Inside the Capitol

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

8-6 Truman makes his decision to use The Bombs

               SANTA FE – Every list of New Mexico's most important events includes The Bombs. They usually are listed as "most important." Below is a reprint from my World War II 60th anniversary series.

               At Potsdam, President Harry Truman received the news for which he had been waiting. "Operated on this morning. Results…already exceed expectations. Dr. Groves pleased." The test at Trinity Site had worked.

               Russia had been playing coy about entering the war against Japan. President Roosevelt and the Allies had been willing to accede to just about any demands to finally get Russia into the battle. To make matters worse, Japan also had been wooing Russia to enter the war on its side.

               Armed with this new information, Truman, who had not had a single war briefing prior to assuming the presidency three months earlier, entered the discussions with a banty-rooster confidence that astounded everyone. It was the beginning of his "Give-'em Hell Harry" routines.

               He let Josef Stalin know there would be no more entreaties from the United States for Russia to enter the war. Stalin knew that meant the United States had The Bomb, but he had no idea what Truman would do with it.

               There was some thought of a demonstration to show we had it, but we had broken Japan's Purple Code for top-level messages before the war even started and knew they knew we were in a race to see who could develop the bomb first.

               Japan didn't need a demonstration. Besides its diplomatic messages demonstrated that there were no circumstances under which it would surrender.

               Ever since we took Tinian, we had an airfield from which we could bomb Japan. The next steps were to take Iwo Jima and Okinawa so planes had a place to land on their return trip in case of trouble. The B-29 Superfortress was developed to fly from Tinian to Tokyo.

On a normal night's bombing run, nearly 1,000 would leave at the rate of one every 15 seconds. The bomb load was the biggest of any plane, but Gen. Curtiss LeMay kept pushing the envelope up to the point of overload. Many planes didn't make it off the ground and crashed in flames at the end of the runway.

The A bombs also were an overload so it was decided that the bomb for Hiroshima would be armed while in the air, rather than before taking off. An atomic bomb explosion on Tinian would wipe out the entire island, along with 20,000 troops and over 1,000 planes.

The crews that dropped the atomic bombs were extremely well prepared. They spent a year in training, unaware of the purpose until just before their missions.

The training unit was called the 509th Composite Bombing Group, under the command of Col Paul Tibbetts. The group trained at Wendover Air Base in Utah. After the war, it would be based at Roswell, New Mexico.

The group was a miniature, stand-alone air force and had priority over every other unit in the military. When it moved to Tinian, it had its own self-contained, air-conditioned section at a corner of the base. And no outsider was allowed through the gate, not even visiting generals.

On July 14, two days before "Fat Man" was tested in the New Mexico desert, "Little Boy" began its journey from Los Alamos to Tinian, arriving there aboard the USS Indianapolis, the fastest ship in our fleet. Four days later, the Indianapolis was torpedoed and sank.

The prime target was Kokura, but a late report of prison camps in the area shifted the target to Hiroshima. Numerous New Mexico prisoners had a ringside seat to that blast because Hiroshima also had nearby prison camps.

The year of training paid off. Last-minute preparations were almost  leisurely as Los Alamos scientists readied the bomb. The flight itself was a textbook performance. Nearly everything went just as planned.

Before the Enola Gay's historic flight, leaflets were dropped over the four possible targets, urging all civilians to evacuate. They were ignored. Forty square miles of industrial Hiroshima were leveled.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

8-3 Roswell scores based on history

80312 etc

SANTA FE – Why was Roswell, New Mexico chosen for the ultimate sky dive? In case you hadn't noticed, "Fearless Felix" Baumgartner, an Austrian adventurer, has found a way to legitimize his stunts.
Very soon now, he will ride a gas balloon to 23 miles above Roswell and jump. If successful, he will establish records for greatest height, longest free fall and the fastest descent without being in an aircraft.
Within 34 seconds of jumping, Baumgartner will be traveling at an estimated speed of 790 miles an hour. That is faster than the speed of sound. No one knows what happens when a human body breaks the sound barrier. It scares me to think about it. This is an extremely dangerous undertaking.
Baumgartner and his Red Bull Stratos sponsor are now pioneering scientific advances in areas such as spacesuit design, physiology and suborbital bailouts. The Stratos team includes scientists, engineers and M.D.s.
News reports have treated Baumgartner's next jump as an attempt to set new records. But it also is an attempt to further research begun over 50 years ago to test the limits of human endurance in space travel.
Those tests involved Air Force Col. Joseph Kittenger. It is his records Baumgartner will be attempting to break. Kittenger is a chief advisor on this project.
So why did they come to Roswell? It wasn't because of flying space aliens. It has to do with good weather and miles of flat, uninhabited terrain on which to land. It also has to do with top aviation facilities, which Roswell has maintained since the closing of Walker Air Force Base 50 years ago.
But the main reason, according to Stratos technical director Art Thompson, is the space technology begun in Roswell by Dr. Robert Goddard in the 1930s. The Stratos team is proud to be part of that history.
It is also worth noting that Goddard was looking for the same location benefits as Stratos – good weather and flat uninhabited land. His chief scout in that search was none other than Charles Lindberg of aircraft pioneering fame.
From a city steeped in science, we go to a city that ignores science. Our trendy little capital city of Santa Fe, home of New Mexico's left wing, appears ready to quit adding fluoride to the community's water.
At its last meeting, the city council suddenly, and without notice, voted to quit fluoridating our water. George Johnson, editor of The Santa Fe Review, tells us that fluoridation of municipal drinking water is counted by the Centers of Disease Control as one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
Not everyone agreed, however. In the 1960s, the John Birch Society denounced fluoridation as a communist plot to pollute our precious bodily fluids.
More recently, the Tea Party persuaded one of Florida's largest counties to stop fluoridation because the globalists want to keep people stupid. I can't disagree with the stupid part.
Now The Left has made this a bipartisan issue. The Santa Fe City Council has to go back and do it over again because of the "without notice" problem. Since fluoridation hasn't stopped here yet, we can assume our city councilors haven't gotten any smarter so the vote is unlikely to change.
The City Council hasn't let us know, at this point, whether we should be on the lookout for communists, globalists or stupidity.
In a recent column on freedom of speech, I mentioned that the only limits courts have ever placed on the right were in the cases of obscenity, libel and "fighting words." I said to my knowledge the court never has ruled on the oft-heard warning about yelling fire in a crowded theater.
My constitutional advisor, Dave Clary, reminds us that former Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes used that example while explaining his vote on an unrelated subject. And since Holmes said it, that's good enough to make it law.

8-1 August a memorable month for New Mexicans

80112 August


     SANTA FE – Welcome to August. The month has no holidays. Maybe that is because so many people already are on vacation

     But August has many days to remember, especially for New Mexicans. Some of them could be holidays but we just don't celebrate them for one reason or another.

     Every elementary school child knows Christopher Columbus arrived in the New World on October 12, 1492. But he set sail on August 3 of that year.

   They still are teaching elementary students that Columbus was the guy who figured out the world is round. But we have learned over the years that when he set sail, he had no doubt he wasn't going to fall off the edge of the earth.

   Many people already knew the world was round and some even knew others had already explored new lands to the west. The only question was how far west.

   It was August 1598 when Juan de Onate and his colonists settled in Northern New Mexico near Espanola.

   It was August 10, 1680 when the Pueblos, with the help of Apaches, decided they didn't like Spanish rule. Some 400 colonists and 21 Franciscan missionaries were killed.

   The rest fled down the Rio Grande to south of El Paso. It is said to be the first and only instance of Native Americans overthrowing their conquerors.

   It was August 1846 when U.S. troops, under the command of Gen. Stephen Watts Kearny, invaded New Mexico. On August 22, Kearny declared all residents to be American citizens.

   On August 6 and 9, Little Boy and Fat Man were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, assuring a quick end to the war. The dates are not celebrated in the United States. They are mourned by the Japanese and American peace activists.

   At the time, it seemed to our leaders like the thing to do. High school graduates were being drafted and quickly sent to the Pacific to prepare for a land invasion expected to take a million lives.

   Scientists and engineers from Los Alamos were sent to the island of Tinian in the Northern Marianas, near Guam and Saipan, to prepare the bombs and the modified B-29s that would carry them.

   We knew that American prisoners held in Japan, including 900 members of the New Mexico National Guard, would be shot as soon as a land invasion commenced. But when the two big ones dropped, prison guards throughout Japan ran for their homes and never returned.

   Even before the two bombs dropped, Japan had been making efforts toward ending the war. But there were still holdouts in the Japanese high command that either wanted to fight to the end or to bargain for keeping the lands they had taken.

   The bombs hastened the decision to surrender. Six days after the second bomb was dropped, Japan surrendered. It was high noon, August 15 in Tokyo and 6 p.m. the day before in Washington, D.C.

   There was great rejoicing nationwide. Next to the photo of the Iwo Jima flag raising, the picture of a sailor sweeping a nurse off her feet on Times Square is probably the most beloved in American history. I was a seven-year-old in Las Cruces watching the celebrating.

   But the yearly celebrations didn't last. Although the bombs killed no more than our nightly saturation bombings of Japanese cities, the radiation deaths and illnesses that followed insured that nuclear devices have not been used in warfare since.

   August also is the anniversary of New Mexico native Smokey Bear being adopted as our national forest fire prevention symbol in 1944. Even Smokey had a war connection.

   All our able-bodied men were fighting elsewhere. And Japan was tying small bombs to gas balloons and launching them into the winds headed for our West Coast forests. Some of them made it. So the American public was alerted to fight forest fires.



Tuesday, July 24, 2012

7-27 Should there be any limits on our freedoms?

72712 freedom limits

SANTA FE – Early this month we celebrated the many freedoms Americans enjoy. Some recent events have indicated those freedoms have some limitations – but not enough in some people's minds.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this month that freedom of speech has fewer limitations than perhaps many Americans intended. In the case of Alvarez v. United States, brought under the 2005 Stolen Valor Act, the justices found that simply lying about one's military awards is not a criminal act.
The court found that Xavier Alvarez is a habitual liar. He lied about having been a professional hockey player and he lied about receiving the Medal of Honor. But the court ruled that since his lies brought him nothing more than possibly a little esteem, they weren't criminal.
The Stolen Valor Act is pretty sacred to many Americans. A candidate in the New Mexico GOP U.S. Senate primary was accused of violating it and subsequently withdrew his candidacy.
Justices voting in the 6-3 majority maintained that lying is a part of life. "White" lies are valuable to protect privacy, shield a person from prejudice, provide comfort to the sick or preserve a child's innocence.
If Mr. Alvarez had used his lies to obtain veterans' benefits, that would have been fraud. We have laws against fraud. But people feel strongly so the Stolen Valor Act is being rewritten to include some specifics about acts in which people will be hurt. Such laws already exist but it will make people feel better.
The answer to the lies of people like Alvarez is public condemnation rather than leaving it to government to do something about it. I'm sure that Xavier Alvarez, a member of the local water board, will never be elected to anything again.
And our first amendment remains safe. The only limitations courts have been willing to consider involve obscenity, libel and "fighting words." They haven't ruled, to my knowledge, on yelling "fire" in a crowded theater. Maybe teachers told us that one in fifth grade because they were afraid we might do it.
The First Amendment has been through many strange attacks in its long history. The Ku Klux Klan put it to the test, with the courts ruling the Klan had a right to march down the street if no other laws were broken.
The constitution also protects the demonstrators who likely will gather again at Los Alamos in about a week to protest nuclear weapons. They are legal as long as they don't break other laws. But several years ago an Albuquerque TV station conducted a poll asking if the First Amendment should protect the demonstrators. A majority said no. But the First Amendments survives.
An interesting test of the First Amendment occurred on the 4th of July in Las Cruces when the prize-winning parade float, sponsored by the local Tea Party, sported a Confederate flag, along with numerous American flags.
The Confederate flag produced a spirited community discussion for the following week. The mayor apologized. The sponsor said it would bow out of future parades unless strict procedures are established to prevent such outcomes in the future. It was an instance of public sentiment dealing with the problem without governmental interference.
A free speech conflict in California last month did involve the government. A young woman walked along a highway sporting a sign warning motorists of a police speed trap. She was arrested.
And then there is the "Citizens United" Supreme Court decision extending free speech to cover unlimited political expenditures on behalf of a candidate. The resulting Super PACs have some wondering if the decision might be carrying speech a bit further than our forefathers invisioned.
And now we have the Colorado movie theater shootings creating another debate about whether some type of limits should be placed on the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms. How many arms does that mean?

Thursday, July 19, 2012

7-25 New Mexico helps protect moom artifacts

72512 Tranquility Base

SANTA FE – It was bound to happen. Public officials already are making plans for what to do about sticky-fingered tourists picking up stuff left by our lunar astronauts.
Yes, our astronauts were litter bugs. Big time. They wanted to make their load as light as possible so they left 106 items lying around their landing area at Tranquility Base, the sight of the first moon landing. And some day tourists are going to go see them.
How soon will that be? Encouraging signs abound. Last month Space X, belonging to Pay Pal founder Elon Musk, successfully doc ked at the International Space station, taking supplies and retrieving garbage.
The impetus for some sort of protection came from the 26 participants in Google's Lunar X Prize competition. These 26 companies agreed to abide by NASA's Recommendations to Space-Faring Entities about how to protect and preserve artifacts left on the moon.
Isn't it a little early to be worrying about space tourists? These 26 companies have until the end of 2015 to land on the moon with a robot that will travel 500 meters and send video, images and data back to Earth. The prize is $30 million.
The first X Prize was won by SpaceshipOne for flying to the edge of space twice within a three-day period. The company that won $10 million for that feat is building SpaceshipTwo for Virgin Galactic to start flying passengers next year.
A problem exists with NASA's recommendations, however. They can't be enforced. That must come through the National Historic Preservation Act. And New Mexico is helping make that happen. In April 2010, New Mexico became the second state to officially designate the articles left behind at Tranquility Base on the moon in its official registry of historic properties.
Leadership in this effort was taken by Dr. Beth O'Leary, an anthropology professor at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces and students in a graduate level class. O'Leary is now working with Dr. Lisa Westwood of Chico State University in California, which was the first state to list the moon artifacts in its registry of historical properties, to prepare congressional legislation to make Tranquility Base a national historic landmark.
The next step is to get the moon artifacts listed on the UNESCO World Heritage list. That is the closest to global protection that is possible. Treaties prevent any nation from claiming any part of the surface of the moon but NASA does own all its artifacts.
Why don't Texas and Florida claim the moon artifacts on their lists of historic properties? Texas, at least, cannot claim any property that is not in the state. New Mexico and California laws permit them to list sites that have some connection to the state.
New Mexico felt it had a strong connection to space exploration through rocket pioneer Robert Goddard and the V-2 testing at what is now White Sands Missile Range. Our early astronauts also spent considerable time in New Mexico enduring physical tests under the direction of Dr. Randy Lovelace.
They also learned the geology of the moon by training in areas of our state that looked much like the surface of the moon. They were under the tutelage of New Mexico astronaut Harrison Schmitt, a Ph.D. geologist.
If you are one of those doubters who think the astronauts didn't go to the moon but camped out on earth, don't let the fact that some of New Mexico looks like the moon make you believe we didn't go to the moon. NASA has pictures.
Sir Richard Branson, in a joke posting on his Virgin Galactic website, makes a claim that not only defies science but also some of those international space treaties we mentioned earlier.
Branson is such a big time wheeler-dealer that it might be easy for some to believe it when he says he has bought Pluto and plans to restore its planetary status by dragging in neighboring moons.

Monday, July 16, 2012

7-23 Who will you support for president?

72312 voting

SANTA FE – Having trouble figuring which presidential candidate to vote for? Pollsters tell us more people than ever are expected to stay away from the voting booth this November. In many cases these are people who usually vote but are so turned off by the parties and their candidates that they don't know what to do.
One solution is a new Website, created in March, called "I Side With…" The site asks a series of questions on the major issues of the campaign. You can answer yes or no or even qualify your answer. The site will then compare your answers with the stands of presidential candidates. They have tossed in a half-dozen minor party candidates too.
You are then presented with information on which candidate you most side with on the issues. You also learn where you stand with the major party candidates and the minor party candidates with whom you most agree. You also find out how you side with all New Mexicans and all Americans who took the poll. And you learn how you fit in with various party platforms.
The results also are cross tabbed so that you can compare yourself with the candidates on each of eight different issues. The poll also is connected with Facebook and Twitter so you can see how you compare with your friends there.
I never have found a need for friends in social media. I have enough of my own. Surprisingly for Santa Fe, most of my friends are conservative Republicans who think I am too liberal. Amazingly they are very nice people anyway.
It was refreshing to take the survey and concentrate solely on issues. Television gives us only negative ads and news about the fight of the day. Word evidently is getting around. Some 320,000 have taken the survey.
The site was created by two young men, one of whom must be a computer genius. I don't know whether to call them enterprising. They ask for voluntary donations to keep things going. If 10 percent of the respondents send them $10 for their efforts, $320,000 in four months would qualify as enterprising.
Personally, I couldn't have wished for better results. It said I side with New Mexicans, who took the survey before me, 95 percent of the time. But it is a bit surprising how often that other five percent contacts me about the columns I write.
When friends ask me which presidential candidate is going to get my vote, I have been saying for the last month or so that I'm going to vote for Gary Johnson. They laugh. The survey result says they shouldn't laugh. I side with Johnson on the issues 88 percent of the time. That is more than any other candidate.
When I created a Website about 10 years ago, I described myself as being a Gary Johnson Democrat. I guess this confirms it. Gary, you have my vote. Yes, I know, he always has been a little crazy.
If you would like to take this survey, go to or just Google "I Stand With." It is completely non-partisan. The two guys who run it say they are not affiliated with any investors, shareholders, advertisers, political party or interest group.
The owners say they hope to increase turnout for the presidential election by getting people excited about the candidate who stands closest to them on the issues. The survey also educates voters by getting them to stop and think about where they really stand on issues. It also tells you where you stand on each candidate in regard to each issue.
The experience is enlightening. But if you have no intention of voting for anyone than your favorite major party candidate, you likely will be wasting your time. A vote, of course, for anyone other than Barack Obama or Mitt Romney is wasted in terms of the balance of power in Washington.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

7-20 Spaceport America gets some competition

72012 Space Abu Dhabi

SANTA FE – Spaceport America has some competition. Nearly four years ago, my wife and I were stranded for 17 days in Abu Dhabi as Jeanette underwent surgery for a broken femur.
Abu Dhabi is the capital of the United Arab Emirates, the most progressive of Arab countries. Dubai is about 50 miles away in the neighboring emirate. Dubai is showy for tourists. Abu Dhabi is all business. No fancy buildings. Just businessmen looking for good investments.
Arabic and English are the two official languages of the country. Everyone I met spoke good English. There were an adequate number of English language TV channels and a good English language daily newspaper.
Abu Dhabi was very interested in Spaceport America and wanted to build one of its own as soon as economic conditions looked right. I've written several columns since then warning that if we don't move quickly on our spaceport and promote it vigorously, we'll lose out to more spirited competitors.
The competitor with the most resources is Abu Dhabi. It has now sprung into action. Aabar, an investment firm, wholly owned by the government of Abu Dhabi, has bought 37 percent of Virgin Galactic. Aabar now has exclusive regional rights to host Virgin Galactic tourism and scientific research space flights, along with advanced science, technology and higher education programs.
That doesn't put us in direct competition. We aren't in the same region. I happen to know from experience that we are 12 time zones apart. But many of Sir Richard Branson's over 500 "astronauts" he has signed up to take to the edge of space are from foreign countries that may be closer to Abu Dhabi than to New Mexico.
Branson also just announced last week that he is building a new generation of satellite launchers that will cut the cost of launching a 500-pound payload into orbit from nearly $40 million to about $10 million. WhiteKnightTwo will carry LauncherOne to 50,000 feet where it will separate and fire into orbit.
WhiteKnightTwo will be housed at Spaceport America but Branson emphasized that it will have the capability to fly from anywhere with a runway long enough and wide enough to accommodate it.
Back at Abu Dhabi, Virgin Galactic and Aabar have appointed none other than Steve Landeene as chief advisor for planning and implementing the spaceport. Landeene took New Mexico through those steps before being forced to resign by the New Mexico Spaceport Authority board after a disagreement over the purchase of additional land necessary for spaceport expansion.
That occurred during the final year of Gov. Bill Richardson's administration. Obviously Branson was an admirer of Landeene's work. No one could be more qualified to build the world's second purpose-built spaceport. Landeene likely won't have to wade through as many environmental impact hearings as he did here so work should proceed quickly.
Many new and exciting spaceflight advances have been taking place recently, the biggest of which was Space X's delivery of a payload to the International Space Station and its safe return with a load of garbage. But none of these have been launched from Spaceport America.
This appears to be a situation similar to attracting film makers to New Mexico. Gov. Susana Martinez has gone from doubting the value of investing in the spaceport to a position of support. But she hasn't gotten excited enough about the subject to get out and hustle tenants as Gov. Richardson did.
We still have Sir Richard hustling for us. He still calls Spaceport America his home base but we know he has a global focus and will be looking to promote other regional spaceports, maybe the next in Finland. And we know he still has his production facilities in California.
One thing Branson has done for us lately is to hold an industry day at Spaceport America for interested suppliers. Four hundred registered. Two hundred were chosen, including a number of New Mexico companies, to be briefed on Virgin Galactic's needs.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

7-18 Finding the sweet spot for Hollywood incentives

71812 films

SANTA FE – Film industry results are now coming in for the state's fiscal year which ended June 30. They reveal a considerable drop off in activity since a cap was put on the 25 percent rebates that film companies receive.
The 2011 Legislature, at the behest of Gov. Martinez, placed a $50 million cap on reimbursable expenses in the state along with stricter limits on what could be reimbursed. Martinez was worried that with a very tight budget, money could not be found for rebates.
In addition to wondering whether the rebates do us any good, Gov. Martinez was worried about the uncertainty of how much in rebates the state would have to pay out. In the last year of Gov. Bill Richardson's administration that figure was a little over $100 million.
The $50 million cap did its job. It appears only about $20 million will be paid out for last year. That is great for the budget line item for rebates. But it also means that income to the state, businesses and individuals from the film industry took a huge hit.
The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that only four productions are working in the state at this time. In contrast, Louisiana has around 24 productions. That makes their rebate budget very high. But it is like some business managers I have known who notify their sales force that the budget for their commissions has run out because they have done such a good job.
New Mexico Film Office Director Nick Maniatis is quoted in the New Mexican as saying that our state is in a sweet spot because we are not giving too much and we're not giving too little. It appears that sweet spot has us sinking rapidly.
Maniatis says the state is just in a temporary lull and next year we will be packed. Maybe so, but the film industry is accustomed to moving around to the state that will give them the best deal. There is nothing wrong with being careful. Big state investments in solar companies currently are going down the drain and we've seen State Investment Council and retirement fund investments in the Richardson administration that were bad from the start.
But the due diligence the Martinez administration tried to exert has spooked film makers. We've heard before that business doesn't like uncertainty. In trying to create certainty in our state budget process we have transferred the uncertainty to film companies.
The rebate cap is complicated. For bigger productions, the rebate is paid out over two or three years. It also is necessary to stand in line. If the rebate money is used up, a company has to wait until the following year. State officials say film companies have trouble understanding the system and in turn, the companies have trouble explaining it to potential investors.
And the problem goes deeper. Last year Gov. Martinez was very negative toward the industry. Hollywood is taking money away from New Mexico's children, she would say. This year she is much more supportive. But it doesn't appear her heart is in it.
Former Gov. Richardson was enthusiastic about the industry. He traveled to Hollywood to romance studio executives. He invited them to New Mexico and entertained them at the governor's mansion. Gov. Martinez doesn't even talk to them. She leaves that to staff members even when top executives come to Santa Fe expecting to see her.
There's more. The governor has been hesitant about honoring rebate contracts signed with companies when there was no limit. Lawsuits are threatened. Word gets around.
A major study of film incentives' value to the state is getting started. It is badly needed. But it would be nice if another state would do it since no one is quite sure of the value. The mere fact that we are doing the study is said to be scaring people off.
Finding the sweet spot is difficult.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

7-16 Why is Romney ignoring us?

71612 Guv

SANTA FE – Recent word that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney might like a female vice-presidential runningmate has Gov. Susana Martinez back on stage whether she wants to be or not.
A vice-presidential poll popped up on my computer a few days ago. It had pictures of 25 possible choices listed in no particular order that I could discern. Gov. Martinez was the sixth possibility listed. Condoleezza Rice was 21st. The positioning likely means nothing but I can say that among people I talk with, Rice creates the most excitement as a possible candidate.
The poll was conducted by, which describes itself as a conservative newsmagazine. It promised to send me the polling results. That hasn't happened yet.
Perhaps more accurate than wanting a woman is the leak that Romney wants someone who will not steal the spotlight from him. Republicans' biggest fear seems to be selection of another Sarah Palin.
The Romney campaign has not seemed interested in getting a foothold in New Mexico. One reason likely is that our presidential primary is one of the last in the nation.
But even after Romney clinched the nomination he still waited over a month to start opening offices in the state. My wife just got her first fundraising letter from Romney in the past few days – a pretty good indication that his campaign here is just starting.
In 2008, Barack Obama showed the country the best political ground game in the country. He transferred all his community organizing skills into the political arena and it worked beautifully. The Romney campaign has indicated that it plans to utilize those same techniques this year.
`Will it work for Romney? Obama had a large number of highly motivated young volunteers to carry his message. Can Romney duplicate that? It's worth trying.
It still seems unlikely that Gov. Martinez will be the veep pick. She seems to genuinely not want to leave New Mexico, at this point, at least.
According to a campaign consultant for Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004, former Gov. Bill Richardson played it differently that year when he really didn't want to be picked for Kerry's running mate.
This consultant theorizes that Richardson wanted very much to be seen as being vetted for the vice presidency in order to help his planned 2008 presidential run. Richardson eventually announced he had sent a letter to the Kerry campaign telling them to remove his name from contention.
How seriously, if at all, was Richardson being vetted? The Kerry consultant gave the impression it wasn't very serious although I can say that I received a call that year from someone saying he was with the Kerry campaign. He inquired about Richardson's interest in Billy the Kid and UFOs and whether I felt it would detract from the campaign.
Besides helping with the women's vote, Gov. Martinez likely would attract Hispanic voters also. But it isn't just about having the right last name.
Hispanics are a diverse group with many different motivations. Gov. Romney has said publicly that U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida is being vetted. He is Cuban-American. The rest of the Hispanic community has no great desire to assist their return to Cuba.
Many Puerto Ricans live in Florida. They already are U.S. citizens so have no particular interest in illegal alien issues.
New Mexican Hispanics also are divided into two very distinct groups. In the North, Hispanics can trace their families back for centuries, often to the same location where they presently live. Southern New Mexico Hispanics are much more recent arrivals, mostly from Mexico.
The two groups don't share a lot in common. There have been some instances of Gov. Martinez, a Southern New Mexican, not being accepted with open arms by Northern New Mexicans.
Maybe Romney is ignoring New Mexico because he plans to select our governor as his runningmate and figures she will carry the state for him.

Monday, July 09, 2012

7-13 Report due today on campaign violations

71312 transparency
So how are we doing on government transparency? It was a major issue during the last gubernatorial campaign. Former Gov. Bill Richardson was raked over the coals for alleged corruption in in the investment of billions of state dollars in worthless securities.
Gov. Susana Martinez promised to do much better. A year and a half into her administration the results are mixed. The governor has been criticized for slow responses to records requests and heavily redacted records. The attorney general and state auditor are looking into whether there was some type of collusion in the award of the state fair racino bid.
But there also is good news. A big flap over an exchange of private emails seeking information on the membership status of teachers in a union led to a decision by Gov. Martinez to declare that she wants every email regarding state business to be conducted through state email accounts even though the law allows discussions of a preliminary nature to be conducted privately.
Incidentally, the information requested by Jay McCleskey, the governor's chief adviser, was for a list of teachers who don't belong to a union. Presumably, McCleskey figured those teachers would be more likely to side with the governor on education issues. The list the Public education Department prepared identified teachers in school districts without bargaining contracts.
Generally that would be a good list but in education, teachers choose whether to join a union or not regardless of whether the district has a bargaining contract.
The best news from this administration is an announcement from Gregg Marcantel, the recently appointed secretary of the Corrections Department. He announced that his department uncovered information that it has held a prisoner six months too long.
This is a story that the department could have buried for years or forever, according to Milan Simonich, who covers the Capitol for the Texas-New Mexico Newspaper Partnership. But as an administrator in New Mexico state government, Marcantel is peerless. He works hard, constantly assesses his department to fix weaknesses and hides nothing, says Simonich.
News from the Legislature isn't quite as good. Gov. Martinez, in defending her administration's use of private email accounts to discuss government business, noted that lawmakers frequently do the same. They do and they won't be as quick to correct the practice.
Legislators are faced with a different situation. They are not government employees. As members of a citizen legislature, they constantly juggle their public business with private businesses.
Now that the use of public and private emails has become an issue, lawmakers seem willing to discuss the situation and establish some policies. Meanwhile they seem resolute about not getting into a partisan battle over who has done what.
Lawmakers also tussle over how open their meetings should be. Especially with conference committees to iron out disagreements between the House and Senate, legislative leaders maintain that conferees behave themselves much better when they don't have an audience.
Televising of regular committee meetings also has become an issue. Republican congressional nominee Janice Arnold-Jones became the Sunshine Queen when she took televising equipment into committee meetings of which she was a member. She won the battle to keep her equipment rolling but drew the wrath of some committee heads.
She also may have incurred the animosity of many fellow Republicans. Although she won her 1st Congressional District primary, she did it on a shoestring and is getting little help in her battle against Democratic nominee Michelle Lujan Grisham.
Finally, transparency problems also exist in election campaigns. Senate Corporations Committee Chairman Phil Griego was charged with misspending campaign funds by one of his Democratic primary election opponents.
Republican Secretary of State Diana Duran held off looking into the situation until after the primary election in which Democrat Griego was given campaign assistance by our Republican governor. Griego would not talk with any media during the primary but now is seeking out the media.
Duran is scheduled to release her findings today.

Friday, July 06, 2012

7-11 National conventions losing popularity

71112 RNC DNC

SANTA FE – U.S. Senate Candidate Heather Wilson announced a few weeks ago that she will not attend the Republican National Convention next month in Tampa, Fla. Wilson plans to concentrate on her tight race with U.S. Rep. Martin Heinrich.
The announcement created no stir. It seemed to make sense. By going to the convention Wilson could have made connections with leading Republicans from throughout the state and maybe have pumped them up for a little extra help in their areas.
But national party conventions are losing some of their luster. For decades the candidate has been selected months ahead of time and a vice-presidential running mate already has been named. Sitting through an endless series of speeches gets dull, so Wilson chose not to waste her time.
For quite a while, many congressional candidates from both parties either have avoided their national conventions or only gone for a day or two. But this year, more Democrats than usual have announced their plans not to attend.
And Republicans have been quick to take note. They have called it a repudiation of the Democrats' presidential candidate and an admission that their campaigns back home are in trouble. And Democrats aren't just quietly deciding not to go, they are announcing it.
So should Wilson's announcement now be reevaluated? She is from a state dominated by the other political party. Most of the defections in other states share that same feature. But she's given no indication yet of running away from Mitt Romney.
A curious feature of Wilson's campaign has been the slew of ads from Karl Roves' super PAC, American Crossroads, promoting Wilson as being independent of her party. While that sometimes is true, Rove usually does not cotton to such independence.
Does this independent theme indicate that Republican leaders feel New Mexico has become so blue that only independent Republican candidates have a chance of winning a statewide race this year? Should Wilson's decision to skip her party convention be interpreted in the same light?
At least we know that Wilson's and Rove's thinking is not coordinated because super PAC's can't coordinate with campaigns they support. Except for Wilson's non-attendance at her party's convention, she has shown no evidence of planning to stray from the party line.
And if it is allowable for Wilson to be independent, how come Republican U.S. House candidate Janice Arnold-Jones is being ignored by the GOP? The word is that she is too independent.
Wilson's opponent, Rep. Heinrich, says he will be attending the Democratic National Convention. Democrats tend to skip their national conventions more often. Republicans traditionally have better party discipline.
Both parties generally provide automatic delegate seats to governors and members of Congress. An exception to that rule occurred in 1976 when a majority of the New Mexico delegation supported Ronald Reagan over President Gerald Ford.
Sen. Pete Domenici, a Ford supporter, was denied a delegate slot. GOP feelings ran high that year. Two of Sen. Domenici's good buddies from college days led the effort to exclude their fraternity brother. It was the last exciting GOP national convention.
Rep. Ron Paul now intends to attend the GOP convention. Early word was that he would hold a competing gathering down the street as he did four years ago. Paul's mind likely was changed by his success in electing supporters to delegate slots.
They must vote for Romney on the first ballot but they can vote for Paul's positions on other matters. And if they succeed in dominating five state delegations, they can put Paul's name in nomination for president. This could be another exciting convention although GOP leaders are expected to come up with some tricks of their own to control the situation.
The Tampa Convention Bureau says the GOP convention will be the second biggest media event of the year, except for the Olympics. They may have many reporters but not that many viewers. Networks keep trimming their convention coverage.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

7-9 Gov. Martinez inspires comic book

70912 Saucer Country

SANTA FE – Many around this nation seem fascinated with New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez. The idea of a female, Hispanic governor evidently is intriguing. And in the case of comic book writer Paul Cornell, it got the creative juices flowing.
Cornell is well-established as a creator of television scripts, novels and action comics. His latest venture is a monthly, 32-page comic book titled "Saucer Country." The British author is enamored of UFO mythology, as he calls it.
So where is 'Saucer Country" set? You guessed it – New Mexico. And who is his heroine? The female Hispanic governor of the state, who is interested in national office. Oh, and she also has been abducted.
Gov. Arcadia Alvarado's abduction experience let her know that aliens are out to get us and the only way to stop them requires her to become president. Of course she can't tell anyone other than her most trusted staff members. How would you like to be her campaign manager? Jay McCleskey might like to try.
Developments quickly get very strange on the campaign trail. Gov. Alvarado begins to wonder if everybody in New Mexico has been abducted. Don't worry, governor, you aren't the first one to feel that way. What's more, all of her office files relating to Roswell have disappeared.
That is about the point to which the monthly series has developed so far. It is clear Cornell has fallen for New Mexico. He and his wife toured the state last year before he pitched his idea to Vertigo Comics. He not only is into Roswell, he likes the UFO myths he has picked up in other parts of the state.
Cornell purposely has stayed away from getting to know about Gov. Martinez because he doesn't want parallels to be drawn with Gov. Alvarado. She is her own person. This information comes from Bill Kohlhaase who wrote an excellent article for the Santa Fe New Mexican, which led me to look further into the comic book series.
Evidently it is pure coincidence that both the real governor and the fictional one are fixated on alien issues, albeit of a different variety. Gov. Alvarado also wrestles with budget issues but then every governor is doing that at this point.
One difference is that Gov. Alvarado, who began in Cornell's mind as a Republican, became a Democrat before the series started. I don't know that it makes much difference. Maybe Democrats are more likely to be abducted. Anyway Gov. Martinez says she switched from Democrat to Republican before she ran for district attorney in Dona Ana County.
If you are interested in following the series, google "Vertigo Saucer Country" and click on the Website. It will tell you where you can buy the book. It also is available digitally. The price of comic books has increased since the days I bought them for a dime. This one is $2.99 an issue.
The website likes to refer to "Saucer Country" as being "West Wing Meets X Files. It actually is a rather good description. Maybe it eventually will be made into a movie or TV series starring Salma Hayek as Gov. Arcadia Alvarado. Or if she's busy, maybe Susana Martinez could take over. She's mighty handy with a gun.
Besides all the UFO and abduction sites in New Mexico, Cornell also is taken by the far out science going on at Los Alamos, Sandia, Trinity Site, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the Very Large Array telescopes, and our new spaceport. I imagine we can expect to see them being woven into his stories because of his fondness with New Mexico as the Aerospace State.
Cornell's comic books aren't likely to bring New Mexico many more tourists or businesses but something that may help are the quick congressional hearings the Manhattan Project National Historical Park is receiving in Washington. Maybe as a tribute to Sen. Jeff Bingaman, the bill is on a fast track to pass before Bingaman retires.