Inside the Capitol

Monday, April 30, 2007

Jay Miller's columns

Newspaper Editors,
My name is Melissa Barker and I am Jay's daughter.  I am trying to help him through some technical difficulties with a new computer system.  He certainly appreciates your patience!
I am attaching 2 columns of his for immediate release.  Please let me know if you have any questions I can answer.
Thank you again,

Melissa M. Barker
Human Resources Consultant

Ahhh...imagining that irresistible "new car" smell?
Check out new cars at Yahoo! Autos.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Gone again

This will be the last of our journeys to escape the spring winds and juniper fever that aggrivate Jeanette's cardiomyopathy so much. We'll be in Hawaii for three weeks, most of it with family joining us. We'll be at a couple of new places, both rural, so can't be sure about communications. I'm taking cell phone (505-699-9982) and computer.
Hope to get all or most of my columns to you. I have a new laptop, with the new Windows operating system on it. That will be a challenge, but fortunately we'll have the younger generation along who may be able to help Dad with all the new-fangled, unneeded stuff.

Monday, April 16, 2007

4-18 Bill and the President


4-23 Speak Softly


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

4-16 What You Didn't Learn in History 101

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- As a political journalist, I usually grow disinterested in history books sent for my review long before I finish them. But I've found one that should appeal to every casual reader with even a little interest in the history of our country.
It's called Adopted Son and it's the story of the surprisingly deep father-son relationship that developed between Gen. George Washington and the Marquis de Lafayette.
History books don't tell us such things. We all learned that George Washington was a stern, old general who won the Revolutionary War and then became president. Lafayette was a French nobleman who came to help out and for some reason got a lot of towns named after him.
Adopted Son tells us the juicy, behind-the-scenes details. Washington didn't have any sons and Lafayette's father was killed in battle when he still was a baby. His mother died before he reached his teens and suddenly he was the richest orphan in France.
Did this make him a spoiled, undisciplined, impetuous brat? You bet it did. At age 19, he ran away, bought a ship and sailed for America to seek fame and glory fighting in a rebellion against the English, which sounded like a lot of fun.
Lafayette wasn't a French nobleman. He was a noble boy, with a ton of money he was willing to spend to help the colonists free themselves from the English he hated so much.
This made him very popular with the Continental Congress that was dreadfully short of money to feed, clothe and shelter an army. Its soldiers had no uniforms, many had no shoes, some were nearly naked even during the winter at Valley Forge, and most were hungry or starving.
Because of his status in France, Lafayette already was a military officer. But unlike other European officers who were streaming to the colonies, demanding to become generals, Lafayette sought no pay, no rank and announced he had come to learn.
No wonder Gen. Washington took a liking to him. But there was more to it. Each had something the other needed. Lafayette desperately needed someone to look up to, who could channel his lofty ambitions.
And Washington was just as much in need of an unquestionably loyal aide amid the treachery and intrigue of the Continental Army leadership.
It was a perfect fit. Washington was the mature, caring father figure who imparted military knowledge to Lafayette. And in turn, Lafayette pledged his unfailing loyalty to Washington while also becoming a brilliant and courageous military leader.
Lafayette also proved exceedingly valuable on the diplomatic front. I had assumed that France would jump at the opportunity to help the colonies against their British adversaries. But there were other options.
One was a direct attack on England while it was busy trying to put down the insurrection in its American colonies. Another was to gain more control over spice and sugar resources in the West Indies while England was busy elsewhere.
Lafayette managed to influence France to provide direct military assistance. In order to accomplish the feat he had to go home and serve some house arrest to atone for leaving France against the King's orders.
The author of this highly appealing book is David Clary, of Roswell. As in his other books, Clary proves himself an outstanding historian, providing extensive notes, chronology and bibliography.
But this time Clary writes in a narrative style that reads much like a novel, full of action, love and passion. His large cast of characters are very human, with foibles as well as strengths.
Clary doesn't end the book with the American Revolution. He follows Lafayette home and covers his adventures and tribulations in the French Revolution, along with his adoring correspondence with Washington.
Another highlight is Lafayette's triumphal return visit to the United States in 1824 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Revolution. What was planned as a short visit to major cities turned into a 13-month procession through every state.
MON, 4-16-07

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


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

4-13 Handling of Hostage Situations Remains a Problem

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- A New Mexican held hostage during the 1964 Congo rebellion has some pertinent thoughts about the British captives kidnapped and surprisingly released by Iran.
Santa Fean Michael Hoyt was head of the American Consulate in Stanleyville when Simba rebels took the city. Hoyt had time to get his wife and son out but he and his consul staff stayed to help protect the Americans remaining in the area.
In his book, Captive in the Congo, Hoyt recounts the 112 days the consulate staff spent in captivity, sometimes in their office, often in a dreary prison, once in a dirty women's restroom and for a few days at the fanciest hotel in town.
They never knew what was coming next. They constantly faced the threat of death, either from their captors or from uncontrollable tribesmen inflamed by anti-American propaganda. At times, a firing squad stood ready for a publicized execution of the consular staff.
This was in the early days of hostage taking as a form of terrorism by weak, extremist states. The Congo crisis was the first peacemaking operation undertaken by the United Nations. Secretary General Dag Hammarskjold died in a plane crash while on a Congo peace mission. The Congo Rebellion severely damaged the U.N.'s image.
The U.S. State Department debated at length whether to negotiate for the hostages or whether to use force to demonstrate that America will not tolerate its people being taken hostage.
From Hoyt's point of view as a captive, it was important to do nothing to anger their captors. On more than one occasion an angry officer ordered their death or beatings.
The American consular staff was treated much more harshly than any other consulates. The primary reason was that the rebels had evidence of American involvement in supporting the existing government. They wanted Hoyt to admit that but he was under orders to admit nothing.
Even the Belgian consul staff were treated better, despite Belgium having been the colonial power that exploited the area's resources for years. The primary reason, Hoyt felt, was that the Belgian consul was authorized to say whatever the captors required because it should be obvious to everyone that it was done under duress.
The U.S. State Department's decision was to attempt a rescue operation. By then, rebel forces were being driven back and their leaders were becoming more desperate.
Belgians and other Europeans in Stanleyville had remained free. But now they were taken into custody also, to be used either as shields or bargaining tools. They were all told that if Stanleyville were invaded, they would be executed on the spot.
The invasion came via a parachute drop on the airport. When the rebels heard the airplanes, they began a forced march of their many captives, men, women and children, toward the airport.
When it became apparent to those in charge that their plan would not work, they opened fire with rifles and a machine gun on the long column of captives. The consular officials at the head of the column managed to sprint ahead and escape but many were killed in a horrible massacre.
The rescue operation succeeded in freeing the consular officials but many other lives were lost. Hoyt says it was very lucky that the five consular officials survived.
Despite the massacre, U.S. policy has remained one of not negotiating for captives. Hoyt feels that there always should be some communication and that countries should be careful about their comments and threats when their people are taken hostage.
He says the British government moved too quickly toward tough action at the beginning of the ordeal and that it helped when cooler heads prevailed.
FRI, 4-13-07

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


Friday, April 06, 2007

4-11 Gov's Luck Continues With Spaceport Vote

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- Big Bill, the Wild West gambler, has played another winning hand, this time with a successful Dona Ana County tax vote to support Spaceport America in the northern part of the county.
Gov. Bill Richardson staked all the chips he had in this game on pulling out a narrow victory in the election imposing a quarter-cent sales tax increase on purchases in the county.
He warned that if the tax increase didn't pass, the entire project would be called off and Virgin Galactic would go somewhere else to fly its space planes.
As for Virgin Galactic, company officials said before the vote that they didn't have a Plan B in case the election were lost. That apparently means that Virgin Galactic wasn't making any threat to move. The threat was from the governor.
And it worked. At least, a bare majority of Dona Ana County voters decided not to test whether the governor was bluffing. The margin was 270 votes out of 17,770 cast.
That's razor-thin, but not nearly as close as the 195-vote margin by which Richardson won the 2003 constitutional amendment election to grant public schools more money out of the state permanent fund.
It seems our governor can do a better job of selling himself than his ideas. But he still squeaks by. He'll have to hope his luck holds in the presidential campaign.
The Dona Ana election produced some interesting coalitions. The 2003 constitutional amendment election broke strongly along party lines but this one didn't. Republican and Democratic leaders both supported the spaceport tax. It didn't break along liberal-conservative lines either.
Oscar Vasquez Butler, a county commissioner who opposed the vote, described the battle as rich against poor. That's closer to reality.
Maybe the best description is that the split was between those who feel economic development is the best way to better conditions in one of the state's poorer counties versus those who would like to see the money go directly to the poor.
The spaceport tax opponents say they weren't really against the spaceport or the tax. They feel the spaceport should be built entirely with state or private money since it will benefit the entire state and Virgin Galactic. They say they really weren't against the county tax either, but the tax should go to meeting needs of the poor.
Supporters of the spaceport ran a well-organized, well-funded campaign for approval. The opponents primarily were a loose-knit alliance of colonias from the southern part of the county, which didn't have the money for a campaign or for a challenge to the results.
Spaceport proponents note that cities and counties often provide large tax breaks to businesses they want to attract to their area. Those tax breaks usually don't require a public referendum, so they don't become so controversial.
State Economic Development Secretary Rick Homans says the voters' decision to back the project likely will have a ripple effect with investors, banks and other governments considering backing the new industry.
Those "other governments" would be Otero and Sierra counties, which also are being asked to help fund the spaceport. Both counties were waiting to see Dona Ana results before setting election dates.
Failure in either or both counties likely won't kill the project since Dona Ana County, which stretches from north of Hatch to the Mexican border, comprises over 80 percent of the area's population.
Different factors will be at work in the other two counties. There is sure to be well-organized and financed support from the Governor's Office but certainly no one is declaring victory at this point.
The highway signs on either side of Truth or Consequences proclaiming it the gateway to the spaceport appear to indicate some enthusiasm there.
Voters in Otero and Sierra counties who would like to see a good discussion of both sides of the Dona Ana County vote might want to look at Heath Haussamen's
WED, 4-11-07

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


Thursday, April 05, 2007

You Can't Set Foot on Iwo Jima

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Clint Eastwood's two award-winning movies depicting the Battle of Iwo Jima, one from the American and one from the Japanese side, has increased American interest in visiting the island.
But all Americans can do is cruise around the island and look at it. In 1968, we gave Iwo Jima back to Japan, which established a military base that denies visitors. Only in very special circumstances, such as reunions of those who fought there and serious film projects, are visitors allowed.
Two years ago, my wife and I visited World War II battlefields in the Pacific on the Princess Cruise Line. The circumnavigation of Iwo Jima was the highlight of the four-week cruise even though we couldn't set foot on the island.
That 60th anniversary cruise was so popular that Princess has continued it the past two years and other cruise lines have added it to their itineraries.
On our recent trip to the Caribbean, Silversea Cruise Line announced it has added Iwo Jima, along with some other Pacific battlefields to its itinerary for next year.
It was a popular addition. One of our traveling companions said he couldn't wait to set foot on the island. When I informed him that wouldn't be possible, his extremely even temper gave way to some very stern comments about his disappointment.
He suggested that Japanese tourists not be allowed to visit the Battleship Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, which is a very popular site for Japanese visitors to Hawaii.
My friend's outrage is indicative of the strong feelings many Americans still have about Iwo Jima. It is a desolate, isolated island but it has a very tender place in many hearts.
Many battles of World War II claim the title of the greatest, but Iwo Jima must be the winner. More medals for valor were awarded than in any other battle. Of the 84 medals of honor Marines were awarded in four years of war, 27 of them were in that one-month battle.
Iwo Jima was one of the most intense and closely-fought battles of any war. The victors suffered more casualties than the vanquished for the first and only time in the war. The Japanese did suffer more fatalities than we did, partly because of our superior medical treatment, but mostly because the Japanese bushido code required warriors to fight to the death.
Controversy surrounded the battle for Iwo Jima. The Navy wasn't enthusiastic about it, but the Army Air Corps wanted it for disabled B-29s on their return from bombing Japan.
Everyone knew it would be a major battle, but no one guessed how major. We estimated Japan had 12,000 defenders. It turned out to be more than twice that.
And they were all underground in a sophisticated system of caves, tunnels and dugouts. Most of our troops never saw a live Japanese soldier. They lived in blockhouses and pillboxes from which they could fire on any advancing troops.
Our Navajo code talkers played a major role in taking the island. Three of them were killed in the action. This also is the battle in which the Pima Indian, Ira Hayes, from Arizona, gained fame as the only person to be a part of both flag raisings on Iwo Jima.
In fairness, it might also be said that Midway Island, the site of another major battle, also is very difficult to visit. It is controlled by the U.S. military because of its strategic location midway across the North Pacific. It is the only island in the 1200-mile Hawaiian archipelago that isn't part of the state of Hawaii.
For the Navy and the Army Air Force, Midway was the turning point of the war. Three aircraft carriers and a heavy cruiser were destroyed and more than 100 of Japan's top fighter pilots.
In the 1993 round of base closings, Midway's population was reduced from 4,000 to 40.
MON, 4-09-07

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


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Puerto Rico Could Learn from New Mexico

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Three stops in Puerto Rico during our recent Caribbean trip brought back more thoughts about the similarities between the Puerto Rico of today and the New Mexico of 100 years ago.
In 1898, when the United States took Puerto Rico in the Spanish American War, the territory of New Mexico was getting its act together for one more push at convincing Congress to approve statehood.
New Mexico, which had been taken in the Mexican-American War 50 years earlier, had been trying since 1850 to become a state. It would take another 14 years to achieve final success but we had figured out a systematic approach.
Our political leaders wanted statehood. They could see many advantages for the state as well as for themselves. By 1898, they were trying hard to look more like mainstream Americans. We built a capitol building with a dome on it. We started building houses out of brick. And we began promoting tourism.
Possibly the most important factor was that our politicians realized they had to work in a bipartisan manner to demonstrate a united front to Congress.
But even though Puerto Rico's leaders continually push for statehood, they aren't doing it in a united manner. Each of several political parties has its own solution for the island's political status.
And they aren't moving the island toward looking more like a part of the United States. Most Puerto Ricans speak only Spanish even though English also is an official language. Nearly every American chain has stores all over the island but signs and billboards are almost totally in Spanish.
That, in itself, would convince many members of Congress that Puerto Rico should not be a state. It runs against the English-Only movement, in addition to the anti-Hispanic feelings generated by our immigration crisis.
But perhaps the biggest problem is political. If Puerto Rico were to become a state, its large population would qualify it for about 10 members of Congress. And it's certainly a possibility that all 10 would be Democrats. Think what that would do to our current delicate balance.
Another problem is that the other political entity advocating for statehood is the District of Columbia, which also is very likely to elect all Democrats. If one of those two were Republican, the chances for both would be better.
Ever since pre-Civil War days, Congress has liked to admit states in pairs. Back then, slave states and free states were paired. Most recently, the admission of Alaska and Hawaii was balanced between Republicans and Democrats.
There are reasons to admit Puerto Rico to the union. The island's residents pay no federal taxes and yet they receive well over $10 billion in federal benefits.
Not only do residents not pay taxes, U.S. corporations don't pay taxes on profits made in Puerto Rico, even though the goods are sold in the 50 states. The federal government loses several billion more on that loophole.
Previous polls and referenda indicate that a large minority of Puerto Ricans want statehood, but most of the people I talk to say they would be crazy to give up the deal they have now.
Many politicians and social activists claim that denying statehood is just another vestige of American colonialism. For that reason, Congress invented a commonwealth status for the territory back in the '50s. No one is real sure what that means because the status can be removed by Congress at any time.
The majority of the population hasn't been convinced of anything yet. They don't want to give up their Spanish language even though English classes are available in every school.
And everyone seems to recognize a good deal on taxes when they see one.
FRI, 4-06-07

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