Monday, July 26, 2010

The lunatics are in our midst

The full moon was yesterday but even in its waning lunatics are still out there. KOB, the local NBC affiliate, this afternoon released the results of a poll it commissioned for the New Mexico CD-1 race.

“…Eyewitness News 4’s exclusive Survey USA poll on the congressional race in New Mexico’s first district is a real shocker. It shows Republican challenger Jon Barela with a lead over incumbent Democratic congressman Martin Heinrich, 51% to 45% - with only 4% of the voters undecided...”

No, that is not the lunacy I’m referring to, but rather Jon Barela’s statement:

“…This far-left drift in Mr. Heinrich’s voting record-- 97% of the time with Nancy Pelosi—has led to higher taxes, a higher deficit, and certainly higher unemployment…”

Far-left drift? If Mr. Barela considers Representative’s Heinrich voting record to be far-left I presume he considers the GOP a liberal party. While the statements about higher taxes and a higher deficit are partially true, I would be very curious to know how any of legislation passed, since Congressman Heinrich took office, increased unemployment.

One more thing, why does keep referring to Mr. Heinrich instead of Congressman or Representative?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

True constituent representation or GOP retread

This morning NPR broadcast a short piece about New Mexico's southern race for House of Representatives. They followed both Democratic Rep. Harry Teague (NM-2) and his challenger Republican Steve Pearce.

Pearce who gave up his House seat in 2008 to mount his unsuccessful Senate run, he lost to now Senator Tom Udall by 23 points, offered standard GOP rhetoric.
People have had it with President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and their liberal allies in Congress.

Rep. Teague when asked by NPR why he had not voted with Speaker Pelosi when his votes where needed, replied:

“It is a matter of communication. I have told the Speaker that if bills came up that would not best serve the constituents of my district, I could not vote for them”

Pearce's website again offers the standard GOP rhetoric instead of details and clearly reflects his ultra right beliefs.

One thing to be said for Republicans, they get their marching orders from up high and don't deviate from the script.

Will the voters of NM-2 re-elect someone that truly cares for them, listens to them, and votes to best represent them; or will they choose a GOP retread lacking original ideas?

Those nasty details are still missing

I posted this earlier in the month at New Mexico FBIHOP.

Yesterday Barb over at DFNM wrote about both candidate’s responses to the latest Legislative Finance Committee (LFC). LFC now predicts a $200 million shortfall for the budget year that started July 1.

Diane Denish referred to her earlier detailed government reform plan which would save an estimated $450 million over 5 years. Susana Martinez has yet to come forth with any specifics.

New Mexicans deserve specifics from their candidates

The campaign of gubernatorial candidate Susana Martinez released her plan for jobs and economic recovery today. The plan is titled “Eliminating Waste."
As I wrote in an earlier piece, she is following the national GOP strategy of trying to make the election a referendum on the Bill Richardson administration, while providing very little in the form of new or detailed ideas.
The introduction to her plan reads:
“The Richardson-Denish Administration has grown state government over 50% during their time in office. There are now 24.5 state employees for every 1,000 New Mexicans, which far exceeds the national average of 14.3 per 1,000. What we are left with is a bloated, inefficient government staffed by political appointees interested in securing personal advantage. To grow our economy, we must reign in wasteful spending, streamline state government and reform the way we do business in New Mexico and protect taxpayers.”

The statement is correct in identifying New Mexico as having a higher number of state employees per capita than many others, but somewhat disingenuous in comparing it to the national average rather than using other similarly rural and low population states as comparison.

The specifics of the plan are unfortunately very generic.

Reduce Or Eliminate Many Exempt Positions In State Government.
Greater reliance on merit, qualification and experience as factors in the hiring of state government positions.
Create An On-Line Check Book.
To ensure voters can access state spending records in real-time and easily search the database, we must create a real-time, on-line and searchable checkbook that empowers New Mexicans to see how their tax dollars are being spent.

Reform The Capital Outlay Program To Ensure Greater Planning, Efficiency, Coordination And Prioritization.
Today’s capital outlay program is plagued by waste and inefficiency, used to further expand government and reward political insiders.

NOTE: If Directed By Better Priorities, The Capital Outlay Program Can Grow Our Economy And Create Jobs. During times of economic stress, capital outlay money can be utilized to create economic activity and jobs.
We need to set better priorities at the executive level to direct the use of the people’s money. ”

Re-evaluating and eliminating some exempt positions is also part of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Diane Denish’s plan to reduce state government spending.

The difference between Martinez’s “Online Check Book” and the "Sunshine Portal Transparency Act" passed by the legislature and signed into law by Denish earlier this year is not given.

How she would reform the Capital Outlay program is again anyone’s guess, Denish outlined her proposal back in March.

The Martinez campaign tries to exploit the anti-incumbency fervor of mid-term elections, without providing details on what the “bold change” would look like. Bumper sticker slogans without much substance are all New Mexicans have seen so far from Susana Martinez.

In contrast Denish provided an economic plan in late March that would save state government $450 million over the next five years, that outlined specific steps and estimated savings, and continues to release detailed proposals to address the many problems of concern to New Mexicans.

A call left with staff at Martinez’s Albuquerque campaign HQ this morning, contrary to assurances that it would be returned shortly has not yet been returned.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Police brutality acquitted in California

As I write this it is just about midnight, in the background I am listening to a web feed of the Alameda County PD, Fire, and Sheriff Department's radio traffic. Listening for news of the protests after the jury verdict of the Oscar Grant case.

Oscar Grant was a 22 year-old African American man, who was shot and killed on New Year’s Day 2009 as he was laying face down on a subway platform in Oakland, CA.

The killer of Oscar Grant, former BART police officer Johannes Merle, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter by the jury.

I am sure the mainstream media will have plenty of coverage of the "rioters", and indeed the destruction of property and looting of stores is somewhat puzzling to me, but that would be another piece.

Emotions were running high in the streets and on Twitter; I also saw some calls for reason, such as these:

“Pray for Oakland. Pray for Oscar Grant's family. Violence is not justice. We're better and stronger than what they expect #OGTrial

This is only the beginning. Anticipate the worst. Lets hope for peaceful/proper resolution. Violence is not the solution. #Oakland #OGtrial”

It will be interesting to see the reports in the media, but for me more interesting will be the amount and duration of coverage. He was just a kid, not a celebrity.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Birthday America

From the framing of the Declaration of Independence to achieving most of what it espoused was a long and hard road. In the midst of today’s recession we must be vigilant and speak-up against simplistic slogans and solutions, which will do nothing to improve our economy but only further divide people and increase the gap between haves and have-nots.

The framers wrote:
“…We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed… ”
It took almost 200 years of struggle to achieve equality for most, yet a large number of citizens are still discriminated against because of sexual orientation, institutionalized racism persists, and the “American Dream” becomes elusive for an ever-growing proportion of our population.

An article by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities notes that the income gap between the very rich and everyone else has more than tripled in the last three decades.
“…The gaps in after-tax income between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest fifths of the country more than tripled between 1979 and 2007 (the period for which these data are available), according to data the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) issued last week. Taken together with prior research, the new data suggest greater income concentration at the top of the income scale than at any time since 1928…”
Income inequality has been promoted going back to Ronald Reagan, aided by the neo-liberal policies of Bill Clinton, and further abetted by the George W. Bush tax cuts.
Union busting, trickle-down economics, deregulation, and plain greed at the top, are doing its best to turn our country into a third world economy.

We pride ourselves on being the land of opportunity, the place where everyone has the chance to pull themselves up by their bootstraps if they want to. This narrative ignores all those that go barefoot.

A recipe for job growth is offered by Andy Grove, co-founder and senior adviser to Intel, in a long but worth reading
article for Bloomberg news:
“…As time passed, wages and health-care costs rose in the U.S., and China opened up. American companies discovered they could have their manufacturing and even their engineering done cheaper overseas. When they did so, margins improved. Management was happy, and so were stockholders. Growth continued, even more profitably. But the job machine began sputtering…”
While his article deals specifically with Silicon Valley and other high-tech industry, his prescription could be applied to all of the once flourishing American manufacturing sectors. He goes on to say:
“…You could say, as many do, that shipping jobs overseas is no big deal because the high-value work -- and much of the profits -- remain in the U.S. That may well be so. But what kind of a society are we going to have if it consists of highly paid people doing high-value-added work -- and masses of unemployed? …”
As we celebrate our country’s birthday, let’s also pause a moment and reflect on where we are going, and what we need to address to truly offer economic opportunity for all.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Did I forget this blog

Not really. Over the past few months I have realized a few things about blogging, reporting, and myself as a writer.

Generating regular content requires a kind of discipline that I do not yet have. I admire those that have something to say on a daily basis.

When writing I tend to get lost in details, that is, trying to give extensive background info so the reader can have a context. Writing about politics this attitude, aside from being non-productive, is also somewhat arrogant; those that are interested enough to read my posts will know enough to understand the context. 

Prior to blogging, the only things I wrote for public consumption have been high level project plans, position papers, occasional product/option comparisons, or outlines for presentations that I gave. All of this writing often contained large amounts of detail, and did not necessarily need to be compelling reading; those reading it had to, ditto for those attending my presentations.

Matt Reichbach of New Mexico FBIHOP has been a great help in correcting my punctuation, occasionally rephrasing some of what I wrote, or general suggestions for my posts on his blog.

Going forward, most of my posts relating to policy or politics will be at NM FBIHOP, I may cross-post some here.