Why Republicans Are Fighting an Uphill Battle in New Mexico

Mr. Dooley dropped by my office the other day to provide some insight on the current state of political affairs in New Mexico. I wasn’t taking notes so this is from memory and it’s not in his Irish brogue. I can’t write like he talks. I can’t even talk like he talks.
Dooley: So, Berner, you’re looking forward to the next round of elections in The Land of Enchantment?
Berner: Should be interesting. No incumbent for governor. Republicans could win.
D: Not a chance.
B: Why not?
D: When you hear Republicans talk, what do they say?
B: Here, they’re talking about how corrupt the state is.
D: What else?
B: How fiscally conservative they are.
D: Right. To cut to the chase, they say: Less government, lower taxes. Right?
B: Sure. All Republicans say that.
D: Let’s discuss issues. Let’s start with DWI.
B: That’s a big issue in New Mexico. The party that can solve that can reign forever.
D: So here’s the Republican response: Less government, lower taxes.
B: What’s wrong with that?
D: How does that solve the DWI problem?
B: Beats me.
D: What’s another issue?
B: I have to admit that public education is in a sorry state. Even I am shocked at the political meddling that’s going on in higher education.
D: So here’s the Republican response: Less government, lower taxes.
(I didn’t say anything and Mr. Dooley kept talking.)
Voters are not terribly bright and in New Mexico I sense they’ll just vote for the Democrats. But think about it. The Democrats have been in power a long time. DWI became a problem on their watch. Low achievement in the public schools—on the their watch. But the voters don’t see that and the Republicans don’t get it. Look, if you want less government and lower taxes, it means you’re not going to work at solving the DWI problem and the low academic achievement in the public schools. And all the other problems that people expect government to solve.
(I just listened.)
So the Democrats win every time. Only losers are the people. But, hey, they love their lower taxes.
On that note, Mr. Dooley left New Mexico for Pennsylvania.


Chianti From a Tuscan Villa

Paulette and I are very happy to see our collaborative effort, Chianti From a Tuscan Villa, in print.

We spent seven days on a modest group tour of the Chianti region of Tuscany, staying in a Tuscan villa and going on day trips around the area, to Castellina, Florence, Lucca, San Gimignano, Siena, Tavarnelle Val di Pesa, and Volterra.

On those day trips, we both photographed extensively with the idea of creating this book, a combination of Tom’s photographs and Paulette’s paintings, to create our interpretation of the region that gave birth to the Renaissance and Chianti wine.

And although we visited places not on the tour, such as the Beaded Lily Glass Works in Florence, our plans for other sites did not always pan out. Thomas wanted to see the tomb of Elizabeth Barrett Browning in the English Cemetery in Florence, but the cemetery was closed for renovation work. He did manage to get some photos from a distance. (If you want to see Browning’s tomb, watch the movie Tea with Mussolini. The film opens at her tomb. The film also shows frescoes of Santa Fina in San Gimignano’s Collegiata. )

Alas, museums and churches, for the most part, did not allow photography, and if they did, it had to be without flash (no problem) and tripod (which made getting good photographs in low light a challenge). One church, Santa Lucia al Borghetto in Tavarnelle Val di Pesa (the town where we stayed), allowed photography and the use of a tripod, one of the few times indoor photographs could be taken at a slow speed.

The typeface for the book title and running heads is Medici™ Script Std Regular from Adobe, appropriate for a book of photographs and paintings about the land of the Medici family.

If you have any questions, contact journprof@comcast.net.



The old New Mexico State Penitentiary

On July 25, 2009, as part of PhotoArts Santa Fe, I went on a field trip to the old New Mexico State Penitentiary, infamous for a riot in 1980 in which 33 inmates were murdered by other inmates. About 10 photographers spent three hours shooting inside and outside the prison. Most of the interior shots had to be done on a tripod, unless you wanted to use flash, which no one did.

I took only my Nikon D40 with a Sigma 10:20 lens. I figured that being inside a dark prison, I wouldn’t have much use for my D80 with its 18:200 lens–and I was right. Most of the spaces were not very big, so the wide angle worked perfectly.

We started in the gas chamber, but I have not organized this book according to the way we moved through the prison. In fact, once we were shown the gas chamber, we were free to roam about the unit in which the murderous riot took place. We saw where inmates’ heads were chopped off and where one inmate’s body was incinerated.

I didn’t take any photos there, but I did shoot the gas chamber. It was used only once--in 1960--so it didn’t quite carry the same burden that the cellblock of death did.

Our guide said that the prison was closed in 1999 and everyone moved to a new facility nearby. As the photos show, no effort was made to clean up. Today part of the prison is used as a movie set.