Sunday, December 8, 2019

Is God Indeed Using Donald Trump?

The view that God chose Donald Trump to do what he's doing has more to it than meets the superficial eye.

I first heard this from a local Christian friend. My response cited some of Trump's bad conduct. She said God often chose unusual folks: that Winston Churchill was a drunk, and Lincoln was bad news in some way, so Trump fit right in. I scoffed; but is God using Trump? And for what?

The answer may depend on your view of the United States. I love my country, its natural beauty, and the freedom and liberty espoused by those who founded it (despite their prejudices). Having motorcycled through all 48 continental states, discovering obscure wonders and oddities, I love its various eccentricities. 

However, history contains a great deal of bad conduct by our government (and us).
While preaching freedom, we participated in denying freedom to Iran, Honduras, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Guatemala, Chile, and dozens of other nations. We tried to deny Cubans and Vietnamese freedom, but they proved too much for us.

Among nations, ours is the kind of rich, fat, selfish fellow that Jesus said would have a tough time reaching Heaven. Camel through the eye of a needle?

We have embraced the role of the richest, most powerful nation using and abusing less powerful ones, and during the past half-century have obscenely increased economic inequality within our country. Jesus preached peace, tolerance, and charity. More and more, our government stands for greed, intolerance, and every kind of friction.

While God told us to be good stewards of the Earth, we cannot muster even the inadequate sacrifices saner nations are making to minimize the more destructive effects of climate-change. Under Trump, we are loosening our limited regulation of industries that dispense poisons into our air, water, and food.

While God discouraged us from killing our fellow humans, and the U.S. flag symbolized peace for much of our nation's life, during the past half-century we have initiated or escalated or covertly backed many wars, probably more than has that loathsome oligarchy called Russia. 

We have more to answer for than will fit into this column.

So God, with his usual brilliance (and a keen sense of humor) has chosen Trump as our means to destroy ourselves, or, with luck, humble ourselves and learn something. Perhaps humility? One lesson is that discontented people will vote for a con man. If it no longer feels like our china shop, we'll invite in the bull. 

Trump already has most of the world laughing at him, and us.

He and his greedy pals are destroying a government we took centuries to build. We've recently seen what he's doing to the State Department, which matters more than most of us realize. He's undermining our military strength by improperly interfering with military discipline to suit his political aims. He's destroying us economically by his policies (feeding the short-term greed of the already wealthy) and by his war on science, which will lessen our ability to lead the world around the next technological bend. He's eviscerated the Environmental Protection Agency and weakened our judiciary. 

Of course, despite his dangerous bumbling, Trump is nothing new. He's enacting the long-time Republican agenda. He's merely a grotesque exaggeration of what too many of our politicians are, regardless of party. He just doesn't bother to cover his tracks or mask his odor.

Well done, God!

[The above column appeared this morning, Sunday, 8 December 2019, in the Las Cruces Sun-News, as well as on the newspaper's website and KRWG's website.  A spoken version will air during the week both on KRWG and on KTAL, 101.5 FM ( and is available at KRWG's website.

[           7 December 1941 Thinking of Lauren Bruner
        dawn. death. confusion.
        this day's tentacles still reach
        into all of us   ]

[ I have no idea whether or not there is a god or whether or not He is making use of Donald Trump; but if he is, the evidence so far surely suggests he means Trump's occupancy of the Casa Blanca to be a hard lesson for us.  This is, after all, the God who turned Lot's wife into a pillar of salt and okayed a devastating flood in Noah's time. ]

>this Wednesday (11Dec) our guests on "Speak Up, Las Cruces!" on KTAL, 101.5 FM, will be:
8-9 a.m.: Dave DuBois, State Climatologist; 9-10: founders and volunteers from Cruces Creatives to discuss the many things folks can do or learn there; feel free to call in to the show on (575) 526 5825
>Monday (9 Dec) at 1 p.m. at City Hall the City Council will have a work session on issues including:NM State Bank; Alliance for Military Support; and the 2018 GO Bonds propositions; with regard to the Public Bank, Elaine Sullivan from Allliance for Local Economic Prosperity will present.  (See also recent column on the New Mexico State Bank idea
>Tuesday (10Dec) at 9 a.m. the County Commission will meet at 9 a.m. in the Commission Chambers at 845 Motel Blvd., with agenda items including support of legislative priorities and a resolution urging that New Mexico stop taxing social security benefits

Sunday, December 1, 2019

"The Devil's Mistress" Comes Home

When I arrived here in August 1969, I immediately became friends with three very creative gentlemen: playwright and actor Mark Medoff, poet Keith Wilson, and filmmaker Orville (“Buddy”) Wanzer. Sadly, all three have left us.

Keith, portrayed his native New Mexico in magical poetry. He and his wife Heloise were the center of a warm and lively poetry scene here for decades. His Collected Poetry is a fine poetic exploration of New Mexico. 

Mark was a talented writer and charismatic actor, who continued to grow as a playwright and a person. We recently saw Mark's last play, Time and Chance. A week later, we heard his delightful granddaughter, Grace Marks, sing and play guitar. I'd have liked to congratulate Mark on both; but he died in April.

Buddy taught film, and for decades (with John Hadsell) ran the Film Society, an oasis where folks could see great international films. Today, we're so used to Netflix,TCM, Hulu and YouTube it's hard to imagine how isolated we were then. There weren't even videos to rent. 

In 1965, Bud made a feature, The Devil's Mistress, which was distributed nationally. Back then, all feature films in the U.S. came from Hollywood. Newspapers around the nation ran the AP story on the professor making a film in the desert. 
Don't be put off by the poster!

Shooting with local actors and crew, he did a hell of a job. It wasn't a great film, but it was a fairly original concept. Making such a film, working essentially alone, was almost heroic. 

It was a big deal here. Local actors, local investors, and a packed premiere at the Rio Grande. Fast-talking distributors ripped off the locals so badly that they got no money back. In 1969, Bud didn't even have a copy of the film. (One morning, leafing through film-rental catalogues, I spotted The Devil's Mistress. Bud rented it and illegally copied it.)

Bud was a fun, informal, and iconoclastic teacher. People still tell me how greatly he affected their lives. Some of his film-making students had film careers in Kuwait or India, some became network sports personnel, and others independent film-makers and photographers. Some also taught. 

In 1984, when Bud planned to retire, we bought some land in Derry. Working alone, he built a little house, using only materials he took there in his Datsun. He lived there 29 years, enjoying his solitude and creativity. People still read, and discuss on-line, his enviro-fantasy novel The Elfin Brood; and whenever I see stained-glass for sale it looks like child's play compared to Bud's work. He also had to build or repair most everything. He fell off the roof at an age when doctors would have forbade him to be up there. Eventually, he moved back to town, and later into Good Sam's.

Native New Mexican Julia Louisa Smith teaches film at CMI. When she learned of Bud's work, she started a documentary by interviewing him a few times before he died in February, and has continued the project. She calls The Devil's Mistress (which never was a conventional western!) an “acid western.” She showed it in Shanghai. She's intrigued that he created a local community of film-makers, way before CMI. (It's interesting to see a piece of my youth through her educated eye.)

Film Las Cruces and the LC Film Festival will show The Devil's Mistress at 7 p.m. this Thursday at the Rio Grande Theater. A reception, at nearby 575, will follow.

[The above column appeared this morning, Sunday, 1 December 2019, in the Las Cruces Sun-News, as well as on the newspaper's website and on KRWG's website.  A spoken version is available on KRWG's website and will air during the week both on KRWG and on KTAL, 101.5 FM (]

[You can get tickets for the film showing at the door, or in advance through Eventbrite , which you can also reach through the Rio Grande Theater's website [] by clicking on "The Devil's Mistress then on "Tickets." ]

[At the showing, Julia will talk a bit about the film and show a bit of her documentary-in-progress.  Ted Gregory, who was one of the film's stars and probably worked on it as a cinematographer too, may also speak briefly.]

[btw, if you google the film (and the IMDb listing is minimal and a bit inaccurate), two more films since 1965 have used that inviting title.  In one, the lady is Joseph Goebbels's mistress just before WWII, and the other is set against the background of the English Civil War.  Down at the bottom, though, is "Devil's Mistress 1965.  So in Advanced Search, add 1965 or Wanzer as additional required words.]

Sunday, November 24, 2019

When Both the Facts and the Law Are Against You, Pound the Table!

Republican efforts to defend Donald Trump from possible impeachment are making less and less sense. 

Trump held up Congressional-mandated aid to Ukraine to bully Ukrainian President Zelensky into opening an investigation into Hunter Biden, son of the 2020 Democratic Presidential candidate Trump most fears. The delay, amidst rumors of a whistleblower's formal complaint, sparked questions by senators, making it too hot for Trump and his minions to carry on.

To distract us, Republicans scream that the Whistleblower must testify; but s/he stated s/he lacked first-hand knowledge; and Trump's “transcript” and sworn witnesses with more firsthand knowledge are confirming what s/he alleged. 

Trump repeats, “there was no quid pro quo” like a mantra; but Gordon Sondland, who gave Trump a boatload of campaign money and got appointed Ambassador to the E.U., says “There was a quid pro quo.” Sondland sure ain't part of “the Deep State” – or a Democratic pawn. 

Currently, the main argument for Trump is that since the aid was eventually released and Zelensky didn't investigate Biden, Trump couldn't have been attempting extortion! But a misfiring gun doesn't clear you of attempted murder. Or say a man told a woman he'd publish nude photos of her unless she slept with him – then her big brother took the photos from the man. Would we buy a defense argument that there'd been no criminal extortion attempt because it failed? 

Republicans add that Zelensky denies he was pressured. What alternate universe do they live in where Ukraine's President, dependent on us to survive Russian aggression, would voluntarily embarrass Trump? Ukraine needs us, Trump leads us. You do the math.

More foolish yet is arguing Trump was deeply concerned about Ukrainian corruption. Our Government had already certified sufficient Ukrainian progress on corruption to warrant the aid. Trump cared about Biden and about trying to portray Ukraine as interfering in the 2016 election. Sondland, under oath, verified the nature of Trump's concern. Meanwhile Trump vilified and fired the U.S. Ambassador who had pushed Ukraine to clean things up. 

Trump, constantly tweets comments on the hearings he insists he's not watching. Harmful tweets. Tweets trying (unsuccessfully) to intimidate witnesses oughtta be impeachable acts. Retweeting the debunked Russian allegation that Ukraine “interfered” with our election can only help Russia's efforts to minimize Ukrainian support here. 

Trump's conduct (subordinating Ukraine aid to personal interests) has likely emboldened Russia. When Zelensky meets with Putin shortly, Trump's apparent affection for Putin, and his minimal concern about Ukraine's security, won't strengthen Zelensky's hand.

The hearings, featuring some very admirable witnesses, have established the facts. If Trump were not forbidding his people to testify, we'd have more and clearer facts. (It's not likely that the folks Trump is keeping away from Congress could exonerate him.) Steve Bannon, the Trump supporter who mocked the Trump-Sondland efforts as “a drug deal,” won't be fun for Trump to watch.

Unfortunately, too few folks are watching to increase pressure on Republican Senators to do right. Too few of us are capable of changing our minds based on facts. Sadly, too many root for Blue or Red as if they were team colors. I'm an Aggie, you're a Lobo.

The facts are clear. They are not pretty. The question Republicans should focus on is whether or not Trump's misconduct warrants the drastic step of impeachment. I think so, but we do not overturn elections lightly. That's the robust debate we ought to be having.

[The above column appeared this morning, Sunday, 24 November 2019, in the Las Cruces Sun-News, as well as on the newspaper' website and KRWG's website.  A spoken version is on the latter, and also will air during the week on KRWG and KTAL, 101.5 FM, Las Cruces Community Radio.]

[As Frank Rich wrote of Sondland's confession of a quid pro quo, "If the Republicans cared about the facts or the gravity of the crime being investigated, the answer would be apocalyptically damaging. But they don’t care, and they will continue to defend Trump even if those testifying under oath include an eyewitness to a criminal conspiracy hatched in the White House like Sondland, or patriots like Fiona Hill, Alexander Vindman, and Marie Yovanovitch, who not only provided irrefutable evidence of the crime but detailed the existential threat that crime poses to America."
He added that "Had Trump pulled out that (so far) proverbial gun and shot someone on Fifth Avenue, Republicans would trot out the exact same defense they have this week: The shot was fired at 2 a.m. and there were no eyewitnesses. [Witnesses] who claimed to have heard the shot had actually heard a car backfiring. The closed-circuit video capturing the incident is . . . a hoax concocted by the same Fake News outlets that manufactured the Access Hollywood video. . . . Election records show that the cops who arrived on the scene were registered Democrats and therefore part of a deep-state conspiracy to frame the president for a crime he didn’t commit but that the Democrats did. . . .  And even if Trump [fatally gunned down a young woman], the argument advanced by Trump’s lawyer last month would apply: 'The person who serves as president, while in office, enjoys absolute immunity from criminal process of any kind.' Next case!"]

[There's still every likelihood that the matter will be decided by the voters in November 2020, after the Democrat-controlled House impeaches and the Republican-controlled Senate declines to convict.  But in theory --or if, as doesn't yet appear to be the case, public sentiment in favor of impeachment grows -- the "real" question is, "Does what Mr. Trump did here warrant impeachment."  Of course, the Mueller Report demonstrated numerous acts of obstruction of justice, one of the impeachment charges prepared against Richard Nixon. (Trump is also obstructing justice with regard to the Ukraine issue.)   
How does Trump's "high crime" stack up against burglary? Well, burglary has the advantage of being a criminal act with which we have all been familiar since childhood, and one which we may personally fear we could be victims of.  But I'd argue that Trump's "crime" is "higher" or more severe.  Rather than going over the legal line in partisan politics (which Nixon did with the burglary and Trump with his extortion and abuse of power), Trump's act had real-world international consequences that arguably weakened U.S. security  Congress mandated aid to help Ukraine survive the Russian aggression; not only was Ukraine a fledgling democracy, it was important in world politics -- in that, as many have said, Russia without Ukraine is just another country, but with Ukraine it becomes again an empire.  Trump was quite willing to endanger Ukrainian support to embarrass Joe Biden and push a lame conspiracy theory that Ukraine was attacking our electoral process in 2016.
That would seem to matter in a sane world.  It's hard to imagine FDR undermining some country holding out against the Nazis, just to embarrass Wendell Willkie; but the question is at least reasonable to ask, whether it warrants removal from office.  Nixon's conduct clearly warranted removal. (Of course, the real difference between Nioxon and Trump is the times they lived in.  The 1960's attacked corruption and government abuses of power, and by the early 1970's we were in a period when we expected and demanded more than the usual amount of honesty in our politicians; but one would hardly say that of the current citizenry.)  Clinton's misconduct clearly did not, and his impeachment purely political in nature.  Trump's would seem to, but in the considered judgment of his fellow Republicans in the Senate, it will not. It's a shame, since it seems to regularize extreme and even open misconduct and abuse of power.  On the other hand, impeachment should be a rarely-used weapon of last resort.]

[Of course, a second difference between Nixon and Trump is that the former had at least some knowledge of law and understanding of what was right, even if he chose to do wrong to strengthen his power.  Running through much of the defense of Trump is the idea that he may not have understood that obstruction of justice was a crime, or that he is merely being what he appeared to be when we elected him, whereas Nixon, the sneak, tried to appear a choirboy while playing legal and illegal "dirty tricks."  Trump was obviously who he is, and won election, so what's the big deal?]

Sunday, November 17, 2019

A Quiet Community Sunday

Our hens are taking a break, so for Sunday brunch we bicycle to Nessa's. It's a peaceful ride on quiet streets. We pass some small but appealing houses that have seen better days. I always wish I could save them. They're like stray cats I want to feed.

Nessa's is small and welcoming – and nearly empty, because everyone's out back, where musicians are jamming and drinking coffee. Inside, at the table next to ours, two state legislators are discussing energy. After ordering, we briefly discuss with them New Mexico's overly restrictive cottage-industry laws. Then they get back to working, and we start eating. 

Nessa's daughter turned two not long ago, so we've brought along a children's book written by our friend Yosef Lapid. Retiring from his NMSU professorial duties (government), he revived an old dream of writing children's books. After ten successful books starring an adventurous and mischievous snowman named Paul, he's written this one about Yara, a young girl who wants to save the Amazonian rainforest she lives in.  (see

Leaving, we pause out back. Musicians creating, others drinking coffee and listening. As we unlock our bicycles, enjoying the music, we resolve to come back some Sunday when we've time to linger and listen.

Today, we have an appointment to pick apples. “Apple Days,” at Burke's U-Pick Mesilla Valley Apples have ended, but LuAnne Burke has agreed to let us pick the season's last apples and gather free fallen apples for the hens. We want the fresh apples for snacking, and baking in the solar oven;
but it's also a delightful outing – particularly for Foxy, a dog (Red Heeler mix) who is living with us while her person deals with medical issues. Foxy loves to run, and discovers nearby fields where she can really open up her canine throttle. Does she dream she's herding Australian cattle, as her ancestors did?

We also like talking with LuAnne about the great pies she makes and about her family's decades of farming here. Once the valley had many apple orchards. This is the last one of any size, and LuAnne is the last of her family farming here. We want to see her family legacy survive. And thrive.
Picking apples is a diverting task. Fallen apples in various states of decay cover whole areas like a slippery rug. Few apples are left on the trees, mostly high up. Some are rotten, or look fine until closer inspection reveals that a bird has absconded with a chunk. Others are beautiful. We use a fruit-picker – a very long pole with a small basket at one end. The orchard envelops us. We can't even see the mountains. Wandering from tree to tree, I lose my sense of direction. 

At dusk we water trees in Oddfellows Cemetery, having signed up for this task as part of the Las Cruces tree steward program. After nearly two years, “our” trees are almost ready to fend for themselves. We marvel at their growth.

No single part of the day is earth-shaking. It's just another quiet Sunday in a modest city in the Southwest. But it's home. It's our community. Community, which folks once took for granted, is increasingly rare. We're not strangers to nature here, or to each other. Most of us care about this land that provides for hens and cafes, music and friendship, writing and dreams, farms and foxes, and silence. 

Works for me!

[The above column appeared this morning, Sunday, 17 November 2019, in the Las Cruces Sun-News, as well as on the newspaper's website and KRWG's website.  A spoken version is also available on the latter, and will air during the week on KRWG and on KTAL, 101.5 FM (

[Community.  Between my leaving Las Cruces (August 1977) and my moving back here with my wife (2010-11), I thought often about the concept of what I called the village.  I met many wonderful people, and formed close friendships in San Francisco, Boston, Taiwan, and Peru; I thoroughly enjoyed living in the San Francisco Bay Area; but I realized that in large cities we knew people in a very limited way, even many friends. 
I realized that in Las Cruces I knew people what I called horizontally: that is, the same person I might play chess or tennis with, or see at the pool or an art show, I might also next week act in a play with or hear speaking at city council meetings.  In cities, mostly, you know only one or two dimensions of someone's life.  You work intensely with A and B, and maybe play some tennis over at A's house on weekends, but you don't spontaneously get together of an evening.  Whereas in Las Cruces anyone lives less than 15 minutes from anyone else, if I lived in Oakland, A in Lafayette, and B in Palo Alto, it might take us each an hour -- and an hour's drive home -- to meet in some common place. In Oakland and San Franciso, I had friends I played racquetball or basketball with, and friends I saw films or went to bookstores with, and friends who lived near me, but they were rarely the same friends.  Further, most of my team at work were indifferent to poetry, foreign films, and other interests of mine, and some mocked my progressive political views.
Here, I also knew people vertically, across generations.  Depending on people's ages, I knew not only the person and partner, but kids and grandkids, or parents and grandparents, and frequently siblings.  Knowing a friend's parents or kids deepens your understanding of that friend, and enriches the friendship.  In the Bay Area, my knowledge of most friends' families was sketchy at best, and usually non-existent.
We moved here for a lot of reasons; but those included both the many specific people we loved here and the abstract desire for the richer friendships of "the village."  Community. I'd found that, mostly by accident, in this county, and I wanted to recover a bit of it.]

[I guess for a variety of reasons Nessa's sometimes make me reflect on such things. (see Bicycling to the Gratitude Cafe)  It's delightful that so many really appealing coffeehouses and small eateries have sprung up, of late.  Nessa's, the Main Street Mercado Cafe, Beck's, and Cafecito Divino are all close to downtown -- and we still love Milagro!]

[Another aspect of community was yesterday afternoon's reading at the Las Cruces Museum of Nature and Science.  Eric Magrane, relatively new here, organized a project, celebrating the Chihuahuan Desert and specifically our Organ Mountains/Desert Peaks National Monument, in which a variety of poets and writers each wrote a poem (or brief prose piece) about, to, or from a specific species of plant or animal native to the Monument.  A bunch of us read yesterday -- and one enjoyable aspect of the thing was that many poets and writers came out of their caves or small groups and met one another for the first time.  At any rate, there's an Introduction to the project here  -- or, Eric has also written an "entry poem" ( made up of lines from the various poems; so another neat way of reading the overall work is to start with that poem, follow any link, read one of the poems, then follow a link in that poem to another . . . and another . . .]

[Meanwhile, a last reminder: support local community radio (KTAL, 101.5 FM, -- and have fun doing it at the Rio Grande Theater this evening 5-9 p.m., with some neat food from 5-6, some fun music from 6 to 9, and a chance to tell us "Que Tal" show-hosts what we're doing wrong.  If you can't make the event, please consider donating -- or becoming a member -- on the website.]


Sunday, November 10, 2019

KTAL - Las Cruces Community Radio - Is Worth a Listen, and Fun to Support

“¿Qué tal?” [What's up?] That casual greeting inspired the official call-letters “KTAL” for our Las Cruces community radio station.

Despite limited funds, KTAL-LP is a pretty neat radio station – due solely to volunteers. July 2019 marked two full years on the air. Before that, a small but dedicated group worked more than two years to get the station on the air. 
Las Cruces needed a community radio station, even though KRWG is an excellent public radio station of which I’m a member. I love the classical and jazz music and the NPR national news, and KRWG's dedication to covering local news despite limited budget, staff and available air time. 
KTAL plays an important role supplementing public and commercial radio. As newspapers shrink and local commercial stations abandon local talk, KTAL helps this community talk to itself. That’ll be even more true in the future, as newspapers disappear and right-wing national corporations buy up local radio stations.
Kari Bachman

Kari Bachman’s Thursday morning show, “Just Community,” is a great example of what only community radio can do. She interviews folks who have little say in our local politics: low-income folks, folks without homes, former convicts, people with disabilities, and other interesting fellow citizens. Her guests, often invisible to our leaders, have voices – and some have much to say. 
Wednesday mornings, Walt Rubel and I talk with mostly local guests about politics, climate-change, books, films, water, education, Alzheimer’s, ideas, international problems, economics, the arts, life-coaching, and alternative therapies. We try to arrange for folks who disagree to talk face-to-face on air. Walt’s new “Eye on Government” show (Friday mornings) covers local news and government in detail. Tuesday
mornings, Nan Rubin discusses our outer space and Las Cruces, then Ambassador Delano Lewis talks with noteworthy national figures such as Madeleine Albright. Monday mornings Randy Harris and Keith Whelply also host thought-provoking conversations about how we think; Fridays at 10, Lisa Lucca talks with callers about living the lives they want to live; and every other Friday at 12:30, Lynn Moorer interviews local authors. 
Delano Lewis (R)

Nan Rubin
KTAL has local music/variety shows too numerous to name here. They’re diverse and well-done – and wonderfully home-grown. 
KTAL has achieved all this on an absurdly small budget, without even a paid manager or sponsorship/underwriting salesperson. Volunteers host, produce, and archive all the shows – and download and organize the shows the station acquires from other sources.

Shows air on 101.5 FM, can be streamed at and are stored on the Archives page on that same website. Check it out – and while there, please consider donating and/or becoming a member. At that website folks can also review the on-air schedule, volunteer, and propose shows – and buy tickets for the Roadrunner Revue.

The Roadrunner Revue, Sunday, 17 November, 5-9 p.m., at the Rio Grande Theater, will be a fundraiser, AND just plain fun. Musical artists performing will including KTAL's own Doug Adamz and Teresa Tudury, plus C.W. Ayon, and Gene Keller. We're fortunate that Doug, who grew up in El Paso, recently returned to Las Cruces with his wife, and lured Teresa here too. Their performances are a treat. Let's celebrate what KTAL has accomplished. 
As we watch what's happening around the nation (and globe), we need more of us, community coming together, to make good. We need the Mesilla Valley Co+Op and KTAL, because they are OURS. Join in the fun November 17th and support our future.

[The above column appeared Sunday, 10 November, in the Las Cruces Sun-News, and on the newspaper's website.   ]

[As mentioned, you can get tickets at or Eventbrite. I also want to apologize for the fact that space didn't permit listing all locally-produced KTAL's shows.  That list appears below.  ]

[Feel free to call (575) 526-KTAL {5825} with questions or comments. We also have a facebook page.  With some shows, Dean Matson posts information there, the day before the show, regarding who the guests will be and what the discussion will concern.  We welcome comments, suggestions, AND CRITICISM.  You can also call in to some of the live shows, including, among others, "Speak Up, Las Cruces!" "Think Again," and "Take on Faith."]

This is current, but always changing.  At website, click on any program to learn when it airs.
This is NOT CURRENT! I'll try to replace this with a more current schedule shortly.

Doug Adamz

Teresa Tudury

Sunday, November 3, 2019

Voting Tuesday in Doña Ana County

There are some local election races many folks don't know much about.

The Doña Ana Soil and Water Conservation District (“DASWCD”) has been a rancher-dominated board, largely out of step with the county's views. When most people favored creating the Monument, DASWCD unanimously wrote President Obama opposing it. Fortunately, DASWCD is changing, and now includes both environmentalists and ranchers. 

Ranchers bring invaluable knowledge of the land, but represent only one interest. A conservative state commission annually appoints two of the seven board-members, most always ranchers. This election, three seats are in play. Everyone in the District can vote in all three races. 

Kurt Anderson challenges Board Chair Jerry Schickedanz. Both are good men. Both are retired NMSU professors. Anderson has become expert on water, and sits on a local water consumer association and the LRG Regional Water Planning Steering Committee. Schickedanz is expert in range management, and brings useful knowledge that somewhat duplicates that of ranchers. 
Anderson appears more wholly aware of the need to fight climate-change, and more fully focused on conservation.

Fernando Clemente challenges incumbent David Martinez. Clemente is a wildlife biologist who works with public and private landowners to foster responsible land stewardship. He's also a sportsman. He's also on the Wildlife Federation board. Martinez is part of the DASWCD old guard. 
Chris Cardenas challenges recent appointee Josh Smith are running. This race is a closer call. Both are lawyers. Smith has a ranching background. Cardenas owns a small pecan orchard. Smith seems more in tune with environmental concerns than other board-members. Cardenas is a committed conservationist who supports urban gardens and community projects that both educate and provide land stewardship opportunities. 
Anderson, Clemente, and Cardenas are smart and resourceful conservationists who'll focus on helping the DASWCD do more of the environmental protection work it should be doing. 

We'll also elect a new Las Cruces Presiding Municipal Judge. Judge Joy Goldbaum, after two years as the second municipal judge, wants to preside over significant improvements. Muni Court hears minor crimes, violations of city ordinances. With defendants who can't pay their fines, the court hasn't been fully utilizing community service opportunities with local non-profits. When people fail to show up and get socked with additional penalties they can't pay, jailing them wastes our money and screws up lives. Goldbaum has been trying to change that. Her opponent, former Magistrate Judge Richard Jacquez, is also a fine candidate who seems to favor the same improvements. I'd love to see Judge Goldbaum as Presiding Judge and Judge Jacquez appointed as second municipal judge. A good team.

Regarding the LCPS Board, I support Ed Frank and Teresa Tenofrio. I've been particularly impressed by Frank's handling of some recent tough situations, responding to attacks with candor and blunt speaking. 

Kasandra Gandara has been an able and energetic city councilor, who's shown she can fulfill all the duties of a city councilor. Her challenger has rightly advocated better accessibility and strict compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. No one on the council disagrees. The city should fully comply. 

Johana Bencomo has my vote in District 4, with Antoinette Reyes is a close second. I wish we could combine the best of both. 

Tessa Abeyta Stuve (District 2) is another topnotch candidate. Philip Van Veen is a solid businessman. Each does much for our community and would be an able councilor. I'd likely vote for Tessa, but Philip would diversify the council.

Please vote!

[The above column appeared this morning, Sunday, 3 November, 2019, in the Las Cruces Sun-News, as well as on the newspaper's website and [presently] on KRWG's website.  A spoken version will air during the week on KRWG  and is also available at the KRWG website.  (I expressed my views on the Las Cruces mayoral election last week]

[I have space here to clarify one point: I'm definitely not against ranchers, or against their participation on the DASWCD.  Stephen Wilmeth and Dudley Williams are men who know and love the land, not merely whatever profits they make from it.  Each has impressed me at times, although certainly I'm appalled by their national political views, as expressed in numerous DASWCD resolutions.  (They're the two recently-reappointed non-elected members of the board.)  Neither fits the stereotype some folks have in mind regarding ranchers.  
I know that they feel their way of life, and their livelihood, are under attack and that they are in an embattled minority.  They know so much about the land, and do so much with it (including some good, I think) that I'd not want to see the soil and water conservation district not have ranchers on it.
Yeah, I understand the counter-arguments: that meat is an unnecessarily destructive food to bring to the table, and that  they get to use public land cheaply; but they're an important segment of our community here, and at least some of them are not as thoughtless about that land as some environmentalists assume.  What I have opposed is three things: focusing too wholly on needs of ranchers and farmers, when their charge under the statute is quite broader than that, and even includes preservation of wildlife; using the publicly-elected board to espouse sometimes far-out political views and saying or suggesting the people of this county share those views; and (formerly) having a voting system that didn't accord with the U.S. Constitution.)  I think the DASWCD is changing for the better, as ranchers and environmentalists work together.]

[Regarding these and other races, it strikes me that (for me, at least), it's harder to write about local races than national ones because you know the people.   You care about them.  Sometimes  you like people you don't agree with about much.]

[I did vote Saturday.  Yesterday.  At Corbett Center, with no line whatsoever.  Early-voting is sure convenient.  After saying last week that I'd vote only for Ken Miyagashima as my first choice plus Greg Smith and Alex Fresquez second and third, I did add a fourth choice.  And had mixed feelings about others, because I do have preferences among them.

[I should note that you can hear our radio panels with pretty much all the candidates in all the races (well, mayoral candidate Isabella Solis and David Martinez of the DASWCD said they were coming and then just didn't show, without even calling) by going to and clicking on archives.  Speaking of community radio, you can also use that page to donate to KTAL, 101.5 FM, and/or buy a ticket to the Roadrunner Revue.  That's a big benefit for the station, 5-9 on November 17th at the Rio Grande Theater.

On November 17th, from 5 to 9 PM, The Roadrunner Revue will showcase the incredible talent connected to our community radio station, KTAL-LP! Enjoy great food during a reception that opens the evening while bidding on a wide variety of valuable goodies in our silent auction. Gracing the stage of our historic Rio Grande Theatre will be KTAL DJs, friends of the station and local luminaries.

Performers include:
CW Ayon
Chris Sanders
Doug Adamz
Gene Keller
Teresa Tudury
The Cosmic Troubadours

I hope you come out to support our volunteer-run public radio station -- and enjoy the event!  Though I know and like the musicians, I hope to spend most of my time out front talking to folks who want to ask questions about KTAL or make suggestions. 

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Voting for Mayor of Las Cruces

Voting in our mayoral election involves not only our preferences among the ten candidates but the new process of ranked-choice voting.

RCV, or instant run-off, lets a candidate reach the required fifty-percent-plus-one without wasting time or money on a runoff election. We vote for our preferred candidate by marking him/her as first choice; then there are circles to fill in for second, third, and even ninth choice. Sounds simple, but I've heard many misconceptions.

Indicating secondary choices is optional. If you vote for only one candidate, your vote counts. However, voting for secondary candidates cannot possibly hurt your top choice: no one even looks at your second choice unless your top choice has been eliminated. Each round of counting eliminates the last place candidate. Where a voter for that newly eliminated candidate has a next-choice marked, that next choice (if not already eliminated) gets another vote. 

Thus it's senseless to eschew secondary choices to protect your preferred candidate. Refusing to list secondary choices essentially says that if your candidate had chosen not to run, and the other nine were all running, you'd abstain. But it's your choice. One voter I know says Miyagishima is the only real candidate, and that she'll vote for him and be done with it. Others plan to rank their top nine. 

My approach is to (a) identify my top choice; (b) identify the people for whom I won't vote, for various reasons; then (c) determine my preferences among the candidates who aren't covered by (a) or (b). 

Ken Miyagishima is my choice. He's been a good mayor. He and the council have moved in some good directions; he has both experience and a willingness to listen and grow; and I'm not hearing allegations from his opponents of any big errors or even a hint of corruption. He cares about the city, has improved it, represents us well, and seems likely to continue on that course. 

Sadly, a majority of the ten candidates are people whom I wouldn't want as mayor and won't help by listing on my ballot. I like and respect several, while others sound good, but I'm unconvinced. Some I don't trust, for good reasons. One whom I consider a friend represents a small, extreme share of citizens and buys into some odd conspiracy theories. Several seem beholden to the wrong people, including one who says his campaign is being managed by a woman I recall worked for a Koch Brothers-related organization and favored the vicious, divisive, and dishonest city council recall effort a few years ago. Another is only 20, and would have had to articulate some special and compelling reason for us to ignore his inexperience. Although some of these people are capable folks, none matches Miyagishima; and most have some disqualifying factor. 

I'll mark Greg Smith as my second choice, although back when the council didn't follow the City Charter in dealing with the minimum wage initiative, I figured I'd never vote for him for anything. He's capable; he cares about the city; and as councilor he's been involved in good things the city has done, and took the lead on some.

My third choice is Alex Fresquez. He lacks the relevant experience some others have; but he's promising, and I'm aware of no major negatives.

That's my ballot, anyway. Whatever your preferences, please vote. (If you mark someone else first, please consider Ken as your second choice.)

It matters.

[The above column appeared this morning, Sunday, 27 October, 2019, in the Las Cruces Sun-News, as well as on the newspaper's website and [presently] on KRWG's website.  A spoken version will air during the week on KRWG and on KTAL (101.5 FM --, and is also available at the KRWG website.]

[Sorry not to give more detail concerning my opinions on the full list of candidates.  That's partly a space consideration, but I'm also not wanting to be unduly negative.  I appreciate the dedication of all who run.  And I should mention that we discussed local races, including this one, with the candidates on KTAL, and undecided voters can listen to those on the archives at]

[Next week I'll discuss several other local races, particularly the three Dona Ana Soil and Water Conservation District races, as many voters aren't following those.  The DASWCD is more important than most folks suppose, and this year's vote is part of an important change from a somewhat one-dimensional board (seven who saw their primary task as helping ranchers and farmers, and who also held somewhat right-wing general political views that didn't reflect their constituency) to a more varied and environmentally-conscious board.  I hope that board will continue to have a ranching presence, and am confident it will because two of the seven seats are appointed by the rather conservative New Mexico Soil and Water Conservation Commission.  Some of these ranchers bring important, first-hand, special knowledge of our county to the table.  However, they should not dominate the board, in my view.  Each race reflects strong differences of opinion, although that's a little less so in one of the races.]

 [I don't think I can post anything on 27 October without noting, with gratitude, that on that date in 1945, the folks in the picture below got married.  The marriage lasted until her death in 1994.]

 [Of course, a not entirely surprising result of that event was this:]

So if you don't like my columns, complain to these folks -- though I doubt they'll be much help to you.  (If you like these Sunday columns, thank these folks -- or think about them for a moment, or say a prayer for 'em or light a candle or something.)