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Columns

  • Battle for champion gaffer

    SANTA FE — A week seldom passes that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney doesnít get hit by the media for making another gaffe. But he has company. President Barack Obama makes his share too.
    Recently, President Obama may have made his biggest gaffe of all. In an effort to convince the wealthy to carry their share of the tax load or maybe even a bit more, as with George Buffett, he seemed to begin straying off message.
    Obama said, “If you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own.” He wasn’t quite in trouble at that point. Everyone had a great teacher or supportive parents or friends or business associates. There’s no harm in acknowledging them.
    But then the president stepped all the way in the hole. “If you’ve got a business — you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.”
        He said it and he can never walk that one back far enough. The president, who many Americans already thought is anti-business, has just uttered words that never will be forgotten.  
     Republicans didn’t wait to see if the media might pick it up and go with it. This was too valuable not to begin exploiting immediately ñ and forever.

  • The answer is not 'what'

    By its very definition, teaching is a strange occupation.
    My job is to constantly ask questions to which I already know the answers.
    Perhaps that’s why I have this bad habit of always asking questions outside of work when I already know the answers.
    For example, a guy did a U-turn on Central Ave. and I found myself yelling, “Hey buddy, are you an idiot or what?” You see, there I go again!  Of course, I already knew the answer to that question.
    And it wasn’t “What.”
    Walking out of a restaurant, I am engulfed by a cloud of cigarette smoke from the people sitting eight feet away from the door.
    New Mexico Statute 24-16-13 mandates a smoke-free area that extends a “reasonable distance” from the entrance of a restaurant.
    Clearly, these people believe that blowing smoke in your face is reasonable. My question to them is, “Are you an inconsiderate pile of horse output (from a horse that ate a bar of soap), or what?”
    And yet another example: people who speed down Central Ave. I can only assume that they see “52” instead of “25” on the speed limit signs. You have to wonder, are they actually trying to cause an accident, or did their mother simply drop them on their heads when they were young?

  • Is your dog's food the problem?

    Many dog owners work hard to make their pets comfortable and happy, so it can be frustrating when a dog is constantly itching and distressed.
    Dr. Adam Patterson, clinical assistant professor and Chief of Dermatology at the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences Small Animal Clinic, explained how some perpetually itchy dogs may suffer from food allergies.
    “Food allergies in dogs present themselves quite differently than food allergies in humans,” Patterson said. “For instance a person who is allergic to shellfish may experience throat swelling and a possibly critical or fatal reaction, but in dogs the allergy is expressed through the skin and seen most often as itch.”
    Dogs who itch, lick, chew, rub, bite, and scratch themselves year round, typically around the face, ears, armpits, groin, paws and around the anus may be showing signs of a food allergy.
    Since itchy flare factors have an additive effect, it is important to eliminate other possible causes of itching. First, it is necessary to eliminate any possibility that parasites, particularly fleas, are causing the dog to itch. Likewise, the veterinarian should also look for signs of skin infections (bacteria or yeast).
    Secondly, the veterinarian will also determine if environmental factors are causing itchy skin.

  • Let's hate success now

    Absent any traditional success on any front over the past three-plus years, President Obama has decided to make success a bad word. Not just a bad word, success is becoming tantamount to a pathological disorder.
    By “traditional success,” of course, I’m using such archaic standards as creating jobs, generating opportunity, developing strong foreign presence, maintaining a strong national defense, cutting the deficit, reducing our national debt. Things that apparently went out of fashion with the phrase: “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”
    Those were Obama’s words, proclaimed, curiously enough, five days prior to Nov. 4, 2008.  And now, with our economy still teetering on the edge of collapse, unemployment still over 8 percent (and that isn’t “real” unemployment, which some estimates place in the surreal upper teens), gasoline prices at record levels and still climbing, and our deficit and debt still rising, Obama has decided to make class warfare the center piece of his campaign.

  • No hope for redistricting

    SANTA FE — So the cost of redistricting the U.S. House, state legislature and the state Public Regulation Commission this year was over $8 million. Some of us had predicted $10 million so we got off easy considering what a litigious, polarized, uncooperative, out-to-get-each-other society we have these days.
    The call has gone out for an independent redistricting commission appointed by the public. Forgeddaboutit. That would take politicians of good will. It ain’t gonna happen.
    Yes, some states have independent redistricting commissions. Those are states with initiative and referendum provisions written into their constitutions.
    The story is that Congress wouldn’t allow initiative or referendum in New Mexico’s constitution because it didn’t want laws “made in the street.” They trusted only the governor and Legislature. Too bad they can’t see how that’s been working out.
    Congress did trust Arizonians to make laws in the street.  But they trusted Arizonians. They were whiter, more southern, less Catholic and spoke mainly English. So Arizonians passed an independent redistricting commission back in their good government days a decade or so ago.

  • Secret thoughts from the jury

    Forty people shuffle into the courtroom. They take assigned seats, which correspond to their names on a diagram. They look serious and a little intimidated.
    Voir dire begins – the question-and-answer process by which the biases and beliefs of these potential jurors will be disclosed, and a jury of 12 members and two alternates will be selected to decide the fate of another human being.
    The judge introduces himself, the attorneys, and the defendant. This is a criminal trial, he says. The defendant is accused of possession of heroin.
    The defendant is a small, middle-aged man whose blank facial expression does not change. He looks slightly shabby in nondescript slacks and a flannel shirt.  
    The judge asks questions first.  Do any of you know the defendant, he says, or me, or any of the attorneys, or the District Attorney for whom the prosecuting attorneys work?
     I’m the first to raise a hand. I know someone with the District Attorney, not well. Well enough to influence my decision?
    No, Your Honor. The judge asks about the jurors’ schedules and potential time conflicts.
    The prosecutor asks questions. How do you feel about the drug laws? Are they too strict or not strict enough? Marijuana should be legalized, someone says. Another says the drug laws should be stricter.

  • Depreciation prevents expense spikes

    The Internal Revenue Service stipulates that businesses must capitalize expenditures for big-ticket items and recover that cost over several years – a practice known as depreciation – to avoid dramatic changes in the financial statements of a business from one year to the next. Knowing when to depreciate and when to claim a special one-time expense deduction is critical for entrepreneurs.
    Capital expenditures offer businesses an opportunity to expand operations — to modernize and grow — by buying the equipment and capital they need and deducting these costs on their income tax return. This fuels economic expansion.
    Depreciation makes sense when a business makes a major capital investment that offers long-term benefits, but is purchased upfront or over the short-term. Typical candidates for depreciation include vehicles, buildings, furniture, equipment, and computer systems. Rather than frighten investors by recording the whole impact of a purchase in one financial period, where it can create a loss, a company can spread it out over many financial periods effectively matching the deduction to the period of benefit. It matters not how the loan is repaid; what matters is how long the investment is expected to provide an economic benefit.

  • Just say no to Medicaid expansion

    It’s free money! That’s the line used by actor Jimmy Fallon in a series of credit card commercials. It is also the line increasingly being used by advocates of Medicaid expansion here in New Mexico and across the nation.
    After all, who but a bunch of anti-social, uncaring, right wing conservatives could possibly turn down “free” money?

  • Let's get specific on future

    In a recent Guest View Point for the Los Alamos Monitor, my friend and fellow past councilor, Robert Gibson, made an effective case for why we should direct future diversified economic development in Los Alamos toward activities and businesses that maintain our exciting, unique and world-class community. He is exactly right on the WHY, but the ongoing challenge we have is - HOW are we going to do it? I would propose that Los Alamos County use two guiding principles for a specific path forward: 1) Build on our strengths; and 2) Create the businesses and jobs first, then let the urban village follow. Let’s consider one specific way that this concept can be readily implemented in our town.

  • Photos tell world of stories

    “A picture is worth a thousand words” tells more about human nature than you would guess. Some link the popular saying to Confucius (born 551 BC). Others trace its origin to ad man Fred Barnard in 1921. Check it out.
     Our nature also chooses the meanings of today’s photographs of Earth from space. The pair of photos confirms for each reader that his or her world view is far wiser than the views that others express.
    The sunlit photograph of Earth was taken from Apollo 17 shortly after launch on December 7, 1972. It displays what we are given to work with: Earth, its bright water and air hanging together in the black void. We also have the abilities to take such a photo.