Inside the Capitol

Thursday, December 27, 2012

12=31 What will 2013 bring?

123112 Predictions 2013

SANTA FE – Since most of my 2012 predictions turned out to be correct, it is time to make this game a little tougher. I'll begin, as Ed Sullivan was fond of saying, with a really, really big one.
The billion-dollar ghost town that has almost been foisted on several Southern New Mexico counties, will finally find a home – at the defunct Spaceport America.
Jon Barela, head of the New Mexico Economic Development Department, has been pitching the research city for almost two years now. But, so far counties have cast a wary eye on the lone pitchman who says he can bring in major companies to test their products out in the middle of nowhere.
With the fate of New Mexico's spaceport headed for an imminent crash landing, it essentially is only steps from being a ghost town already. Administrative and legislative support of the once heralded project has been tepid, at best.
That ennui now is expanding to New Mexico's best -- and only -- tenant, Virgin Galactic. Owner Sir Richard Branson has many other places he can go. Spaceport America doesn't. It is time to grab whatever is available. It's not a good deal but maybe a few dollars could be salvaged.
The Manhattan Project National Park seems like a bill that should pass. It should attract many votes since it is historical, preservationist and patriotic but it doesn't seem to have the support of enough of the big boys or the tea party.
So don't expect to see a Manhattan Park in 2013.
On January 3, U.S. Senate Democrats will try to change Senate rules to make to place limits on filibusters. The House doesn't allow filibuster. But in the Senate, any member can threaten to filibuster on any issue, and thereby, require 60 of the 100 members to defeat it. Only then, can the Senate proceed with its debate.
Four years ago, the new Democratic U.S. senators, led by New Mexico's Tom Udall attempted to limit filibusters but were unsuccessful. The effort this year also will lose because Democrats realize they will be in the same fix Republicans are in now once Republicans regain control.
Recent tragedies have made gun control a prime subject of conversation in Congress. Many bills will be introduced but none will pass. The gun lobby has the power to stop any legislation it does not like.
In fact the gun industry already is selling guns and ammunition faster than it can make them to people who believe guns will be banned.
End of the world prophecies will decrease for a while now that the recent much-publicized prediction has passed. But they will begin again, especially among those not happy with the present world.
For you young folks, one of the greatest scientific minds of the ages, Sir Isaac Newton, after intensive biblical calculations, predicted the world will end in 2060.
The world didn't end but the fiscal cliff is here. If agreement is not reached by tonight, all heck breaks loose. Congressional leaders, last year, thought they had devised consequences so dire that agreement would have to be reached.
Reasonable men would have found a way to agreement but we have a Congress that is so disagreeable that it has taken us to the cliff. My guess is that we will go over the cliff tonight and that on January 3, 2013 a new Congress will fairly quickly put something together. It won't be much. It will mainly just kick the can a little farther down the road and hope for a miracle later in the year.
As the representative from New Mexico's 1st Congressional District, Democrat Martin Heinrich bragged that he slept in his office. He even listed it in a campaign ad as a reason that he hadn't gone Washington on us.
Will Heinrich continue his sleeping arrangement as a U.S. senator? Senators have six-year terms and usually take their families to Washington.

Monday, December 24, 2012

12-28 Prediction Results 2012

122812 prediction results 2012

SANTA FE – For most of this column's 25-plus years, it has been a tradition to look in the political crystal ball and predict the coming year's events. Late last year, this column made its usual list of predictions' Let's see how we did.
Our first prediction was that after a year of watching new Gov. Susana Martinez, we would know her better and be able to figure out what to expect from her. That was close to the mark. She didn't do much she hadn't done her first year.
Gov. Martinez continued to go after undocumented immigrant driver's licenses despite two defeats during her first year. She continued to advocate for children's issues. She continued to be guided by her political campaign advisers and she continued to receive some notoriety as the nation's first female Hispanic governor.
The governor eased up on her opposition to the film industry but didn't attempt to change any of the restrictions placed on the industry during her first year in office. Martinez also eased her Luke-warm attitude toward the spaceport but it continues to die on the vine.
But Martinez's popularity has continued to soar around 60 percent. Perhaps the message is that New Mexicans prefer a governor who doesn't take a lot of bold actions as her predecessor and several of her current Republican gubernatorial colleagues are doing in other states.
We must face the fact that New Mexicans have a very different governor than most we have had in the past, Republican or Democrat. Maybe she will be more like Bruce King than any other New Mexico governor.
Gov. Martinez will not build a spaceport or railroad ala Bill Richardson. She won't be a highway or prison builder like Gary Johnson. Or reorganize all of state government as Jerry Apodaca did. Or bring in the movie industry and star in a dozen or more films as Dave Cargo did, Or build a new capital building as Jack Campbell did. Or build a new governor's residence as Ed Mechem did.
Gov. Martinez will continue to be sweet Susana to most New Mexicans.
Some of that luster may wear off as she heads toward to end of her term and a reelection campaign. Not all would be due to her. Staff and others responsible for carrying out her initiatives may affect her standing.
Our predictions of winners in last June's primary elections were all correct. Mitt Romney, Heather Wilson, Martin Heinrich, Steve Pearce and Ben Ray Lujan all won their races.
We predicted Albuquerque Mayor R.J. Berry would keep Republicans on pins and needles on whether he will seek reelection in October 2003 that prediction still holds. He's still keeping them guessing.
The crystal ball revealed former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson winning the Libertarian Party presidential nomination last May and then encountering the same problems he did when he tried for the Republican nomination. No one wanted to notice him despite, or because of, some very colorful stands.
A year ago, I made some predictions about the New Mexico Aggie football and basketball teams continuing to dominate the University of New Mexico men's' teams. Coaching and player changes have begun to change that. I look forward to the day when both teams will be playing at a high level – and in the same league.
Finally, a very easy prediction -- the world will not end any time soon despite some of our best efforts to destroy it. There is something in human nature that needs or desires an Armageddon. We just passed another one that was a little bigger than the rest. But it will not discourage some folks. There will be more to come.

Friday, December 21, 2012

No column for Wed, Dec. 26

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

12-24 Dreaming of a White Christmas

122412 xmas
 SANTA FE -- We'll be spending Christmas in Phoenix again this year. It's easier on the kids and grandkids. Besides our son-in-law always seems to be
on call at Mayo Hospital on Christmas Day.
 The entire family would rather be in Santa Fe's snow, farolitos, pine trees and icicles. Some day it may start happening again but until then, we
will have to dream along with Irving Berlin about the white Christmas we are missing.
 The Arizona Biltmore Hotel, in Phoenix, claims Berlin wrote "White Christmas" while sitting beside its magnificent pool. The verse of the song
mentions orange and palm trees swaying but it also mentions being in L.A. where Berlin spent time writing movie scores.
 The Biltmore says Berlin also was known to stay at that hotel and write songs. The only reason he didn't say Phoenix is that it doesn't rhyme with
much of anything.
   The Biltmore has been a landmark for nearly 80 years and has hosted many stars. Its pool is said to have been Marilyn Monroe's favorite. Many political
events also are held there, including John McCain's election night party.
   New Yorkers, of course, say Berlin wrote the song there despite the orange and palm tree references. They contend that since Berlin didn't read or write
music, he composed on a piano, which would have been difficult by the pool.
   Maybe Berlin wrote it both places. Since he wrote both words and music, he might have written the words by the Biltmore pool. Regardless, it has been the
world's most popular song.
   Berlin got the secular Christmas music tradition started on Tin Pan Alley with "White Christmas." Numerous others followed during the 1940s, mostly
written by Jewish songwriters.
   They weren't offended about Christmas. Many were immigrants, as was Berlin, and they were embracing everything American. And since America is majority
Christian, they were willing to participate in the experience without partaking of the religious aspect.
   But today the attitude seems to be different. We worry about offending others. happy holidays has replaced merry Christmas in stores and in public places.
   The problem isn't that there is a law against Christmas greetings and Christmas displays. Maybe it is a fear that in our litigious society there will be
court suits from non-Christians so its easier to save the hassle and back down.
   There still are Christmas displays on public property but there will usually be a plastic reindeer or a Santa Claus thrown in.
   Eight years ago, when New Mexico provided the tree for the U.S. Capitol, House Speaker Dennis Hastert decreed that it would be renamed the Capitol
Christmas Tree instead of the Capitol Holiday Tree. A few years later, Arizona provided the tree for the first time.
   Actually, the observance of Christmas has had a mixed history in the United States. Early settlers on the East Coast strictly opposed Christmas
celebrations because they encouraged public drunkenness, shooting and swearing.
   The attitude spread to mainstream churches. Throughout the 1800s, mainstream churches still were trying to hold the line on Christmas celebrations by not
accepting the day as a holy one. And since the Bible doesn't mention Dec. 25, the date must have been derived from pagan customs.
   But gradually feelings began to change. Clement Clarke Moore's "Visit From St. Nicolas" at mid-century gave a family feeling to Christmas. Political
cartoonist Thomas Nast's cartoons created an image of a jolly Santa who gave gifts to children.
   By the early 1900s, the retail industry had caught on that Christmas could become a buying bonanza. It is now abundantly obvious where that has led.
   Will Christmas always be celebrated in the manner it is now? Will tough economic times mean a long term de-emphasis on compulsive buying? It did for
awhile but this year. Retail merchants report customers are returning. Christian churches still are urging their congregations to find ways to make Christmas
a more spiritual day.
   We always have had a dynamic society. Other changes could be coming.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

12-21 Happy end of the world

122112 world end

SANTA FE – And a happy end of the world to you. This seems to be a bigger end of the world than your typical end of the world. I hadn't realized the Mayans had such a powerful lobby.
No one seems to know exactly when this is going to happen. Some prophesies give it another couple of days. I'm going with today. It's another one of those days that is all ones and twos. This year 12-12-12 seemed to be a more important day to people than any of the other triple repeating days were during the past 12 years.
Maybe the end will come the second the solstice hits. I'm not sure what time that is and I'm not a big enough believer to go look it up. To demonstrate how little I believe, I'm having a big party tomorrow. Don't bother dropping by. We'll be in Scottsdale with our family, which is where we always like to be for ends of the world.
Why am I so fixated on this particular end of the world? Maybe it is because so many friends are. They don't necessarily think it is the end so much as that something will happen in their lives. Maybe the boss finally will realize they are the perfect person for that promotion.
For me, it is an opportunity to take a look at the state of affairs in this world. If you think everything is fine, quit reading this and turn to the pages that tell about the fiscal cliff, school shootings and turmoil in the Middle East.
We have become a nation of cliff hangers. We can't make a decision until we reach the cliff. And if there is a way to postpone that cliff another few months, we'll take it.
We have lost the ability to negotiate. Now we fight to see who can intimidate the most. The bigger we can make that cliff, the more we can scare the other side into submission. And it doesn't work because a bigger cliff always looms ahead.
Political observer Jon Stewart calls it "Cliffapocolypsemageddonacaust." My spellchecker currently is freaking out.
Looking at problems as a cliff is not a good way to understand anything. It seems to me that the environmentalists and the peaceniks on the left got it started back in the 1960s. The Democrats have been sweeping them out ever since.
Now the Republicans have the tea partiers to contend with. As long as they insist on their way or no way, we will continue our brinksmanship and get nowhere.
As for the recent mass shootings, they are becoming commonplace --the massacre of the week. And I'm sad to say I am without answers. Gun makers and gun sellers have the drop on America. They have become too powerful to stop.
Other countries, even wild-west Australia, have found solutions. But nothing has worked here. Assault weapons were outlawed for a time but now they're back.
There's not much that can be done. We live in a gun culture where it is macho and patriotic to own lots of guns. The gun industry has been of no help in policing itself.
It blames the media, film makers and game makers. It wants controls placed on them in order to eliminate violence in our culture. They are big on the 2nd Amendment but not the 1st Amendment.
Being libertarian in my thinking, I would support gun rights even if there weren't a 2nd Amendment. But I do wonder at times about the 2nd Amendment.
It appears to me to approve of muskets for civilians in a militia. I'm not sure what the founders would say today.
I wish the media would not headline violence but they are businesses and they want to make a profit so they do a lot of polling. And violence seems to be what the public wants.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

12-19 Why isn't spaceport taking off?

121912 Spaceport ripoff

SANTA FE – Is Virgin Galactic preparing to rip off New Mexico? Maybe so but my view of how the spaceport came about argues for Richard Branson not being the heavy in all of this.
As I remember it, 20 years ago the city of Las Cruces, the Chamber of Commerce and New Mexico State University began a joint effort to build a spaceport somewhere in Dona Ana County.
I went down to Cruces for some conferences attended by business people, scientists and politicians. They got a bill introduced into the Legislature to fund a modest spaceport near White Sands Missile Range, which promised to provide what assistance it could.
Small aerospace companies testified to legislative committees that they were ready to start testing and if we would build it, they would come. Evidently the companies also testified in other states because soon there was a committee of the National Lieutenant Governors' Association devoted to spaceports. Lt. Gov. Casey Luna was New Mexico's representative.
In 1995, Gary Johnson became New Mexico's governor. He wasn't interested in rockets. He wanted to widen roads in Republican areas of the state that he felt had been ignored under Democratic administrations.
Eight years later, Gov. Bill Richardson was elected and the spaceport talk picked up again. Other states hadn't gotten hopelessly ahead of us because they were still talking about remodeling old airports.
Gov. Richardson envisioned a purpose-built spaceport for New Mexico. The idea appealed to Virgin Galactic's Sir Richard Branson. An elegant, futuristic terminal building would perfectly suit his identity.
The situation at this point becomes cloudy. Richardson and Branson huddled behind closed doors. Both were excited about the possibilities. From all indications, there was an atmosphere of trust as they imagined what could be. The two were both hustlers. They talked each other's language.
The timetable for completing the spaceport and Branson's spacecraft were unrealistically compressed. Initially Gov. Richardson still would have been in office when the first flights took place.
There appear to be no good records of what commitments were made. It was at about that time that Branson signed a deal with Scaled Composits, which had just won the Ansari X-Prize for flying to the edge of space twice in three days.
Did Branson promise Richardson that if he built a spaceport, Virgin would be the anchor tenant? The evidence suggests that is what happened since Virgin participated heavily in design of the terminal building. It also organized dedication of the runway and the terminal.
Scaled composits was to make Virgin a five-seat plane, which would take paying passengers on the same trip. An accident involving three deaths early in the development phase slowed the pace for Virgin. And numerous delays slowed the spaceport construction.
As a result Gov. Susan Martinez is two years into her term and neither the spaceport nor spacecraft are completed. To complicate matters Gov. Martinez has never been on the same page as Sir Richard regarding the spaceport.
It would be difficult for two people to have more different personalities. Martinez was unsure about the spaceport from the beginning. Branson seemed to take over as chief spokesman and promoter for the spaceport.
This column has warned for the past two years that many other countries and states are back in the game ever since Richardson left office. New space companies start testing every month and none of them are coming here.
Branson is not pleased. The emirate of Abu Dhabi not only is building a spaceport, it has bought a big chunk of Virgin Galactic. Branson already has said that will be his headquarters for the Eastern Hemisphere.
Virgin Galactic also is upset that the Legislature has not limited liability for spacecraft parts suppliers. Gov. Martinez says if the Legislature passes it, she will sign it. But she needs to hustle that through the Legislature rather than spending so much time and political capital on immigrants' driver's licenses.

Friday, December 14, 2012

12-17 U.S. must recognize how A-Bomb changed world

121712 Manhattan bomb

SANTA FE -- Our federal government has neglected to address many issues over the years. Two of them really stand out.
The issues involve officially recognizing our nation's development of a weapon that has changed the world and recognizing the New Mexicans who served as guinea pigs for studying the effects of an A-bomb explosion.
Bills have been introduced to correct both. A measure to create a Manhattan Project National Park based in Los Alamos; Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Hanford, Washington passed the U.S. House in September but without the two-thirds vote necessary for the rules under which the bill was considered.
Objections included cost, opposition to nuclear energy, opposition to the National Park Service and an attitude that either we would be celebrating our action or apologizing for our action.
Sponsors of the bills in both houses of Congress hope to get the measure moving again before the current lame duck session is over. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, who is retiring at the end of the month, is the chief Senate sponsor. The cause will move forward without him but his clout helps.
Proponents have come up with some new arguments and tactics. Many of the buildings at the three locations still are usable as museum sites. The cost of demolishing them is much greater than the cost of improvements and maintenance.
The Atomic Heritage Foundation has begun an oral history project designed to preserve the memories of some of the hundreds of thousands who worked on the project. The top scientists on the project already have been interviewed at length. The effort now is to get revealing stories from others.
One insight that has emerged is the interchanges that occurred in a remote log cabin near Los Alamos where decisions were conducted involving a critical experiment about whether plutonium could be used to fuel the bomb. When evidence revealed that the experiment would fail, the project almost came to an end until an additional procedure was devised.
Another story came out of Oak Ridge, which was in a Tennessee county that still was dry. Efforts to keep the staff happy with bootleg hooch were very novel.
But the primary reason for wanting the National Park Service to interpret the bomb-making project is to present to visitors from throughout the world America's story of why the bomb was built and used.
Museums and parks at Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been telling their story for over 50 years. Both memorials are located at ground zero. Both are dedicated to world peace and tell a good story.
But it is time we told our story. Jeanette and I toured the Nagasaki memorial some years ago with a group of World War II veterans. They were especially incensed with a statement on an explanatory placard saying that the United States dropped the bomb on Nagasaki in order to see if it worked. The vets declared we knew it worked because we dropped it on ourselves first.
That event occurred at Trinity Site between Carrizozo and Socorro. Area ranchers were not evacuated or even warned. Many of those families have been ravaged by cancer.
The government has provided no recognition or assistance to these people despite repeated requests. The New Mexico delegation has introduced legislation seeking assistance similar to that provided to laboratory employees who worked on the bombs in those early days. But there is no help yet.
Action is needed on both these fronts. Actually the Manhattan Project Memorial should be located on ground zero at Trinity Site, just as the memorials at Hiroshima and Nagasaki but it is on White Sands Missile Range and the government doesn't want to give up a small corner of its vast holdings.
As historians say, there is no better place to tell a story than where it happened. Spreading out the memorial among three states does have the advantage of pulling in more support from Congress. But even that isn't working.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

12-14 pols already talking about 2016

121412 pol plans

SANTA FE – Sure, the presidential elections were just completed and it is way too early to start talking about 2016 – but it is happening.
Republicans fretting about their increasing losses of Hispanic votes are turning to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio as their savior. Democrats are looking fondly at Hilary Clinton after a strong stint as secretary of state.
Rubio appears to like the attention. He has another immigration bill he is promoting. But a candidate with a Hispanic name isn't quite all Hispanics are seeking. They want one who speaks to their issues. At this point Rubio is still working too hard to keep the tea party vote.
Hillary Clinton says she just wants some time off after a very active four years. But she isn't one to just sit around for long. Her old friends who thought she should have received the nomination in 2008 are back to try again.
At this point, Clinton looks like the frontrunner just as she did the last time around. But even though the world is looking more fondly on her now, she still is likely to engender the vulgar jokes that began in the 1990s soon after husband Bill became president. It won't be pretty.
Hillary also has another strike against her. She's from the wrong generation. Author-historian and faithful reader Dave Clary of Roswell writes to note that Americans have always made clean switches in generations when choosing presidents.
Bill Clinton ended the World War II generation of presidents and ushered in the baby boomers. George W. Bush continued the era. Barack Obama then took over for the millennials, brushing aside John McCain, a Depression Era baby who lost his turn. Hillary lost her turn as a baby boomer and according to Clary's analysis Americans will be prone to choose another millennial to follow Obama.
Several Republicans from the millennial era have emerged during the past few years. Most of them are espousing the tea party philosophy. That may still be what it takes to win a GOP nomination in 2016 but it may not win the presidency.
On the Democratic side there has been less opportunity, under a Democratic president, for a group of new leaders to emerge. As septuagenarian Nancy Pelosi has observed, much of the congressional leadership is older than she is.

A youth movement appears in the New Mexico Legislature for the coming sessions. House Republicans met a few weeks ago and elected new leadership. Nate Gentry of Albuquerque was elected whip and Alonzo Baldonado of Los Lunas was elected caucus chairman.
Both came to the Legislature during the 2010 GOP surge. Don Bratton of Hobbs replaces Tom Taylor of Farmington as minority floor leader.
Among Senate Democrats, Sen. Tim Keller of Albuquerque beat Sen. John Sapien for the whip position. Both are just beginning their second term. For caucus chair, Jacob Candelaria beat Daniel Ivey-Soto. Both are from Bernalillo County and both were newly elected to the Senate last month.
Senate Republicans and House Democrats will be caucusing soon to select their officers. There are bound to be changes among House Democrats because floor leader Kenny Martinez of Grants plans to run for speaker of the House. Rep. Ben Lujan of Nambe is retiring as speaker.

The strife-ridden state GOP also has changed leaders. Former Lincoln County GOP Chairman John Billingsley soundly defeated John Rockwell of Albuquerque. Billingsley, along with former state GOP chairman Harvey Yates, Jr, of Artesia have been major critics of Jay McCleskey, Gov. Susana Martinez's chief advisor.
McCleskey and Gov. Martinez have caused considerable internal controversy by making primary election endorsements against fellow Republicans and by getting involved in Democratic primary elections.
The GOP typically holds its party elections in December following a general election. Democrats wait until the following spring. Democrats usually don't have as many fireworks. Could it be because they have a longer cooling off period?

Saturday, December 08, 2012


121212 NASA

SANTA FE – This is the month the world is supposed to end. Doomsday prophets have been predicting it for centuries – at least since the ancient Sumerians who thought a planet was headed toward Earth. But for some reason December 2012 has become a very popular target.
So popular, in fact, that NASA has found it necessary to explain that the world as we know it will not end any time soon. It will not end because of the Mayan calendar, a polar shift, a meteor, a solar storm, a super nova, planetary alignment or a reversal in the rotation of the earth.
The most popular dates for The End are December 21-25. Most popular of all is December 21, possibly because it also is the winter solstice. There likely are predictions for today, 12-12-12; possibly because it is the last time this century that such a duplication of numbers is possible.
Personally I align with the group that considers such dates lucky. County clerks reported that 11-11-11 was a favorite day for obtaining marriage licenses. We'll have extra reason to celebrate the beginning of a new year because we will have once again averted The Apocalypse.
NASA even ventured into dangerous philosophical territory by declaring that the world has been getting along just fine for more than four billion years and that credible scientists see no threat associated with 2012.
The end of the 5,000-year old Mayan calendar likely is what caused the fixation on the end of times. Various "authorities" began calculating the end date to be in late December 2012.
Several years ago, my wife and I visited Guatemala and Belize. Mayan guides in both countries already had grown tired of answering questions about their calendar ending. They began their presentations by saying Mayans know how to make a new calendar.
Another concern NASA addresses is an alignment of the earth and sun with the approximate center of the Milky Way Galaxy will cause all sorts of calamities in December. Such alignment will occur – but it happens every December.
Then there is the polar-shift theory. Some believers say the earth will start rotating the opposite direction. That would be a calamity, but also impossible.
The magnetic poles do wander around irregularly but without doing any harm to the Earth. The magnetic poles do completely reverse every 400,000 years or so but scientists don't think they have caused any harm to life on Earth.
As far as hits by comets and asteroids are concerned, NASA has a Spaceguard Survey to identify anything that might be heading our way. Results are reported daily on NASA's website for all to see.
What about Planet X headed our way? NASA says that if any planet left its orbit and headed toward Earth we would know a very long time in advance and it would be major news.
What about solar storms impacting us? NASA says solar storm activity peaks every 11 years and we are nearing a peak. Communications are sometimes interrupted but we are learning to build electronics capable of withstanding almost anything.
That pretty well takes care of anything related to NASA. It doesn't include political possibilities. A Third World War, said to be predicted by Nostradamus, could end in a nuclear holocaust. We have been able to avoid such an event. Terrorists could unleash the genie but not likely on a scale that would destroy the world.
Earthquakes and weather events have become more numerous, leading some to predict Judgment Day is coming. Those predictions have been coming for a long time and none appear likely to happen before the month ends.
What is happening, however, is that companies selling survival supplies are prospering. Their ads promote kits that last for a month to a year. That wouldn't do much for a worldwide earth-shaking event but the kits are bound to look good to people back East who have been without power since Sandy hit.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

No column for Monday, 12-10

Jeanette's foot ailment now diagnosed as a shattered heel. She has to be completely off her feet for an indefinate number of months or she will shatter it more. Needless to say, that's a major change in household tasks. Dec.-March are my favorite months for column material so I will get as many to you as possible and will make appropriate billing adjustments. Hope to get a 12-12-12 column to you in the next few days.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

12-7 Philippines also hit on Dec. 7, 1941

120712 Pearl Harbor


     SANTA FE – On the anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day, Dec. 7, 1941, we should recognize the 1,800 New Mexico National Guard troops, who were deployed to the Philippines. They knew the Japanese would attack them the same day.

   They had been watching reconnaissance planes fly over every day, but had orders not to fire. Our reconnaissance planes saw the huge buildup on Formosa. Japan had captured everything to the north, including China. The Philippines were the last major obstacle on the way to Australia.

   Our men just didn't know when the attack was coming. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, it was about 4 a.m., on December 8, in the Philippines, on the other side of the International Date Line. The attack on the Philippines was planned for 8 a.m., but clouds over Formosa delayed the attack until noon.

   That gave eight hours advance notice. During that time, rumors of the attack spread among various units of our troops, but they received no orders to mobilize. Some of the delay was attributed to sabotage.

   Clark Field was a prime target of the air attack. Tommy Foy, later a New Mexico state legislator, was unable to get through to Clark Field from his post. Neither could anyone else. The warning never got through. The planes and trucks, lined up with military precision made perfect targets for strafing runs.

   Washington had not shared everything it knew with its military commanders in the Pacific, but many still wonder why Gen. MacArthur wasn't better prepared for alerting his troops. The 200th Coast Artillery still hadn't gotten all its guns and equipment unpacked. That task had to be finished under fire.

   The story of the equipment was the same as aalways. It was either defective or outmoded. The ammunition was corroded and most of the shells were duds. As box after box was opened, our men realized that these were their rejects from Fort Bliss, where they had trained outside El Paso. Much of it was left over from World War I.

   But despite only one out of 10 shells working, they scored five confirmed hits the first day. Four years later, in a speech at Deming, Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright confirmed that that the 200th had been the first unit in the Philippines to fire on the enemy.

   It didn't take long for the competence of the New Mexico guardsmen, who comprised the 200th Coast Artillery, to be noticed. That first night, the undermanned 200th, too small to defend Clark Field, was split.

   A third of the regiment was sent to Manila and christened as a new regiment, the 515th. It was America's first war-born regiment, composed of only 500 men, instead of the usual 1,800. The following day, another 200 men were transferred to other units in need of their expertise. "The old 200th" was now down to only 1,100 men.

   The equipment situation was just as bad in Manila as it had been at Clark Field. Nearly everything, including communications equipment, was World War I vintage. But our guys got everything working well enough to go into action within 24 hours of their arrival.

   As our troops were approaching Manila on December 9, the Navy was pulling out, headed south to the Dutch East Indies. But reinforcements for our anti-aircraft units were on the way. Seven ships and a heavy cruiser were headed to Manila with planes, artillery and ammunition.

   Later that day, however, Washington redirected the convoy to Australia and turned four troopships, bound for Manila, back to San Francisco. MacArthur was not told, nor was he informed of the secret Roosevelt-Churchill accord to "get Hitler first." Instead Gen. George Marshall radioed him to "expect every possible assistance."

   On December 10, Japanese assault forces began landing, preparatory to a full-scale invasion, and Japanese bombers and fighters began massive assaults on air fields and Manila Bay.

   And thus began a terrible four months, holding the line to disrupt Japan's quick advance to Australia, and control of the entire Pacific.


Sunday, December 02, 2012

12-5 A book not to curl up with

A120512 SF 400th


     SANTA FE – Have you ever researched a question and discovered that the answer leads to many more questions? That's what happened with the compilation of a book that is referred to by many as the encyclopedia of Santa Fe.

     The book was produced as a part of the celebration of Santa Fe's 400th anniversary in 2010. An outstanding task force of local historians compiled a list of trivia about Santa Fe, which expanded to 400 questions with answers and references. Most of the answers led to further questions and more answers.

     The task force strived for accuracy but some of the questions don't have definitive answers. I was contacted by the task force about some of those questions. I told them what I had heard but some of the published answers reveal that others had heard differently.

     "Santa Fe: 400 Years, 400 Questions" is a fun book to read. Because the 304-page book has 400 numbered questions, it is easy to put down at the drop of a hat, the ring of a telephone or the announcement that the doctor is finally ready to see you.

     It isn't a book to curl up with and read all night because you can't put it down. Save that for a good murder mystery on a snowy night.

     Because of Santa Fe's long and unusual history, many books have been written about it, from scholarly studies to brief tourist guides. But the appeal of this one is unique whether you are from a long-established family or are a recent arrival.

     A six-page historical introduction by Adrian Bustamante begins the book with an informative e look at Santa Fe's four eras of sovereignty by Native American, Spanish, Mexican and United States rule during the four centuries since its founding.

     The book ends with an extensive bibliography and several study guides that should be helpful to teachers and students.

     In between, are 270 pages containing the 400 questions, answers and many photographs. Although the questions involve Santa Fe, the answers often range into other parts of New Mexico.

     Most of the early colonists came into New Mexico by way of the Camino Real from Mexico City. Most traveled the Trail to its end in Santa Fe. Some later branched out into the rest of New Mexico even though they were safer near the modest protection of the territory's capital city.

     Later, with the advent of the Santa Fe Trail, beginning in 1821, traders and others moved in from Missouri and surrounding areas and traveled to the terminus in Santa Fe before branching out to the rest of the state, largely for ranching purposes.

     Movement from Santa Fe outward increased especially in the 1880s after the arrival of railroads and the end of the Indian wars.

     Many of those moving West along the Santa Fe Trail were immigrants looking for opportunity in the West. Some of these immigrants were French, mostly trappers, who were allowed into the territory even under Spanish rule, which prohibited foreigners, who might decide they wanted the territory for themselves. The Spanish turned out to be very correct in their fears.

     Jewish traders were some of the first to come West after the opening of the Santa Fe Trail. The book lists Spiegelberg, Gold, Staab, Seligman, Bibo, Ilfeld and Zechendorf among others.

     In 1876, Archbishop Jean Baptiste Lamy recruited Italian stone cutters, stone masons and architects to build St Francis Cathedral. Those families included the Berardinellis, Digneos and the Palladinos. Later family names the book includes are Domenici, Palermo, Gardi, Fiorina and Pertusini.

     Strife in their homeland brought many Lebanese over a century ago. The book lists these Lebanese, mostly businessmen, as Maloof, Budagher, Fidel, Greer, Bellamah, Adelo, Francis, Harroun, Koury, Najar, Salmon, Shaya and Younis.

     One other interesting list of families is contained in the Secretary of State's Blue Book. It is the names of the colonists who came with Onate in 1598.