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Today's Opinions

  • Brooks, Ryan seek civility, get slammed

    Local Democrats responded to Gov. Susana Martinez’s April 14 speech to a big Republican dinner in New Mexico with: “The policy priorities New Mexico has been suffering through the past five years under Governor Martinez are exactly in line with the reckless and racist priorities of Trump and other Republican candidates,” said Debra Haaland, Democratic Party chairwoman.
    While it’s tough to argue Donald Trump is anything other than reckless and racist, pasting that label on Martinez is hardly civil. Democrats note: Haaland’s comment is simply the first one I noticed to provide the contra-example for today’s consideration of political civility. Republicans say the same stupid stuff.
    Further, I consider the labeling an attack by one candidate on an opponent’s record as “negative campaigning” to be weak. Candidates must discuss the opponent’s record and ideas in order to create contrast. The question is how that record is discussed.
    Recently Paul Ryan and David Brooks provided meditations on political civility. Consideration is in order as we swing into our campaigns in New Mexico.
    In his Feb. 26 column in the New York Times, Brooks argued in favor of politics as the best way to accomplish things in our society, the alternative being authoritarianism.

  • Letters to the Editor 4-27-16

    Dannemann’s cost
    estimates not on track

    While as usual, Merilee Dannemann’s column shed useful light on the issue of having two engineers instead of one operating a train, she seems to have missed one concern and presented what appears to
    be a flawed calculation regarding cost.
    She states, “The cost of one more crewmember is trivial compared to the human and financial cost of
    a rail disaster.” While that is correct for one additional crewmember on one train, unfortunately, it is not the
    correct evaluation of the total cost of avoiding the single disaster. The full cost includes that of doubling the crew cost on all of the train operations that do not produce a
    disaster. The moral question is not calculable, of course, but the economic cost and value depends on the ratio
    of train operations that end disastrously to those that do not. Actual accident statistics are required to determine whether the cost of crew doubling is reasonable or
    excessive.

  • We need two in the cab for safety

    In May 2015, an Amtrak passenger train derailed outside Philadelphia, killing eight people and injuring more than 200. The cause is still a mystery. The train was going too fast around a curve, but, according to recent news reports, federal investigators have not figured out why.
    Another accident occurred outside Philadelphia on April 3 of this year, killing two people and injuring more than 30.
    Two Amtrak routes run through New Mexico. The Southwest Chief runs between Los Angeles and Chicago, with stops in Raton, Las Vegas, Lamy (outside Santa Fe), Albuquerque and Gallup. The Sunset Limited runs between Los Angeles and New Orleans, stopping in Deming and Lordsburg.  
    The state is crossed by several freight routes. Freight trains can carry just about anything, including the most hazardous chemicals, with long lines of container cars moving faster than 100 miles an hour.
    Once in a while, a train derails with disastrous consequences. In 2013, a freight train carrying petroleum derailed in Quebec, leading to a fire that left 47 people dead.  
    So you might think it would be dangerous to allow a train to be operated by just one person, the engineer alone in the cab.
    That’s what I think, and I’m not alone. There’s even a Facebook page called Spouses and Families Against One Man Crews.  

  • Get involved in local politics to make a difference

    BY ROBYN SCHULTZ
    Chair, Democratic Party of Los Alamos County

    Guest Columnist

  • What’s the deal with a $15 minimum wage?

    BY DR. TRACY MILLER
    Center for Visions and Values

  • WWII glider pilots braved primitive training conditions

    New Mexico’s air space has blessed us with three Air Force bases, but it didn’t just happen. Civic leaders pitched their communities as the nation was gearing up for World War II, and for a time the state was dotted with airfields.
    Fort Sumner snagged an installation that became Fort Sumner Army Airfield. This one trained glider pilots.
    Glider pilots?
    This had to be one of the Army Air Force’s more unusual programs. The boxcar-like WACO CG-4A gliders could carry 15 men – a pilot, co-pilot, and 13 heavily armed troops called “glider riders.” It could also carry a Jeep, an anti-tank gun or medical supplies and food. On release, the glider coasted down and made something like a controlled crash landing. The pilots, trained as commandos, then became infantry troops. The Brits had similar aircraft, and they all saw service in the D Day landing.
    “The center of glider training was Eastern New Mexico and West Texas,” said John McCullough, of Lubbock, during the New Mexico Historical Society conference last weekend in Farmington.

  • Letters to the Editor 4-17-16

    Democratic Party
    machine trying to
    pre-select president

    The term “Political Machine” evolved largely to describe iron-fisted control of the Democratic Party in New York City and Chicago in previous centuries. Now, a new Democratic Political Machine has appeared, and it encompasses the entire United States.
    Led by Party Chair Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, the Machine is doing everything it can to pre-select the Democratic nominee for president.  Its bias toward Hillary Clinton is blatant. Representative Shultz has even introduced a bill that would seriously hamper Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Consumer Finance Protection Bureau. Senator Warren is an outspoken supporter of much of Bernie Sanders’ platform.
    While seeming to champion the interests of individuals, the party’s acceptance of corporate money through Super-Pacs has made it cautious when venturing into areas where new laws and regulations may be imposed on those very donors.

  • In early days, Bankhead Highway was a first

    “If any town in the United States needs roads worse than us, it has my pity,” a citizen told his county commissioners. “Farmers,” said the local paper, “have been wedged between two sand hills long enough.”
    These were the first rumblings of the Good Roads movement in New Mexico. In 1915, farmers on the East Side threatened to take their produce to markets in Texas, where roads were better, if the Roosevelt County Commission didn’t do something.  
    The next time you get in your car, remind yourself that a century ago the nation’s roads were little more than dirt tracks and trails with no signs or bridges. In New Mexico, land owners fenced across roads, and drifting sand was a bigger hindrance than fences.
    New Mexico joined the national Good Roads movement, which produced a network of highways, such as they were. We know Route 66 best, but a few years earlier and farther south was the Bankhead Highway, one of the first transcontinental highways.
    It began in 1916 with the Bankhead Highway Association, whose namesake, U. S. Sen. John H. Bankhead, of Alabama, was a leader of the Good Roads movement. That year, Congress passed the Federal Aid Road Act of 1916 over the objections of citizens like Henry Ford, who didn’t think roads were a good use of taxpayer money.