Rock of Talk

We’re kind of being rooked here

KIVA has some awfully smart listeners.

“Rook” isn’t in common usage today, but the verb — “to defraud by cheating or swindling” — was aptly used by a caller to the station, describing how Michelle Lujan Grisham has “managed” 2020’s “crisis” in “public health.”

The governor has again modified her lengthy list of coronavirus commandments, this time allowing plebeians “visits to pumpkin patches,” overnighters in state parks (no more than 10 in a group), and swims in pools (no more than 10 at a time). For the most part, the months-long lockdown will remain in place.

And that’s the way MLG likes it.

Evidently, no amount of data will convince our tiny tyrant that wrecking New Mexico’s economy has done nothing to stop the inevitable spread of a virus that has killed precisely 0.03986972709744 percent of the state’s population.

Compare the Land of Enchantment to two similar states, and MLG’s thuggery becomes even more egregious.

Utah, Nebraska, and New Mexico each have large land areas and not a lot of residents — making for quite low population densities. But the governors of the Beehive State and the Cornhusker State understand statistics and are neither power-crazed nor eager to drive the incumbent president from office. They pursued a very light touch with their COVID-19 controls.

In the fact-free world of MLG, the disgraceful David Scrase, and their ilk, Utah and Nebraska are stacking bodies mighty high. Reality check: They’re not. Per 100,00 residents, the former has experienced 13.8 COVID-19 fatalities. The latter, 22.6.

New Mexico: A whopping 39.6.

Even accounting for the concentration of deaths on tribal lands in the northwest portion of the state, New Mexico’s performance has been unimpressive. That’s right — MLG destroyed the state’s economy, for essentially … nothing.

Utah (4.5 percent) and Nebraska (4.8 percent) have the best unemployment rates in the nation. Meanwhile, New Mexico’s jobless rate stands at a jaw-dropping 12.7 percent. (That’s bottom-feeding with the likes of Illinois, New Jersey, and California). And with oil-and-gas extraction down and the hospitality industry here in a governor-induced coma, the prospects for a quick turnaround don’t look good.

The fears so many of us had in March have been confirmed. MLG never knew what she was doing. Imagining herself a healthcare “leader” and “visionary,” she took an admittedly challenging situation, and made it worse. Measurably, irrefutably worse.

The remedy for her incompetence and selfishness?

‘Waldenponding’ for liberty

Tell someone who just woke up from a 30-year coma that billions of digital messages and posts to “social media” (?) are exchanged, created, and commented on every day in America, and he/she will think the condition of public discourse in the Land of the Fee is stronger than ever.

If only.

The evidence is overwhelming: Electronic gatekeepers are suppressing, not enhancing, free speech.

As the president put it earlier this year, “There’s no precedent in American history for so small a number of corporations to control so large a sphere of human interaction.” Yesterday, tech titans testified before Congress, and had to face tough questions about their blinding bias. From suspending the Twitter account of Donald Trump, Jr. “for posting a viral video of medical doctors talking about Hydroxychloroquine” to labeling videos by pro-life activist Lila Rose “false,” social-media platforms pick winners and losers in the battle for ears and eyeballs.  

Differ with the ideology/narrative of Silicon Valley oligarchs, and your content faces deletions, suspensions, shadow bans, and instant “fact checks.”

A major way to fight this deception? Unplug.

Venkatesh Rao disparagingly calls it “Waldenponding” — “retreating from technology akin to how Thoreau extolled the virtues of retreating from social contact and leading a quieter life at Walden Pond.” But it’s a sound strategy to escape what is becoming, more and more, a monstrously one-sided digital Ministry of Truth. Pray. Meditate. Walk. Talk to your neighbors. Volunteer for a good cause.

When you do engage online, limit your exposure to the left’s favored platforms. Cast a wider net. For example, here is the video of the presentation by America’s Frontline Doctors that tech overloads don’t want you to see. (Whether you agree or disagree with the medical professionals’ claims, the decision is up to you — not Silicon Valley’s censors.)

Locally, KIVA and the “Rock of Talk” (broadcasting, streaming online, archived audio/video, or links provided here) bring you data, ideas, and perspectives you simply cannot obtain from newspapers, television “reporters,” and radio stations that spend more time on “Tiger King” than the deliberate destruction of New Mexico’s economy.

The game is rigged. This we know. But there’s no reason for despair. Alternatives are available — and they’re the tools that will be used to save us from socialism.

COVID-19 and crime reveal character — of parties and pols.

Your next shipment of coronabucks is on the way.

Well, nothing’s official yet, but it’s looking more and more like Republicans and Democrats will cut a deal on yet another “stimulus” for an economy that’s been crippled by policies justified as necessary to “protect public health.”

It’s worth noting that while the party of “fiscal responsibility” does not want to spend as much as the “opposition,” it’s still plenty eager to spread goodies from coast to coast. Republicans appear to be comfortable adding as much as $1 trillion to the national debt — currently at $26.5 trillion — with a cornucopia that includes fresh subsidies for agribusiness and “defense” contractors.

One prize that’s not likely to be in the final agreement is a continuation of the $600 extra in each weekly unemployment check. Not only has the “freebie” been rife with fraud, it is a major disincentive for returning to work.

And New Mexico’s politicians love it.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham considers any reduction in the payment “an unconscionable step backward in our fight to provide help to affected workers & to help sustain our economy.” Wannabe senator Ben Ray Lujan, currently “serving” in the U.S. House of Representatives, calls the $600 boost “a lifeline for millions of Americans who have lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic,” allowing “families to keep a roof over their heads, feed their children, and pay their bills.”

Federal money is always welcome in New Mexico. Federal attention to the state’s glaring inability to protect its residents from violent crime? Not so much. Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller has joined the “leaders” of Portland, Seattle Kansas City, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. in denouncing “egregious use of federal force on cities over the objections of local authorities.”

As city after city descends into mayhem and destruction, perhaps Burqueños will soon have a different perspective.

Attack Trump nationally, attack New Mexicans locally

Blame Donald Trump.

Then blame him again.

And when all else fails, blame him a third time.

That’s the strategy pursued, relentlessly, by New Mexico’s governor. Whether prompted by a questioner or concocted all on her own, Michelle Lujan Grisham finds a way to blame the White House for just about everything.

Appearing on ABC’s “This Week” — oh, how David Brinkley is missed — the governor whined about the lack of a “national strategy” for COVID-19, accusing the president of “the worst abdication of a national response and responsibility to protect Americans I have ever seen in my government career.”

Question for Lujan Grisham and her ilk: If Donald Trump is a stupid, stumbling buffoon with no management skills, why do you want him in command of a “national response” … to anything?

Anyway, the Land of Enchantment’s tiny tyrant surely basked in her latest bigtime media spotlight — the same way she preened over her fawning coverage in Rolling StoneThe Washington Post, and The New York Times. Meanwhile, two of her minions weren’t assailing the 45th president. They were offering “grief” counselling to New Mexicans.

Well, that’s how they portrayed it. New Mexico Human Services Secretary David Scrase and Workforce Solutions Secretary Bill McCamley reviewed “COVID-19 related OpEds [sic] and letters to editors over the past four months,” and concluded that “denial and anger” are running rampant in the state, necessitating “a quick fact check.”

The largest whopper offered by Scrase and McCamley? That the novel coronavirus case fatality rate (CFR) is 1.3 percent.

Their deeply dishonest claim ignores the fact that, as Reason’s Jacob Sullum explained a few days ago, the CFR is not a “single, constant number,” but is impacted “by conditions, such as the patient mix and the quality and capacity of the local health care system, that vary from one place to another and that may change over time.” An exact figure at this moment is unknowable, because “the true number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. could be anywhere from six to 24 times higher than the confirmed number of cases.” Given that infections are much, much more widespread than testing currently indicates, Scrase and McCamley’s 1.3 percent is laughably high.

In their lame attempt at pop psychology, the cabinet officials also failed to inform readers that when it comes to COVID-19 fatalities, New Mexico is two very different states. KIVA has been tracking county-by-county data for months. Our analysis finds that “San McKinley” — a thought-experiment “state” comprised of San Juan County and McKinley County — accounts for nearly two-thirds of all deaths in the Land of Enchantment. It has a rate of 199 victims per 100,000 population. Amazingly, that figure is worse than New York. Worse than New Jersey. And worse than Connecticut.

The 31 counties outside San McKinley — making up over 90 percent of the state’s population, with 1.9 million people — have suffered, collectively, 11.5 deaths per 100,000 residents. In the contiguous U.S., that translates into the tenth-safest “state.” Peer states include Kansas, Oklahoma, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Taking one final step in our analysis, the region outside San McKinley as well as Bernalillo County and Sandoval County, has a ridiculously low rate of 7.1 fatalities per 100,000 residents. That zone, comprising 51.3 percent of the citizenry, would be the fifth-safest “state” in the nation. Peer states include Oregon, Idaho, and Utah.

In no way does “science” justify the draconian, one-size-fits-all lockdown that Lujan Grisham and her underlings have imposed (and re-imposed) on an undeserving populace. And that is why their propaganda focuses, laser-like, on the alleged failings of the Trump administration and “grief” over “our new lives in a COVID positive world.”

How tyranny dies — even in New Mexico

“Rebellion to tyrants is obedience to God.”

The motto embraced by Thomas Jefferson — it was suggested to be included on the Great Seal of the United States — is inspiring.

But when put in action, it’s transformative.

On KIVA yesterday, financial adviser (and West Point alumnus) Greg Zanetti provided a historical overview of how mankind has fallen victim to tyrants, how totalitarian societies are held in control, and how dictators are eventually driven from power.

More and more, it’s a subject New Mexicans can relate to.

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has presided over a ridiculously heavy-handed series of regulations that she claims will protect the public from COVID-19. Brave individuals have defied her junk-science commands from the start. But collective action, including resistance from government officials, is growing at an impressive clip:

• In a true grassroots effort, many, many thousands of New Mexicans have printed, signed, and mailed petitions to impeach their state’s chief executive.

• Hundreds gathered at Albuquerque’s Civic Plaza to protest a lockdown that is “crippling our economy and [is] going to end up being worse than the virus could possibly be.”

• The New Mexico Restaurant Association is suing Lujan Grisham, seeking to stop the re-imposition of her ban on dine-in service. (An initial decision by Judge Raymond L. Romero sided with the organization, but the state’s liberal-dominated Supreme Court reversed his ruling. The fight goes on.)

• The Lea County Sheriff’s Office is publicly flouting the governor’s mask rule. In multiple posts on the department’s Facebook account, deputies were shown at restaurants, sans you-know-whats. (“Do not be alarmed when you see LCSO Deputies enter local restaurants. We’re not there to enforce the Governor’s mandate. We’re there to grab a bite and support our local businesses!”)

• A majority of the City of Roswell’s councilors has approved “a directive to the city manager to not enforce the … emergency health order.” As one of the elected officials put it, “Instead of going to the people and asking them how we want to deal with the situation, she has imposed her values on us. The cost of the governor’s orders on the people of Roswell has been high.”

• A letter signed by nearly 20 New Mexico mayors — from Farmington to Jal, Red River Elephant Butte, Clovis to Bloomfield — fired back at Lujan Grisham, for “threatening to remove local elected officials from office” if they dare to defy her. (“[P]olice chiefs, mayors, city councilors, city/county managers and county commissioners alike are committed to ensuring the health and safety of our communities, and that includes protecting the rights of our citizens from punishments not supported by laws and authority.”)

“Being under tyrannical control is actually the historical norm,” Zanetti noted. But he also discussed how tyrants lose their power. When noncompliance reaches a critical mass, freedom wins.

There’s still time for Michelle Lujan Grisham to learn from Zanetti’s wisdom. But not much.

New Mexico’s choice: team Elisha or team Jackie?

New Mexico’s “leaders” don’t want you to think about Jacqueline Vigil. They’d prefer it if you focused on Elisha Lucero

Fortunately, that task will be more difficult, after the former’s widower journeyed to Washington, where the president himself vowed to get long-overdue justice for “Jackie.” 

As the Albuquerque Journal described, Lucero was a profoundly troubled woman. For months, family members “had called law enforcement … to try to get help for their cousin and sister … who seemed to be suffering from psychosis and possibly schizophrenia.” (She had come to the legal system’s attention before, with arrests for “possession of marijuana and drug paraphernalia and careless driving.”) 

On their night of her death, just over one year ago, Lucero attacked an uncle, and locked herself, naked, in her RV. The Bernalillo County’s Sheriff Office was called in. The 28-year-old “aggressively approached, closing distance.” Believing that she held a knife, deputies began to shoot. Lucero was killed. 

In March, her family settled with the county for a cool $4 million, and donated a portion of the sum to New Mexico’s chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. And just a few days ago, they launched “a billboard campaign to raise awareness for what they call an urgent need for police reform in Bernalillo County and throughout New Mexico.” Almost immediately, the state’s publicity-hungry attorney general asked the local district attorney“to give up the [Lucero] case so the AG’s office can determine whether charges should be filed.” 

It was awfully curious timing. Because this was the week that the White House declared its intention to devote federal resources to Albuquerque’s bloody mayhem. Sam Vigil, along with Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales, met with President Trump, as part of an event announcing “a surge of federal law enforcement into American communities plagued by violent crime.” The widower knows something about the problem being tackled. Eight months ago his wife, the mother of two state policemen, was gunned down in their driveway. Amazingly, the murder remains unsolved

It’s quite clear that New Mexico’s “progressive” pols don’t like the narrative emanating from D.C. They are unable, or unwilling, to make the tough decisions and implement the right policies to make their state safer. They resent national exposure of their malfeasance. And they think they’ve found just the tool to redirect all that unwelcome attention: a tragic, year-old shooting of a women who was never able to obtain the assistance she needed to address her serious mental-health issues. 

Elisha Lucero and Jacqueline Vigil. Their fates each tell a story about the deep dysfunction at the core of government in New Mexico.

The public servants step up to defy New Mexico’s ‘progressive pols

The feds are coming.

Scary? Not to many Burquenos, who are sure to welcome “Operation LeGend” to the Duke City. It’s an effort to “send federal law enforcement to … cities that need help,” and Albuquerque, which set a record for murders in 2019 and recently experienced four killings in one weekend, needs all the help it can get.

Reasonable people can differ on the wisdom of using the FBIDEAATF, and United States Marshals Service for law enforcement at the local level.

But the “progressives” who hold the highest positions in New Mexico government are anything but reasonable people.

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich said “the president’s Stormtroopers” aren’t welcome in the Land of Enchantment.

U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland is “furious that President Trump is choosing to create a crisis and harass members of our community instead of addressing a pandemic.”

Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham fears that “the Trump administration wishes to antagonize New Mexicans and Americans with authoritarian, unnecessary and unaccountable military-style ‘crackdowns.’”

Mayor Tim Keller, leaping at the chance to whine to the whole nation via an interview with NPR, worries that “this becomes sort of a secret police situation like Portland.”

As above, so below. While the White House looks to clean up a mess prominent New Mexico “leaders” won’t, local officials continue to ignore Lujan Grisham’s junk-science scheming. Down in the southeast corner of the state, the Lea County Sheriff’s Office is publicly flouting her mask order. In multiple posts on the department’s Facebook account, deputies are shown at restaurants, sans you-know-whats. (“Do not be alarmed when you see LCSO Deputies enter local restaurants. We’re not there to enforce the Governor’s mandate. We’re there to grab a bite and support our local businesses!”)

And in Grant County, a prosecutor has stated that “until she receives an executed memorandum of understanding or letter of agreement between the New Mexico Department of Health and law enforcement agencies in the Sixth Judicial District, in her opinion: ‘Only the New Mexico State Police have the authority to enforce the public health order.’” Even if such a deal were reached, her office “would still be unlikely to prosecute the cases, which are petty misdemeanors under the public health order.”

Heinrich. Haaland. Lujan Grisham. Keller. Either by ineptitude or ideology, they make life in the Land of Enchantment worse. Luckily, some grown-ups elsewhere in the public sector aren’t interested in perpetuating New Mexico’s problems.

What’s worse — effective or ineffective state government?

Working hard or hardly working? For Michelle Lujan Grisham’s administration, the answer is, “both.”

Life seems to be pretty sweet for Ryan Stewart, the state’s top educrat. An investigation by KOB’s Chris Ramirez found that the “public servant” who’s nominally in charge of the Public Education Department is with his family, “2,000 miles away in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,” having “moved back … on a full-time basis.” Stewart’s absence has “some in the education field” wondering “about the effectiveness of managing not only a large and complex agency from afar but one that is in peril from the effects of COVID-19.” No kidding.

In an interview with KIVA’s Eddy Aragon, Ramirez said that it took three weeks to arrange an interview with the cabinet secretary (there’s no timeline yet on when/if Stewart will return), and that the governor’s office “blew me off” when a conversation with Lujan Grisham was requested. Apparently, the state’s chief executive couldn’t “swing it.” It’s an odd claim, given the governor’s “official work schedule.” For example, during the week of July 6th, she “worked” a grand total of 15.25 hours. (Including four and a half hours of press-conference preparation, the event itself, and a television interview).

Meanwhile, the policies Lujan Grisham has implemented to “protect” the public from COVID-19 are working quite strenuously — to wreck the economy and worsen intimate-partner violence: 

• New Mexico’s chile growers are fortunate to have a good crop this year, but are facing supply-chain difficulties, with “restaurants … shut off.” 

• Commissioners have unanimously requested gubernatorial permission to hold the Curry County Youth Expo, an opportunity for junior ranchers/farmers to show and sell their livestock. The potential participants are “running … a business,” and the event is “how many of them fund their college.” (The elected officials’ intentions are noble, but when the phone don’t ring, it’ll be the governor).

• The Clovis Fun Center has been “shut down by the state government due to people complaining about us being open even though we were taking every precautionary measure to keep our customers safe.”

• The “the largest domestic violence shelter in the state” is experiencing a surge in victims. Before Lujan Grisham’s lockdown, its “crisis line received around 150 calls a day,” but now processes 220 contacts per day. What was once an intake rate of “zero to two families daily” has grown to “between six to nine families” every day.

Is it better when state government is off the job, or on? Enquiring New Mexicans want to know….

Empower thugs, hound citizens, destroy job-creators

On KIVA yesterday, Shaun Willoughby, president of the Albuquerque Police Officers’ Associationagreed that had law enforcement been allowed to protect the statue of Juan de Oñate on the grounds of the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, things would have gone quite differently on the evening of June 15th. 

Surrender government’s essential role in protecting property, and it’s just a small step to harass citizens in a deeply misguided effort to “protect public health.” Willoughby had little positive to say about Mayor Tim Keller’s decision to enlist “non-law enforcement personnel, including the Code Enforcement Division of the Planning Department, Open Space personnel, Transit Security personnel, Parking Enforcement personnel, Environmental Health Department personnel, and the Fire Marshal’s Office of Albuquerque Fire Rescue” to walk point on the city’s face-diaper mandate. The bureaucrats have no legitimate authority to detain, much less arrest, anyone, and Willoughby advised any Burqueno pestered by a pretend police officer to just ignore him/her and get on with life. 

If only New Mexico’s restaurants could do the same. Last week, in a brave stand against arbitrary and downright cruel government, the New Mexico Restaurant Association (NMRA)sued the Land of Enchantment’s governor, seeking to stop the re-imposition of her ban on dine-in service. Yesterday, the trade association, as well as its members and their customers, scored a major victory, when a district judge imposed a temporary restraining order on enforcement of the doubled-down lockdown. In an interview with KIVA, the NMRA’s Carol Wight called it “a win not just for restaurants, but for small businesses.” 

But the spark of hope was quickly snuffed. Not long after Judge Raymond L. Romero sided with common sense and basic decency, the state’s liberal-dominated Supreme Court — doing the bidding of an increasingly hysterical Lujan Grisham administration — reversed his ruling. Dine-in remains a no-go. 

Such are the priorities of “public servants” in New Mexico in the summer of 2020. Fail to protect property from thugs. Hound law-abiding citizens with ineffective — if not counterproductive — dictates justified “for your own good.” And target a major industry, capriciously, for doing next to nothing to spread a virus for which herd immunity, more and more, appears to be the right response. 

Election Day is in exactly 17 weeks.

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