Inside the Capitol

Friday, April 29, 2005

5-6 Corregidor Falls

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Content preview: FRI, 5-6-05 MAUI � Corregidor held out until May 6.
Not many New Mexicans were on the Rock, as they called the tiny island
lying just off the southern tip of the Bataan Peninsula. When the
Japanese finally stormed to the southern tip of Bataan, a few New
Mexico National Guard troops had the opportunity to be evacuated to
the well-fortified bastion. And some of those who couldn�t find a
craft to transport them swam the relatively short distance or found a
floating object to grab. Corregidor held a strategic location,
guarding the entrance to Manila Harbor. Until the enemy had Corregidor,
it didn�t have access to the huge harbor. The Japanese commander had
tried to insist that Corregidor be surrendered along with Bataan. But
the Americans weren�t about to let that fortress go because they knew
that holding it as long as possible would delay the Japanese advance
toward Australia even longer. Some suggested that the additional delay
made the captors even more ill-tempered toward their prisoners on
Bataan. Corrigedor was a series of tunnels where life was pretty good
for an army about to be overrun. Supply ships and planes still got
through occasionally, bringing food, ammunition and medicine. The men
stationed there were shocked at the condition of those arriving from
Bataan. For the New Mexicans who made it to the island, it was a bit
of heaven. The shoreline bristled with batteries of antiaircraft
artillery. It was to those units that New Mexicans were assigned, even
though most of the units were at full strength because they hadn�t
suffered the casualties of those on the mainland. On April 29, the
final assault began. Japanese artillery pounded the island mercilessly,
day and night. On May 3, Gen. Wainwright wired Gen. McArthur that the
situation had become desperate. Most of the antiaircraft guns had been
knocked out. They would soon be fighting as infantry and about the
only men with infantry combat experience were the exhausted troops
from Bataan. Wainwright began to evacuate key personnel, important
documents and nurses [...]

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Thursday, April 28, 2005

Re: 5-4 Cinco de Mayo

WED, 5-4-05

NAPILI BAY, WEST MAUI � Cinco de Mayo is a big day, even in Hawaii. That really isn�t too big a surprise since there is a fair amount of Mexican influence in the islands.
Mexico is the closest mainland nation to Hawaii. When Hawaiians started raising cattle, they didn�t know much about it, so they hired Mexican cowboys they called paniolos. Hawaiian vowels are pronounced the same as they are in Spanish and each vowel is pronounced, so all the funny-looking words actually are easy to say.
For at least two weeks prior to Cinco de Mayo, advertising in all the Hawaiian media has promoted observances and celebrations. It is at least as big a commercial event as in the rest of the United States.
And as we all probably know by now, Cinco de Mayo is a much bigger event in our country than in Mexico. It comes at a good time of year for a celebration and it targets a rapidly growing population from a neighboring country. It has become a commercial bonanza.
It matters little that most Americans think they are celebrating Mexican Independence Day. To them it is merely an opportunity to drink margaritas, eat chile and have some fun. Because the day doesn�t celebrate their independence from Spain, Mexicans don�t get as excited.
That date comes on September 16, but American businesses don�t need that day for a celebration because people are still recovering from Labor Day and Columbus Day celebrations already are revving up in most of the country.
Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican victory over mostly French troops at Puebla in 1862. Civil wars had weakened the new Mexican republic and left it bankrupt. President Benito Juarez had declared a two year moratorium on repayment of foreign loans. France, Spain and England didn�t much care for that idea and moved to collect their debts sooner.
They all landed troops at Veracruz, Mexico in early 1862, knowing the United States was occupied with its own civil war and unable to enforce its Monroe Doctrine commitment to keep foreign intervention out of the hemisphere.
England and Spain thought it was just a show of force, designed to scare the Mexicans into paying. They didn�t realize that Napoleon III of France wanted to take over the country, gain a foothold in the Americas and check any further U.S. expansion. We already had helped ourselves to about half of Mexico two decades earlier.
So England and Spain quickly cut their own deals with Mexico and pulled out. That left France and a dissident faction of rich Mexicans, who had convinced the French that the Mexican people would welcome them. That�s not an uncommon ploy by those out of power who want to entice a foreign country into helping them regain control.
The march toward Mexico City began with 8,000 troops, a newly constituted Foreign Legion and the latest in modern equipment. But at Puebla, a group of 4,000 Mexican irregulars and natives from the area gave the invaders more than they could handle.
The French had to drop back to regroup and wait for reinforcements. The delay didn�t last long, but it gave Mexico time to build its resistance and slow the French troops on their way to take the capital, in Mexico City. It also delayed the French effort to supply American confederate rebels for another year.
Following the union victory at Gettysburg 14 months later, the United States was able to start helping Mexico in its resistance that finally ousted the French in 1867.
The battle at Puebla didn�t win any wars, but it unified Mexican resistance, demonstrated to the world that Mexico couldn�t be pushed around and became a symbol of Mexican patriotism and pride. And it also helped win a war north of the border.
It�s a shame that most Americans don�t celebrate Cinco de Mayo for the right reasons. Let�s all do what we can to get that message across.

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Wednesday, April 27, 2005

5-4 Cinco de Mayo


Sunday, April 24, 2005

4-29 The Political F-Word


SANTA FE � Filibusters are becoming a dirty word, both in the New Mexico Legislature and in Congress. The tactic is a minority party�s means of thwarting or postponing the will of the majority. Sometimes it is called �the tyranny of the minority.� Many times, it is simply referred to as �the f-word.�
In New Mexico, filibusters are a tool of the Republican Party. They are employed primarily on the final day of the session to keep legislation wanted by Democrats from passing.
The New Mexico Legislature has a high-noon deadline on the final day of its session. If a bill you want to see passed happens to be first on the calendar of either house that day, there is no guarantee it will be acted upon.
Currently, Albuquerque Sen. Joe Carraro and Roswell Rep. Dan Foley are the designated filibusterers in their respective houses. Both are very effective for their party.
The all-time best in my book, however, was Albuquerque Sen. Bill Davis, a lawyer, who had the ability to go as far back in history as he seemed to desire to trace the genesis of whatever issue happened to be under discussion. I always remained in the chamber to enjoy his filibusters.
On the national level, it is the Democrats who do the filibustering, or threaten to do so. Even when Democrats were the majority party a half-century ago, it was southern Democrats who used the filibuster to slow down civil rights legislation.
The battle brewing now at the national level concerns whether Democrats should continue to be allowed the privilege of filibustering President Bush�s Supreme Court nominations. Democrats say it is a 200-year-old tradition, permitted by Senate rules.
Republicans counter that filibustering isn�t a right mentioned in the Constitution. At some point, GOP senators may raise that question and through a series of complicated parliamentary maneuvers, stop filibusters of Supreme Court nominations.
Democrats say it would destroy a two-century-old Senate tradition that almost never has been broken before. Their major problem is that they were the ones who broke it and some of those old war horses still are around.
Nevertheless, Democrats say, this means all-out war between the parties, because the Republicans will be using the most potent weapon in their arsenal, something the Democrats call the �nuclear option.�
If that happens, say Democrat leaders, they will use every means at their disposal to disrupt the Senate and refuse to cooperate on major Republican initiatives that will need Democrat help in order to pass.
There are many procedural matters in which Democrats can thoroughly gum up the works. Essentially they are worse than a filibuster, because they don�t take so much work on the part of the minority.
Many rules of both Congress and state legislatures date back to the days before electronic procedures made our lives so easy. At one time, bills had to be read aloud three ties before they passed. Now that procedure is waived because members receive a copy as soon as a bill is introduced and can read it at their leisure.
So the rules of Congress and the Legislature are waived by �unanimous consent� votes that are part of the formalities that occur when a bill is considered. But if one person does not consent to the process, the short cuts cannot be used and 400-page bills must be read on the floor when they are introduced, when they are considered for debate and before final passage.
That�s just one of many slowdowns possible. Others include quorum calls. In Congress, members usually attend committee meetings while the House and Senate are in session. A series of bells notify them when they need to proceeds to the chamber to vote. But if someone suggests the absence of a quorum, all business stops until one exists.
The only effective way to stop filibusters is a bit of cooperation and a sense of fair play. That�s all the minority wants and all it can hope.

I almost forgot a column for Frirday. Sorry for getting them out of order.

Friday, April 22, 2005


Mon, 5-2-05

SANTA FE � Considering how badly John Bolton, President Bush�s nominee for ambassador to the United Nations, was treated by the media, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson had better watch himself closely.
No, it has nothing to do with past intemperate statements of our governor. This problem is all about the fashion police. After Bolton made his confirmation appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, political writers gave him a thorough drubbing for his past belittling of the organization he wants to join. But the most vicious critique of all was written by a staff writer for the Washington Post. She didn�t argue with anything Bolton said or even how he said it. Her problem was Bolton�s appearance.
Givhan especially didn�t like Bolton�s haircut. �Tidy the curling, unruly locks at the nape of his neck,� she said. �Tame the volume at the crown, reel in the wings flapping above his ears and broker a compromise between his sand-colored mop and his snow-colored moustache.�
When Richardson served on President Bill Clinton�s cabinet the fashionarias went after him for his weight and the way his lumpy frame fit, or didn�t fit, into a suit. We haven�t heard much of that yet, as Richardson inches his way back onto the national scene, most recently as chairman of the national Democratic Governors Association. But there are signs it may be coming.
Don Imus, on his national radio and television show, loves to tease our governor about coming back out to his ranch so he can strap on a feed bag again. Richardson tries to watch his weight, but he eats with the same enthusiasm that he approaches every other activity.
Then there was the Saturday Night Live skit in which Richardson was parodied. He was played by an overweight actor with bad hair. Watch out, Bill. I can see it coming.
The Washington Post commentary on Bolton said he should spiff up his appearance because he appeared as though he did not have enough respect for the proceedings to bother looking decent. Also criticized was Bolton�s tie. She didn�t like the color and said it looked as though it had been knotted in the dark and had put his neck in a chokehold.
Possibly Bolton�s real problem is that he is an outspoken arch-conservative. Most of the Washington Post newsroom doesn�t care for the type. That may mean Richardson is in for a little better treatment. But he shouldn�t get too confident. His friend Don Imus likes to point out Richardson�s girth and Saturday Night Live, although it will go after anyone, is notoriously liberal.
Givhan suggested that Bolton�s walrus moustache appeared as though it went with a fake nose and a pair of geek glasses. She wanted it trimmed and dyed the color of his hair. As it is, he looks like Wilfred Brimley, she says. And, she added, his hair was so poorly cut, it bordered on rude.
What do you suppose this lady would have had to say if President Bush had nominated Bill Gates for a post? His haircut hasn�t changed much from the one in the famous group picture taken just before he moved Microsoft from Albuquerque to Seattle.
Richardson wasn�t our first governor to be accused of having bad hair. His immediate predecessor, Gary Johnson admitted to it. But he had a great excuse, he said. He was an athlete. Johnson�s hair no longer is unruly on top. It is again very long as it was in college. �I know when people see it, they are just sure I have gone back on drugs,� he says. But Johnson is still the straight-arrow athlete he has been the last 25 years.
Another New Mexico notable, who no longer has to worry about bad hair, is Dianne Anderson. The former KOAT-TV evening anchor with the lovely locks, no longer has to worry now that she has switched to radio.

Here's my first transmittal from Hawaii.  Hope it works.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


We're off to Maui about 1 today. I'm taking my laptop with me this time, so I'll be available if you need to get in touch with me. If you need to call, my cell is 505-699-9982. It might work better to call 800- 367-5034 and leave a message for me to return.
I'll be sending you columns from Maui, so I shouldn't miss any. Will return May 13.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

4-27 The Latest Craze

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE - The world's love affair with DNA grabbed international attention again last week when a Cape Cod murder case apparently was solved.

Three years ago a beautiful fashion writer was mysteriously raped and murdered at her home. DNA samples were taken from various men who had come in casual contact with her. The murderer wasn't found so the district attorney decided to have every man in the small resort town tested.

More than 175 tests later a match was found. It was one of the original men tested, the garbage man. The laboratory was backed up with requests for DNA analysis and it had just gotten around to testing the last of that original group.

Needless to say, there were around 175 men in the town who were, to put it mildly, hacked. The ACLU hadn't thought much of the idea from the beginning because of the civil liberties implications.

Family and friends of the single mother weren't pleased either. Testing every man in town to see who matched the semen sample found on the victim made her appear promiscuous, to say the least.

But most of the townspeople had thought it a pretty good idea at the time, even the men being tested. After all, DNA was magic. There was a killer on the loose and everyone wanted to find him.

So how come it took law enforcement so long to find its man? Well, he moved often so it was hard to track him down. And once the sample was obtained, everyone knows labs are terribly backed up with DNA samples.

And why are labs so busy? From news reports, it appears most prosecutors must agree with the one in this case that juries demand DNA evidence. They watch those CSI programs on TV and know that DNA is what solves crimes.

It seems that nearly everyone in law enforcement agrees that good detectives solve crimes much better than forensic scientists do. But that's not the public perception.

It's been a long time since gumshoe Joe Friday trudged door-to-door asking questions. It made for pretty good entertainment back then, but not in this age. People like chase scenes and crime labs.

So everyone wants a DNA match before they'll vote to convict. The district attorney says he has no regrets about the process.

It's little wonder, then, that most of the world thought that finding some 125-year-old DNA in last year's Billy the Kid case would solve everything. It didn't matter whose it was, where it was found or how it was found. If we had some DNA, we'd know where Billy is buried, who shot him, and how he escaped from the Lincoln County Courthouse.

It ended up being some first-rate historians and forensic scientists, the state Office of the Medical Examiner, most of the townspeople in Silver City and Fort Sumner and me against the rest of the world on the subject of DNA's invincibility.

And the search for Billy's DNA may not be over even though the digging in Fort Sumner was stopped in court.

* * *

Another fad about which the public seems very poorly informed concerns what those nice folks with the Powerball lottery did for us. They're going to make the prizes bigger and it won't cost a bit more to play.

It recently was announced that there will be many more of those $100 million jackpots. When jackpots hit that figure, people rush out to buy lottery tickets in huge numbers.

A little guy like me would be real happy to win a $10 million jackpot, but it seems most people don't care that much about just being rich. They want to be filthy rich.

And why is it that the jackpots will be bigger? It's because they'll be harder to win. Simply by adding two more numbers to the long list of choices, the odds increase from 120 million-to-1 to 145 million-to-1.

Such a deal.

WED, 4-27-05

3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982

Saturday, April 16, 2005

4-20 Gov Goes to New Hampshire

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE � Tired of listening to stories about Gov. Bill Richardson running for president in 2008? Tired of hearing his denials? Well, get used to it because it�s not going away. And three years is a long time.
Word circulates about how political parties are going to do away with the early primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire. But that�s been going on for years with no end in sight.
Presidential hopefuls must think those primaries are here to stay because within weeks of last November�s presidential election, 2008 candidates were already in both states.
Bill Richardson plans to be in New Hampshire this June for three events. He explains that he�s �just traveling around.� Sounds like the salesman who �just happens to be in the neighborhood.�
The governor says he gets speaking invitations. �We accept some, and others we don�t.� For some reason, New Hampshire was worthy of accepting three invitations. And you can bet those invitations weren�t extended because the good folks on the other side of the country are interested in how things are going in New Mexico.
Manchester�s Union Leader newspaper crows that Republican Sen. Bill Frist visited New Hampshire twice within three weeks in March. The only other candidate it currently mentions is Richardson�s visit in June.
The newspaper has enough interest in Richardson that it had scoured other news sources for their impressions. It cited an Associated Press article quoting a �top New Mexico Republican lawmaker� as noting that Richardson�s desire is to fund everything that will get him to New Hampshire on time and not worry about the state of New Mexico along the way.
The Union Leader says Richardson�s possible presidential run will be an issue in his 2006 effort at reelection as governor but that he is extremely popular at home.
The Hill, an inside-the-beltway political publication, reported last week that according to �party strategists,� Richardson is plotting to parlay his chairmanship of the Democratic Governors Association, a committee that can raise soft money, into hard support for a possible presidential bid in 2008.
But blogger Joe Monahan reports that Richardson may have run into a little trouble. He forced out the longtime DGA executive director, hoping to get someone of his choosing in the spot.
But other governors, also interested in the presidential sweepstakes, tried to squeeze their own people into the powerful position. The final resolution, Monahan says, was to create a search committee.
Meanwhile our governor is keeping himself in the national spotlight with appearances on interview shows. He�s a frequent guest on Imus In The Morning, which is seen and heard in all 50 states.
And Richardson was recently included in a Saturday Night Live skit. His character was played by Horatio Sanz, a tubby funnyman. It wasn�t complimentary, but what can you expect from the Not Quite Ready For Prime Time Players?
As always, the governor is busy raising money � for 2006, 2008, his political committee Moving America Forward, whatever. A group of young, up-and-comers in the Democratic Party threw a $50 fundraiser for him at a trendy Albuquerque bistro this week.
An invitation went out early this month for the Richardson Roundtable. For the $1,000 per person annual dues, members will be the first to receive notices of other fundraising events and will be invited to two members-only briefings.
At least Big Bill isn�t flatly denying interest in the 2008 presidential race as he did last year with accepting a vice-presidential nod. He admits to not having ruled out a 2008 presidential run.
George W. Bush ran for president in 2000, halfway through his second term as governor of Texas. Richardson might get away with it too. That means the lieutenant governor spot will be a real plum next year in case Richardson runs, and even more important, if he wins.
And that means that current Lt. Gov. Diane Denish could have a fight on her hands next year.
WED, 4-20-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


The X Prize Cometh

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE � Mark your calendars. The dates have been announced. New Mexico�s first X Prize events will be October 4-9, 2005. Las Cruces will be the headquarters, but Alamogordo and several other locations around the state also will be involved.
Gov. Bill Richardson announced last week that these events will be called Countdown to the X Prize Cup. The X Prize Cup competition is scheduled to begin next year. It will be held at White Sands Missile Range until New Mexico�s Southwest Regional Spaceport is ready at Upham, about 30 miles north of Las Cruces, in either 2007 or 2008.
The X Prize annual competition is predicted to become the premier space event of the 21st century, launching a personal spaceflight revolution.
State Tourism Secretary Michael Cerletti expects the competition to become one of global proportions, �one that will bring visitors and visibility for New Mexico from around the world and beyond.�
It�s the �beyond� part that I like.
X Prize competitions began last year, with the $10 million Ansari X Prize competition, won by Burt Rutan�s SpaceShipOne, sponsored by sometimes Santa Fe resident Paul Allen. They flew out of California, but the competitions beginning next year will all be in New Mexico.
Last year�s competition drew 26 teams from 7 nations. The competition generated over $50 million of investment and over five billion media mentions. At least as many teams are expected for future competitions.
This year�s Countdown will be a warm-up for the competitions slated to begin next year. And it will be worth attending.
Included in the events to be staged at the Las Cruces International Airport will be demonstration flights of reusable space vehicles by future X Prize Cup contenders, preview flights of the Tier-1 X Prize Rocket Racer, and a 200-foot vertical ascension of the Black Armadillo American rocket ship, which will then land vertically.
Static hardware displays of the X Prize team vehicles will be on exhibit. There will be flight simulations and opportunities to visit with astronauts, spacecraft designers and X Prize team leaders and pilots.
Some visitors will get to experience the sensation of weightlessness on flights of G-Force One, the nation�s only FAA approved zero-gravity aircraft. The craft was built by Dr. Peter Diamandis, chairman and founder of the X Prize Foundation.
Other events will include a day of educational activities for 2,000 students at the Alamogordo Space History Museum and at other sites tied to the state�s history of space exploration. Community meetings are being scheduled across the state to help communities create their own space-related events during that week.
New Mexico won the right to permanently host the X Prize Cup events in a national competition, beating out finalists California, Florida and Oklahoma. The state Legislature helped win that competition by approving the governor�s request for $9 million to develop the infrastructure, launch and landing facilities to host and market the competition.
That�s a lot to spend on one event a year, but Diamandis intends to make sure that the event develops into an industry. Gov. Richardson envisions the X Prize boosting the aerospace industry in New Mexico, plus tourism, thereby creating many new jobs.
Rick Homans, New Mexico Economic Development Department secretary, says this puts us on the ground floor of the whole new commercial space travel industry.
So plan to attend in October. That�s a wonderful time of year in southern New Mexico and you will be participating in a part of history by attending the inaugural event of something that is going to become a major international event for many years to come.
It was similar events almost a century ago that got the commercial airline industry on its feet. The government is not going to do it. Private industry is where it will happen and these competitions, with high cash prizes, will provide the incentive.
FRI, 4-22-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)


4-25 W's Fast Pitch

SANTA FE � There are several important issues on which President George W. Bush and I do not agree. But on one minor issue, I am a big fan of the president�s.
He surely throws out a good first pitch at baseball games. On opening day, 2001, W�s first as president, he burned one right down the middle. Other national leaders seldom come across as strongmen, bouncing the ball up to the plate. Sometimes it�s even rolling by the time it gets there.
This year, for the first home game of the new Washington Nationals, President Bush did not throw a strike. This one was high and inside � or it would have been had a right-handed batter have been at the plate. Maybe the president was fantasizing that it was one of his Democratic detractors � or maybe a Republican detractor.
Or maybe presidential advisers suggested he throw some high, hard �chin music� to further enhance his macho image and send a message to evildoers everywhere that they�d better not mess with the U.S. Whatever it was, I was impressed. But then I�m at an impressionable age.
It�s good to see baseball back in Washington. It�s a great sports town, but it can�t seem to keep a baseball team. Maybe the third time will be a charm. They even wear a W on their caps, so the president is bound to be a big fan.
But members of Congress had better not get so smitten by the team that they neglect to keep the pressure on the steroid situation.
Don�t get the impression that I�m anti-Bush. He�s done some things I like. Just not enough to have ever voted for him. And relax, I didn�t vote for the Democrats either. In 2000, I voted Libertarian. In 2004, I was part of the great �undercount.� Maybe I wasn�t doing my civic duty, but �none of the above� was the only choice that appealed.
I like Bush�s accommodating position on the immigration situation. People who are willing to risk their lives to come work hard for whatever they can make have my respect. And as I understand it from the demographers, immigration may become a blessing.
Evidently the world�s developed countries are all on the road to population decrease because of declining birth rates. That means there soon will be too few workers to support Social Security and Medicare for all us old folks.
The United States seems to be in less of a bind than other countries because we have more immigrants than the nations that want to retain their ethnic purity. And illegal immigrants don�t get to collect Social Security even though they�ve paid into it.
I can�t agree with the president, however on this �culture of life� thing. It seems to me as though if it is a culture, it has to extend to all life, including the lives of convicted criminals and people against whom we declare wars.
A culture of life doesn�t seem as though it should have room for those who find exceptions. Wasn�t that what the Pope was saying? I wrestle with it personally. My biggest problem is that when I no longer know who I am or why, I want someone to end it for me.
Speaking of the Pope, Gov. Bill Richardson took quite a bit of heat for giving state employees a half-day off for his funeral. The 1st and 14th amendments were raised as objections.
Others said it was a waste of taxpayer money, especially when some local governments followed suit. Some noted the funeral was at 2 a.m., when few state employees were at work. And people at the Santa Fe golf courses complained about how crowded they were.
Finally, the state Game and Fish Department wants to have elk hunts with paintballs to discourage them from grazing in pastures with cattle.
It�s hard to imagine an elk being anything more than mildly annoyed by such silliness. But wouldn�t you know? There�s a law against harassing wildlife.