Swickard: Exceptional America should not be forgotten

12 Dec. 1972 - Apollo 17, the last U.S. mission to the moon. Scientist-astronaut Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17 lunar module pilot, uses an adjustable sampling scoop to retrieve lunar samples during the second  extravehicular activity at Station 5 at the Taurus-Littrow landing site. Schmitt was the twelfth and last  Apollo astronaut to set foot on the moon. He was born in Santa Rita, New Mexico on July 3, 1935.
Commentary by Michael Swickard, Ph.D. - “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.” John Kennedy, September 12, 1962 . President John Kennedy spoke those words fifty years ago. A hundred years from now those words will still be ringing, even as most of everything else is forgotten from this time in American history. For a brief moment our country was truly exceptional. We were exceptional in ways that no other country before or after has shown. Sadly, just ten years and three months after Kenney’s speech our Moon project was done. But what a splendid ten years it was in our country. Young people today have very little understanding of that time. Yes, they know we landed on the moon but little else. Some know more about Apollo 13 than Apollo 11 because the trials and tribulations of Apollo 13 was shown in the movie of the same name. Our duty to the generations of Americans who follow us is to help them understand what it means to be an American. Therefore, it is important to talk about American Exceptionalism in action. The founding of our country was truly exceptional. We were one of many countries who had slaves but we gave that up. We are now a country truly without racial bias. That is exceptional. Our leadership in World War II was exceptional and arguably the very best moments so far in this country were in our Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. We need to make American Exceptionalism a core aspect of our public school curriculum. For one thing, around 400,000 people worked on the space program so there are plenty of people who still remember when America was leading the world. It was a hot summer night in Las Cruces 43 years ago on July 20, 1969, when my friends and I sat spellbound watching man’s first steps on the Moon. I was a sophomore at college and even though I was not in engineering, I was quite aware of the enabling of this great feat by the American system of education. Yes, some of the initial work was laid by the Germans in World War II, but it was an exceptional moment as Americans constructed the methods of going to the moon and returning safely. It was not without cost. Before our first steps on the moon, our Astronaut core lost eight members, none in space itself, but eight men lost their lives while part of this grand adventure. We spent 24 Billion dollars going to the moon, but it was spent in America. It was spent by Americans on Americans for America. It was the best 24 Billion dollars we have ever spent. Read full column


Swickard: Allow us to shoot back

Police will respond in minutes - but you only have seconds
Commentary by Michael Swickard, Ph.D. - Americans act surprised that a gunman shot up a theatre and murdered a bunch of people. It was another “fish in the barrel” shooting. We have had many of them lately where only the gunman was armed. Everyone else was abiding the gun laws except the gunman. Did having everyone in the audience unarmed make them safer? Not in this case. The criminals are armed despite the laws. In the Old West this shooting would have been stopped in a hail of return fire. Do you want to die watching everyone else around you being killed and have no way to fight back or do you want to be able to fight back? Know this: you do not have to fight back, but you should allow me to do so. This nation’s gun laws are killing us. Michael Swickard

NMFA needs to answer questions – now

NMPolitics - Commentary by Heath Haussamen - There was a lot of debate this week about whether the New Mexico Finance Authority should proceed with the hiring of an independent investigator from outside the state to get to the bottom of its fraudulent audit in an attempt to calm Wall Street’s fears. Ultimately, State Auditor Hector Balderas and Gov. Susana Martinez are pleased that the NMFA Board cancelled the $1.275 million contract with the Washington law firm Steptoe and Johnson and subcontractors. Both essentially argued that Balderas’ special audit and law enforcement probes should come first – and NMFA had been putting its independent probe before those. Balderas also told the NMFA Board during a special meeting on Wednesday that it could recommend to his office an outside firm to help, and it appears that will happen. The same firm may be rehired – just under new terms agreed to by Balderas. Read full story here: News New Mexico


Arnold-Jones: "Are you kidding, Mr. President?"

Commentary by Janice Arnold-Jones “If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that” - President Obama 7/17/12. Many a jaw dropped when the President said: “If you've got a business - you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
Janice Arnold-Jones
My first response was: “Are you kidding, Mr. President?”
Do you, Mr. President, understand that to startup a business, most of us put our homes, our cars, and our life’s savings on the line for the chance to compete? Do you know that every time we offer a bid, write a contract, and yes, hire a new employee, everything is on the line including our children’s college fund?
I share the same frustrated response to his naivety as The National Federation of Independent Business. The NFIB said, “His unfortunate remarks … show an utter lack of understanding and appreciation for the people who take a huge personal risk and work endless hours to start a business and create jobs.'
Small business is the heart of the middle class.
Under the Obama administration the suffering of our entrepreneurs and our CD1 economy is obvious. Just drive around and count all our empty business spaces! Every empty business means suffering families—the families of the owners and the families of the employees who no longer have jobs. I stand in sharp contrast to the progressive agenda that my opponent and the President promote. I believe in the middle class and our small businesses. I refute the idea that government is smarter than people and can do a better job…..a better job of what? What are we progressing too? So far the job of this “progressive government” has been putting people out of work, out of business and out on the street.
Do we really want more of this kind of “progress” in CD1? I think not. Let’s go back to work New Mexico. We can do better.


"There are going to be other days for politics"

President Obama speaking on Colorado massacre
NewsNM note - The President took exactly the right tone this morning in the wake of the murders in Colorado. Too bad some of his dumbest supporters couldn't follow his lead. It seems just moments after he led a prayer and suggested there would be "another day for politics" a few in the Fort Myers crowd a few started chanting "Four More Years." What are you going to do?
Buzzfeed - President Barack Obama took a break from campaigning to address this morning's tragedy in Aurora, Colorado, calling today for a day of prayer and reflection.
"There are going to be other days for politics," Obama said at was supposed to be a campaign event in Fort Myers, Florida. "This, I think, is a day for prayer and reflection." Obama cancelled his second campaign event in the Orlando area today. As he frequently does at moments of crisis, Obama invoked his role as a parent to describe his feeling after the shooting.  "My daughters go to the movies," he said. "What if Malia and Sasha had been at the theater?"
"Such violence, such evil is senseless," he added. Read full story here: News New Mexico

NM Partnership focuses on building aerospace, defense and tech

Steve Vierck
New Mexico Business WeeklyNew Mexico’s economic development marketing arm will focus on trying to lure a host of companies to the state in the coming year, including aerospace, defense and technology commercialization firms, the organization’s president said. The New Mexico Partnership will also seek out energy and natural resources and logistics, distribution and transportation companies, Partnership President Steve Vierck said. The New Mexico Partnership was formed in 2004 to market New Mexico to companies in other states. It has a $630,000 budget this year to do that marketing, which Vierck said isn’t enough. New Mexico, Vierck added, has lagged behind surrounding states when it comes to economic development relocation deals. From 2009 to 2011, New Mexico landed 19 company relocation deals, putting it in 44th place among the states. During that time Arizona had 136 deals; Utah, 94; Colorado, 68; and Nevada, 56, Vierck said. Read More News New Mexico


Susana Martinez - Changing New Mexico and Looking Ahead

Susana Martinez
Human EventsWhen scheduling problems April 26 forced New Mexico’s Gov. Susana Martinez to cancel an interview with Human Events at the last minute, I was left disappointed, but also determined.  After repeated conversations with Martinez’s office in Santa Fe, an interview with her by cellphone from mountainous Bernalillo County finally took place last week. It is not so much that the 53-year-old Republican was avoiding the national press but, rather, that Susana Martinez is very much in demand as a speaker and a subject for interviews these days. Less than two years after her election as the nation’s first female governor of Hispanic heritage, conservative Republican Martinez is watched closely and reported on far beyond the borders of New Mexico. Like Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and fellow Governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Nikki Haley of South Carolina, former prosecutor Martinez is considered one of her party’s brightest future stars.  Many say that her life story and unique political role make her the most intriguing and attractive prospect to be Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate. Read More News New Mexico


NM fuel spill threatens Albuquerque water supply

CBS - Environmentalists call it the largest threat to a city's drinking water supply in history, as much as 24 million gallons of jet fuel - or twice the size of the Exxon Valdez oil spill - seeping into an underground aquifer and steadily toward this drought-stricken city's largest and most pristine water wells. But more than 12 years after the toxin-laden plume from a 40-year underground pipe leak was discovered at Kirtland Air Force Base, estimates of its size and its threat to the water supply of New Mexico's largest city keep growing, less than half a million gallons have been pumped out of the ground, the Air Force is two years away from finalizing a cleanup plan and local officials are still arguing about whether the spill is something they need to get involved with. "We're pretty soon going to be swimming in this stuff, " Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Board member Rey Garduno said at a recent hearing held shortly after the New Mexico Department of Environment acknowledged the size of the spill could be as much as 24 million gallons, or three times previous estimates. He called the spill a "traveling tsunami." Although no one can really say how soon the plume might hit well fields, other board members remain confident the cleanup is in good hands. "The good news is that Uncle Sam owns this, not some defunct railroad company," said board member Wayne Johnson, noting top Pentagon officials have assured state and local officials they would take full responsibility for cleanup. Read More News New Mexico


ABC News Has Learned Nothing About Professional Ethics Since Tucson

Wow! That didn’t take long. At 6:00am MDT this morning, as soon as we took the air on News New Mexico, we cautioned media outlets suggesting they refrain from the temptation to transmit their political biases through their coverage of the massacre in Aurora, Colorado. We cited what happened immediately after the shootings in Tucson, Arizona only eighteen months ago.
Brian Ross
Well, it is too bad ABC’s national news desk didn’t learn anything from the Tucson tragedy or listen to our show. It seems “reporter” Brian Ross and the ABC News organization found itself apologizing for an "incorrect" report that James Holmes, the suspect in the Colorado theater shooting, may have had connections to the Tea Party. How long did it take to transmit the false information and then retract the smear job? It all happened before lunchtime today.
Here is what ABC had to say: "An earlier ABC News broadcast report suggested that a Jim Holmes of a Colorado Tea Party organization might be the suspect, but that report was incorrect. ABC News and Brian Ross apologize for the mistake, and for disseminating that information before it was properly vetted."
It is truly instructive to find that the first thing an ABC reporter would do in the wake of this massacre is search Tea Party websites in the area. Was ABC be looking to use this immense human tragedy simply as a golden opportunity to smear what it obviously perceives to be a political opponent? Maybe. Does anyone wonder why Fox News has such a huge following? Not really.


Parental Support Laws?

Commentary by Jim Spence - Interestingly, the Wall Street Journal ran a recent article about twenty-nine U.S. states that now have laws on the books that can force adult children to be financially responsible for the costs of caring for their aging parents.
During discussions of these laws recently, a woman I’ll call Sharon, a member of the baby boom generation, spoke about some events in her life regarding family financial obligations. Her story can serve to sharpen the debate on parental care laws.
First, Sharon spoke of her parent’s decision to cut her off from all financial support after her second year of college. She says their reason for the severing of support was because she decided to live together with her soon-to-be husband prior to their marriage. She explained that if her fiancĂ© had married at that time, he would have lost the final nine months of an education stipend he was receiving.
Sharon says she managed to survive on academic scholarships, wages from part-time jobs, savings, and a frugal lifestyle including lots of pinto beans and home-made tortillas. When the monthly stipend ran out Sharon and her husband were married and eventually both earned college degrees. Read rest of column here: News New Mexico


NMFA Management Team Seats Are Getting Hot

According to the Albuquerque Journal’s James Monteleone, the CEO of the New Mexico Finance Authority says the agency’s bogus 2011 audit report was read by “a lot of people,” but no one recognized the document was a fake despite glaring evidence of fraud in the forged 62-page report.
Municipal bond ratings agencies are not impressed. A $40 million NMFA bond sale has been suspended due to Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s placing all NMFA debt on credit watch for downgrading due to “weak internal controls.”
To put it mildly, NMFA CEO Rick May is suddenly on the hot seat as is NMFA Chief Operating Officer John Duff.
According to the Journal (subscription required) the forged 2011 findings report was copied word-for-word from the NMFA 2010 report. Apparently the actual document forger (or forgers) were incredibly sloppy. They never bothered to change dates in their fake report so the document appeared to account for the 2011 fiscal year instead of 2010.
It now appears the beginnings of the he-said she-said phase of the investigation is well underway between the accounting firm that was hired to do the audit and the executives at NMFA who were supposed to receive and OK the audit.
One things seems sure. Moodys and Standard and Poors have this one right so far. There were major managerial deficiencies at the NMFA with the irrefutable evidence being “weak internal controls.”


Spain's Green Energy Fantasy Yields Economic Disaster

NewsNM note (Spence) - Let's stroll down the green job memory lane in Spain. Bloomberg said this in 2009: March 27 (Bloomberg) -- Subsidizing renewable energy in the U.S. may destroy two jobs for every one created if Spain’s experience with windmills and solar farms is any guide. For every new position that depends on energy price supports, at least 2.2 jobs in other industries will disappear, according to a study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid..........The premiums paid for solar, biomass, wave and wind power - - which are charged to consumers in their bills -- translated into a $774,000 cost for each Spanish “green job” created since 2000, said Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at the university and author of the report.
Fast Forward to July 2012 CA News - Spanish police fired rubber bullets and charged protestors in central Madrid early Friday at the end of a huge demonstration against economic crisis measures.
The protest was one of over 80 demonstrations called by unions across the county against civil servant pay cuts and tax hikes which drew tens of thousands of people, including police and firefighters wearing their helmets. "Hands up, this is a robbery!" protesters bellowed as they marched through the streets of the Spanish capital.
At the end of the peaceful protest dozens of protestors lingered at the Puerta del Sol, a large square in the heart of Madrid where the demonstration wound up late on Thursday. Some threw bottles at police and set up barriers made up of plastic bins and cardboard boxes in the middle of side streets leading to the square and set them on fire, sending plumes of thick smoke into the air.
Riot police then charged some of the protestors, striking them with batons when they tried to reach the heavily-guarded parliament building. The approach of the riot police sent protestors running through the streets of the Spanish capital as tourists sitting on outdoor patios looked on. Read full story here: News New Mexico

NMSU President Couture Calls for Balanced Long Term Budget Deficit Reduction

Barbara Couture
KRWG - New Mexico State University President Barbara Couture recently joined a group of 150 university presidents and chancellors in calling on President Obama and congressional leaders to reach a balanced long-term deficit reduction agreement to prevent automatic spending cuts that could devastate federal investments in education and scientific research.
The letter was a joint effort by the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities and the Association of American Universities. The university presidents and chancellors represent institutions in all 50 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
"In order to foster our nation's economic growth and competitiveness, our elected officials must recognize that investments in research and education are needed to develop the workforce and industries our nation requires. Higher education funding is critical to help our country remain a global force in the 21st century," Couture said. Read full story here: News New Mexico

When Asked for HER Tax Returns Pelosi Starts Singing a Different Tune: "We Spent Too Much Time on That"

Roll Call - Facing questions about why she and other top Congressional officials won’t release their tax returns, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) downplayed her previous demands for presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney to release his, calling the issue a distraction.
As recently as Wednesday, Pelosi had strongly urged Romney to provide further disclosure of his tax returns. But today, while maintaining Romney should release more documents because of “custom” and “tradition,” Pelosi said the issue was trivial compared with economic issues.
“We spent too much time on that. We should be talking about middle-income tax cuts,” Pelosi said after answering two questions about the issue. Read full story here: News New Mexico