Tuesday, October 31, 2006

You Are There: New Mexico Voting Cubicle, 2006 A.D.

I just returned from a visit to a sort of Colonial Williamsburg of government bureaucracy. A trip back in technological time somewhere between Johannes Gutenberg and the IBM Selectric III electric typewriter. But closer to Gutenberg and the movable type. Quite a bit closer.

I went to vote today.

Conspiracy theories, plausible software hacking stories and verified flipflopping vote tally tales be damned...I hate paper ballots.

Combined with its presence at a cramped, dilapidated strip mall location, stuck between Little Caesar's and a Payday Cash Loanshark storefront, the antiquated early voting spot at Rio Bravo and Isleta in the South Valley reminded me quite a bit of going to a Guatemalan post office...but with even less assurance that my documents were going to be delivered on time, if at all.

I won't go into massive detail...Hell, we're all going to be voting. So I'll just touch on a few things I found interesting:

  1. I loved the humor in being able to vote "Straight Ticket Green Party". Perfect for those David Bacon fans who are too lazy to even mess with finding his race at the bottom of first column. Circle one thing and bam! you're ready to hit the Little Caesar's for some crazy bread.
  2. Instructions were quite specific that voters had to make selections with a "special" writing instrument. The "special" instrument turned out to be a 29 cent Bic pen.
  3. I'm 45 now, and must be getting old enough to be susceptible to butterfly ballots and such...personally I found the ballot confusing. It was especially so on the back, where the For/Against boxes threw me for a minute or two. Which For/Against went with which Bond Proposal? Then I noticed the big culprit. At least in my precinct Judge Sharon Walton's retain vote box is stuck at the top of the back page...throwing all the little bond/amendments stuff slightly off. At least it threw it off to me for a bit. Plus, with my 29 cent Bic pen I knew I couldn't erase if I messed up filling out those little ovals. Could I even get another ballot? Do those cost extra?
  4. Speaking of filling out ovals, the whole voting exercise reminded me of taking the SAT. I could have used a cheat sheet for all those judgeship races.
  5. When finished marking my Conspiracy God Be Praised (CGBP) all paper ballot, I walked to a scanning machine and fed my CGBP ballot into this electronic machine. You know, like an electronic touch screen voting machine, but without the touching part. You know, the electronic part that makes voting simpler because the type is all big and you just touch a huge 'ol circle with your fingertip...you know, that part?
  6. Speaking of type size...yes I did have to use my dork-o-rama reading glasses. There was also a quaint gigantic piece-o-magnifying plastic in the mouse-doing-a-maze sized voting cubicle. Again, I was reminded of taking the SAT as my micro-cubicle was about the size of a student desktop at a really crowded school that can't afford decent furniture.

Lastly, back to the paper ballot thing. I realize that we now have a "paper trail", making the electronic scanning machine only one step on the road to voting verification. Nevertheless, I still hate paper ballots. Elections were stolen before the advent of touch screen voting, and I'm not worried about them being stolen more frequently using touch screen voting. Then again, I bank online, pay bills online. Heck, I even have a blog.

Yes, I want safeguards and all...I just think a more modern system can be designed that includes both ease of use and verification. NM Election 2006 ain't it. I pity those voting on Election Day itself...the lines will be murder, the confusion widespread.

Not to mention what will happen if they run out of those "special" Bic pens.

Update: As you probably know, Jeff Jones in this morning's Journal has a story about the voting process this year and its lack of auditing oversight. The more I think about it, the more I move from simple bemusement to sardonic belly-laughing about the whole thing.

For instance, perhaps you've already voted as well, and have felt that abject vulnerability as you slide your CGBP paper ballot into the scanner, and.....nothing. No veriification of ANYTHING on your ballot, just the simple increase (via 1983 Kaypro graphics card green readout) by one of ballots through that particular machine. No double-check. No "This is how your ballot looks, if correct press yes below". Nothing but your abjectly vulnerable soul scuffling past the rickety voting cubicle, out the dilapidated door of the ill-smelling strip mall storefront, past the Little Caesar' to your car in the paint-faded, bumpy parking lot, your exercise in Democracy complete.

Monday, October 30, 2006

What's So Funny About Blogs, Love and Understanding?

I took a blog vacation this past weekend, writing nothing and visiting next to same as I airily reposed in a near blog-free existence. It was like when you stop drinking coffee in that I felt a combination of lowered tension along with the recurring realization that I was moving palpably slower than everything around me. It was like cutting caffeine, but without the headache. I didn't even mind the slowness, the dullness growing as I became more and more distant from the blogosphere.

Then last night I made the mistake of going to Daily Kos and it was like merging back into the expressway after a weekend in the country. Everyone flipping everybody off, manic verbal swerving, pervasive paranoia about Karl Rove, Diebold, the mainstream media, other Daily Kos posters, big tent Democrats, European Social Democrats, and Karl Rove again.

It made me contemplate the idea of just staying on the access road, turning back to the country and buying that little farmhouse we saw out past Mountainair. The one without Internet access.

But here I am: tanned, rested, and only a little ambivalent about merging into that traffic.

Tonight in honor of the Madrid/Wilson race I'm listening to Yo La Tengo's new album...the one entitled "I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass". Do I even need to mention which candidate that title is meant to inspire?

Speaking of blogs, candidates and beating your ass, I have to admit I'm pretty sick at this point of just about every NM blog when it comes to "analysis", "reportage" and "insight" on Election 2006. And that includes Burque Babble. In fact, put Burque Babble #1 on the list of blogs I'm sick of in this regard. I don't mind.

No, I'm not suggesting all bloggers go back to the classic blog entries: that back soreness from working out yesterday at the gym, the new restaurant we went to that had the prettiest tablecloths, feelings of angst and contemplation on what that angst means for the rest of the world. No, God no, nothing like that. Although, now that you mention it, my back is a little sore....

What I'm suggesting is a simple corrective that, if implemented, would perhaps add a bit of perspective into the vitriol and mouthfoaming that is Bloggelection'06. Namely, all bloggers have to change sides until Election Day. FBIHOP and Johnny Mango, for instance, would start writing entries about the positives of Representative Heather Wilson, while Mario Burgos would pen video-filled rationales for voting Madrid.

Duke City Fix would quit pretending it isn't slanted and stop having 57 commented posts about whether it's slanted and how its slant evidences itself in Andrea Lin's food review on pancakes. Maybe Andrea Lin could start praising waffles instead, or something. JoeMonahan would just quit pretending about, uh, everything (objectivity, relevance, that the politico ads don't matter).

, WednesdayMorningQuarterback, MPyre...they'd all have to take off their own rose colored glasses and replace them with the opposite model. Just for a week. Heck, even Madridforcongress and Heatherforcongress could get into the act. it would be easier for them anyway, as they often have the opposite candidate featured on their websites.

I'll get us started. As a "liberal" blog I'm supposed to like Patricia Madrid and hate Heather Wilson (I know, I keep forgetting according to some people). So here goes my entry, a paragraph praising Heather Wilson:

Ode To Heather Wilson (prose poem style...which means it isn't a poem at all, just a paragraph)

Heather Wilson voted for the Stem Cell bill and to override the President. I haven't agreed with President Bush since....well ever, so Wilson's stand against him is admirable in my book. I also think Wilson knows what she's talking about when it comes to a number of issues, and I like that in a Representative. She also has really short hair in that "I don't care if you think I'm a lesbian" sort of way, which I find defiant and cool, especially in a Republican. Lastly, she voted against some evil bill that would have required reporting illegal immigrants when they went to the hospital.

Okay, that was hard. But aren't the hard things worth doing?

Somehow I have this gut feeling that nobody is going to take me up on "Opposite Blogging", especially in the last week of the campaigns. Pity. No, it will probably just be "liberal" folks positing Heather Wilson as a closeted lesbian who votes against her "true" sexual orientation and "conservative" bloggers copy/pasting parts of my little paragraph as proof that support for Heather is crossing over to Democrats in a big way.

Sigh. I think I might take that next exit off the expressway, and head back to the farmhouse just past Mountainair. The one without the Internet.

P.S.: Everybody needs to get this new Yo La Tengo record. Really, everybody should get every Yo La Tengo record, imho, even/especially Republicans.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Two Quick Things While He's Away

  1. A thorough final analysis of "Madrid/Wilson I: This Time is the Only Time": Thank God(dess) for the World Series.
  2. My little daydream this morning has been the creation of a new third political party: the "No Bullshit Party". The daydream has gone in many directions, summed up with the slogan "The Party for people who don't want to belong to a Party". Feel free to infuse your own daydreams today with thoughts of what a "No Bullshit Party" would be in your own private mindscape.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My Non-Report On The Madrid/Wilson Debate

There were several mistakes made at last night's Wilson/Madrid TV debate, but the biggest one was made by me.

For I attended the Democratic Party of NM soiree at the Carom Club. This "debate party" seemed like a good idea right up to the time I first saw the karaoke machine next to Carom's bar. I should have walked right back out, but a set of circumstances made it necessary for me to wait for others to possibly join me.

For a blissful, yet short, while the karaoke sound system wasn't working, but when repaired I tried to wolf Stone IPA on draft and play pool as "singers" belted, groaned and shrieked tunes like "I'm Too Sexy", "High Friends in Low Places", and "Purple Rain".

By the beginning of the debate at 7:00 my acquaintances still had not arrived and I was a mental wreck. All the Democratically paid for free beer and food in the world couldn't assuage the trauma of "I'm Too Sexy", and now here was Tom Joles & Carla Aragon at humorously different-heighted podiums blabbing...and we were off.

I made it for a few minutes, just past the opening statements and first questions before I had to get out of the Carom Club. Absolutely HAD to get out. Maybe it was the instant awareness, always present beneath the psychological surface, that nothing fantastic for the Madrid campaign could happen from a televised debate. Maybe it was Heather's pink power dress and boo-hoo "Patsy's being mean" answer about attack ads.

But those were things to be expected. What really made me run out of the Carom Club and to my car to listen to more of the debate was the personal heebee-jeebees engendered by the Carom Club/Democratic Party of NM milieu itself. I guess any respectable blogger would be expected to tough it out, get past the Ron Bells and John Wertheims playing pool at nearby tables, the sparseness of a crowd that didn't seem that interested in the actual debate and a bit disappointed that the karaoke contest had to be on hold until Madrid/Wilson was over.

But this blogger couldn't. Your humble Babbler had to face once again the fact that he is just too independent and snarky to spend any significant time in a room full of Political Party people, regardless of the Party involved.

And did I mention the karaoke?

So, between the time spent fleeing Carom Club and the fact that I listened to more of the debate than I watched, I don't feel like I can be much of a judge concerning the Wilson/Madrid debate last night. I'm still on the lookout on the 'Net for a copy, but don't see one yet at C-SPAN or anywhere else. If someone spots one, please let me know and I'll give the thing another chance, away from the "Purple Rain".

To be honest, I'm a bit reluctant to actually watch a 'Net version the debate. I think we all know at this point that debates probably aren't Patsy's strong suit, and Heather can lie and fluff like a house rug better than most. A YouTube or C-SPAN version of last night's debate will most probably merely validate those points.

For me, watching debates on C-SPAN is alot more fun when the race involved is far from New Mexico and features kooky people like Katherine Harris or Vernon Robinson. Madrid/Wilson is too close to home and means too much. The viewer is always ducking and weaving, trying to avoid verbal punches to areas that are already sensitive from previous pounding. And we who tend to favor Democrats (regardless of their proclivity toward karaoke-centered events) have received a lot of pounding in recent years.

Next week my Humanities classes will host a series of short debates between gracious folks who have agreed to represent Madrid and Wilson's positions. My co-teachers and I will get the 6th/7th/8th grade students in our program up to speed on the issues, and they'll ask questions to the representatives of the respective actual candidates. We'll try to make it as real and informative as possible, without going quite as negative as the campaigns themselves.

No, there won't be any karaoke, either.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

I Dunno Re: Wilson/Madrid...What Do You Think?

It's a long story, one that involves watching bad karaoke (is there any other kind?) while John Wertheim played pool nearby, but my take on the Wilson/Madrid debate tonight is skewed, skewered and skewy (invented word). Just plain skewy.

How did people see it in the "real world"?

Skewed minds want to know....

Monday, October 23, 2006

Countdown To the "Thrilla"

Just 24 hours until the Wilson/Madrid TV Debate, which given its singular status really should get one of those boxing Pay-Per-View type titles like "The Thrilla With Carla". I know I'm on the record saying debates don't matter, and I'm sticking to that philosophy, but for sheer entertainment-meets-potential embarrassment a long-awaited single TV debate is hard to beat.

Watching C-SPAN's marathon debate coverage (right now it's Hillary Clinton v. John Spencer in New York) has become my "reality show" viewing in the last few weeks. I love the local color aspect of these things, with little touches of uniqueness amid the ubiquitous on-message talk and bubbleheaded TV anchor interrogators. It's great seeing folks from obscure parties get TV face time, such as the "Liberty Union Party" in the Vermont Senate debate and the "Green Rainbow" candidate in the Massachusetts Governor's debate.

And now, since pretty much every other race in NM has gone debate-free, we get to throw almost all our homegrown debate-viewing ya-yas into one single gloriously who-knows-what-the-Hell-will-happen hour of Wilson/Madrid.

23 hours and twenty-one minutes now.

P.S.: I got this emailer about a Democratic Party of NM debate viewing party tomorrow night at the Carom Club, and I was thinking of some sort of live-blog possibilities until I saw they're looking for $50 a person. So I guess instead of playing pool with Diane Denish, I'll just be watching "The Thrilla With Carla" from my couch, surrounded by dogs and cats (and maybe the wife) instead of Democrats. That is, unless someone knows of another viewing party, but only one where laughing/snorting during the embarrassing parts is permitted. Now that I think about it, the Democratic viewing party would have been problematic in regards to laughing/snorting 50% of the time anyway. That wouldn't have worked for me, regardless of Diane Denish's pool game.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Babble Endorses John Dendahl For Governor

In order to prove our "Independence" (perhaps the single biggest catch-phrase in the election cycle of catch-phrases) we on the Left simply have to vote for at least one Republican candidate. Yes, some of us could vote for Green Party candidate David Bacon in PRC District 4, but most 'Burqueans aren't in District 4. Besides, throwing a vote away on Green Party candidates is SO Nader 2000. By the way, Judges never count as a mark of independence. I'm still trying to figure out how they count for anything in the election sense other than a blatant attempt to make all voters feel stupid.

Some friends and I were at Two Fools Tavern on Central Friday discussing which Republican most deserves our "we are Independent, really we are" vote. Valid points were made for Jim Bibb in the AG race, as Bibb has been pretty impressive in radio debates with Gary King, even if Bibb does sound like he thinks the job of the AG is to personally round up criminals like some Gunsmoke-meets-Dragnet uber-cop.

We batted around one or two others, but decided, for instance, that Allen McCulloch wasn't a good choice because we don't even know what he looks like, much less his position on any of the issues. In the meantime I have gone to his campaign webpage and found out that he seems to like Western horse saddles as means of arm support...

Senate Candidate McCulloch says "who needs a sofa when you got a fence rail?"

Then I guess the conversation turned to megalomania, because before we knew it we were talking about the Governor's race. And that's when the light bulb went off: I'm voting for John Dendahl.

Why Dendahl? Why would a Lefty vote for one of the most non-Lefty candidates out there? Forget the legalizing marijuana thing, Dendahl is wholly, unacceptably, unarguably un-Left. But consider the following:
  • There is absolutely no chance Dendahl will win (which, of course, is the most important factor for ostensibly Independent Lefties in determining which Republican to vote for).
  • If one is to read JoeMonahan correctly, Big Bill Richardson getting less than 60% of the vote this time around will not only damage Richardson's Presidential aspirations, but will lead to utter global economic collapse, legions of locusts denuding every plant on planet Earth, and the return of Chris Kattan to Saturday Night Live. We lefty voters just can't pass up the chance to muck with the political punchbowl on such a grand scale.
  • Between the marijuana legalization stand and the "Teachers only teach Socialism" comment, John Dendahl is New Mexico's answer to Texas Guv candidate Kinky Friedman. Johh says lots of stupid things, just like Kinky, and I personally prefer saying sincere, yet stupid things, over insincere "on message" banality. Now if Dendahl could just lose the Insurance Salesman three-piece suit and go all-black with a bolo tie and a large cigar maybe he'd be going places in this election. Why these candidates don't ever ask me to run their campaigns I'll never figure out.

If I were better at Photoshop I'd try replacing Kinky's head, but you get the idea
  • Bill Richardson not only defines the word "swarmy", the new Oxford English Dictionary uses a picture of Bill (in his "I'm a cowboy" campaign ad getup) as the visual next to the entry "swarmy". In fact, the OED and other dictionaries are thinking of merely replacing the word "swarmy" with "Bill Richardson" in future editions.
  • I have to respect Dendahl for at least two things: 1. He used to appear on that KNME show "The Line" as the token Republican, and regardless of the "you are the stupidest person on the face of planet Earth" looks he gave Liberal panelists he was always courteous in responding. He also never appeared to be bothered that noone else on the panel had any scintilla of respect for his positions. 2. Many New Mexico Republicans seem to hate him, including many State Republican apparatichiks. Anybody that widely disliked within the Republican Party has to have something going for him/her.

So I invite all my Lefty friends to get together and vote John Dendahl for Governor. Some might think, "Hey Scot, if all Lefties vote for Dendahl won't he win and leave us with some wholly unacceptable Governor just like Gary Johnson?" Let's be serious. There ain't that many of us, and how many read Burque Babble for Christ's sake? We'll be lucky to get Big Bill under 60% and kick-up those legions of locusts.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Okay, I Feel Better About the NM-1 Race Now

I just spent far too much quality Friday night time watching part of the NC-13 House Debate on C-SPAN between some Democratic guy, Brad Miller, and Republican candidate Vernon Robinson. Then through a circuitous surf on the Net I caught this Vernon Robinson campaign commercial. Criminy, this ad leapfrogs the venality of the worst NM-1 spot to this point. C'mon Patsy and Heather people! You gotta dig deeper...far deeper!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

"...Sometimes I Just Sits." -- Satchel Paige: Updated

Yeah, I see the post from Johnny Mango at DCF and on his own blog, Albloggerque. You know the one I'm talking about. The one about Heather Wilson.

I've also spent a half hour or so scanning the post by fbihop at Daily Kos, and its many comments. I checked out Democracy for New Mexico, too.

I've seen them and I'm thinking. Just thinking at this point. This is one of those stories that's been floating like space junk for years and years, and it's interesting on so many levels to see it finally re-enter the Earth's atmosphere.

And maybe because of the many levels, the convulutions and permutations, I'm just sitting here and thinking. Maybe it's just that I'm too slow afoot politically, but I can't find myself righteously blaming anybody, not quite yet. I don't find myself blaming Wilson, her husband, the kid (at the time) involved, the police, Johnny Mango, fbihop, DCF, Raw Story, anybody. I especially don't blame YouTube, and find it kind of weird that the removal of Mango's video is seen as some sinister act. It's YouTube, for Christ's sake, not the Library of Congress.

But that's about as far as I've gotten so far. Primarily just sitting and thinking this evening. Not that it means much, but If anything occurs to me I'll be sure to let you know.

Meanwhile, I wonder how many other politiporn junkies, like us, are just sitting and thinking tonight, withholding judgement to see how the space junk settles.

Updated 6:32 A.M.:

Well I'm done sitting and thinking and this is what I think. There are a ton of reasons not to vote for Heather Wilson. This episode isn't one of them, imho.

Now it's possible that some malfeasance took place between the alleged butt grabbing, the folder moving and such, but when the episode (and I do find it interesting that the news never gave this a catchy name like "HoneGate" or "Folder Pot Dome" or anything) and it's hazy, recycled remnants is placed beside much fresher, much more tangible skeletons, it doesn't compare to:

  • Far too often voting in step with the wiles of George W. Bush ('nuff said to get my anti-vote right there)
  • Iraq, and her role on the Intelligence Committee
  • Corporate suck-up positions on prescription drugs, oil and energy concerns
  • A milquetoast position on global warming in-step with her Big Oil allegiance
I'll stop there, but hopefully you get my point and I gotta go to work. Actually, it's especially on media days like these that I'm so very glad to be teaching instead of working in the cesspool of 20-days-to-go political campaigns. There isn't a haz mat suit strong enough for this kinda of sewage.

P.S.: The mention of Hogares in the story is noteworthy and quite depressing to me. I don't have time to get into it, but perhaps some of us who had knew staff or residents of that organization feel the same way, again, this morning.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Politics as Cinema: Republicans Die Harder IV

This point in the 2006 Election Cycle is starting to remind me of that scene near the end of the action/thriller movie where the really bad guy has trapped our hero and is pointing a gun at him. Up to now the really bad guy has proven he's really bad by killing hundreds and hundreds of people without even thinking about it, but NOW instead of simply emptying a full clip into our hero he instead starts talking about how he has outfoxed the hero, his really bad guy future plans for unmitigated evil, what he had for dinner the night before, etc., whereupon our hero somehow saves himself or is saved by a deus ex machina, often a woman in a tight-fitting getup.

As I said, the 2006 Election Cycle is starting to remind me of this scene.

The cornered hero is the Republican Party, our really bad guy the Democrats and "Conventional Wisdom", and let's say that Karl Rove is the woman is a tight-fitting getup...just for the visual it provides. Watching, listening, reading anything about Election 2006 right now is all about the Democrats taking over one or both houses of Congress. Will it happen? Who will be the Democratic Speaker of the House if it does? Will Lieberman switch parties to keep the Republicans in control of the Senate?

All this while the metaphorical gun continues to be pointed at a cornered, trapped Republican Party, while Liberals in the movie audience scream "Shoot! Shoot! Kill the bastard! Quit talking, just take him out! Now!"

I am one of those shouting.

We shout because we just know that Karl Rove (who, let's face it, is more of a mythical creature at this point than a an actual human being...that is if he ever truly was a human being) will spring behind our loquacious gun-toting antagonist, say "Judo chop!" or "October Surprise!", and that will be that.

Of course I realize that in this warped analogy the firing of the gun is the Election itself, and that it is impossible to hurry that along. Bummer. Stupid Constitution. And maybe the Democratic wave is cresting a tiny bit too early to accomplish the maximum impact necessary to take over the House and/or Senate. Maybe all the cornered Republicans will snarl there way back from their supposed moral outrage regarding Foley, etc. and show up in significant numbers to keep things in this diabolical status quo that has people buying "I Never Thought I Would Miss Nixon" bumper stickers.

I said it in 2004, and I'll say it again now...I don't know if I can take another two years of this. "Shoot! Shoot! Stop Talking ! Kill!"

Monday, October 16, 2006

I'll Take Liberal Bias In the Fifth To Win For Twenty

Two unrelated things this evening....

1) Look for more poker business at local casinos as nerdy Chris Moneymaker wannabes crawl out from their online poker addictions and head to Isleta/Sandia, etc. The passage/signing of "The Unlawful Internet Gambling Act" has got online players freaking out more than a river suck-out full boat to crack their nut flush. Yes, I know what that last phrase means. No, I'm not terribly proud of the fact.

Even non-players have noticed the glut of poker on TV, but that's nothing compared to the explosion in the game's popularity online. I don't have statistics because...well, because this is a blog and blogs don't worry about things like "facts", but the amount of time/money spent playing Hold 'Em online is amazing. And I don't like to throw around words like "amazing" too much.

The rules about online poker have always been hazy. Technically, the sites have been offshore or at least outside the U.S.. Many players have felt uneasy given the possibly flightiness of the firms involved (not to mention the possibility of a technological hack or coding rigging the game). The new legislation moves those concerns into hyperdrive....but at this point many an online nerd is totally hooked on playing.

What to do? Drive the "lucky seven minutes down I-25" is my guess. Casinos have already been the beneficiaries of the "poker boom", but have had to share a ton of market share with online sites. That is almost certain to change now, and change significantly.

I'm no capitalist, and wouldn't know how to "invest" in anything, much less Native American casinos, in a million years. Still, if I were a betting man (and from reading the above it must be obvious that I am not, that I have never even played poker before, and that if I had played poker I darn sure had only done it for entertainment purposes using cigarette matches as "chips")...where was I, oh yeah, if I were a betting man I'd wager that poker business at casinos is gonna jump in a big way. The sort of big way reserved for the activities of addicts and their changing drug choices. In the same way that cocaine gets less popular and addicts move to heroin, so to will online players stumble into Sandia Casino to get their fix.

2) Today's Journal was full of laughs, especially chuckles with a Lefty Lawyer bent. First there was a story about how the local chapter of the ACLU was "stifling dissent". Something about an ex-board member being locked out by the still-existing board. Good for a solid ironic guffaw or two.

Then there was the "guest column" by Christina Hoff Sommers of the American Enterprise Institute entitled "Liberal Bias Rules UNM Law School". This one must be getting plenty of laughs because it's still ranked this evening as the #1 "most read story" at ABQJournal.com. Trying to sum up Ms. Sommers remarks is difficult because there are SO many nuggets of unintentional (I'm guessing) humor in the piece.

My strong suggestion is to just read the piece, but to crudely sum it up: Ms. Sommers was shocked that UNM Law School is so incredibly liberal. Being a good lawyer (I'm guessing), she then cites a ton of examples of how unfairly liberal the school is, and how conservatives are vilified/ostracized.

Which may be true, for all I know (which is pretty much nothing). Nevertheless, some of the supposedly damning examples she uses to "prove" the Law School's liberalosity are both funny and indicate that Ms. Sommers might politically be to the right of Pat Buchanan, somewhere nearer to Phyllis Schlafly/James Dobson territory.

For example, my favorite paragraph from the piece:

Students complain that courses lack objectivity. Here is the catalogue description for a seminar called Environmental Global Warming: "Global climate change is the major environmental threat of our era. Its effects are felt by all species, but especially on those who are poor...." Another course called Gender and the Law explores "how the Law created categories that support subordination based on gender."

The cool and funny thing is that Sommers throws this paragraph in without further comment, as if these references are proof enough of liberal bias. But exactly who doesn't think global warming isn't "the major environmental threat of our era"? Who with half a brain wouldn't agree that laws have historically supported "subordination based on gender"?

Phyllis Schlafly probably. And maybe a few libertarians who avoid modern inventions like the Internet or history books or any historical event since, say, the Constitutional Congress of 1787.

It's pretty apparent that Sommers got to 'Burque, hung out with some law school students who are "Federalist Society" members, and the students bitched and moaned about how liberal the school is. From this Sommers makes an unsubtle grammatical switch in the Journal piece which is pretty darn funny. Instead of saying "some" or "a few" students think something, she just says things like "Students complain that courses lack objectivity." This implies that all students complain or that at least most of them do.

As I said before, I know know pretty much nothing about the UNM Law School, but I'd bet (there's that gambling thing again) the number of students that complained to Sommers was less than ten. Probably more along the lines of three. And those three have the right to bitch and moan all they want. And Sommers has the right to pontificate based on that dinky sample size all she wants. Especially if it can provide laughs for me as I read Abqjournal.com on a Monday morning. Reading Sommers' piece this morning was definitely worth multiple chuckles, and it made me think out loud: "I wonder what Phyllis Schlafly is up to these days?"

For those interested in finding out more about our visitor, Ms. Sommers, here's a link from Mediatransparency.

Updated Friday, 2:32 P.M.: Now I find out I've misspelled Sommers' name for two solid days. Man, I hate when that happens....have a good weekend everybody, I'll write Sommers on a blackboard 500 times after school today.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

If It's a Boy, We'll Call it Exxono: Stupid Mailers and Kubrick

Just today I recieved what I believe could be the single strongest nominee for "Stupidest Campaign Mailer of Election '06". I know...the race for "Stupidest Mailer" is an incredibly hard-fought contest, featuring myriad entrants engaging countless numbers of illogical attacks, blatantly unfair self-congratulation, and cuddly puppies. To win such a competition a mailer must combine the illogical, unfair and cuddly in a way that goes beyond the mundanely obnoxious to the sublimely stupid.

As seen above, I believe the brand-new Madrid mailer with uber-cuddly, adorable kids emblazoned trademarkishly as "Exxono" and "Chevrona" breaks new, undeniably stupid ground. With the header "Would Heather Wilson (the name in big yellow letters) pay more attention to New Mexico children if they were named Exxono and Chevrona?" above the toothsomely adorable younguns, this ad proclaims not only that it's willing to exploit little kids to make a childish statement, it's more than willing to juxtapose perhaps overly toothsome children with evil corporations so simplistically as to make one wonder if the campaign imagines voters to have an IQ somewhere between Austrolopithicus and Larry the Cable Guy.

One can imagine the intended caveman audience of this mailer:

Shot 1: Caveman walks to mailbox, fingers dragging ground.
Shot 2: Caveman opens mailbox, uses newly opposable thumb to grasp mail.
Shot 3: Caveman glances at "Exxono/Chevrona" mailer.
Shot 4: Caveman mouths words "Exxono" and "Chevrona" to self repeatedly.
Shot 5: Light-bulb cartoon bubble appears above Caveman.
Shot 6: Caveman jumps up and down in monkey-like fashion while screeching: "Wilson equals Exxon, Wilson equals Chevron". Rest of day's mail falls to ground.
Shot 7: Large black monolith appears in front of Caveman.
(Music: Strauss' "Also Sprach Zarathustra" rises)
Shot 8: Caveman stops jumping and says in an almost fully human voice: "What toothsome children!"
Shot 9: Large black monolith turns into large black molar bleeding oil. Large molar spins into deep space and becomes a Space Oil Tanker named "Chevrona".
(Music: Strauss' "The Blue Danube" rises)

While I'd like to congratulate the Madrid campaign directly for the high stupid quotient of this mailer, the actual author/distributor is "New Mexico WOMEN VOTE!", a wholly owned subsidiary of EMILY's List. EMILY's LIst is the well-known national lobbying organization that used to matter back when female candidates were as rare as modern-day austrolopithici. EMILY's List did some important work back in the day, but now they evidently have plenty of free time to come up with stupid joke names like "Exxono" and "Chevrona".

I won't bore you with another faux movie scene, but can you just picture the brainstorming meeting at New Mexico WOMEN VOTE! that led to "Exxono" and "Chevrona"? Were these the best two names they could come up with? Were margaritas involved in making the choices "Exxono" and "Chevrona"? How many pitchers of margaritas?

Now I know the competition for "Stupidest Campaign Mailer of Election '06" is fierce. Why just the other day I got the Democratic Party Absentee Voter Ballot mailer featuring a cute, beyond uber-cuddly dog sticking out of a mailbox holding an envelope in its cute (and yes, cuddly) mouth. And that's not even mentioning the Heather Wilson mailers, all of which have the logical depth and consistency of Pat Robertson talking about Israel on the 700 Club.

Yes, competition is fierce, but I'm willing to pit this toothsome kid "Exxono & Chevrona" mailer against any of them. I also defy anyone who received the "Exxono" mailer to stare at those toothsome kids for 30 seconds straight. I tried it and about 16 seconds in started hallucinating. Some unknown amount of time passed and I found myself lying on the ground nearby in the pose of some sort of lizard or iguana.

You probably think I'm kidding.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Sex Predators, Plane Crashes and What Is AG Hip?

I must be getting old and mainstream. I really liked the Jim Belshaw column yesterday about the twistedness of the Madrid/Wilson campaign ads. In part I liked it because I was going to write about the same damn thing after seeing yet another "Patsy is a Sex Predator, no Heather is a Sex Predator" set of spots. I also like the Belshaw piece because it's good and funny. Don't worry, o' cynical Babble faithful...I still don't care for John Trever's cartoons. I'm pretty sure I'll never get old, mainstream and crotchety enough for that. Oh, now that I think about it, I'm already plenty crotchety...I'm just not John Trever kind of crotchety.

As a baseball fan, I'm excited about the playoffs, stoked about the Yankees collapse, and already burned out about the Cory Lidle plane crash. I admit it, I place athletes on a pedestal as icons...I have an unnatural, yet purely platonic, love for old ballplayers like Ed Delahanty and Sam Rice. Still, the amount of coverage about the Lidle crash is ridiculous. Of course it helped the media frenzy that he crashed where and how he did. But, to me, coverage of this extent is demeaning to all the other people who died today for whatever reason. What are they, chopped liver? And what about the other person killed by Lidle's plane? It's almost liked the mafia killed them...they never existed, at least according to every report I saw on the crash.

Okay, enough non Madrid/Wilson news. It's a long story, but I just wrote to someone Back East and told them...get this...that I think Madrid might win. Really. Me, who has wagered (for entertainment purposes only) a number of people over the last few months that Wilson will win. I know your first question is: Scot, have you been drinking? No, seriously, your first question is: why should I care what you think, Scot? No, really seriously, your first question is: Why the change, Scot?

Well, to be honest, I'm not really that sure Madrid will squeak by. In fact, I'm absolutely unconvinced about any specific outcome at this point. All I do know is that Madrid and Wilson are both sex predators....just kidding! No, they are both actually less than sleazy people running campaigns as sleazy as any since Tammany Hall. Given how long the onslaught of politiporn (and now just flat out porn) in the race has lasted I sincerely wonder about voter fatigue and disgust.

I also wonder how much money the local TV stations have made running these months of sleazy ads. No conflct of interest there...no sir. Sex predators and news? Higher Ratings. Sex predators, ads about politicians being soft on sex predators and news? Higher ratings and ad revenue! All the local news programs need is a guy yelling "Hot Babes! Hot Young Studs!" like the ones outside the pre-Giuliani New York City XXX venues. Maybe Dick Knipfing can best be employed for this purpose, especially if he could grow a "porn moustache" as well.

Lastly, I glanced at the Trib "Smart Box" regarding answers the AG candidates made to silly questions like "What do you have on your IPod?" and couldn't help but notice that Republican candidate Jim Bibb answered: "Joe Satriani and contemporary Christian". I'll let the Contemporary Christian stuff slide because I know zilch about that genre...but Joe Satriani? I don't know if I can live in a State with an AG who likes Joe Satriani. I don't know if I want to live in a State that has even one person who likes Satriani living in it. Fortunately, Bibb is far behind Democrat Gary King, who responded with "Tower of Power". In other words...no contest, big band funk over self-indulgent guitar solos anyday, any political office.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A Few Seasonally-Related Points

Couldn't let some great seasonal stuff go by unmentioned.
  1. Just saw the first geese of the season walking tiredly in the alfalfa field behind our house. Welcome aviary creatures!
  2. Also just saw a very impressive curling wall cloud introducing what looks to be a wickedly lightning-filled storm to the Valley and the rest of 'Burque.
  3. And yes, I've noticed that the late-night storm early this morning had to put the Sunport over 10 inches for the year... whoo-hoo! Maybe with this one in about three minutes we'll make 11...
  4. Okay, lightning-freaked dog going crazy, and besides not good to be online with millions of volts about...gotta go.
Updated 8:15 P.M.: Okay, we're past the 11 inch precipitation mark now I'm sure, and it just started raining again. My entire backyard is under water, my goats are soaked because they're too wimpy to walk in standing water, and I just saw Jon Tester kick Conrad Burns' ass in the Montana Senate TV Debate via C-SPAN. I know Tester has nothing to do with the first two parts of the last sentence, but on a cool, rainy night it's warming/comforting to see Burns get so thoroughly cooked.

AK-47s: Not Just For "Hunting" Anymore...

Another day, another school shooting. "It wasn't immediately clear how the boy got access to the assault rifle." Time for another gun control rant, but why bother?

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Dealing With Foley; Unable to Deal With Iraq

There are Republican scandals that are "fun" to report and relish amid, and there are scandals too horrific to even smirk at now.

It is a strange, but reliable, quirk of human nature that makes the Foley-Hastert-Reynolds-(insert local GOP Congressperson here) scandal so funny to so many. I mean we are talking about a middle age creepy guy hitting on underage and barely-age young people using every technological and propositional tool available to him. And we're also talking about a bunch of crystal-clear-obvious morally repressed old guys showing their true Machiavellian colors by trying to back-stab each other press conference after press conference.

Schadenfreude aside, I don't find it that funny.

But that's nothing compared to today's Iraq. The War/Occupation's political damage to the Republicans is tempered somewhat at this point by the sheer obviousness of the stupidity, and the resulting shame for this country. The occupation is so overwhelmed at this point, so lost that even Americans who opposed the war from before the onset are having a hard time stomaching how the outcome has so closely fit their concerns way back in 2002/2003.

As one of those who has always opposed the invasion, etc., sure, it's nice to be right I guess. Yet, reading stories like today's at ABC News about a daily stream of bodies found floating in the Tigris isn't nice. And that story is just one under the radar blip of a constantly filled viewing screen of killings, torture, kidnappings and more killings.

I get the sense that the deep embarrassment created by the Iraq situation has gone past screaming activists and "Support Our Troops" stickers to a widespread denial. The dysfunctional family that is the U.S. has, rather subconsciously, chosen to sweep Iraq under the Foley, gas prices, saguaro cactus rug. We still get the daily stories from Iraq, but feeling helpless to physically do anything about it, and unable to handle the embarrassment psychologically, we gravitate toward stories on Foley's IM messages asking about penis measurements. So much easier to wrap our brains around; so much easier to deal with, really.

Of course, many of my friends on the farther Left will cite my little "dysfunction" theory as incredibly naive: 1. "We" aren't in "denial", we are still calling for our troops to come home; 2. The public isn't "gravitating" toward Foley-gate instead of Iraq, the Republican-controlled government and media is leading the public there.

To my farther Left friends: sorry, I think it's a two-way transaction. Remember the days when a U.S. soldier being killed in Iraq was front-page above-the-fold news? The count of soldiers killed was a number noted and memorized almost like Babe Ruth hitting 714 home runs. Remember when ABC "Nightline" got in hot water for merely listing and naming the U.S. dead? Those days are long gone. Why?

Many farther Lefters would, of course, say the change was dictated by the Bush Administration and slavishly followed by the tightly-corporate-controlled media. I'm not saying it didn't play a role. But I'm also saying that we Americans, as humans, have a natural predisposition to avoid a certain level of bad news. A little bad news is okay, but a tipping point is sometimes reached, a point that triggers a flood of psychological survival mechanisms.

I think Iraq has reached this point, and it has several interesting ramifications:
  1. Regardless of how bad things get in Iraq, my guess is that public support for the War/Invasion will never get much lower than it has always been. War defenders now unable to handle all the bad news are much more likely to just bunker down, avoid facts, and support the War/Invasion just as a battered spouse defends a loveless marriage.
  2. The War/Invasion has now seemingly become less of an election year issue than it should be. Instead, analysts are now forecasting crazy swings in House/Senate control because of Foley-Gate. That may be true, but it's interesting that Foley/Hastert/Reynolds/(insert local GOP Congressperson here) would seem to be having such a profound impact, an impact some are analogizing to the 1994 Republican "Revolution".
  3. Personally, I think the impact of Foley-Gate is actually a response to the War/Invasion. Many Americans don't want to "cut and run", "send troops home" or, really, have anything more to say, do or think about Iraq. Foley-gate gives these voters a chance to sublimate their personal disgust with Iraq, using under and barely-age Page contacts as an alibi.
  4. Naturally, it helps that Foley-Gate tramples almost every "family value" argument ever made by a Republican since the "Revolution" of 1994, but I wonder if Foley, etc. would have had the impact if it had come out in 2004 just before the election. My guess is that Americans were still too engaged in the War/Invasion at that time for it to make a significant difference. I also wonder, given that the Foley shenanigans have been going for years that perhaps a Democrat somewhere/someplace in early Fall 2004 didn't think about at least outing Foley for the political gain.
  5. I hope none of the Pages involved in Foley-Gate are scarred psychologically. I hope the only people twisted by these events are Mark Foley and soon-to-be-former House Speaker Hastert, etc., but if this is what it takes for a majority of American voters to finally feel good about lessening the political power of a Bush Administration gone amok, I say focus away on Foley-Gate and other relatively insignificant things compared to Iraq.
And I think that, at least as of October 8th, is exactly what's happening. Strangely however, after having personally long dreamed of a post-2006 Election environment with a Lame Duck W and a, finally, more active and assertive Congress I'm having a hard time celebrating the prospect right now.

Reading stories about bodies floating in the Tigris will do that to you.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Ten Reasons I Don't Heart The Balloon Fiesta: Redux

The cottonwood leaves are starting to turn along the bosque, the mornings are getting cooler (well, most of them) and the winds are increasingly windy....all signs that it must be that special time of year we 'Burqeans know as "Balloon Fiesta".

Last year I jotted down a few reasons why I (unlike seemingly everyone else in the city/state/world/universe) don't like the "Balloon Fiesta", preferring to call it "Balloon Fiasco", a name which I admit is not catching on with anybody except me. Given that the "Fiasco" is starting tomorrow (I think, I don't pay much attention to these things), and given that I am incurably lazy, I figure it's time to reprint my list of "Ten Reasons I Don't Heart the Balloon Fiesta". Of course, as this is the Internet and all, anybody who wanted to read the following could just Google the thing from last year, but let's pretend this is some old school hard copy newspaper thing, and play along with the "reprint" concept.

Enjoy... and don't be shy about adding your own reasons for not liking the "Fiasco" in the comments section below. Now, on to the "reprint".


....I've decided to officially come out of the closet and publically state my feelings about what might be the #1 Sacred Cow in all of Albuquerque:

I hate the Balloon Fiesta.

Now I know I might as well tell fellow 'Burqueans that I'm a combination sex predator/Tex-Mex food lover. In fact, I hear a siren in the distance meaning that local law enforcement has heard about my feelings and is ready to deport me to Dalhart.

But I really hate the Balloon Fiesta. And here are ten reasons why in David Letterman countdown style....

Reason #10: Invariably a day comes where I'm teaching Literature at a local middle school in October, just getting into a fascinating discussion on the use of irony in Kurt Vonnegut, when all the sudden we hear this Church Organ-esque WHAAMMMMMMMMMPPPPP of air release right over our head sounding like the Russkies just set off a huge Redi-Whip dessert topping canister on top of us. Kids rush to the window and, sure enough, there's somebody trying to land a large wobbly brightly-colored craft onto our dinky little playfield. The kids press noses to the window in a frenzy of excitement they never show toward Kurt Vonnegut. I find myself almost rooting for the local trees and electrical lines to ensnare the gondola or something.

Hey...I said almost. It's not like I actively WANT the balloonists to die or anything. Really.

Here's #9: The Big-I, cars with out-of-state plates...'nuff said.

#8: I'm not a morning person. Every year in early October I have several conversations with people chipper about getting up at 4:00 A.M. to go see balloons. I wouldn't get up at 4:00 to see Jesus re-appear, even if he brought Buddha and Muhammed with him as a backing band. The conversation with these Chipper People invariably goes like this:

Chipper Person: I'm going to the balloon fiesta tomorrow!
Me: Oh.
Chipper Person: Yeah, we're getting up at 4:00!
Me: (pained expression) Oh.
Chipper Person: It's great, you really ought to go, you want to meet up somewhere at say 4:30?
Me: No.
Chipper Person: Why not?!? It'll be great!
Me: I wouldn't get up at 4:00 to see Jesus re-appear...

(Long, increasingly painful silence)

Chipper Person: Well, I'll tell you all about it tomorrow!
Me: Oh.

#7: Those 9:30 P.M. teasers for the local 10:00 TV news that attempt to tie everything back to Albuquerque and those stinkin' balloons....

THIS IS TOM JOLES, Tonight at 10, FIRST ON FOUR, Six U.S. Soldiers Are Killed In Iraq, find out local reaction tonight from Balloon Fiesta Park, and speaking of the fiesta, ONLY ON FOUR, LIVE BREAKING COVERAGE OF Richard Abruzzo's views on the ongoing debate in Kansas between the teaching of Evolution and Intelligent Design. Abruzzo recently crashed his balloon in Kansas and he tells Eyewitness News' Colleen MAH o nay (who is evidently not Irish in heritage but some form of Athabascan Native American) his views on the educational debate in that State. Plus, weatherman Larry Rice inexplicably stands out LIVE at a darkened Balloon Fiesta Park to tell us how Typhoon Brittany off the coast of Japan might impact winds at tomorrow morning's launch. THAT'S TONIGHT... ONLY ON FOUR.

The town's cyn-o-meter (level of expressed cynicism) drops to near zero. Even the snarkiest among us in the ABQ blogosphere switch from our typical "Gov. Bill Richardson Looks Fat as Cowboy on TV Campaign Ad" entries to "Look at my Flickr folder of delightful Special Shapes Glowdeo shots I Just Took".

#5: '
Burqueans are required to listen and dutifully remember new vocabulary phrases like "Special Shapes Glowdeo", "Mass Ascension", "Chase Crews" and "Propane Day" (Hank Hill must be proud), and we are also supposed to alter our definition of "Afterglow" from its proud sexual connotation to that of a stupid trademarked reference to a fireworks show after the balloons "Glowdeo" (another trademarked expression). I will refrain until New Year's Eve to post my "Ten Reasons I Hate Fireworks Shows" blog entry.

#4: The Balloon Fiesta seems to draw an inordinate number of people who like to have bright, colorful and balloon-oriented applique sweaters. You know, those sweaters with typically cute-to-the-point-of-gagging little designs stuck on them. Here's an example being sold on Amazon right now.

Anyway, my Mother loves applique sweaters, as do most older female Elementary School Teachers. 'Burque therefore fills for two weeks with thousands of people looking just like my Mom and/or Ms. Christian, the most evil schoolteacher in the history of the State of Texas (my childhood home). There is something quite psychologically traumatic having your new city, far from the hometown you never wish to revisit, filled to the brim with dopplegangers of your Mom and all-time least favorite teacher. Really, I love my Mom fine...but every October I am filled with both a strange guilt and the desire to toilet paper someone's house.

#3: Unlike most applique sweater types, animals do not love the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. Getting a little more serious for a minute, how many of us have house pets who ABSOLUTELY freak out with that WHAAAAAAAMMMMMPPPPP overhead sound? Now have a 1700 pound pet. As some of you know, we have a few horses around our pitiful excuse for a Ag-burb horse "ranch". Horses generally feel about balloons the way Earthlings feel about the Vogon Spaceship announcing the planet's demolition in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". We're talking true mortal dread, panic in the streets, "dogs and cats living together" terror.

Just for this reason alone, it is my position that the Balloon Fiesta should be done away with, along with all fireworks. Hmmm...there seems to be a strange bond between fireworks, firework shows and Balloon Fiesta. Both are highly visual, both bother the hell out of animals, both attract large numbers of people who repeatedly say in unison "Ooooooohhhhhhh" and "Aaaaaahhhhhhhh" while looking up at the sky like a bunch of trained seals peering upward to a dangling herring.

It almost makes we wish the Vogons WERE here to put in an Hyperspace Bypass.

#2: The terribly uninviting Hotel 6 on I-25 down around Cesar Chavez has a electronic sign with the price for a night's room on it. Befitting the depressing prospect of staying in such a lousy place right next to a noisy Interstate the price for a room usually shows $33.99, sometimes $37.99, but only during Balloon Fiesta does it jump up to $43.99. 'Burque has about 50,000 hotel rooms that only fill during the Fiesta, but of course that doesn't stop hoteliers from building more largely unused ugly concrete structures, relying pretty much solely on the price gouging opportunities the Fiesta provides.

Then there are the corporate sponsorships for the Fiesta, a list of which takes up a long web page. In our little, largely corporate-free, town the Fiesta is about the only event that has an Official Outerwear Supplier (Columbia), but then again it's the only ABQ event I can think of that has even trademarked the name of the event itself.


And the #1 reason I hate the Balloon Fiesta (trademark) is:

'Burque can't claim to have the best drivers in the world. Our biggest claim to automobile driving fame (besides the Unsers, who aren't that famous anymore, anyway) is the wide array of driving speeds on our highways. From personal experience and asking of others, I've heard of no other town where 20% of the drivers consistently drive 15-25 m.p.h below the posted speed limit, while another 40% simultaneously drive 15-25 m.p.h above the posted speed limit. It's like a strange communal bi-polarity.

Now throw hundreds of visual distractions into the mix and you have a Balloon Fiesta morning on I-25. The only road surface more dangerous these days is the drive to the Baghdad airport.

I had to make a run north last weekend (if for no other reason than to avoid Balloon Fiesta) and ended up northbound on I-25 about 8:45 on Saturday morning. Life expectancies instantly drop about 20 years; one is surrounded by other drivers pointing out the balloons to their passengers, as cars skitter between lanes, off the shoulder, toward your car. All laws and rules about driving go away faster than a civil liberty in a war on Terror.

But it's okay...."there's balloons!"

The traffic folks put up signs saying something about "No Balloon Viewing Allowed on Roadside", so instead we have the viewing IN the road AT speeds ranging from 5 to 105 m.p.h. Oh, there are wrecks, bad wrecks. Fortunately, I now live in the South Valley and don't face the daily Fiesta carnage I used to living in the North Valley.

But it's okay, "there's balloons!"

Yes, balloons make it all worthwhile: deadly driving conditions, applique sweaters, waking up at 4 a.m., even trademarked "fun". As for me, the highlight of any Balloon Fiesta is the teary-eyed farewell from Carla Aragon and the rest of the ABQ "news" folks as they bid their mind-numblingly soft Fiesta "news" adieu for another year.

Things return to normal: the Motel 6 drops the prices back, the WHAAAAAAMMMMPPPPPP sounds are gone, the local blogs get back to cynically deriding politicians and the Journal, and we can get back to our perfectly good, albeit smoggy, blue skies and beautiful sunrises devoid of the brightly colored globules that so many love, but a few of us really, really can't stand.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Send Foleys, Guns and Woodward: The R's Have Hit The Fan

9/11 Repubmentum is over. Now it's Foley-Gate this, Condi-briefed that and it looks possible, POSSIBLE, the Republicans could lose a house of Congress. P-O-S-S-I-B-L-E. Not a sure thing, not even a dominant paradigm Main Stream Media acknowledged thing. Not yet. And that's good...much better to make it a big surprise, a Donkey jumping out of a Election Day cake wearing a big sash saying "You woke up, America!". Again, just possible.

Meanwhile, it's hard not to notice that in recent days we've had three men go into school buildings and kill girls, a principal, and some more girls. Of course guns were used in every assault. Of course noone is bringing up, Main Stream Media to wackiest blog (at least none I've read), that maybe controlling guns along with the nutjobs who rather easily obtain them is a good idea. I'll shut up, too, about it now. Crazy talk. Nutty to even consider.

And maybe you're like me and the most amazing recently admitted fact among the dazzling array of recently admitted facts out there is the STAGGERING number of daily insurgent attacks against the U.S./"Coalition" forces in Iraq. "Over 800 a week" says Bob Woodward, who is admittedly very irritating but in this case useful in his apparently granted role as "Official Truth Stater". Guess if you write two kiss-ass books about something you are thereby granted this role, while others, like David Gregory recently, who have tried to be objective since Day One can be bitchslapped by W whenever Prez wants.

Great strategy, Woodward...and I admit I didn't know the number of attacks was over 100 per day now. Not that the Government has made that information easy to find. Similarly, since the Main Stream Media stopped giving daily front page reminders of the U.S. war dead the number is as strong as ever (over 70 in September alone) but it's buried like the soldiers deeper in the news, behind Saguaro-gate and other news stories deemed more important by those who wish to help avert our eyes from the deep, scarring embarrassment of Iraq.

And embarrassment and the concomittant psychological denial would seem to be the only thing keeping Bush Administration defenders sane these days. Hey, it's worked for so many dysfunctional families for so long...it might just get the Repubs through the Mid-term election with control in both houses. But it's POSSIBLE. JUST POSSIBLE.....

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Wilson/Madrid Dead Heat and the Vigil Case Is Just Plain Dead

I don't usually write blog entries on Sunday morning, but this morning's Journal has much to munch upon:

  • Vigil II: the Verdict
  • Wilson v. Madrid : A Dead Heat
  • Hometown Capitalist Heroes: Eclipse Gets Certified
  • UNM Lobo Football: Is it Basketball Season Yet?

Where to start with all that? What Grand Unification Theory can tie together these juicy shoelaces of newsiness and leave us able to run, metaphorically speaking, without tripping over ourselves? Answer: none...we shall merely trip over ourselves here at the Babble, just as we always do.

Vigil II

What I want to see/hear/read now is an interview with Lead Prosecutor Jonathan Gerson. The quite good, I thought, Journal piece by Scott Sandlin and Mike Gallagher on the verdict includes a quote or two from Gerson, but I want a full-blown interview in which questions are asked like:
  • How could you guys fully blow this one, again?
  • Are we supposed to think that one count of guilty on something unrelated to the main charges equals a prosecutorial victory?
  • Did prosecuting this case cost more and achieve less than if we had just let Robert Vigil and Michael Montoya keep taking kickbacks and offering sweetheart deals?
I would like the above asked, in part, because I'm pissed off about the verdict. I also want answers because I admit I am no expert here. I cannot claim to know Robert Vigil was guilty of anything, followed the trial information cursorily at best, and obviously was not a juror at the trial. Still, it's hard to believe so much time/effort and especially money would be spent putting together a case in which the defense side could call no witnesses twice and end up with one lousy guilty count.

As a taxpayer, I'm not getting my money's worth here. Seeing Vigil walk out of the courthouse with his arms around relatives instead of staggering out frog march-style wearing shackles and a new orange jump suit was damn disappointing, even if the guy was truly innocent on 23 out of 24 counts. I want Gerson to be interviewed by Dennis Domrzalski like right now, this Sunday morning (and I apologize if this happened and I just missed it to write this stupid blog entry).


I'm up to four six-pack bets now on this race, thus (at say $7.00 per six pack...Stone IPA or similar, naturally) I'm up to roughly $30 invested in the fate of NM-1 now. It's getting serious, and Sanderoff's latest poll (by the way, what other pollsters died and made Brian Sanderoff "Poll God" here?) shows Patsy's chariot has drawn up even to Charlton Heston's ur...Heather Wilson's chariot, Ben Hur style. Oh the excitement, oh the spiked chariot wheels (now Sandia National Lab-designed lasers), oh the TV medicine cabinet-ad humanity of it all.

By the way, how many of you have seen the "Bill Richardson-is-a-cowboy" Western Movie campaign ad? Did anyone else have the same immediate first response I did, before even noticing it's Bill Richardson in that sheriff's outfit? Namely, I thought to myself: That is the fattest cowboy I have ever seen. Sorry, that was my first, gut you might say, reaction. I guess Richardson's massive campaign war chest couldn't afford some CGI to slim him down. Next time maybe the campaign will spend the extra dough to hire Lucas Films. But I digress.

Oh, the close election excitement of Heather v. Patsy. So much to discuss, so much potential beer changing hands. Yes, I've been betting on Heather the whole time, in part because parting with a few six-packs in order to unseat Wilson would be such a celebratory gesture. I'd be happy to give 100 six-packs away if it meant Heather was giving a concession speech on the evening of November 7th. Especially if I could charge part of the costs to the Madrid campaign, and the winners would be willing to share with the happy loser.

Now to the important part: what does Burque Babble think now re: Wilson/Madrid? I think it's important to remember two things:
  1. The best-forgotten Richard Romero pulled even with Heather about this exact time two years ago;
  2. This isn't a Presidential Election year, but it is an anti-Bush election year.

2004, which seems more like 2,000 years ago than just two, featured a very close Presidential election in which even dinky Electoral states like New Mexico were felt capable of swinging things one way or the other right up to Election Day. That helped Heather Wilson immensely.
This year's ballot offers nothing except Wilson/Madrid. Governor's race...boring. Senate race...even more boring. State Land/Auditor/AG/Treasurer/Election Goddess...those races, let's face it, basically only really matter to the wonkish sorts who read and write drivel like Burque Babble. And judge's races...Jacksonian democracy sole legacy only reminds voters how terribly uninformed they are. Who are these judge people and why am I occasionally asked to choose whether they should be "retained" or not?

Given this election landscape, turnout in '06 will be different in both size and makeup than '04. Overall turnout will be lower because it's not a Presidential election. More importantly, Republican turnout will be lower because there is only one race drawing non-wonk Republicans to the polls. More unknown is the degree to which the cooling of Bush Administration support among NM, especially NM-1, Republicans will erode R turnout. This Factor X could give Madrid an easy win, if unmotivated or ambivalent Rs just don't show up to vote.

Which ALMOST leads me to think I'm gonna be out $30 of beer on this race. Still, I'm not convinced Wilson will be unable to motivate enough NM-1 Republicans to get off their ass and vote this one race. As any Democrat will tell you, the D's are in absolute awe of the ability for the Republican Party to Get Out The Vote. I fully expect Wilson and the Party to roll out all the old standbys to mobilize the Republican base: guys French-kissing guys in 8" x 10" glossy mailers; Madrid Photoshopped to be shown deeply hitting a three-foot long bong while wearing a Cheech and Chong tye-dyed t-shirt and Grateful Dead "dancing bear" bandana; a last-minute mailer warning that Democratic control of Congress will instantly lead to mass burnings of the Bible on Capitol Hill and selection of Beezelbub as Speaker of the House.

The Way the Babble Sees it as of October 1: Madrid's race to lose, but still far from decided. This last month of campaigning should be politiporn of the lowest, most degrading order. I'm still taking wagers; however, I am now offering only six-packs of Milwaukee's Best Light as my side of the bet. If I "win", I'm still taking the expensive stuff. I'm gonna need all the IPA I can get if Heather pulls out another one.


I'm sorry, this topic really bores me. I'm sorry I can't get excited about Eclipse in that "it's the next Microsoft" sort of way, and, having lived in Seattle in 1988 I can tell you that Microsoft 1988 received about .0001% of the coverage Eclipse has received. These capitalist success stories don't work like political campaigns or football teams. Hype isn't the deciding factor. So put the pom-pom down, Albuquerque, and let's see if "really, really, really light airplanes" have the market 10-20 years from now to really make Eclipse (or Cessna for matter) a huge player in the airline manufacturing racket. I wonder if airlines themselves will be a big racket 20 years from now, thinking of Seattle again, look what's happened to Boeing since 1986. Not quite the behemoth it once was, and that's despite all the tasty defense contracting throughout the land.

Lobo Football

I think many of us have switched cheering allegiances from Lobo Football to Eclipse. Eclipse is having a better season, and could probably score more than seven points against Air Force. Others might now be merely waiting for basketball season, not remembering that the men's baseball team isn't that good either. Where's Stoney Case and Kenny Thomas when ya need 'em? Still, we have a head football coach named Rocky, and that cool name and legacy ties to UNM should keep Mr. Long in his job a while longer. By the way, how silly is 6-5 "bowl eligibility" anyway? And quick, name the last three bowls UNM has played in? Exactly.

P.S. 10:31 PM MDT: I've been laid low by a cold all day, and freely attribute whatever problems exist in today's post to my ill-health, but late tonight a ray of sunshine has burst into my kleenex-piled-upon-kleenex room....Rhapsody has finally gotten the entire 21 volume "Ethiopiques" collection from Buda Records! Oh happy evening! If you liked the music in the Jarmusch film "Broken Flowers" you're gotta love roughly 25 hours of Ethiopian tunes....I plan to spend everyday all day until Election Day going through this unbelievable set. But now I gotta grab another kleenex...