D  e  s  e  r  t     E  x  p  o  s  u  r  e     October 2005

Features

Borderline Insanity
Is America's battle against illegal immigration backfiring?

Pie in the Sky
Are New Mexico's space-entrepreneurial plans science fiction?

Familiar Haunts
Getting to know the ghosts of Silver City, just in time for Halloween.

Going Deep
Local spelunkers share the fun of clambering into caves.

Hiking Apacheria
A former warrior sets off on foot to explore the land and legacy of the Apache.

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Man Without a Country
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Blogging Bill: The GOP's Worst Nightmare?

Know thy enemy-and thy potential enemy-seems to be the watchword at RedState.org, a blog dedicated to keeping a majority of states in the GOP ("red") column in coming elections (www.redstate.org). Lately, the site's bloggers have been spending a lot of electrons digitally hand-wringing about our own Gov. Bill Richardson and his possible 2008 presidential plans. Turns out the Red Staters think the New Mexico governor is a threat-maybe the biggest threat the enemy Blue State Democrats have.

"Nick Danger" (surely not his real name-if so, he should be spying and saving beautiful women instead of blogging), evidently a regular Red State correspondent, wrote: "New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson is a guy I worry about. He appears to be a man on a mission, and his mission is to become President of the United States. He is being quite patient and methodical about it. Following his stint as a cabinet secretary, he went out to New Mexico and got himself elected Governor, where he has won rave reviews. He's getting all the right tickets punched: Washingon experience, centrist Governor of a Western state, a bit of a hawk on immigration but also Latino. I do not want a Democrat to become president. So I worry about this guy. A lot more than I worry about Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden. Unlike either of them, Bill Richardson could win."

The blogger went on to hope that somehow our state treasurer scandal, with Robert Vigil and predecessor Michael Montoya in hot water, will rub off on Richardson. "So far nothing indicates that Bill Richardson knew anything about this, or was involved in any way. Still, this happened on his watch, so he will probably end up with a spear sticking out of him, even if the wound is only superficial. When it comes to Bill Richardson, I'll take what I can get."

In response, fellow blogger "ftravisx" (obviously his real name. . .) posted: "Bill Richardson is running-and hard. His visits to New Hampshire, Iowa. His continuous efforts to be on the national stage. His attempt to get New Mexico and other Southwest states to move up their primaries. All of these, plus his giant-sized ego and appetite for politics, mean that he's running. . . .And I almost agree with the thought that he could win. But it's just so hard for me to think that such a second-rate politician could become President. Then I remember Bill Clinton. . . (shudder)."

Other bloggers recalled Richardson's rough patch at the Department of Energy, hoping the Wen Ho Lee issue could come back to haunt him. "And don't forget that Richardson was the US Ambassador to the UN when they set up the Oil-For-Food program," another added. Finally, one Red State poster-dubbed "Crank"-brought up the rumors that Richardson might have "woman issues," quickly adding, with his Caps Lock key evidently on: "BEAR IN MIND THAT THERE IS AS YET NO SUBSTANTIATION TO THESE RUMORS, which aren't exactly rare in political circles."

But Red State blogger "streiff" concluded this particular thread: "We underestimate Richardson at our peril. I've met the guy several times. Quick on his feet (for a ungainly, overweight guy), smart, affable, plays a convincing moderate, Latino but with a last name that isn't going to upset the Buchananite fringe, talks a tough game on illegal immigration. The worst that can be said about him is the same critique we used to convince ourselves Clinton couldn't win."

Richardson for president? In the Red State universe, the current thinking is: "Be afraid. Be very afraid."

 

Quote/Unquote

"We have five commissioners here, and they are voting right now on how prayer is to take place. If that does not violate church and state, then I'm not sure what does."

-Ben Glickler of Las Cruces, at the Dona Ana County
Commission meeting where commissioners
voted to begin meetings with "nonsectarian prayer"

 

"It's open to dispute whether it was nice and pretty to begin with."

-US Air Force Major Ann Stefanek, on the Las Cruces airport runway damaged by Air Force One during a Bush campaign stop. After a year of wrangling, the USAF has offered to pay $600,000 toward repairs.

 

"Hurricane Katrina exposed the harsh reality that we have been skirting and skating on thin ice when it comes to this country's energy concentration on the Gulf Coast. Why are the oil companies making record profits, and what are they doing with them? Our job is to make sure that one, price gouging, and, two, unfair profiteering and unconscionable profiteering, do not take place and especially does not take place as a result of the hurricane."

-NM Sen. Pete Domenici (who, despite taking a shot at
oil companies, is still a Republican, last we looked)

 

A Feast of Reviews

Silver City author Sharman Apt Russell's new book, Hunger: An Unnatural History garnered a nearly full page review in the New York Times Book Review. Russell shared the local aspect of her investigation into hunger in the lead feature in the July 2005 Desert Exposure ("Hunger at Home"). Her book was recently published by Basic Books.

Times reviewer Natalie Angier wrote, "Russell, the author of Anatomy of a Rose and a writing instructor at Western New Mexico University, describes hunger from multiple angles: its biology, its political and cultural histories-whether enforced by circumstances or freely, ascetically embraced-and its deep psycho-emotional underbelly. Some sections of Hunger are excellent. Russell writes fascinating time-lapsed descriptions of how we digest our food, and deftly explains the metabolic differences in how and when the body wrests its energy from protein, carbohydrates and fats. . . . Equally lucid but far grimmer is Russell's discussion of the notorious 'hunger disease studies' of World War II, when Jewish doctors living in the Warsaw ghetto decided to examine and record the impact of starvation on every organ and system of the human body."

Ultimately, though, despite the enviable space devoted to the book, the actual review was probably a bit disappointing. "Yet for all her gripping content and elegant style, Russell fails to pull her thematic threads together or to make any overarching point," Angier concluded. "As a result, the book feels wobbly and discursive, little more than a collection of interesting but scattershot stories about hunger. . . . in making sense of this sovereign, pitiless, archeo-urge, Hunger only whets the appetite; it doesn't fulfill it."

More uniformly positive was the write-up in Publishers Weekly, the Bible of the book business, which said, "With its expert blend of scientific reportage, world history and moral commentary, Russell's work is informative and haunting."

Read More Tumbleweeds:
Snap Decisions
Top Ten
Tumbleweeds in Brief

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