Inside the Capitol

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Update on Jay and Jeanette Miller

Dear Subscribers of Inside the Capitol,
As you all know by now, I am Jay's daughter Melissa.  My Father asked me to email  you all again with an update as to their situation.  My Mother has finally had surgery to fix her broken hip in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  She has come through that just fine and is now starting physical therapy.  They are hoping she will be stable enough to fly home by the end of this week.  My Father also asked me to say he will not be sending out billing for October.
We thank you again for your patience and understanding in this matter.  It has been a trying one for our family and we just hope to have them both home safe and sound in the next week.  I will update you all again as I have additional information.  
Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

Melissa M. Barker, Partner
Peak Solutions, LLC 

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Jay Miller's Column

Dear Subscribers of Inside the Capitol,
I am Jay's daughter Melissa.  As you know, my parents are on a vacation to far and wondrous places.  On Tuesday of this week, my mother fell in their cabin and broker her hip.  They have taken her to a hospital in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates that is actually affiliated with the Cleavland Clinic here in the United States.  She will have surgery on Sunday. 
The hospital they are staying in does not have Internet capabilities for visitors, nor do they have a phone they are able to call out on.  I received a call from the US Embassy with this news.  I have been able to talk to both of them and they seem to be in good spirits.  As a result of the communication no-man's-land they are in, my father will not be able to transmit a column for about 2 weeks.
He appreciates your patience and understanding.  If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me.
Thank you,

Melissa M. Barker, Partner
Peak Solutions, LLC 

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

10-15 Into the Persian Gulf

WED, 10-15-08

TOWARD THE PERSIAN GULF - We seldom are out of sight of an oil tanker as we move from the Arabian Sea into the Gulf of Oman and head toward the Strait of Hormel, the gateway to the Persian Gulf.
Security gets a little tighter at each port and the ship's crew is never quite sure what to expect. From this point forward, except for Dubai, the ports are all new for SilverSea Cruise Line, which is one of the few that has been willing to venture into these waters.
These emerging gulf states don't care much for Western culture but they like our money and they know that tourism is a great backup when oil prices tank.
Each shore tour promises to be a challenge, with inexperienced guides taking us to places only tourists from their own country have ever witnessed. It appears we will be visiting a mosque, a palace, a souq (market) and a Portuguese fort at each stop. Portugal took over this area for trading purposes when it was king of the sea.
With so much sameness, we may skip a few shore tours. The bus drivers are crazy, the guides barely speak our language and think we should be much more interested in what they are showing us. And the weather still is unbearably hot.
We had experiences with new guides and old buses on our World War II 60th anniversary cruise in the Pacific three years ago. But those guides and locals were so appreciative to see us and thanked us for liberating them all those years ago.
I imagine our government was expecting to see the same appreciation after we invaded Iraq. But it's a different deal here. We are told dress codes for going ashore have become more conservative. Arms and legs must be fully covered in most countries. It's somewhat of a relief not seeing fat legs and muscle shirts, but in 100-degree heat, the attire is uncomfortable.
We are told that despite the Middle East being hit the hardest economically by the world financial downturn, plans are going ahead for multi-billion-dollar new buildings throughout the area and for complete new towns costing hundreds of billions of dollars. The message is that oil and gas needs of emerging nations, such as China and India, are not going away. So this will not be a long-term slide as we saw in the early eighties.
New Mexicans remember those days well. From 1975 to 1982, Govs. Jerry Apodaca and Bruce King presided over a rapidly expanding New Mexico economy. In November 1982, Toney Anaya was elected governor amid promises of tax cuts and program improvements.
The week following the election, Anaya and his family vacationed on the island of Kauai. Hurricane Iwo directly hit the island at the fancy hotel where Anaya was staying.
The following day, after moving on from the devastation of his vacation paradise, Anaya learned that the price of oil had suddenly nose-dived and New Mexico was in deep financial trouble. Anaya spent the next four years proposing tax increases, with which even Republicans had to cooperate to keep the state afloat.
New Mexico will recover, but this downturn is more than just oil. Because banks lend to banks internationally, everyone will be hit. The news almost totally dominates BBC and CNN International, which we receive on the ship. We also receive FOX, which is mostly talk about some guy who was a terrorist when Obama was 2.
I had expected to hear a fair amount of recrimination over here against the United States for getting this started. But that hasn't been the case. The European Union talks about trying to work something out.
The scariest news is that Russia, although being hit very hard economically seems to be trying to emerge as the world's financial superpower by bailing out other countries, similar to a new Marshall Plan.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

10-13 Lay Off Chris

MON, 10-13-08

SANTA FE - Poor Christopher Columbus has really taken a beating for about a generation now. Back when I was in school, he was a hero.
We were taught that Columbus was the first person to figure out the world was round and he set out to prove it amidst ridicule and mutinous sailors who thought they were going to fall off the edge of the earth.
We learned he discovered the New World and brought back bunches of stuff, along with some Indians he found over here. And then he did it three more times.
Well, yeah, kinda. Actually most educated people in Columbus' day knew the earth was round. The Greeks had figured that out about 1,500 years earlier. And there were tales of sailors getting blown off course, ending up on the other side and making their way back. Columbus may even have had some of their crude maps.
Obviously, Columbus wasn't the first to discover the Americas. That seems to have happened at least 13,000 years earlier. Some of that evidence is here in New Mexico. And then the Vikings provided pretty good evidence that they visited some 500 years earlier.
What Columbus was the first to do was to report his findings to the world, establish a trade route and retrace it a few times. This led to colonization and a spread of European culture. Columbus was one of the few people to change the world in his lifetime. He was celebrated for that feat for centuries.
But then, our society began taking note that the Native Americans who already were here lost claim to the entire Western Hemisphere. And most of them lost their lives, primarily to diseases brought by the Europeans. And suddenly, Christopher Columbus was a villain, responsible for the plight of all Native Americans.
So, does Columbus merit a national holiday of his own? Is he equal to the other people and events we celebrate during the year? He isn't as great as we once made him out to be and he isn't as bad as the current politically correct generation portrays him. So you be the judge.
Many already have judged. Although Columbus received his financing to sail for Spain, and may have had Spanish ancestry, he was Italian. So Italian-Americans have co-opted the day as their own. In most of Latin America the day is called Dia de la Raza.
Minnesota officially does not recognize Columbus Day because of the state's attachment to the Vikings, although that does not keep government offices from shutting down. Some states and territories celebrate an Indigenous Peoples Day to recognize the atrocities committed in the colonization of the New World.
Without doubt, there were horrible atrocities committed during the Colonial Period worldwide. At that time, it was a fact of life. Cultural sensitivity wasn't much in vogue anywhere in the world 500 years ago. It was conquer or be conquered and no one shed many tears for the vanquished.
Recently, some countries have begun formally apologizing to native populations for their treatment in years past. Owning up to past actions likely is a good method of healing wounds as long as it isn't allowed to lead to a continual state of victimhood.
Recognition also must be given to the fact that prior to Europe reaching the New World, relations among native populations were not as amiable as the politically correct would now have us believe. Tribes fought with each other just as much as the rest of the world did.
When the Spanish first settled in New Mexico, one of their first promises to the Pueblos was protection from the Navajos, Apaches and Comanches. And they didn't succeed.
Spanish treatment of the Pueblos likely was the most humane example of any European encounter with Native Americans. Granted, the Pueblos did revolt, but they survived without being annihilated or relocated as occurred in the rest of our country.
Sorry to be late. Have been w/o connection for two days in Arabian Sea between Yemen and Somalia. Guess it could have been worse.  J

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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

10-10 Stomping Around the Land of Moses

FRI, 10-10-08

ON THE RED SEA - During the past four days, we have been tromping through the deserts of Egypt and Jordan, retracing the footsteps of ancient history.
We began in the Sinai Desert at St. Catherine's Monastery, built by Emperor Justinian in 530 A.D., at the location of the burning bush from which God spoke to Moses, commanding him to return to Egypt and lead his people to the Promised Land.
St. Catherine's is said to be the world's oldest monastery. It is built over halfway up Mt. Sinai. Many visitors spend the night at a nearby motel so they can follow Moses' footsteps to the top, where he received the stone tablets from God.
Because of the heat much of the year, the three-hour round trip usually is taken in the early morning hours, timed to reach the summit at sunrise. There is little danger of losing one's way in the dark. The monks are reported to have laid 3800 steps from the monastery to the top.
Also at the monastery is the well, which Moses used during the many years he spent in the area before returning to Egypt. The well is only a few feet from the burning bush, which has been growing now for some 3,500 years.
The bush obviously isn't still burning but we are told that scientists have no idea what kind of bush it is so they just call it the burning bush. It is very large and hangs over a ledge. It has very small leaves and brittle stems with thorns.
Many young men jumped to snap off a piece. That didn't seem right to me but I did reach up to feel the bush. Thorns dug into both my thumb and forefinger. It clearly was a message from above.
Egypt's Old Kingdom reigned during the time of Moses. They built the pyramids near Cairo in the North. Because the Nile flows from south to north, Cairo is in Lower Egypt.
Since tomb raiding was rampant, Egyptians quit building pyramids and started hiding their royal burial sites underground far to the south, near Luxor, in the Valley of the Kings, during the middle and new kingdoms.
Even though the burial sites were quite well hidden, the tomb raiders weren't foiled. That's because most of the raiding was an inside job. One of the highlights of that trip was a spacious hotel room with a perfect view of the Nile.
Shore tours in Egypt are guarded by private security and Tourist Police. There usually are long distances to be traveled through rugged desert. This evidently invites hijackings and hostage situations.
Those in charge are reluctant to talk and tend to leave the impression it is outside forces. But the truth seems to be that the threat is from within. Egypt is unstable, with numerous dissident groups while it moves from a socialist state to a republic. Tourism is one of their few industries and they don't want anything to disrupt it.
Every direction we traveled was rugged and completely barren desert. All the guides contended that Moses and his people had wandered in the area they were showing us. New books have appeared in recent years attempting to locate biblical places. Most are controversial but worth taking a look at, especially if you plan to visit the area.
Bruce Feiler's books, culminating with "Where God Was Born," were written from a Jewish perspective and argued that God wanted everyone to get along. Our guide in Jordan urged us to read "The Bible Came From Arabia," by Kamal Salabi. He places the Promised Land in Yemen.
While in Jordan, we also visited Petra, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. Its buildings were cut into the rock cliffs some time before Christ. It is featured in "Indiana Jones: The Last Crusade." Arabs say Moses visited there and his brother, Aaron, is buried at Petra.

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Monday, October 06, 2008

10-8 Confronting Racial and Gender Politics

WED, 10-08-08

SANTA FE - New Mexicans and Americans, alike, must confront the uncomfortable issues of race and gender relations this year, as they never have before.
The unlikely event of a minority and two females taking center stage in the 2008 elections, contrasted with an old, white war hero makes for a scenario that our citizens wouldn't find believable if it were fiction.
In modern vernacular, it is the perfect storm of human relations. How four such opposite personalities as Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton and John McCain could dominate one election year, stretches the imagination.
It would make a good essay question for a post-graduate college final exam, but it never could happen in real life. Sen. Joe Biden normally would be considered a rather colorful character, but in this tale, he becomes Everyman.
For years, we have been able to skirt the issues of race and gender relations in politics. Several prominent Hispanic politicians in New Mexico have contended in the past that there is no such thing as racial politics in the state. This year, we must face up to it.
Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton may have softened attitudes about women as president. A year ago, when Clinton was the presumed Democratic nominee, I received pornographic jokes about her. The attacks on Sarah Pallin haven't been as bad, despite Republican claims.
National pollsters have been trying to measure racism's effects. GOP groups began last spring testing with focus groups just how far they could go on the race issue if Obama were to become the Democratic nominee.
The answer was not very far, but that all three of Obama's names were a gold mine for releasing unspoken negative feelings.
And then came Bernalillo County Republican chairman Fernando C de Baca, uttering statements that many of us who have lived around these parts for countless years have heard expressed in one way or another.
C de Baca was speaking to the foreign press and may have been trying to be a bit professorial when he spoke of old-time Hispanic feelings about Blacks. Regardless of what he intended, C de Baca crossed a line that no one can cross publicly.
Politicians from both parties jumped on it as if it were a pot of gold, offering them the opportunity to demonstrate their good will toward all men. No amount of explaining could make it right.
I won't speculate about C de Baca's motives but I have been acquainted with him and watched his career for over 50 years and always have known him as an honorable person.
I feel sure that C de Baca's comments did not include the younger generations of Hispanics' feelings about Blacks. The passage of generations helps. Please understand that I am not preaching when I speak of undisclosed attitudes because I find myself harboring them.
Although I am disappointed about John McCain's reversal on many issues since his 2000 presidential run, I still hold more good feelings about him than I do about Barack Obama.
McCain and I are near the same age, have similar ethnicity, are from neighboring states and have similar senses of humor. That is total personality politics and I would hope we don't choose our leaders that way. But I have to admit, those feelings are there and they may decide what I do once I get in the voting booth.
And I dare say it will affect many voters. Obama won most of the Democratic primaries in the caucus states, where people had to go stand in a group with other Obama supporters.
But Hillary Clinton won most of the primary election states. In some of those, Obama had a lead in the pre-election polls and still had a lead in the exit polling, only to lose in the ballot box. A different kind of thinking went on inside those voting booths.
Obama may need a 10-percent lead in order to win on election day.

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