Monday, May 30, 2005

Why Isn't the Energy Bill the Talk of the Town?

We’ve heard a lot during the last couple of weeks about the judicial nominations fight in the Senate, deals stuck between democrats and Republicans, and other issues. But why isn’t the energy bill the talk of the town? Why isn’t it on the front page of the Albuquerque Journal, above the fold? Why aren’t the tv news stations reporting what is a such an important issue?

New Mexico US Senator Pete Domenici, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and New Mexico US Senator Jeff Bingaman, Ranking Democrat on the Committee have joined forces in bi-partisan fashion last week to pass a comprehensive Energy Bill through committee almost unanimously. (link)

Isn’t that significant? Isn’t it important for New Mexico that its two Senators have managed to move a major, major piece of bi-partisan legislation through the U.S. Senate during a time of some pretty nasty partisanship?

Energy may not be as much of a publicity-generating issue as stem cell research or judicial fights, but it wasn’t long ago that California was experiencing major blackouts, Remember? We all are aware of the current oil issues. This bill will guide U.S. energy policy for the next 10 years and it's an acomplishment for these two Senators.

Energy is one of those things people don’t think about much unless something goes wrong. If Jeff and Pete pass their Energy Bill, we will hopefully have less to worry about.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Now,Brad Winter for Mayor?!

I posted information yesterday from ABQ conservative blogger Mario Burgos' site (link) that former City Councilor Mike McEntee is running for Mayor of Albuquerque.

Now I hear, via Jim Scarantino's blog (link) that Councilor Brad Winter is being pushed into the race by people like Heather Wilson and Pete Domenici.

The popular opinion is that there are 4 or more Democrats (including the incumbent Mayor) running and the entrance of one Republican would bring that candidate a substantial number of votes just based on the fact that they are Republican (although, this didn't seem to work for republican Mike McEntee in the 2001 Mayors race when the NM GOP endorsed him and he only received 11% of the vote).

It's not that simple. Take a poll today, and Marty Chavez could be identified by 90% of the electorate. On the other hand, Winter could be identified by about 11%.

A quick quiz: name one thing Winter has done as a City Councilor . . . . . . . . . . . I think I made my point.

People know what they are getting with Mayor Chavez and they've liked it enough to elect him twice. Whether you like his personality or not. Marty has run on being a crime fighter and an administrator and he runs well with moderates in the near heights and the West side. Not to mention, he has spent a lot of time bringing Republican donors to his side.

Winter has to do the heavy lifting here. He has to bring his name identification up and let voters know who he is and has to hope that Marty and others don't define who he is first. He also has to tolerate people digging into his personal life and his record (or lack thereof). I wonder if Winter's heart is really in for a tough race like this. He's been the Republican's dream candidate for a while and apparently needed a lot of convincing to get into the race. So, is this guy really ready to run? Does he really want to be Mayor?

Who knows whether McEntee will enter the race or not. Certainly ultra-conservatives want him to. If he gets in and runs against Winter, it could get really interesting. . .

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Great Guns! Mike McEntee is running for Mayor?!

Break out the Constitution ladies and Gentlemen. . .

Mario Burgos, a radical conservative local blogger,(link) triumphantly proclaimed that Mike McEntee is running for Mayor. I guess this is something we are supposed to be excited about. Oh, okay, I'm game, thank god Mike McEntee has jumped into the race to save us all. .. . finally I will be able to walk the streets of Albuquerque with my assault weapon and my son can bring one to school!

Before Republicans begin patting themselves on the back or breaking out the champagne glasses (do Republicans even drink champagne? It is, after all, French…) let’s take a fond look back at a sample Mike McEntee’s record:

1. Law Breaker -- Violated the Hatch Act, a federal law that prevents public employees from entering partisan elections. Mc Entee appealed all the way to the Appeals court on this one, and lost.
2. Received 11% of the vote in the 2001 Albuquerque Mayors race, even after being endorsed by the NM GOP.
3. Was the lone dissenting vote on the Council against a provision that would allow the forfeiture of the homes of parents that host beer parties for teenagers at their home. (link)
4. Believes that school officials should be armed. (link)
5. Believes that “most people in Albuquerque would like to retain their constitutional right to carry a concealed weapon.” (link)

This is just a sample of Mike’s extraordinary record. Go on the internet and you’ll find that this guy is a favorite of the radical gun-nut crowd and the property rights crowd. The Gallery of Guns(link), the First Amendment Center (link) (link) But voters should be aware of McEntee’s far-out conservative perspective and be aware that extreme groups think this guy is their man.

If I was a republican political consultant, I would realize that crime is down in Albuqueruqe and it is doubtable that the Mayor’s race will be a debate about guns or private property rights. It wil be interesting to see how they try to package this guy (or soften him up). Most likely, they will talk about him being pro business, and showcase his kids and his family or something like that. This will be fun to watch.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

ABQ Mayor's Race Using the Ballot Initiative

I read with interest today's story in the Albuquerque Journal about ABQ City Councilor Sally Mayer's proposal to put an initiative on the fall City ballot to require voter id at City polls.

Along with that, Joe Monahan reported today that Republicans are trying to encourage Brad Winter to run for the Mayor's seat. (link)

Popular opinion is that the Albuquerque Mayor's race is a lock for Mayor Chavez because there is no candidate running from the right. All the candidates are clustered to the left. So, if you are a Repubican voting in the ABQ Mayor's race, the most conservative choice at this moment is Marty Chavez. So, Marty stands to not only capture Republican votes but should bring a certain number of dems to the polls.

Republicans have used ballot initiatives in other states to drive out republican voters to the polls. In other words, when the candidates alone cannot bring out the conservative vote, they put an initiative on the ballot against gay marriage, abortion or something like that and you may entice Republicans to the polls even more. Daily Kos has blogged to the contrary, that ballot initiatives didn't matter in '04 (link) but popular opinion after the election was to the contrary.

So, are Republicans doing work now to sway the Mayor's race in their favor? Mayer's ballot initiative on voter id is one of those clearly partisan issues the Republicans find polls well and makes the democrats look bad. There are few better scare tactics than telling voters that people are voting illegally around the state. Although, there were no reported cases of voter fraud in 2004 -- even with the Republican US Attorney, David Iglesias forming a highly-publicized task force on the issue. Scaring people gets them to the polls.

Republicans understand the populist appeal of ballot initiatives and are frustrated by restrictive New Mexico state laws that make ballot initiatives relatively difficult to get on the ballot. That's why Representative Greg Payne attempted to change our State's ballot initiative rules to make it easier to put initiatives on the ballot during the last legislative session.

Monday, May 16, 2005

Wal Marting w/Mario

Mario Burgos, local conservative blogger has a post describing of abhorant activity between neighborhoods and labor unions to stop Wal Mart (link). Apparently, Mr. Burgos believes that anything that labor unions do is inherently wrong and they are not allowed to discuss the rights of people that work at Wal Mart or discuss the fact that Wal Mart is a bad employer.

Mr. Burgos' defense of Wal Mart couldn't be more timely as the Wal Mart who is fighting the community in Flagstaff, Arizona released a horrible nespaper ad comparing Wal Mart opposition to Nazi book burning. Bad taste for sure.

Here's the link on Wonkette's blog (link). and the story in the Washington Post. (Link)

Mario could maybe find some better industries to pimp for. If only things could be as simple for us as they are in Mario's mind: labor unions, bad -- big industry, good. Community organizing, bad--selfishness, good.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

NM Republicans MIA

The Repubican Party of New Mexico held their convention on Saturday. They re-elected Chairman Alan Weh. Apparently, they had no one else who wanted the job.

Weh was lauded up and down by Party faithful as a successful Chair. Success as defined by filing to win seats in the legilsture in 2004 and relying on the RNC to pull your party through the Presidential election and Heather Wilson's race with a strategy that didn't involve the State Party.

Even more laughable, or embarassing, was the Party's obvious lack of candidates for major races in the state, including Governor and U.S. Senator. The Albuquerque Journal reported today that the Party was thinking of running a physician, J.R. Damron, against Richardson (Damron has never held or run for public office) and David Pfeffer for the U.S. Senate. (link) I'm sure Democrats are eager to run a Senate race against a handle-bar moustached candidate with a mullet (or is that more of a Sammy Hagar hairdo?) that hangs out with the Minutemen. (link)

This is what happens when your party leaders are too old to run for anything, the party is fractured and your bench consists of: a bunch of right wing ideologues who can't get elected statewide (Rep. Dan Foley, Sen. Rod Adair, Bernalillo County Sherriff Darren White, US Attorney David Iglesias) guys who have been in trouble with the law (Representative Greg Payne, Former Rep. Joe Thompson) or former flight attendants (NM Gov. nominee John Sanchez). Where's the Republicans next Pete Domenici or former Gov. Gary Carruthers? Doesn't seem to be any one of that caliber around.

Good luck guys!

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Pearce's Sweetheart Land Deal

It's good to be a friend of Congressman Steve Pearce.

Read the Alamogordo News' story on the Pearce/Rabon Family land swap (link) The Journal ran a similar story, but put it on the last page of the "A" section where no one would see it. The Alamogoro paper will have a more extensive piece on the land exchange on Sunday.

The Rabon family gave thousands to Pearce's two campaigns for U.S. House. What did they get for it? A great deal on some great land near Holloman Air Force Base.

How much did the Rabon clan contribute to Pearce?

Randy $2,133
Jeff $2,583
Tim $2,633
Cheri $1,000

Grand total: $8,349 This info came from (link)

Hopefully everything will get out on this story.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Greg Payne--A bitter, bitter, expanding man

Some guys don't know when to quit.

State Representative and former ABQ City Councilor Greg Payne now has a blog. (link) Lord help us.

I guess there are second acts in politics, as bad as those second acts may be. Payne's blog seems dedicated to name-calling, trashing elected officials and kissing ass with those he's trying to get in good with. Payne has taken to criticizing Councilor Martin Heinrich's wardrobe, his job, and his family. Nice guy, this Payne.

Anywhere outside of his safe ultra-Republican district, Payne the politician would be subject to a pummeling. Payne's rap sheet is a wonder to many and includes the now infamous coke-can throwing incident (when a drunk Payne threw a full coke can at an unsuspecting bicycle rider from a moving car), a restraining order, various calls to the police, unpaid debts, suspicious ethics as a City Councilor . . . you get the point.

But hey, I'm sure he has found God, and everything should be forgiven.

Payne is obviously bitter as he likely feels he was mistreated in the press during his council term for his various missteps. So, the blog is his revenge, of sorts.

I hope the Republican Party continues to back, support and develop its young leaders like Greg Payne. Democrats could only be so lucky if Greg Payne is what the Republican party has to offer for the future. Heck, The NM GOP should bring back former State Sen. Skip Vernon and former Bernalillo County Assessor Kirk Anderson and run those guys for some Republican offices with Payne. A real Dream Team! (for a prosecutor, at least).

Mad Props to Kate Nash

Kate Nash is the bomb! It’s always good to have good vibes comin’ your way. Kate wrote about this blog and other fine blogs in her recent ABQ Tribune column. (link) Kate’s the new political reporter at the Tribune. Looks like she’ll do a great job over there too, she’s obviously astute enough to know the importance of these on-line forums. Kate Nelson, watch your back! Just kidding . . .

Monday, May 09, 2005

Pobrecita Heather, Social Security is catching up to you . . . has announced that they will begin running ads on Spanish TV against Heather Wilson’s stance, or lack thereof, on Social Security. (link) The Hispanic population is one group that the President has foun is somewhat responsive to his plans for Social Security.

This brings to the forefront again Heather’s ongoing saga with the Social Security issue that just seems to keep tripping her up, over and over again.

If you haven’t followed it, Heather was caught recently trying to pull a fast one on voters with her nuanced position on the president’s Social Security plan:

Josh Marshall, a noted blogger, (link) revealed that certain Republicans were using the same nuanced position as Wilson on Social Security. Which is, that she is opposed to the government investing Social Security funds in the stock market. This is of course, different from the President’s plan, which is to have individuals invest funds in the market. Having the government invest the funds is not even part of the discussion. But Heather has used semantic gymnastics to avoid the question.

In 1998, Wilson said that she does support allowing individuals to invest Social Security funds in the stock market. Now, apparently she doesn’t. (link)

Wilson got caught in a rhetorical dodge that she still uses today--her press seretary used it the other day on KUNM. No one, and I challenge anyone, can get Heather Wilson on record about the President’s plan. Josh Marshall tried and got into a pretty hilarious exchange with a Wilson press person.

Heather is in a bind because a good number of constituents in her district are seniors who oppose the President’s plans and she needs these seniors to back her reelection. Her revolving position on Social Security is much like her flip-flop recently on Medicaid (see below).

I have to admit I felt some sympathy for Heather while watching the President news conference the other day when he stated he would continue his fight for private accounts. Heather has to be hoping and wishing that this issue will die. I mean, for how long can she hold out using this bogus position?

The bad news for Heather is that now TV ads will begin and she will be asked her position on Social Security and the questions will get tougher as the issue gets hotter. Heather will have to fish or cut bait, as they say. She'll search for the perfect position that loses her zero votes but that can be tough with such a high profile issue. U.S. House Republican Bill Thomas hopes to bring a bill to a vote this summer. Cuidado, Heather.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Pearce feels the Pressure--evades responsibility for plagiarism

As we posted on the blog the other day, Congressman Pearce did indeed lift material from the Hertage Foundation for his editorials around the state ironically called "Straight talk." The astute reader of the El Defensor Chieftain who unveiled the incident wrote another letter on May 4 recounting another incident of Pearce Plarigism.

From the El Defensor Chieftain:

Wednesday, May 4, 2005
Letters to the editor

Another faux pas
This is a footnote to my April 27 Letter to the Editor regarding Rep. Steve Pearce's plagiarism of much of the text in his Defensor Chieftain article on the Republican energy bill.
It appears that his March (19) El Defensor Chieftain article on Social Security was also lifted en masse from other sources — in this case, either the Republican National Committee Points or the National Federation of Republican Women Political Briefing. (I imagine the latter stole it from the former.) Much of the text of the article is identical to text at those sources.
Jan Deininger

Pearce appologized for the first incident (link), the Chieftain accepted it and Pearce tried to pass blame on to his Press Secreatry.

Of course this is an embarassment for New Mexico. The Pearce incident was covered in press around the nation.

Funny to watch these Republicans, who are so into "personal responsibility," take no responsibility. Especially when it comes to lying, stealing and cheating. Even better is watching the Republicans allow their staff to take the fall for them. Is Pearce showing a little vulnerability here?

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Gimmie that Good 'Ole Independent Media

Regular giver to Heather, Pete
KOB--Working for Who?

Call me old fashioned but I like my journalism and my news clean. There was and I think still is a belief amongst journalists that publicly revealing your political affiliation was taboo. Actually coming out in support of a candidate and aiding that campaign was also out of bounds. Even though their writing or coverage might be slanted they wouldn't tar themselves by actually coming out for a particular candidate. This is because news sources strive for the "independent" label and associating themselves too close to candidates and political parties diminishes that perception among readers/listeners.

This is especially true of political reporters, news directors, program managers and such. I mean, does it really look bad if the traffic reporter at Fox give $25 to a candidate.? No, but should a reporter that writes about politics come out openly by giving money to Senator Domenici?

Mike Burgess, the Vice President and General Manager at KOB-TV seems to have not only put aside professional integrity but has done it several times. Burgess, who is in charge of the programs on Channel 4 (and presumably decides what makes news, how news is formatted, what politician faces appear in news promos, which reporters/anchors are hired, etc. . . ) is a regular, heavy donor to Heather Wilson.

Burgess has donated $2000 to Heather Wilson and $1000 to Senator Domenici. His donations to Wilson go back to 2000. He donated in the 2000, 2002 and 2004 elections for Heather.

The source for this information is Go to the donor look-up and search under Mike or Michael Burgess and you'll find it.

This is unusual in New Mexico journalism for sure. One has to ask, if Mike Burgess decides what makes news, does he do it through the lens of someone who supports Heather? I mean, if he's presented a story that speaks negatively of Heather does he choose not to run it, because he doesn't want to hurt someone he supports? Does Heather get special treatment? Does Heather get special access to KOB?

Does this explain why KOB has been so difficult to deal with on the subject of debates during Heather's congressional races.? Sure, KOB has begrudgingly aired debates, but it always appears that they hold them off to the last minute so that they don't reach the early voters and don't air but a few days before election day when their influence is minimal.

Before Michael Burgess writes in complaining, let me offer his likely counter-argument. "I'm just the General Manager/VP, I manage the station and have no impact on the news." alright, let's say we buy that, Mike. Then why do you give to Heather? Is it perhaps because Wilson sits on the House Commerce Committee and broadcasters are interested in influencing her vote on key decisions about communications/broadcast regulations?

That may be another story. Let me get back to the point--Is it ethical for Burgess to give to Wilson/Domenici? Burgess clearly is in charge of the station and he has put himself out not as the behind the scenes, aloof manager of the station but as the public face of KOB. He promos the stations "Working for You" campaign. As I argued above, the appearance of this stinks. Burgess needs to pull back.

Those who watch channel 4 should seriously think again about whether Channel 4 is "Working for You" or working for someone else.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Jeff Garner/Gannon/Guckert

The ABQ Tribune's Conservative Shrill

Jeffrey Gardner, the Albuquerque Tribune Columnist, bears a striking resemblance in appearance and style to Jeff Guckert/Gannon. You remember him, the Republican operative who was given White House Press pass and lobbed a softball question to the Pres? (link)

His recent column on “Hapless Dems” is just the kind of dribble the White House ordered and Gardner seems to be more than willing to peddle the White House, conservative philosophy that the President is the man with all the great ideas and the dems are nothing but obstructionist. (Link)

If anyone buys this argument, they clearly haven’t given it any thought. Garner for his own part maintains a blissful ignorance of how our government works.

Dems have great ideas, creative ideas, hundreds upon hundreds of bills waiting to be heard. Do the Republicans in the Congress give them a hearing? Absolutely not. Why would Republicans want to hear about innovative health care ideas that increase access to services, cover the uninsured or enhance the quality of our medical services. Why would they want to increase funding to back up their under funded No Child Left Behind Act (that was passed with democrat, obstructionist support). Democrats want to address the deficit, create an economic plan to deal with downturns in manufaturing and shipping jobs overseas. Republicans don't want to talk about that!

Need more Jeff? Ok. Democrats, yes Democrats (Joe Lieberman, to be exact) proposed the Department of Homeland Security. The “obstructionist” Democrats joined the President to pass it.

What Garner and the White House need is a villain, and Dems are the villain. They can't simply get things accomplished on their own, they need to scare Americans and use the dems to frighten them into buying into the President's schemes. They seem to forget that republicans control the House, the Senate and the White House. They run the show! But the President still can’t get what he wants. That’s ineptitude for you.

By the way, what's a conservative like Gardner doing writing for the liberal Albuquerque Tribune? Jeff's column this week is about morality and self-indulgent Americans (link). Now, what can you say about a guy who hates the liberal media, but writes for a liberal paper? Talk about morality and self indulgence. Guess you can throw principles aside as long as someone's sending you a check.

Oh, and Dems have a plan for Social Security.

It’s called Social Security.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Plagiarizin' Pearce


From Saturday's El Defensor Chieftain on Congressman Steve Pearce:

"To some, this may not seem important, but there are significant legal and ethical questions involved. Equally important, however, we believe his constituents expect the congressman to voice his own thoughts, not parrot someone else's."

What's wonderful about our right-wing politicians these days is their independence of thought, their ability to shun the confines of their party's agenda and strike out on their own and carve new paths into the ideological future.

Yea, right.

If you needed any more evidence that some of our Conservative elected officials (Heather Wilson and Steve Pearce for example), are tools of the conservative interest groups that put them in office, consider Pearce's latest rant he stole, ahem, borrowed, from the conservative Heritage Foundation, as exposed by the Socorro Defensor chieftain.

Here's how it happened .. . .

--Pearce read this Heritage Foundation article by Charli Coon entitled "Congressional Mandates Contribute to Higher Gas Prices" (Link)

--Pearce constructs a column to be sent out to the district (which he calls "straight talk" --no joke) containing paragraphs from the article, not quoted and not indicating that they were lifted from the Heritage article.

--Congressman Pearce Sends the column out to the district, it's picked up by the Socorro newspaper and they run it.

--The paper runs a letter to the editor from an astute reader (who is this person, by the way?) who noticed the verbatim similarities between Pearce's Column and the Heritage Foundation article (Link)

--The Socorro Defensor Chieftain runs their own admission that Pearce's Column was plagiarized, in their professional opinion, and expresses their disgust with the Congressman. (link)

. . . And we all join in and echo that disgust. How many local papers received this column about energy policy? How is it that a Congressman who is from a major energy producing district cannot even express his own original thoughts about a major piece of legislation like the Energy Bill? How lazy, or perhaps uninformed do you have to be? I guess we have the answer. . . Is this Pearce guy ready for prime time?

Sunday, May 01, 2005

The real numbers behind the President's Social Security benefits cut

At his new conference a few days ago, the President basically let the nation know that he's not dropping his fight for social security privatization. If you listened closely to his remarks, he announced that he supports a proposal to cut benefits cuts to Social Security and attempted to emphasize that his benefits cuts were something that would really only hurt high-wage earners. By emphasizing the affect on the upper class, the president sought to gloss-over the affect the cuts will have on middle class families (those that depend on Social Security far more than high wage earners).

The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities has a great piece analyzing these cuts. (link) The Washington Post recently wrote about the report.

A worker now earning $35,000/year and retiring in 2055, would see a 21% cut in benefits; a worker earning $58,000 now would see a 31% cut by 2055.

So, how exactly do these cuts only affect the wealthy Mr. President?