Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Three Bucks A Gallon And Headed North; NM Senators Under Gun On Gas Prices, Plus: Udall On New Orleans; Why Is He Alone? And: Planes In The News
New Mexico's two U.S. Senators will try to get ahead of the curve today by holding a hearing in D.C. as national outrage mounts over the skyrocketing cost of gasoline, now well over three bucks a gallon and climbing. The outrage is more palpable because of the "energy bill" that Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman crafted and sold as an eventual solution to the nation's energy woes. The problem is the fine print, and people are not reading it. The senators said the bill would do nothing to bring down high gas prices in the short run, but that's what many folks think an energy bill should do, thus the heat is on the duo. They went as far as appearing with the Prez in Albuquerque to watch him sign the measure. But that's now history as the disaster in New Orleans combines with out of control pump prices to deliver a perfect storm to Washington lawmakers who are being told by those suffering at the pumps just what an energy bill should be.
Politically, Dem Senator Bingaman was set to score points for his re-elect next year by working with Republican Domenici to get an energy bill, but with national energy policy in tatters that plan appears to be for naught, at least if gas prices stay anywhere near today's levels.
TELL IT LIKE IT IS
The problem with our politicians today is that they are seemingly unable to say how they really feel on even the most profound events. Remember Barry Goldwater? He told it like he saw it, and whether you agreed with it or not, it was refreshing and pure. New Mexico's Tom Udall was the only member of our state's Congressional delegation to lay it on the line when it mattered as he came out swinging on the feds late response to the Gulf Coast disaster. Said Udall: "We have a moral obligation to conduct a full review of what happened." The cynics will say Udall could take that stand because of his liberal district, but from this corner future generations (and hopefully this one) will judge politicians on whether they stood up on New Orleans, not whether they were liberal or conservative. The rest of the state's delegation was pretty mousy on the calamity, even as President Bush admitted the government response was "unacceptable."
Some politicos who refused to go with Udall felt it would be deemed "fingerpointing." Folks, asking what contributed to people dying in the streets of a major American city is called accountability, not fingerpointing. It would have been great to see a joint statement from our D.C. delegation saying: "We know our government did not perform as required. We are united in making sure it does in the future. Meanwhile, we are determined to save New Orleans and the Gulf Coast." But Barry Goldwater is long gone and many of today's so-called "leaders" are actually re-elect machines fearful to risk anything, even in the face of human catastrophe. Is this a function of today's over-consulted, big money, little ideas political campaigns? We're just asking.
THE PLANE GAME
Big Bill fell into some some good PR as he sent the state's brand new and hyper-controversial jet on its first mission to flood-drenched Louisiana. Critics will be after him throughout next years campaign for spending $5.5 million for the Cessna, but right now the mercy mission makes the jet purchase look, well, not so bad. But get ready for the R's to unload on the Guv when he begins using the jet for less critical travel. Their next line of attack? Soaring jet fuel costs and how that will make the jet even more expensive than officials projected...And critics of the big investment in start-up Eclipse Aviation were given some fresh ammo over the weekend when during a test flight the landing gear on an Eclipse jet apparently failed to function and the plane skidded to a stop on its belly. The naysayers point out that investing in any kind of airline is highly risky. They wonder if the latest $15 million of state cash given Eclipse is too much. If Eclipse's problems grow beyond a bad landing, Big Bill and others will be on the hook for an explanation.
Yes, those were TV spots for R Brad Winter's ABQ mayoral candidacy on the ABQ cable channels over the weekend. He's calling himself the "independent Republican" candidate. Hey, aren't ABQ elections supposed to be "non-partisan?" More on the mayoral derby tomorrow. Until then, thanks for your company.
(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2005
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