it an I'd had to lube it up good with graphite to get it to work right, and the shift lever for the automatic transmission was sloppy, too. Both are tight and like new now. I'm happy about that, but I'm out the $500 deductible, of course, and my insurance rates will probably edge upward. The extended amount of time Reliable had it seems a little more reasonable now.

I'm thinking about getting some kind of anti theft device. The cop watch web sites tell about 360 degree video cameras, and cameras you can monitor on your home computer or even on your cell phone. I assume there are systems that record the video, maybe upload it somewhere, maybe a web site where you must pay a subscription fee.

Carlos, who unloads me in the morning and who grew up here, says I should just get a loud burglar alarm.

If you've ever noticed, when people install barbed wire along the top of a chain link fence (now it's usually the more deadly razor wire) that top segment of barbed or razor wire is usually angled either inward or outward. If it's angled out, it's to keep thieves out. If it's angled in, it's to keep them in. Trapped. They want to know who did this to them and to punish them, rather than prevent the crime in the first place.

Carlos grew up in New Mexico, which I see as more of a barbed wire out kind of place. You protect your own interests and don't worry about your neighbor, to put it broadly. That way of seeing the world is always under challenge and the kind of place New Mexico is is always being contested. It might be changing to a barbed wire in kind of place, but maybe not.

A murder trial took place last week for the kid who murdered the son of the guy who helps me out with my business. The jury let the kid off. Not guilty. Not enough evidence. The prosecutor had warned my friend and his wife about "New Mexico juries" and had gotten their OK to offer a plea deal, but the kid had refused it, and his lawyers had gotten the judge, a New Mexico judge, to rule a lot of the evidence inadmissible, the way it was told it to me.

New Mexico Republicans are making hay over the way defendants are treated in New Mexico, and I see where the Democratic state attorney general is now urging that more money be spent on crime. Meanwhile the Republican governor is trying to boost her career by demagogging peoples' fear of terrorism that takes place on the other side of the world.

As for me, I think I'll go with what Carlos says and hope for the best.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Leadership - NM Democrats Take Note

This, New Mexico Democrats, is how you counter xenophobia. This is how you keep your country, that you take money from, that you pretend to serve, from going from bad to worse. You set an example. You define the boundaries of acceptable behavior. You take a chance. You show courage. You show moral leadership.

Say what you will about Sanders' economic policies, or his support for US imperialism and Zionism. Any politician could do what he did here. Anyone can show backbone, and compassion.

Representatives Michelle Lujan Grisham and Ben Ray Lujan, Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, where is your leadership? You cower and remain mute while the vitriol and ignorance reign unchallenged. Where is your moral courage?

For more on this please see the post below.

Where Are Heinrich, Udall, Grisham and Lujan In The "Syrian Refugee" Debate?

Liberal social media has been sizzling with the outlandish and vile statements coming from Republican presidential candidates, Republican politicians and conservative media figures regarding the issue of Muslim refugees coming into the US, and Muslims in general, which seem to escalate in vitriol and ignorance by the day.

New Mexico's Democrats, as far as I can see, remain mute on the subject, adhering to their standard practice of ducking controversial issues. I've looked at their government and social media web sites and searched the media, and there's nothing, save for a statement by Ben Lujan on his official web site condemning the so-called Syrian Refugee bill rushed through the House by Republicans this week. There have been no press conferences, no op-ed pieces, or any of the myriad ways they have a t their disposal, hecause of the positions they hold, to enter into the public debate and influence public opinion.

It's not just New Mexico's Democrats. Many Democrats around the country are trying to not get involved, and when they do they couch whatever defense they have of Muslims by first stressing the need to be vigilant and put the national security first. But I live here and these New Mexico Democrats are my representatives.

The effect of their cowardice can be debated. Are they in effect agreeing with the bigots?  Are they putting their personal interests ahead of their country's? As former Labor Secretary and economics professor Robert Reich pointed out yesterday in urging Democrats to rebuke one of the more egregious things to emanate during this mess, "Every hour it stands without rebuke is more poison leeching into the bedrock of America."

That's the issue. Are New Mexico's Democrats going to stand around and let more poison to leech into the bedrock of America? While you're at it think about the many ways conservatives and the tactics they use to maintain power are habitually left unanswered by Democrats, and how Democrats' inaction affects working peoples' lives in many ways.

New Mexico Democrats Michelle Grisham and Ben Lujan at least voted against the idiotic Republican anti refugee bill, and Lujan, to his credit, posted a statement on his congressional web site condemning the bill. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, his statement can even be taken to condemn the ongoing orgy of racism that has gripped the nation. In it he says:

"It does not make our nation safer, nor does it live up to our values as the greatest and freest country in history."

Unfortunately he lessens the impact of his high ideals by cloaking them in nationalism. The United States isn't the "greatest and freest country in history." That's a ridiculous, easily disprovable lie. In fairness to Lujan, we always give each other a pass when it comes to expressing our chauvinistic nationalism in this way, but it wasn't necessary to make his point. It's just him trying to cover his ass.

Rather than being the great country we like to think of ourselves as being, the United States is a warmongering bully that fails miserably to uphold standards of decency we apply to everyone else. It contains a large percentage of racist ignoramuses, and another large percentage who are too afraid to call them out. And the bulk of us, and this includes the first two groups and practically everyone else, either aren't very concerned about or haven't been educated about the more systemic and subtle forms of racism that permeate our society and who only complain, when we do, about the most glaringly obvious forms of racism.

It's the responsibility of Martin Heinrich, Tom Udall, Michelle Grisham, Ben Lujan and other prominent people who are making their living pretending to be "public servants" to not only counter vile and harmful rhetoric that's "leeching into the bedrock of America" but to help educate and inform the public about the more subtle ways this poison permeates the country. Their oath of office demands it of them.

They need to not only to call out racism when they see it, but to be good examples of how public people should conduct themselves. That goes beyond simply not saying racist things, and goes way beyond just keeping your mouth shut. It requires them to be courageous and demonstrate moral leadership, not to hide under their desks until the latest controversy fades from the headlines.

They're not doing any of these things, nor have they ever. They'll come out against NSA spying and against paying women less than men, because there's no cost to them in opposing nameless formless non entities. But when it comes to countering the inextricably intertwined forces of racism, nationalism and militarism that run through our national psyche, they won't do it.

You can argue that they're being realistic, that the current political climate dictates that they be measured, so that they can hold onto their office and live to fight another day. The problem with that logic is that they allowed the "current political climate" to emerge because they've kept their mouths shut, and the longer they keep them shut the worse things will get, and the more poisoned the bedrock of America will become.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Courage And Moral Leadership

Regarding the issue of Syrian refugees is forthcoming from New Mexico's Democrats any minute now.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

I've Got Mine, To Hell With You

Says Susana Martinez, New Mexico's Republican governor, born of undocumented immigrants, to people fleeing her nation's warmongering.

New Mexico's Democrats, meanwhile, who like all of us in this country with the possible exception of American Indians are immigrants, are hiding under their desks until the whole "Syrian refugee" issue blows over.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Why Do They Want To Kill Us? (It ain't religion)

Lydia Wilson interviewed some ISIS fighters for The Nation.

One young Iraqi told her, 

“The Americans came. They took away Saddam, but they also took away our security. I didn’t like Saddam, we were starving then, but at least we didn’t have war. When you came here, the civil war started.”

Most of the mostly young ISIS fighters aren't even that religious, and ISIS doesn't really care.

The article isn't over long. I wished it had been longer. It focuses on one man and summarizes what the rest told her. Wilson somehow got access to ISIS fighters who were in Iraqi government custody and were awaiting trial.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


Some Missouri college football players this week showed us the tremendous power of Labor. By merely threatening to withhold theirs, and thereby holding out the threat of costing the power structure they labor under significant money, they got in a matter of hours exactly what they wanted, the head of the power structure's top man.

After talking to some coaches and administrators about what took place in Missouri, Miami Herald sports columnist Sam Mellinger writes that the power dynamics of college sports are changed forever.

The Missouri players' $4 million a year foreman -- Coach Pinkel -- had no choice but to side with his players. He, and the now former college president Tim Wolfe, have come to realize that they, like the so called titans of industry, and all the rest of the bosses, are extraneous, that without football players there is no football. Just as without workers, there's no business. No producing, no customers. Nothing.

Like it says in the classic Labor song Solidarity Forever:
They have taken untold millions that they never toiled to earn,
But without our brain and muscle not a single wheel can turn

In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold,
Greater than the might of armies, multiplied a thousand-fold

American workers, Americans, behold.

The solidarity photo Missouri football players posted with their strike threat

Monday, November 9, 2015

Meet Me Down At The Union Hall

 (I received the following, refreshing group email today from the New Mexico Democratic Party about a presidential debte "watch party" it's hosting at the American Federation of State and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) union hall this weekend. I've often criticized NM's elected Democrats for cynically concealing their ties to unions and standing mute while unions are under constant attack nationwide and continue to decline, dragging down the standard of living of US workers overall with them. I still have never heard any of our federal delegation utter the word "union" in public. Instead of talking about things like the Employee Free Choice Act which would remove some of the legal barriers to union organizing but which languishes  and gathers dust they are more interested in not offending the business community and potential donors. I wonder if I'll see any of them at the watch party. I don't see the AFSCME union hall address listed. If they're interested, it's 1202 Pennsylvania NE.)

Dear Democrats,
This past weekend marked one year until Election Day 2016. There’s so much at stake and we have a lot of work to do. We must retake the State House, hold the State Senate, elect a Secretary of State and do our part to send a Democrat to the White House!
It’s time to get fired up and organized. That’s why we’re teaming up with Rep. Ben Ray Lujan’s campaign and county parties across the state to hold watch parties for the second Democratic presidential debate this Saturday, November 14. Can you join us? 
Here in Albuquerque, the State Party will be sponsoring a watch party at the AFSCME Union hall at 1202 Pennsylvania St NE. Please mark your calendars!
There will also be watch parties at locations in Curry, Lea, Lincoln, Los Alamos, Mora, Taos, Rio Arriba, Roosevelt, San Juan, San Miguel, Santa Fe, and Valencia Counties. If you'd like to attend one of these gatherings, reply to this email and we'll get you the details. If you don’t see your community listed and want to host a gathering, respond to this email and let us know. We’d love to have your help!
We’ll see you on Saturday as we cheer on our great Democratic candidates!
Debra Haaland