Sunday, December 20, 2020

Sunday Reading

History Walks with Deb Haaland — by Charlie Pierce.

In 1972, a group of Native American activists occupied the abandoned prison on Alcatraz Island off San Francisco. They based their claim on the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868, which stated that, under certain circumstance, unused federal lands could revert to their original owners. A Native-American health center in San Francisco had burned down recently, so the occupiers decided that the Rock would serve as a fine replacement. The occupation lasted almost two years and, though it ended roughly, it marked a new era in the relationship of the federal government and the Native peoples to whom that government had done so much injury over the previous 300 years. One particular offender down through the decades had been the United States Department of the Interior—the Bureau of Indian Affairs is lodged in there. And the Interior Department was tasked with enforcing the Dawes Act, which did so much to demolish tribal unity and identity.

So, all of American history, good and bad, echoed on Wednesday when President-Elect Joe Biden named New Mexico Rep. Deb Haaland to be his Secretary of the Interior. Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo people, is the first Native American to be named to a Cabinet position and, as we’ve seen, her appointment to run Interior has a significance far beyond the ordinary Cabinet appointment. From the New York Times:

Ms. Haaland, a citizen of Laguna Pueblo, one of the country’s 574 federally recognized tribes, would helm the federal agency most responsible for the well-being of the nation’s 1.9 million Indigenous people. Among other things, the Interior Department runs the Bureau of Indian Education and the Bureau of Trust Funds Administration, which manages the financial assets of American Indians held in trust. For generations, Native Americans have fought the department’s policies and demanded a greater voice in its operation. In one instance, in 1972, about 500 activists took over the department’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., protesting living standards and broken treaties.

I have been excessively neutral on most of Biden’s Cabinet picks so far. If he wants a Cabinet with whom he feels comfortable, then I’m all right with that. Having sat through most of the confirmation hearings for the previous passel of crooks and mountebanks—Mnuchin, who forget to list assets, and DeVos and her grizzlies, and Interior nominee Ryan Zinke, who left after two years under a hail of writs—I’m willing to accept almost anybody Biden appoints. I have qualms about Lloyd Austin at Defense because of the whole civilian-military thing. I’m OK with Pete Buttigieg at Transportation because, what the hell, Biden wasn’t going to appoint a subway motorman or an airline pilot to the gig.

But, to me, anyway, Haaland is the home run pick that bounces onto Lansdowne Street. Not only is her appointment of profound historical resonance, but she’s a brilliant political organizer, and that’s what it’s going to take to wrench Interior back to its original mission and away from being the auction house that the departing administration had made of it.

Over the past two years, Ms. Haaland has served on the House Natural Resources Committee, which oversees the Interior Department. Under the Trump administration, the current and former Interior secretaries, David Bernhardt and Ryan Zinke, have used the agency to make it easier to mine and drill on public lands, while also weakening protections on endangered species. Just this week, the Interior Department finalized two rules that limit protections to animals and plants under the Endangered Species Act. Ms. Haaland has not held back in her fierce criticism of policies that have opened millions of acres to oil and gas drilling.

“The sad fact is that we have a president who is intent on selling off our public lands to his friends for fracking and drilling,” she said in a speech earlier this year. She noted that under Mr. Bernhardt and Mr. Zinke, the Interior Department slashed the size of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante, national monuments in Utah that are adjacent to Navajo nation territories and a Hopi reservation, opening up the land to mining and drilling.

The last time I saw Deb Haaland was at an pre-caucus event on the Meskwaki Settlement in Iowa. She was there as a campaign surrogate for Senator Professor Warren. This is part of what she said to her audience, most of whom were Meskwaki, a people that originally had lived on land in upstate New York only to get moved westward as the United States grew, often through the kind offices of the Department of the Interior.

“For a lot of my life,” she said, “I was the only Indian in the room. The only Indian in the classroom. The only one on the job site, or wherever. So it was nice to have someone else in Congress [Sharice Davids of Kansas, who was elected in 2018 just as Haaland was] who knows what it’s like to be me.”

History, good and bad, walks with this woman.

The Loser — Susan B. Glasser in The New Yorker.

In the six weeks since the Presidential election, various theories—many of them persuasive—have been advanced to explain President Trump’s refusal to accept Joe Biden’s victory. Trump’s decision to attack the legitimacy of the election has been seen, correctly, as an attack on democracy itself, and as a purposeful and brutally effective use of disinformation. And also as the behavior of a would-be dictator who is dragging an entire political party into a fever dream of denialism. Trump’s protracted post-election fit has been analyzed as preparation for a comeback bid in 2024 and as a fund-raising scam that has brought in hundreds of millions of dollars to support his post-White House political efforts. Very likely, Trump’s continued rejection of his defeat is some of all the above.

But in politics, and especially with this President, the simplest explanation for something is usually the best one. Whatever the other reasons are for his ongoing post-election temper tantrum, it couldn’t be more clear that Trump is also motivated by the simple psychological fact that he really, really hates being called a “loser.” It’s one of his favorite insults, and a label he would do anything to avoid having affixed to his own name. Just in the course of this election year, he has called Chuck Schumer, the Senate Minority Leader, “a totally overrated loser,” and George Conway, the conservative lawyer who became one of his sharpest critics, a “deranged loser of a husband” to his adviser Kellyanne Conway. He said that Cory Booker, Chris Cuomo, John Kasich, and John Kelly were losers, too. In September, The Atlantic reported that he had called American soldiers who died fighting overseas “suckers” and “losers.” When the Republican senator Mitt Romney has criticized Trump, the President has responded by reminding the former Republican Presidential nominee of his defeat in the 2012 election. “LOSER!” he tweeted, after one such episode, taunting Romney by attaching a video of his 2012 concession alongside Trump’s 2016 victory speech. Since November 3rd, however, the word has practically disappeared from his vocabulary.

“If I lost, I’d be a very gracious loser,” the President told a rally, in Georgia, on December 5th—more than a month after he did, in fact, lose. On Monday, the Electoral College met in all fifty state capitals to ratify that loss. Trump was not only not gracious; he continued to refuse to accept his defeat. A few weeks ago, in one of his few post-election comments to the media, a very testy Trump insisted that he would leave office if and when the Electoral College certified Biden’s victory. “Certainly, I will. Certainly, I will,” Trump said. “And you know that.” Now that the Electoral College has affirmed Biden’s win, however, Trump is no longer acknowledging that he will leave office. CNN even reported, the other day, that, in private, he has backed away from previous indications to his aides that he accepts his defeat.

Perhaps Trump believes that his continued rejection of the reality of his loss makes him appear to be a fighter. Perhaps he really has convinced himself that the outrageous claims he is making about an election conspiracy so vast that it involves millions of fraudulent votes, a dead Venezuelan dictator, and Republican officials in a half-dozen states are true. Many commentators—including me—have pointed with alarm to Trump’s success at convincing millions of Republican voters to doubt the legitimacy of Biden’s win, and the fact that two-thirds of the House Republican Conference last week signed onto the quickly dismissed Texas lawsuit to throw out the results in four key states—Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin—where Biden prevailed. If Trump’s goal was proving that the Party remains loyal to him, he has succeeded extraordinarily. Who could have imagined four years ago that a large part of the national G.O.P. leadership would be so devoted to Donald Trump that it would follow him down the path of outright rejection when the election did not go his way?

But there is another way of looking at what Trump has been doing since November 3rd, and it does not suggest a strategy of political genius—or, really, much of a strategy at all. In pushing back so insistently and filing so many baseless lawsuits, Trump has forced dozens of conservatives at every level of American society to attest to the integrity of the vote—and highlight Trump’s loss. Republican governors in states such as Arizona and Georgia have affirmed that he lost—not only their states but the election over all. Republican-appointed judges have affirmed that he lost. So have many Republican officials who played a role in certifying the results in the states that handed the Presidency to Biden. “Voters, not lawyers, choose the President,” Stephanos Bibas, a federal appeals-court judge appointed by Trump, wrote, in throwing out one of the Pennsylvania cases. Trump, he noted, can’t just tweet his way to victory: “Charges require specific allegations and then proof. We have neither here. Calling an election unfair does not make it so.” The Wisconsin Supreme Court, in a ruling by a conservative Republican justice, warned that Trump, in seeking to “disenfranchise every Wisconsin voter,” was testing the “faith in our system of free and fair elections.” The two cases that Trump sought to bring to the U.S. Supreme Court were so weak that the nine Justices declined even to hear arguments on their merits.

The President’s extraordinary challenge to the electoral system has forced even some of Trump’s staunchest loyalists here in Washington to finally push back and defend the integrity of the vote. Attorney General William Barr stated publicly that there was no evidence of widespread fraud sufficient enough to overturn the election results, and, after Trump became furious about that comment, announced his resignation, earlier this week. On Tuesday, in the wake of the Electoral College’s decision, even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell belatedly affirmed that Trump had lost, congratulated Biden, and urged Republican senators not to go along with further efforts to contest the result, because they risked forcing the Senate into a political loser of a vote. A few hard-core Trump supporters in the House are now pushing for a last stand on January 6th, when Congress must meet to receive the Electoral College results. But that effort, too, is doomed to fail, and could only result in McConnell’s Republicans having to vote against it in the Senate—and showcasing, once again, that Trump was decisively and convincingly defeated. “I don’t think it’s a good decision right now,” John Thune, the Republican senator from South Dakota, who is McConnell’s deputy, told reporters, on Thursday. “And I don’t think it’s good for the country.”

Is any of this really serving Trump well? I know we’ve got used to thinking of Trump as a genius in turning bad news on its head, in creating grievance out of setbacks and then using those grievances to further cement his hold over his Party. I’ve watched him run this play over and over again. I get it. But the alternate way of looking at his post-election behavior is that he is cementing his reputation as the sorest of sore losers. Not only that, but he is crying so long and loudly about the unfairness of his loss that he is forcing officials at every level of government, across the country, to take sides—against him. His frenetic efforts to deny his defeat have simply underscored it. Trump really is leaving office on January 20th, and he really will go out as an impeached and defeated President, forevermore listed in the history books alongside Herbert Hoover and Jimmy Carter and all the other one-termers he disdains. He is now, and will always be, a loser.

Doonesbury — Who was that masked man?

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Checking In

I’m glad the Senate passed the $2 trillion coronavirus emergency funding, and I look forward to getting my check from the government.  I’m glad that hospitals and emergency workers will get funding to buy ventilators and supplies, and I’m even glad that some corporations will get bail-outs because I’m a realist and I knew that there had to be some gimmes to make it happen.  The hard truth is that even at that stunning price tag, it’s going to last about three months before they’re going to have to do more.  But, as Scarlett O’Hara once noted, tomorrow is another day.

As for me, I’ve been sheltering at home.  I’m stocked up well on groceries, and I haven’t driven since Tuesday, saving on gas.  I’ve caught up on “Schitt’s Creek” (highly recommended), and the crossword puzzles are diverting.  I was cleaning up my computer files and came across a play I started writing in 2009. or at least that was the last time I worked on it.  It was nine pages, and I don’t remember why I stopped.  So yesterday morning I picked up where I left off, and by last night I had written another fifteen pages, and I hope to get to the point where I can write END OF PLAY by this weekend.

The new play takes place on a stretch of road in eastern New Mexico, so here’s a bit of relaxation therapy to help you take a moment and enjoy the beauty of the open sky and spaces.

How are you doing?

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

The Last Time I Saw Pecos

Eighteen years ago today I left Albuquerque to move to Miami. It was me, Sam, the Pontiac, and my philodendron. All the rest was on the moving van. We left at 6:30 p.m., made it to Pecos, Texas, by midnight, and spent the whole next day driving across Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, finally crossing the Florida border after midnight, August 2 (I had vowed I would not stop in either Mississippi or Alabama). We arrived in Miami at the home of Bob and Ken 48 hours after leaving Albuquerque. Sam’s gone, but I still have the Pontiac and the philodendron.

The afternoon of July 31, 2001, was the last time I saw Allen until 2013. It was also the inspiration for my play “Last Exit.”

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

One Of Our Fifty…

I’ve lived in New Mexico — twice, actually — so this story is nothing new to me or anyone who’s lived there, but I thought it was interesting that it has become a somewhat national story.

A New Mexico man applying for a marriage license in Washington, D.C., this month had his state driver’s license rejected as a form of identification because a clerk and her supervisor believed New Mexico was a foreign country.

Gavin Clarkson, a Las Cruces, N.M., resident, said he was at the District of Columbia Marriage Bureau on Nov. 20 applying for a license to wed his then-fiancée when their nuptial plans hit a brief snag. The clerk told him he would need an international passport on the apparent belief that he wasn’t a U.S. citizen.

“She thought New Mexico was a foreign country,” he said of the clerk as quoted by the Las Cruces Sun-News. “All the couples behind us waiting in line were laughing.”

Clarkson was a recent candidate for New Mexico secretary of state and is a member of the Choctaw Nation. He said he protested the clerk’s decision to her supervisor, who also failed to recognize New Mexico as a state.

“You know you are from flyover country when you are applying for a marriage license, give them your New Mexico driver’s license, and they come back and say ‘my supervisor says we cannot accept international driver’s licenses. Do you have a New Mexico passport?’ ” Clarkson tweeted.

This happens so often that New Mexico, the magazine put out by the state’s tourism office, has a regular feature, “One of Our 50 Is Missing,” regaling readers with tales of people in other places mistaking New Mexico for a foreign country.  As a matter of record, it’s the fifth-largest state in area and it’s been a state since 1912, coming into the union before Arizona.

Just to make sure the word gets out, the state’s license plates confirm that the Land of Enchantment is one of ours.

However, given the state of education — don’t they teach geography any more? — and the fear of Others put into the mind by the foolish and the weak in this country, I’m pretty sure that the magazine and the Missing 50 will have plenty of stories to tell for a long time.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Sunday Reading

It’s my birthday, so let’s lighten things up a little.

Are They Back? — Charles P. Pierce reports on strange goings-on out in New Mexico.

OK, this is pretty weird. From The Alamogordo Daily News:

The Sunspot Observatory is temporarily closed due to a security issue at the facility that’s located 17 miles south of Cloudcroft in the Sacramento Mountains Friday, an Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) spokeswoman Shari Lifson said.“The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy who manages the facility is addressing a security issue at this time,” Lifson said. “We have decided to vacate the facility at this time as precautionary measure. It was our decision to evacuate the facility.”

(Aside: how great is it that there are places in New Mexico called Sunspot and Cloudcroft? Rivendell must have been booked.)

The facility is the National Solar Observatory facility at Sacramento Peak that’s managed by AURA. Apache Point Observatory (APO) is currently in operation. APO was not evacuated. APO is about a mile away from Sunspot observatory. She said AURA does not have a comment about the type of security issue at this time. “I am actually not sure (when the facility was vacated) but it will stay vacated until further notice,” Lifson said. “It’s the people that vacated. At this time, it’s the facility that’s closed.”

Oh, OK.

She said she cannot comment on whether the FBI was involved in the situation. Otero County Sheriff Benny House said the Otero County Sheriff’s Office was asked to standby.

Wait. What?

“The FBI is refusing to tell us what’s going on,” House said. “We’ve got people up there (at Sunspot) that requested us to standby while they evacuate it. Nobody would really elaborate on any of the circumstances as to why. The FBI were up there. What their purpose was nobody will say.” He said he has a lot of unanswered question about what occurred at Sunspot. “But for the FBI to get involved that quick and be so secretive about it, there was a lot of stuff going on up there,” House said. “There was a Blackhawk helicopter, a bunch of people around antennas and work crews on towers but nobody would tell us anything.”

Sunspot, I would point out is only 134 miles from Roswell, as the alien gravity-powered spacecraft flies.

I’m just sayin’.

Love Me Tinder — Irving Ruan imagines legendary lovers meeting via social networking.

Romeo and Juliet

ROMEO: My lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand to smooth with a tender kiss . . .

JULIET: Um, I shalt not wanteth sexual congress.

ROMEO: Thus with a text I die!

Two days elapse.

ROMEO: Heyyy, I think I killed your cousin.

Gatsby and Daisy

GATSBY: I’m glad we finally matched. I’ve been stalking you from West Egg for five years.

DAISY: Jesus Christ.

GATSBY: I’ve missed you! And by the way, I’m very rich and look like Leonardo DiCaprio.

DAISY: James, I’m married.

GATSBY: Then why are you on Tinder?

DAISY: I’m bored. LOL.

Lancelot and Guinevere

GUINEVERE: Nice sword 😉

LANCELOT: Thanks! We probably shouldn’t be chatting—feels like betraying Arthur.

GUINEVERE: It’ll be our little secret 😉 Meet me for a drink tonight in Camelot’s dungeon?

LANCELOT: Can’t. I’m teaching a seminar on sword-juggling. Can you do Friday?

GUINEVERE: I’ll be out of town for my niece’s birthday.

LANCELOT: Scheduling in 512 A.D. suuucks.

Macbeth and Lady Macbeth

LADY MACBETH: Wanna Murder King Duncan and chill?

Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy

MR. DARCY: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife. Hi 😉

ELIZABETH: What the fuck.

MR. DARCY: Well, this is the first time that opening line didn’t work.

ELIZABETH: I could easily forgive your pride, if you had not mortified mine.

MR. DARCY: So . . . no sexual congress?

Dante and Beatrice

BEATRICE: Your profile says that you’re a writer who was exiled from Florence for twenty years—so, basically a travel blogger!

DANTE: Not really. I’m writing an allegorical comedy starring myself, Satan, and a tiny boat.

BEATRICE: So you’re a comedian!

DANTE: Not really.“The Divine Comedy” is just a working title. On a separate note, would you like a nude drawing I made of myself on papyrus?

Two days elapse.

DANTE: So this is Purgatory.

Catherine and Heathcliff

HEATHCLIFF: Less than a mile away, huh? 😉

CATHERINE: Hehe 😉 What’re you up to tonight?

HEATHCLIFF: Being emo. You?

CATHERINE: Same.

Doonesbury — Getting the message out.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Feed The Kids

So it’s come to this.

What is “lunch shaming?” It happens when a child can’t pay a school lunch bill.

In Alabama, a child short on funds was stamped on the arm with “I Need Lunch Money.” In some schools, children are forced to clean cafeteria tables in front of their peers to pay the debt. Other schools require cafeteria workers to take a child’s hot food and throw it in the trash if he doesn’t have the money to pay for it.

In what its supporters say is the first such legislation in the country, New Mexico has outlawed shaming children whose parents are behind on school lunch payments.

On Thursday, Gov. Susana Martinez signed the Hunger-Free Students’ Bill of Rights, which directs schools to work with parents to pay their debts or sign up for federal meal assistance and puts an end to practices meant to embarrass children. It applies to public, private and religious schools that receive federal subsidies for students’ breakfasts and lunches.

The law’s passage is a victory for anti-hunger activists, who have long been critical of lunch-shaming practices that single out children with insufficient funds on their electronic swipe cards or who lack the necessary cash. These practices can include making the child wear a wrist band or requiring the child to perform chores in exchange for a meal.

In some cases, cafeteria workers have been ordered to throw away the hot lunches of children who owed money, giving them alternatives like sandwiches, milk and fruit.

“People on both sides of the aisle were genuinely horrified that schools were allowed to throw out children’s food or make them work to pay off debt,” said Jennifer Ramo, executive director of New Mexico Appleseed, an anti-poverty group that spearheaded the law. “It sounds like some scene from ‘Little Orphan Annie,’ but it happens every day.”

I don’t understand why the state of New Mexico had to pass a law that banned lunch-shaming — have we gotten to the stage where life is a Charles Dickens novel? — but I’m glad they did.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Trifecta

Donald Trump went for the trifecta at a rally in New Mexico on Tuesday.

During a 65-minute speech in Albuquerque last night, Donald Trump laced into New Mexico Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. He blamed her for the state’s economic problems, for the growing number of food stamp recipients and for not doing more to reject Syrian refugees. The billionaire even mused about moving to the state to run for governor himself.

“She’s got to do a better job,” Trump told thousands of supporters, per Jenna Johnson. “She’s not doing the job. We’ve got to get her moving. Come on: Let’s go, governor.”

So in one long gasping, shuddering breath, he attacked a woman who’s a Latina — the first (and only) Latina governor in the state and the country — and a fellow Republican.

I’m pretty sure that if Gov. Martinez was gay or had a disability he’d have worked that into the rant, too.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Short Takes

U.S. general says attack on hospital in Kunduz was requested by Afghanistan.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact has been agreed to.

NATO warned Russia to keep its jets bombing Syria out of Turkish airspace.

New Mexico Secretary of State Dianna Duran racked up another charge in her corruption scandal.

American Airlines flight makes an emergency landing after the pilot dies.

The Miami Dolphins fired head coach Joe Philbin.  Like that will help.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Short Takes

Massive traffic jams in Austria as border guards check for smuggled immigrants.

Turkey is launching air strikes against ISIS.

Texas authorities have arrested and charged a suspect in the killing of a sheriff’s deputy in Houston.

Dianna Duran, New Mexico Secretary of State, is charged with multiple counts of embezzlement and fraud.

Tropical Update: Hurricane Fred pounded the Cape Verde Islands, but doesn’t look like it’s going to head in our direction.

The Tigers had the night off.

Rabbit, rabbit, rabbit.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

If You Can’t Take The Heat

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez went ballistic after Mother Jones published a cover story on her, her aspirations, and the people who work with her, including some rather colorful language about opponents.

In an email blast to supporters, Martinez attacked the messenger, calling Mother Jones a “tabloid” and “one of the most radically liberal publications in the country.” Martinez accused Mother Jones of “peddling false, personal attacks against me, using stolen audiotapes from our debate prep sessions four years ago.” She claimed that “this shows just how far the Left is willing to go to stop reforms in New Mexico.” In the email, Martinez does admit to calling 2010 Democratic opponent Diane Denish “the B-word,” adding, “I admit it—I’ve had to fund the cuss jar a few times in my life.” Her email ends with a plea for a campaign contribution.

Her email neglects to address several parts of the story, such as the reports that Martinez’s top adviser, Jay McCleskey, wrote “I HATE THAT FUCKING BITCH!” about a fellow GOP pol, and that a former Martinez adviser mocked New Mexico political icon Ben Luján for his English-speaking abilities, saying he “sounds like a retard.”

Martinez’s campaign has also created a petition describing Mother Jones as “the far-left’s premier magazine” and calls the story “one of the most desperate and despicable attacks to date.” The Martinez campaign’s message goes on to ask supporters to sign a petition ostensibly to “show the D.C. liberal media that their desperate attacks have no place in our state.”

Mother Jones should send Ms. Martinez candy and a dozen roses for the bump in subscriptions and on-line traffic.  It never would have happened without her help.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Monday, March 31, 2014

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Marriage Equality Legal in New Mexico

Big news from the Land of Enchantment:

New Mexico Pride Pin 08-22-13The New Mexico Supreme Court has cleared the way for gay marriage in the state.

In a unanimous decision on Thursday, the state’s highest court declared state marriage laws unconstitutional and upheld New Mexico county clerks’ decisions to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The state Supreme Court will now define “civil marriage” as the voluntary union of two persons to the exclusion of all others. In addition, all rights, protections and responsibilities that result from the marital relationship shall apply equally to both same-gender and opposite-gender married couples.

Writing for the court, Justice Edward Chavez said that “barring individuals from marrying and depriving them of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of civil marriage solely because of their sexual orientation violates the Equal Protection Clause under Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico Constitution. We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law.”

In August, the Doña Ana County clerk announced he would issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because there was nothing in the state’s constitution preventing it. Seven county clerks followed suit; some because of an Albuquerque district court judge’s ruling that it is unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

The state’s highest court agreed to hear the case after several county clerks asked the justices to clarify the law.

New Mexico is now one of 17 states where same-sex marriage is legal.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Short Takes

President Obama weighs “limited” strikes against Syrian forces.

Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant to close.

Former JP Morgan employee arrested in $6 billion loss.

Family of Israel Hernandez is suing Miami Beach Police in the taser death of their son.

Lots of same-sex couples are getting licenses and getting married in New Mexico.

That explains it: The New York Times website was hacked today for a few hours.

The Tigers lost to the A’s 6-3 in a game shortened by rain.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Land of Enchantment

New Mexico Pride Pin 08-22-13New Mexico does not have a law or constitutional amendment on the books about marriage equality.  It is, I think, the only state in the union that is basically silent on the issue.  When I lived there from 1995 to 2001, my partner and I just assumed that it was against the law, so we never even considered getting married.

But some people have, and they’re doing it, and the state’s attorney general isn’t going to try to stop them.

Attorney General Gary King said even though he has cautioned county clerks not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples until a court rules on the matter, he will not intervene in Las Cruces, where the Doña Ana County clerk began issuing licenses Wednesday to gay couples.

King, in a telephone interview, noted that he has filed briefs in a pending lawsuit, expressing the belief that the state’s prohibition against same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. It would be hard to argue the other way in an action against Doña Ana County Clerk Lynn Ellins, he said.

Who might have standing in court to file an action against the clerk, besides the state attorney general?

King said legislators or other Doña Ana officials — the county attorney or county manager — might have such standing.

The Associated Press reported that same-sex couples began arriving at the Clerk’s Office in Las Cruces on Wednesday, soon after learning of the announcement by Ellins.

The wire service quoted Char Ullman, 51, saying, “I was in a coffee shop grading dissertations when my partner sent me an email saying, ‘You want to get married?’ I went home to brush my teeth and headed to the courthouse.”

King said it’s possible that other county clerks around the state might follow suit. (Santa Fe County Clerk Geraldine Salazar told the AP on Wednesday, however, that she would wait until the issue is settled in court.) There could be a situation in which same-sex couples in counties that don’t allow same-sex marriage would travel to counties to get married.

“It leaves the state in an uncertain position,” King said. “I think there’s still some risk that there will be some people who think they are married when they aren’t.”

Although the state supreme court could rule against them, it would be interesting to see if they look at the law, the happy couples, and decide “oh, what the hell,” let them be.  That’s how they roll in New Mexico.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Friday, April 22, 2011

Short Takes

Get in, get out — Japanese who lived near the damaged nuclear plant have just a few hours to visit their homes to get belongings.

The U.S. will deploy armed Predator drones in Libya.

Demonstrations continue in Syria.

Gary Johnson, the former governor of New Mexico, is getting into the act.

President Obama will appoint a task force to look into high gas prices.

The Florida legislature debates higher education spending.

The Tigers had the night off.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Land of Enchantment – With Pictures

Brian and I went up to Santa Fe today to visit my aunt and uncle. We took the back road — NM 14, known as the Turquoise Trail — through the east side of the Sandia Mountains and past the little towns of Madrid (pronounced “MAD-rid”) and Cerrillos, then up to the foothills south of Santa Fe. We came back along I-25, and then back to Albuquerque. Here are some of the sights.

Heading north on NM 14.

More below the fold.

One of the stores in Madrid.

A view of the foothills.

Teta Peak, a landmark west of Santa Fe.

Tomorrow I’ll head back east to Independence, Kansas, and the start of the William Inge Festival. See you there.