Monday, March 21, 2011

Baja Arizona

An article in the Wall Street Journal describes Pima County as "a liberal southern swatch of Arizona that borders Mexico and includes Tucson". The article says the Left there is considering how to secede from Arizona and become a separate state (provisionally named Baja Arizona) because of the "growing chasm between the state's Republican leaders and its frustrated liberal minority."

I grew up there, on the north side of Tucson, from birth through high school. About the time I graduated, the city may have been best known as the home of singer Linda Ronstadt. daughter of the family that owned Ronstadt Hardware. (The Ronstadts are one of the families that have lived there longer than my own.) So let me give you my take on the county and these events.

Tucson and Pima County were (and are) certainly more liberal than parts of Phoenix and its Maricopa County. Back then, we elected Stewart Udall and his brother Morris to the House of Representatives (their sons Tom and Mark are now senators from New Mexico and Colorado), and one of the area's representatives there is now the Lefty extremist Raul Grijalva. Still, Pima County is only liberal by Arizona standards, not by comparison with the liberals of either the East or West Coast. Gabrielle Giffords, not Grijalva, is more characteristic of the county.

Translation: The Lefties considering secession from Arizona are a minority within Pima County, as well as being a minority within Arizona. In my considered opinion, there is no possibility they could win any local or statewide secession election, though much of the state might be glad to get rid of them.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

How Our Government Works Now

We need to add at least two new chapters to our schools' civics books (for those schools that still teach the subject). One should be an overview of how our three branches of government work now.

The second would describe the governing process the Obama Administration has made into an art form: If you can't get Congress to do what you want, just have your regulators make new regulations. (See? Sometimes the Legislative Branch doesn't make the laws.)

Yes, these are new innovations in government, brought to us by our own Dear Leader.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Some Evidence Democrats Always Said Doesn't Exist

Democratic Party politicians in New Mexico (and elsewhere) oppose voter ID requirements. They claim such a requirement would have no effect on vote fraud because, they say, there's no evidence vote fraud has occurred.

I disagree, and noted several pieces of evidence pointing to vote fraud four years ago — including cases in which New Mexico's then-U.S. Attorney David Iglesias failed to take action even when he apparently had "an iron-clad case and a confession (a failure to act that was apparently at least partly responsible for his termination)."

Now there is new evidence. New Mexico's new governor Susana Martinez (R) has done what former governor Bill Richardson (D) refused to do. She has had the state Motor Vehicle Division turn over to the Secretary of State (who handles voter records) information on non-citizens to whom driver's licenses have been issued. As the matching process was beginning, the Secretary of State's office had already found 117 of those individuals showing up on the voter registration rolls, and had found a number of cases in which those individuals had actually voted. Obviously, to legally register to vote here, and to vote here, one must be a citizen and resident of the State of New Mexico and a resident of the locality for which they register and where they vote.

The Democrats also claim — with no evidence — that voter ID requirements would disenfranchise some voters. They fail to explain why their claims have proven false where such requirements have been put in place — including in New Mexico's largest city, Albuquerque.

For myself, I repeat: Anyone who opposes a serious voter identification requirement is objectively promoting vote fraud. That's why a large majority of New Mexico voters (apparently 80%) favor a voter ID law, but that doesn't matter since that 80% obviously doesn't include the Democrats in the state legislature.

UPDATE: Someone else is noticing. Meanwhile, right on cue, the ACLU is already attacking the Secretary of State.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Destruction in Japan

First the earthquake.

Then the tsunami it produced.

And the destruction produced by both. Mother Nature shows mankind how strong she is — and how weak man is by comparison. She just so easily wiped out whole towns, created huge amounts of destruction, and made a cruise ship and bullet train simply disappear. We don't know yet how many people have been lost or how great the damage is, but the pictures we have seen are simply horrific!

Our prayers for the Japanese people affected, and to those around the Pacific also hit by the tsunami from Japan.

Monday, March 7, 2011

What's New In Contact Lenses

The Daily Mail (UK) led off its story this way:

It used to be that contact lenses were worn only instead of glasses. Now a new generation of lenses has transformed them into valuable health tools that can help not only with serious eye problems, but everything from migraines to diabetes.
The story particularly notes the development by esearchers at the University of Western Ontario, in Canada, of contact lenses that use nanoparticles to change the contact lenses' color to alert their wearer to changes in their blood sugar levels. The researchers note that the glucose level in tears follows that in the blood by about 30 minutes.

Other researchers have been working along similar lines. A research group in Bath, England, at a company called Smart Holograms is using a research grant to develop contact lenses with embedded holograms — read by a small hand-held device — to alert users. They believe this approach will prove to be more sensitive than the color change systems.

Whatever technology proves itself, and proves commercially viable, needs to become available as soon as possible. It will be a big help to a lot of people. By providing "early warning", it is sure to substantially reduce the incidence of more serious (and costly) medical events and crises.

These developments may be the most important since the diabetes breakthroughs reported in an earlier version of this blog.

The Daily Mail also reported that tinted contact lenses may be able to help dyslexics overcome their problems. The issue there, for about one in three dyslexics, is that perceived contrasts between some color pairs (notably black and white) make things like reading more difficult. Contrast issues more commonly show up with other color pairs.

A Marker for Government Growth

It's a small fact, but it's shocking.

The Department of Health and Human Services under HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and President Barack Obama is bigger today — even adjusting for inflation — than the entire U.S. government under President Lyndon Johnson.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Is the Unemployment Rate Better or Worse?

The federal government says the unemployment rate has fallen to 8.9%. They reached this result primarily by redefining a lot of unemployed folks as no longer in the labor force.

Meanwhile, Gallup says the unemployment rate has risen to 10.3%.

Whose figures should you believe? To answer that, consider this: Who stands to benefit by "cooking the books"?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Caltech Sports Success

The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) is not known for its sports teams. There's a reason for that. Just as an example, Caltech's basketball team amassed a record 310 game conference losing streak.

I think Caltech is in the wrong conference. Their basketball team has beaten some other teams. (Their record is 5-20 overall this year.) They just haven't beaten anybody in their own conference since a one-point win over La Verne College in January of 1985.

Until now. On Tuesday a week ago, Caltech's team got another one-point win over the team from Occidental College to break that long conference losing streak.

Congratulations to Caltech. And congratulations to their basketball team.

(I wonder who has the longest conference losing streak now.)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Someone is Lying in NM

Harrison "Jack" Schmitt has been an astronaut (on the last moon landing, in 1972) and a US Senator from New Mexico (1977-1983). He has been through multiple invasive background investigations. So it didn't make sense that he would refuse a background check in connection with his nomination by Governor Susana Martinez to lead New Mexico's Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources Department.

But that's exactly what state Rules Committee Chair Senator Linda Lopez (D-Albuquerque) claimed in a press release and in an Albuquerque Journal guest column. She was quoted in a news report as saying "that Schmitt had refused to allow the extensive background review that is part of the Senate's confirmation process." Further "Lopez said Thursday that Schmitt had met with her three days earlier and told her that he wouldn't submit to the review."

Senator Lopez was lying.

Governor Martinez noted, as quoted in the same news article, that Schmitt "was willing to allow a private investigator access to his personal information, but he was not willing to waive that investigator's liability for any improper actions or use of that information." In other words, Schmitt was forced to withdraw his nomination because he was unwilling to waive the liability of the Senator's investigator for improper and/or illegal actions against him.

After weeks of vilification and innuendo, Schmitt finally responded with an Albuquerque Journal guest column of his own. In it, he said

Chairperson of the New Mexico Senate Rules Committee, Democrat Linda Lopez, repeatedly has made erroneous statements about the reason for my withdrawal as secretary-designate for New Mexico's Energy Department (Lopez's Feb. 9 press release and Feb. 20 Albuquerque Journal op-ed).

The simple truth is that I agreed to background investigations by both the Rules Committee and the New Mexico Department of Public Safety.

I only said "no" to releasing Ms. Lopez's handpicked private eyes from liability for the misuse of personal and family information. I did not say "no" to the committee having full access to that information.

The issue was not whether background checks should be conducted.

Of course they should be.

The issue between Lopez and Gov. Susana Martinez and me was whether private eyes would be held accountable for actions unrelated to the confirmation process.

Schmitt also noted that
Lopez knows that for over five decades of professional life, I have been and continue to be subject to extensive, in-depth background checks, including polygraphs, by multiple federal agencies.
There is consistency, on both sides, throughout this series of events. Senator Lopez says former Senator Schmitt refused the background check. Governor Martinez and former Senator Schmitt both say the issue is his refusal to pre-emptively release Senator Lopez' investigator from liability for improper and/or illegal actions.

The statements by Governor Susana Martinez and former Senator Jack Schmitt make logical sense. The statements by Senator Linda Lopez do not.

The background investigation clearly wasn't the issue. The issue, apparently, is that Senator Lopez has an undisclosed agenda, which may or may not be political. And that's why she's lying about Jack Schmitt.