Today's Opinions

  • Good judgment is a principle for dealing with real issues

    By John Bartlit

    “That’s why our administration has moved aggressively to secure our borders more by hiring a record number of new border guards, by deporting twice as many criminal aliens as ever before, by cracking down on illegal hiring, by barring welfare benefits to illegal aliens. ... We are a nation of immigrants. But we are also a nation of laws.” – President Bill Clinton, in the State of the Union Address, 1995. 

    The words sound harsh, yet the vision of immigration is clearer than any in today’s news. 

    Take another case. From 1939 through November 1941, President Franklin Roosevelt toiled to prepare the U.S. for war against the spread of Hitlerism. FDR found ways to support Churchill’s lonely efforts in England with war equipment. The president’s reasons to be ready for war were strongly resisted by the opposition, which was led by Republicans who argued we should stay out of such affairs. 

    The stance each party took then was far from where the parties stand today. How the parties debate threats from abroad has reversed over time. 

    How about concern for the air and water? 

  • N.M’s new energy bill not good for state

    By Victoria Gonzales
    State Director, Consumer Energy Alliance

    Despite having the largest budget surplus in state history, lower unemployment and surging job growth, several lawmakers continue to hurt the industry most responsible for this string of feel-good headlines: energy.

    The latest example is a new law that will force publicly regulated utilities to get 80% of their electricity from renewables like wind and solar by 2040 and 100% from carbon-free resources by 2045. We all support energy diversity, including wind and solar, but New Mexico currently gets half its electricity from coal and a third from natural gas.

    Quickly cutting off these abundant, affordable resources for more expensive alternatives would drastically increase prices for seniors, households — especially those in rural areas — and families in lower-income brackets who spend far more of their take-home pay on energy expenses like electricity and gasoline than those in other income brackets.

    It would also reverse much of the economic growth the State has seen.

  • 24-hour news adds to today’s political climate


    A while ago the Monitor published a column by John Bartlit that began with a note about the Constitutional Congress in Philadelphia. He pointed out that the men agreed to lock the doors to the conference room during their meetings so that their discussions, often heated, would stay inside the room. As I recall, at the end of the Congress, it’s said that someone asked Benjamin Franklin, “Mr. Franklin, what do we have?” He replied, “a Republic, if you can keep it!” Today, such a closed meeting is very difficult to conduct, especially with our 24/7 news.

    I grew up in the era of Edward R. Murrow and the Murrow Boys; people like Bill Shirer, Eric Sevareid, Douglas Edwards and Howard K. Smith. As I’m born in 1942, I was too young to hear his famous broadcasts from London during the Blitz. However, I well remember his program “See It Now,” and his broadcasts regarding the McCarthy Hearings. As an aside, I consider “Good Night and Good Luck,” one of George Clooney’s best films, if not the best. This was also when the radio and TV networks considered the news-room a loss-leader. That meant journalists could report the news without considering whether it had profit attached.

  • Medical bills shouldn’t be a surprise

    Congress has been hearing about surprise medical bills, and members of both parties appear ready and willing to act. What a surprise!

    Surprise medical bills happen when you receive medical treatment, often in an emergency room from a doctor who’s not in your insurance network, or you’re taken to a hospital that’s not in your plan. Too often these bills leave people reeling a second time from an outlandish bill for a small amount of care.

    At least three bipartisan measures are before Congress, and the state has also addressed the problem.

    In Congress, members have taken different approaches, but the common thread is protecting the patient. One measure includes elective procedures, providers other than doctors, and lab and x-ray services. A second measure would require healthcare facilities to provide 24-hour notice to patients seeking elective treatment if they are about to see an out-of-network provider. A third would limit patients’ financial responsibilities to their own plan’s rates.

    That’s the easy part.

    The hard part is sorting out who gets paid what, which sets up a battle among insurers, doctors, hospitals, and their lobbyists. Two of the bills rely on the local market to determine payments, and one would use arbitration.

  • Crowds overwhelm national parks, deferred maintenance shows incompetence

    We went to Zion National Park on a Tuesday a few weeks ago. We won’t be going back.

    The problem wasn’t the park itself—it was magnificent—nor was there trouble with the detail-level operations. The crowds were the problem, the numbers of people.

    Zion had 4.5 million visits during 2017, according to a U. S. Park Service news release. That puts Zion at third for park visits. The Great Smoky Mountains National Park led with 11.4 million, followed by the Grand Canyon at 6.3 million.

    Zion is handy, in southwest Utah, 165 miles from Las Vegas. The Zion problem is that nearly all those visitors go into a small space—the Virgin River Canyon.

    In presenting numbers, the Park Service does something amazing. Figures for deferred maintenance are listed along with visitation figures. The listing looks like a passive-aggressive way to inspire repair money. Such things are usually avoided.

    The deferral for Zion is $65.3 million. Almost trivial compared to $215.4 million for Great Smoky and $329.4 million at the Grand Canyon. I already had the general sense that the park system was a mess.

  • Time to deal with the elephant in the room

    Tom Wright

    On May 13, the City Council of Deming, New Mexico, unanimously declared a state of emergency over the influx of migrant families being released in Deming, population of about 14,000.  The county manager said about 150 a day are being released by the Border Patrol. The Albuquerque Journal reports the city-owned airport hanger is being used as an intake and screening area. Aaron Serna, Deming City Administrator said, “This shouldn’t be our problem, but it is.”

    Santa Fe’s progressive Democrat Mayor Allen Webber said he was in agreement with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham that Santa Fe would just send money to other places where the situation could be best dealt with.

    Is it that the governor and mayor who both support social liberalism don’t want the immigrants in Santa Fe, New Mexico’s capital? I guess we really are the “City Different” but, we should be the city of Holy Faith and welcome these immigrants. Or is it that the governor and mayor had rather Las Cruces, Deming and the other cities around the state rely on agencies to house and care for these families so they will not be in their/our back yard?

  • Campaign email raises questions

    I received an interesting campaign email from Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver Friday morning that made me question a few things.

    The email starts out: “Right-wing extremists in the legislature are attacking me for upholding the safety of New Mexicans and stopping their attempts to reduce background checks,” she says, before pleading for money to ward off these apparent attacks.

    Democrat Toulouse Oliver is running against Rep. Ben Ray Lujan in the primary, hoping to capture the party’s nomination for the seat that Sen. Tom Udall is leaving at the end of next year.

    Up until this email, I had agreed with Toulouse Oliver that she should remain as secretary of state while she campaigned for the Senate. I did not see any obvious conflicts, as long as she remained professional and followed the rules.

    However, this email calls into question whether Toulouse Oliver has denied the Republican Leader Rep. Jim Townsend’s referendum petition to overturn the gun background check law three times for petty reasons as a way to leverage her powers of office to raise campaign funds.

    She also recently rejected an additional seven referendum petitions for various other technical reasons. The petitions were filed in April by conservative-leaning groups in eastern New Mexico.

  • Cool heads needed in U.S., China talks

    The Japan Times published this editorial May 9 on the importance of calm demeanors when it comes to U.S.-China relations.

    The intensifying confrontation between the United States and China significantly amplifies uncertainties in the future of the global economy. Their trade conflict should be solved by thoroughly and repeatedly having cool-headed talks.

    U.S. President Donald Trump announced that, effective Friday, punitive tariffs on $200 billion (about 22 trillion) worth of Chinese goods will be raised from 10 percent to 25 percent.

    Trump seemingly aims to extract further concessions from China at ministerial-level trade negotiations between the two countries that will start Thursday.

    Optimistic views had recently been spreading in markets that an agreement would be reached soon during bilateral negotiations. The sudden announcement of tariff hikes reversed these views. Investor sentiment has quickly deteriorated and has caused a spontaneous, worldwide decline in stock values.

    In the United States, the Dow Jones Industrial Average temporarily dropped nearly 650 points on Tuesday. On Wednesday in Tokyo, the Nikkei Stock Average also dove 321 points.