August 10, 2020

Wasting minds is wasting lives

Posted on 11. Jul, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Education, Social/Cultural

If a mind is a terrible thing to waste, how come we’re wasting so many of them? Alarmingly high dropout rates are signaling the exile of millions more young people to the ranks of the semi-literate.

Can the U.S. really afford to lose another whole generation because we can’t find the courage to revamp our educational system?

We see it every day. Man on the street interviews reveal how awful our schools are.

A special reporter for a cable news network show interviewed approximately 100 young people under the age of 25 on Independence Day and asked a very simple question, “Do you know what we’re celebrating today?”

Nearly 60% of those asked didn’t have a clue. Of those answering correctly, a tiny percentage even knew the century when America’s revolution took place.

Here in New Mexico, we lose thirty-eight out of a hundred potential high school graduates each year to dropping out. Their lack of a high school diploma will doom them to a lower rung on the socio-economic ladder and a life of low or minimum-wage jobs.

While I applaud the efforts being made by hard-working teachers and administrators to reverse the situation, it’s a little like pushing a snowball up a desert sand dune in July.

Instead of trying to reform the status quo, maybe we should replace it, entirely. Changing what we teach, how we teach it and when we teach it might be the answer. This applies to the total schooling experience in primary, middle and high school years.

If we are going to prevent students from dropping out, we must give them a reason for staying in school. To do that we’ll need to front-load new and exciting curricula, early on, to keep students’ interest levels high.

And, though it may sound distasteful to some, we’re going to have to sell that new curricula, energetically and creatively!

Due to our lousy economy and resultant dwindling tax bases, the amount of funding earmarked for public education is dropping fast, and along with that drop many elective or so-called ‘expendable’ after school programs are biting the dust.

Our educational system is also affected by our politics, and should we continue on the same ideological political path we’re on, our school curricula might need some revamping.

New courses might be: Learning to develop your victim status; How to get the most out of government entitlement programs; Using ethnicity as a bargaining tool; The benefits of wealth redistribution; How to demonize the opposition; How to cherry pick your facts; and finally, How to organize a successful protest.

Obviously, these are not my suggestions for the new age curriculum. I’m just making a point about how politics can change what we teach our children. It can encourage them to be open-minded and inquisitive or be politically correct and self-censoring.

Instead, our students should learn real survival skills, enabling them to become productive citizens. Here are some course suggestions:

How an economy and a democracy work;

Why voting is so important;

How to deal with dysfunctional parents;

How to resist peer pressure;

How to find the truth in any given situation;

How to recognize true authority;

Why obedience to the law is essential;

How machines work;

Why the environment is important to protect;

How to reduce aggression in the world;

How to eat and sleep properly;

How to protect yourself and your family;

Why work is important;

How to find and keep a job; and finally,

How to rein in your own selfishness.

I’m sure we could find some intelligent educators that would be happy to teach them.

Time is running out for our young people. If we don’t change our approach to educating them we will find ourselves paying the price in the crime and substance abuse statistics, more social illiteracy, rising unemployment and general societal dysfunction.

Readin,’ writin’ and ‘rithmetic still have a place in the little red schoolhouse, but unless we throw open the windows and let in the light of new common sense-driven curricula we’ll continue taking two steps backward and one step forward and end up with a society that can’t even live with itself let alone with others.

- Editor

Guardian Angels of the Missing in Action – The Hunt for Chico

Posted on 25. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Social/Cultural

Thousands and thousands of dogs and cats go missing each year in the U.S., leaving behind thousands of tearful worried human families. If you’ve ever lost a pet you know the range of emotions a person goes through. This is a story of a cat, a group of extraordinarily caring and helpful people and a quest. It is a story without a final chapter…

About two months ago my wife was sitting on our unfenced front lawn watching our two Maine Coon cats enjoy the coolness of the grass, the crisp April air and the opportunity to be outside with her.

This 1-2 hour timeout from being house- and backyard bound was a daily occurrence for them during the last two years, something both Mokka and Chico enjoyed immensely. All of a sudden, Chico, our 6-year old male Maine Coon was spooked by a neighbor cat that came out from nowhere. Scared, he ran off into the underbrush.

Hours of calling his name and visits to the neighbors followed. He was sighted a couple of times within the next ten days, but that was it. Several more days passed. A mountain lion was spotted not far from our house (we live in the mountains of New Mexico) and the word spread quickly that house pets were on the  big cat’s menu.

Families battened down the hatches and kept close watch on their animals. We, too, were afraid that Chico’s life was in danger.

Like most owners of runaway pets we prepared flyers and posted them by the rows of rural mailboxes, put ads in the local paper and went house-to-house in search of little Chico, but after a couple of weeks had no leads… and had run out of ideas.

That was when my sister in Illinois called and suggested I contact an experienced pet psychic to get an opinion. At this point, I must admit that I have long since bid farewell to skepticism about metaphysical things.

Because I’m a believer in a divine force and a merciful God that created our universe, it wasn’t a leap of faith for me to believe that there are those among us who have highly-developed senses and abilities and are able to communicate free of the constraints of our physical voices, eyes and ears.

“Hello. I’m Stephan Helgesen, and I was recommended to you by________________.”       The person on the other end of the line was Diane Gianlorenzo, Guardian Angel Number One, an experienced and highly successful pet psychic, and as I would find out later, a true protector and defender of all furry, four-footed MIAs.

After a short conversation during which she established her bona fides by giving me information about myself and Chico that she couldn’t otherwise have known, we went through the checklist of things that every pet owner needs to do in order to find a missing pet.

Her practicality helped reassure me that before we contact the spiritual world we need to make sure that we’ve done everything in our power in the physical world to locate our animals.

After going through the checklist, she got in touch with Chico. She saw him and spoke with him. While I don’t fully understand how this communication takes place, I have no doubt that it does and that Diane was indeed having real conversations with Chico.

She told me of places where he had been and then asked if I would like it verified. I said, yes, so she suggested the services of a rescue dog that could pick up Chico’s scent.

Not being familiar with dog rescue services, I contacted the owner of a local pet finder service – Guardian Angel Number Two, Joyce Lewis of East Mountain Pet Alert who gave me a lead on a couple who were willing to help me search for Chico with their bloodhound, Genghis.

I met up with Stephanie and Robert Long (Guardian Angels Three and Four) and Genghis at the point where Diane had said she saw Chico. Genghis was introduced to Chico’s scent and off he went, nose to the ground, excited and sure of where he was going.

After a couple miles, Genghis was thrown off the scent by a pack of dogs, so we had to stop for the day as his confusion was keeping him from pursuing the trail.

Though we didn’t find Chico, three important things happened: 1. Diane’s credibility was now firmly reinforced, 2. we now knew that Chico was on the other side of the highway, and 3. we knew he was alive because of the strength of the scent.

Over the days and nights to follow, Diane was relentless in her contacts with Chico and relayed the encounters to me (which gave me the strength to carry on looking for him). One day, she asked me if I knew anything about ‘dowsing.’ I said, no.

She filled me in on the science of finding things through a unique combination of psychic ability and mapping. She said that she had long wanted to contact a map dowser who had success in finding people for police departments and for finding pets, and that Chico’s case was one the dowser might be interested in.

Enter Guardian Angel Number Five, Ginette Matacia Lucas.  Ginette’s reputation as an experienced practitioner of dowsing was known by many in the law enforcement world, but totally unknown to me.

I let the communication flow between Diane and Ginette for awhile so that they could get used to each other but soon found both of them ready and willing to help me locate Chico who had now been gone for three weeks.

In order to make it easier for Diane (and especially Ginette who relied more heavily on maps and photos to be effective) I photographed 50-60 houses in the area in which Ginette had said that she had seen Chico and made special maps of the Ramblewood Subdivision from Google Maps. I sent them to Ginette to form a search area.

We would communicate by cellphone when one or both had Chico on the line, and then the chase to find him was joined. Driving to landmarks they got from Chico, we stopped the car, shook a bag of his favorite treats to make a very familiar noise and called his name, repeatedly.

At times we got close but not close enough. Chico was skittish and wary of contact and certainly didn’t like the sound of car engines AND DOGS!  His new area was a veritable minefield of dogs and dog pens, and Chico was laying low, preferring the safety of a hiding place rather than responding to our calls.

This made the search frustrating. It was clear that Diane and Ginette had to build up his confidence and herd him to a safe area where he would feel comfortable in showing himself. We chose one particular spot and repeatedly encouraged him to go there.

Over the next few weeks we had 3-4 confirmed sightings of Chico from several of Chico’s new human lookouts in the subdivision. The area itself was huge and was heavily forested and mountainous. It was also perfect cover for a fearful cat, but it was like trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack.

It was then that I took Diane’s suggestion to set up some live animal traps, baiting them with his favorite canned cat food. Four traps were set up on the four corners of what we felt was his new territory. Several kind-hearted people gladly offered to host them on their property, and I would drive by the traps every morning to check them. I managed to snare six raccoons and two feral cats, but no Chico. My wife and daughters said that they weren’t surprised, that Chico was either too smart or too scared to go in them.

Abandoning the traps, we entered the current phase of Operation Find Chico – friendly persuasion. No one should ever discount the power of prayer or the power of a thought, especially those that are expressed out of genuine love and concern. How many of us have ever prayed to God for mercy or for help, or sent our energy aloft, directed to a loved one? Probably most of us.

That’s what we’re doing now, coupled with regular trips to his last known whereabouts. Diane continues to contact Chico, comforting him and persuading him that it’s time to show himself and turn himself in.

The entire ordeal has been a test of endurance, of faith and patience. Diane Gianlorenzo put it very succinctly and very compassionately, “There is a reason that all this is happening and several lessons to be learned from it. Only you can figure them out and apply them to your life.”

Diane and Ginette are still very much in his life, too as they speak with him, bringing him the message that his people love him and want him back.

I am convinced that they have helped him stay alive these past two months. I know that their compassion, kindness and support have helped me keep hope alive, and for that I will always be grateful to them.

We have not given up and are still actively looking for Chico, so if any of you see him please call me at 505/239-0008 or email at

These Guardian Angels and the wonderful people of Ramblewood Subdivision in Tijeras, NM have restored my faith in the inherent goodness of strangers and made me thank God for all those who labor tirelessly to help reunite our lost pets with their human families.

It is, after all, the least we can do for those who give us so much unconditional joy and love.

Those interested in contacting Diane Gianlorenzo may do so at her website: or call her at 386/308-1356 or by email at:

Ginette Matacia Lucas may be reached  at: or by email at

Joyce Lewis of East Mountain Pet Alert may be reached at:

- Editor

Stephan J. Helgesen












Long live the king?

Posted on 23. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics, Social/Cultural

When asked which monarchy is the most famous, most people will probably say England’s. Indeed, Queen Elizabeth II of England is celebrating her 60th year on the throne, so God save the Queen.

And while that long reign may be worthy of celebration, there are many other European queens of note. Some queens are regnant (queens who reign on their own) and others are queen consort (those whose husbands are kings).

I lived in three countries that were governed by a monarch: The Netherlands (Queen Beatrix), Trinidad and Tobago (Queen Elizabeth II) and Denmark (Queen Margrethe II).  While there are several other countries whose sovereigns are queens regnant or consort, the vast majority of monarchies are in the hands of kings.

During the 18th century, our colonists showed more than a passing interest in the policies on our own king, George III, monarch of England. Times were very different back in 1775 when our population of approx. 2.5 million Americans had simply had enough of the monarchy and rebelled. The rest, as they say, is history, but the question that remains unanswered is, “does history repeat itself?”

Constitutions and the monarchy

Many modern monarchs like those of Denmark and The Netherlands govern under constitutions, and have little power to affect the directions their countries take. Their roles are largely ceremonial, but the people of those countries love their queens and their royals.

An interesting footnote is that the British still don’t have a written constitution that sets forth British subjects’ rights! Instead, their laws have evolved through common law, the ‘Bill of Rights of 1689’, the ‘Great Reform Act of 1832’ and the ‘Representation of the People’s Act of 1928.’ Britain’s entry into the Common Market, and later the European Union (EU) brought England under a common set of laws that govern many aspects of their daily lives.

Are we moving closer to an American monarchy?

Americans are justifiably proud of their democracy and their Constitution, but every so often our patience is sorely tested as politicians of both stripes, in our Legislature and Executive Branch, push the envelope of our tolerance by acting as if the Constitution doesn’t apply to them.

Recent laws and actions like the Patients Affordable Healthcare Act (aka Obamacare) which is now before the Supreme Court, possible Executive Branch-condoned security leaks and now the new edict from the President on declaring a cessation of prosecuting 800,000 no-fault immigrants is sending strict constitutionalists into a tizzy.

It’s anybody’s guess whether these three issues will be the new shot heard around the world for the beginning of the end of America’s constitutional protection from government intrusion into our lives. Scholars, lawyers, legislators, political pundits, the media and the President’s men are adopting Parkinson’s Law (‘work expands to fill the time available for its completion’), liberally, and without apparent concern for the urgency of our situation and for the consequences that wrong decisions will have on our liberty.

In the year 900, Gorm the Old became the first King of Denmark, and I suspect his concerns were not about the pursuit of happiness, but were more about how to govern a bunch of unruly and impoverished people. It wasn’t until 1849 – nearly 900 years after his reign – that the Danes got their first constitution. By comparison, it took us less than two centuries (September 17, 1787) to get ours.

In 2004, Constitution Day became law when the late Senator Robert Byrd attached an amendment to a spending bill renaming Citizenship Day to Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. I was not a big fan of the late Senator, but I sincerely thank him for his actions.

America needs to be reminded, that without the protection of our Constitution we are merely subjects in waiting for the next monarch who thinks he can ignore the most important document of our history.

- Editor

Dealing with No-Fault Immigrants: Suggestions to the President

Posted on 16. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Politics, Social/Cultural

Question: What do you call someone whose car gets t-boned proceeding legally through an intersection? Answer: a victim. And what do you call the children of illegal immigrants in the U.S.? Illegal immigrants.

But just like the passengers in the t-boned car who weren’t driving the vehicle, didn’t own the vehicle or chose the route it traveled, the children of illegal aliens have another name…no fault immigrants.

Doing the executive ‘slow walk’

On Friday, the President chose to ratchet up the stakes in the immigration debate by announcing that his administration would, essentially, ‘slow-walk’ enforcement of deportation of a group of approx. 800,000 illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as teenagers and who now are under 30 years of age.

Let’s take a look at the problem from a political, legal and humanitarian standpoint. Politically, this decision will increase support for the President from some ethnic communities. The one the President most wants to curry favor with is the Hispanic community (but he’ll take the support of any other ethnic group that will give it to him), and the decision will probably earn him some votes.

However, the President’s people forget that most Hispanics are law-abiding citizens and look down on those of their own ethnic group (and others) who break our laws. They don’t support just any old measure to legalize the 12-20 million illegal immigrants in the U.S., but they do support some.

Si, se puede

I firmly believe that most Hispanic voters are like most any other voter in any other ethnic group; they vote their conscience not their skin color or ethnic background.

Legally, the President probably has the right under the “Immigration and Nationality Act” to set the pace and the procedures for identifying illegal aliens and deporting them, but that goes for individuals not sub-groups like no-fault immigrants. To challenge this authority politically or legally would be a colossal waste of taxpayer money and the Congress’ time not to mention political capital from both parties.

This is not to say that the issue of immigration shouldn’t be discussed. It should, but it should not be done piecemeal.  And therein lies the rub. Neither party really wants the whole issue debated just months before an important election because both parties could lose important votes.

And while this decision may be a convenient and temporary diversion away from the economy for the President, there is an aspect of his policy that could end up hurting him and that is the infusion of 800,000 new workers into an already dismal and growing unemployment situation.

This will clearly anger all those who’ve been looking for work for years and can’t find it. And while these people may be unemployed they do vote, and they could constitute up to 23 million voters if you count those who’ve given up looking.

From a humanitarian standpoint, the plight of the no-fault immigrant is clear. They are not to blame for the sins of their fathers (or mothers). Deporting them would be justified in the eyes of the law, but it would hardly be consistent with the culture of a compassionate country.

Some tips for you, Mr. President

What to do then? There are a few actions that could be taken. A special status should be created for them. Those who have no felony convictions, are under the age of 21 and who can demonstrate that they are here solely as a result of involuntarily accompanying a parent who came here illegally would be permitted to stay.

In order to do so they would have to register with Homeland Security and the State Department within a specific time period and then apply for a temporary residency card (not citizenship) as a no-fault immigrant. Then they would need to get a social security number and a work permit from a special office in either HS or the Department of Labor.

They would not be allowed to collect food stamps or welfare benefits (or vote) but would be allowed to collect unemployment benefits if they held a job and were let go within the legal time frame.

Finally, they would be issued a special forgery-proof ID card, be fingerprinted, submit to annual interviews by HS for a five-year period and have their income tax records reviewed by a special office within the IRS, also for a five-year period. Before the end of five years they would have the choice to either return to the country of their birth (deported if they refused) or apply for U.S. citizenship.

Should they choose to apply for U.S. citizenship within the five-year period, they would need to follow the same procedure that all would-be citizens follow and that is to return to their home country, submit an application at the American Embassy and wait their turn (for them in the U.S.) to be processed behind those who came before them. Once citizenship has been granted they would not be able to retroactively petition for their parents or other family members to become citizens.

The United States should be not be in the business of breaking up families but neither should we turn a blind eye to our existing immigration laws. Surely we can find a solution that will please both the absolutists and the relativists in this debate. If we don’t, we will soon have to deal with the next generation of no-fault immigrants.

- Editor
































The Real Victims of the Recession

Posted on 12. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics, Social/Cultural

Thousands of words have been written about the victims of the current recession, and most of them have described the plight of the millions thrown out or frozen out of the labor force.

The bad news just keeps on coming

Every month, I get an email from the Bureau of Labor Statistics listing the percentages of the newly unemployed, and each month I reflect soberly on the hundreds of thousands of Americans who are now shunted aside to the unemployment rolls or worse. Many of them are young workers, older workers and inexperienced unskilled workers, but they also include white collar middle managers.

Anyone who has ever been unemployed can relate to this tragic situation and has probably sat across the kitchen table from their spouse adding up the monthly bills and wondering how they were going to pay them.  Journalists write about home foreclosures, bankruptcies highlighting the statistics, but often forget the stinging human tragedy of unemployment that can lead to crime, clinical depression, divorce, domestic violence and even suicide.

Victimization a part of our DNA?

It’s not part of our national DNA to feel victimized, but this might be changing as many people are in genuine dismay over how we as a nation got to this point. Many of us who never lived through the Great Depression or were too young to remember the hardships of WWII have only the oil crisis of the 70s, the recession of 1982 and the ‘dot com bubble’ as our barometer to measure hardship.

Because of that we are at a distinct disadvantage on how to accurately assess the misery of our current times. Granted, being unemployed and feeling desperate probably feels the same in 2012 as it did seventy or eighty years ago, but there are differences as well as similarities.

After the stock market crash of the 30s, wealth was wiped out on a grand scale and along with it the expectations of an entire nation.  In the 40s, America went to war, and while there were shortages of basic materials that were re-directed to the war effort, the solidarity of supporting the winning of that war put everyone in the same boat so that doing without meant sacrificing for a noble cause and was therefore more acceptable.

The oil crisis of the 70s woke us up to the reality that we were a foreign energy-dependent nation and that that dependency victimized our long-held beliefs about our self-sufficiency.

Fast forwarding to the mid-80s saw us pay the piper for our excesses. The massive economic slowdown, inflation and high unemployment were everywhere and American confidence was on a rapid downward spiral.  A whole new generation of Americans began to doubt themselves and felt that the country had lost its instruction manual on how to manage things and keep the intricate ‘machine of commerce’ running.

The hidden victims

We recovered, but it took a long time, and while we learned a few important lessons along the way, the recessions had divided America into two rather large groups that split along pro and anti-government and pro and anti-business lines. We weren’t alone. Europe experienced the same dilemma and Asia was just waking up from a long ideological slumber that was dominated by collectivist dreams.

Every crisis and every disaster has its victims. The obvious ones are the walking wounded, those left without the means to rebuild their lives. The hidden victims are just as real as those that bleed. They are our aspirations, our confidence, and yes, our hope.

America has allowed its courage, steadfastness, pluck, optimism, sense of humor, cooperative spirit and dreams become the collateral damage of the recession of 2008-2012.

Words will not return America to greatness, and our crisis won’t be solved by 60-second campaign ads. It is one of a profound lack of confidence, cooperation and leadership.

While our former landlords felt that “the sun never sets on the British empire,” America’s dawn is always breaking anew. We need only look up at it for inspiration and remember from whence and where we all came.

- Editor

Stephan J. Helgesen

A plea for help: Open Letter to BearWatch members

Posted on 12. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Energy/Environment, Social/Cultural

As you have surmised from the recent BearWatch newsletters, our emails to you, the May 13 Sunday Op-Ed in the Albuquerque Journal (attached), etc., our Sandia bears are headed toward extinction.

After studying Game and Fish’s bear incident logs for 2011 and taking Game & Fish’s word on what happened in 2010 (we haven’t received those logs as yet), in the last two years the NMG&F have killed or relocated 45+ Sandia bears out of this small population estimated to be 50+ bears. (This included a few deaths by car).

BearWatch will have its FIRST EVER PROTEST in front of the New Mexico Game and Fish Albuq. Office (3841 Midway Pl. NE) At 10AM on Friday, June 15th.

Sorry, Saturdays won’t work because the NMG&F office is closed on the weekends.

Bring your signs to protest the killings and relocation of our Sandia bears and/or all NM Bears. (see below for more details)

Please try to be there.  A large number of people will make a bigger impression on the media.  The public has no idea what is happening to NM’s bears and the NMG&F doesn’t want them to know.  Please be there no later than 10:00am. We will try to have the media there by 11:00.  The protest will go until 12:00noon.

Bring protest signs,water, hats, sunscreen.  You will have to find parking in the surrounding businesses…spread out the parking, we don’t want irate businesses.  After checking with the City on protests, I was told we must stay on the sidewalks, not the street. Do not block driveways, doorways, etc.

DIRECTIONS:  Take I-25 North to the Jefferson Exit

- left/west on Jefferson to Singer (stop light)

- left/west on Singer, go 1/2 block to Office

- right/north on Office

- go 1 block to end of street to Midway Pl

The NMG&F office is at the end of the street at 3841 Midway Pl. NE

PLEASE email me ( to let me know if you plan to attend.  Thank you.

Editorial: Where have all the Sandia bears gone??

Every day I’m asked the question, where are the bears this year?  And my answer to that question is “they’re gone….sadly… gone for good.”

In the last two years the New Mexico Game and Fish (NMG&F) along with a few others have killed or removed approximately 45+ bears out of an estimated Sandia bear population of 50+. Sandia’s bears have faced many destructive forces: Mother Nature produced a series of drought years with the final blow of a harsh late frost in the spring of 2011 that killed most natural food sources; a growing, irresponsible human population that moved into these bears’ territory and wanted them removed for getting into their available garbage and bird feeders; an organization that campaigned for killing all bears and cougars from our wildlife areas (especially the Sandias) on behalf of their children and the final fatal assault, a Game and Fish department that considered black bear to be nothing but a nuisance species.

In 2010 and 2011, there were huge public outcries along with multiple newspaper articles and editorials statewide against the New Mexico Game and Fish’s proposed 108% increased bear hunts.  Those requests for common-sense management of this species were ignored.

Most people believe that a state game department is there to protect our wildlife.  In New Mexico, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

A real eye-opener would be for you to attend a Game and Fish Commission meeting’s greed fest. Money and politics are the driving forces with conservation coming in last, if at all. Meeting after meeting, professional outfitters and hunters are fighting/suing each other for more licenses to kill more wildlife.

In 20 years of attending these meetings, I’ve rarely heard any hunters, ranchers, etc. ask for conservation for a species. Ranchers are there to demand more licenses for resell for wildlife that sometime forage on their ranches, farmers are there to ask for compensation for crop damage, trappers are there to ask for unlimited access to our state and federal lands, anti-wildlife city kooks are there to demand the decimation of bears and cougars.

And the New Mexico Game and Fish Department are more than happy to comply…after all, this is their constituency.

The destruction of Sandia’s bears is just the tip of the iceberg.  In 2011, 744 bears were killed statewide. This is more than double the average of the preceding five years.

If the NMG&F’s statewide bear elimination pogrom goes forward as planned with a limit of 664 bears this year and 628 per year to be killed for the next four years, a five year total of 3,176 bears will be killed or over half of the NMG&F’s inflated estimate of the entire bear population.

This doesn’t include rampant poaching, natural die-off and the NMG&F’s new policy to vastly expand depredation.

A serious concern is that the NMG&F continues to raise the female-sow hunt limit.  To ensure a stable bear population, sound bear biology tells us that no more than 30% of a reasonable yearly kill should include sows.

The NMG&F claims that although 44% of kills can be sows, hunters are being selective and only 31% of kills were sows in the bear hunt last year which is still too many considering that was the percentage of a huge harvest.

If the largest bear hunts in New Mexico’s history go forward as planned, in a few short years the bear population will necessarily plummet. Hunters will have difficulty finding bears to kill and that means that hunters will no longer be selective which will result in a devastating sow kill-off.

Sows are the future, and the NMG&F’s ongoing unsound management will be responsible for destroying that future. If you don’t believe that can happen here, look to Utah and Arizona that now have some bear-free mountain ranges.

(Note, the Journal Editor deleted this paragraph)The NMG&F’s reckless management of New Mexico’s black bears is biologically unsustainable and incredibly shortsighted. Instead of the NMG&F instituting a program to educate mountain residents how to co-exist with bears, pushing for mandatory bear-proof garbage receptacles for all bear-country communities, issuing tickets to irresponsible residents…the NMG&F uses ‘killing’ as their modus operandi.

Governor Martinez has full control over the New Mexico Game and Fish and what happens to our state’s wildlife including this state’s mammal, the black bear.

A Journal editorial on August 7, 2010 asked the question of who will hold the Game and Fish accountable for the decimation of New Mexico’s bears, warning that it could result in an ecological and social disaster. My question to Governor Martinez is… who will answer for this biological disaster…should she allow it to continue?

Jan Hayes, Sandia Mountain BearWatch

- The above were submitted by Jan Hayes, the Guardian Angel of Sandia’s bears. She operates Sandia BearWatch. Anyone interested in joining or contributing should contact her at

“If we cannot help the least among us how can we ever hope to help the rest of us?” – Editor

Crony Capitalism and President Obama: How the system really works

Posted on 11. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics, Social/Cultural

President Obama’s attacks on Romney’s record while at Bain Capital have opened the window on what is being called “Obama’s public equity record”—with Romney’s surprise news conference in front of failed solar manufacturer Solyndra and new campaign ads bringing the Obama administration’s record into the spotlight.

Suddenly the “green jobs” record is being carefully examined and “giving taxpayer money to big donors, and then watching them lose it” is back in the news.

In his book, Throw Them All Out, Peter Schweizer says: “These programs might be the greatest—and most expensive—example of crony capitalism in American history. Tens of billions of dollars went to firms controlled or owned by fundraisers, bundlers, and political allies, many of whom—surprise!—are now raising money for Obama again.”

We understand that “crony capitalism” involves helping those who have helped you; “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” But the simple term crony capitalism belies the evil, corrupt nature associated with the actual process.

Crony capitalism goes way beyond helping your friends, your cronies. It is a twisted, orchestrated plan that rewards the cronies and costs the taxpayer, while punishing the average citizen.

It may take years of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests to uncover the depth of President Obama’s crony capitalism, but we can get a glimpse of how it is done and what it costs us through a new book, Governor Richardson and Crony Capitalism, which meticulously chronicles the crony capitalism of one of Obama’s cronies: former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson—President Obama’s original pick for the Secretary of Commerce post.

Governor Richardson and Crony Capitalism is a little book. It can be read in an hour. It addresses just one aspect of Governor Richardson’s crony capitalism—but it covers it thoroughly, with nearly as many pages of footnotes and documentation as story.

I didn’t write the book, but I did have a bit part. I filed a couple of the FOIA requests and picked up some of the documentation. When I read the manuscript, I knew this was a story everyone needed to read—not so much because everyone needs to know about New Mexico, but because everyone needs to understand how the system really works.

New Mexico is a poor state, on the bottom of about every list—except for drunk driving (where we are on the top). Governor Richardson and Crony Capitalism, documents just one rule—not even a law—that Richardson appointees, heads of state agencies (think EPA), inflicted on the state’s most economically important industry: oil and gas. With color photos, charts and graphs, the author, Harvey E. Yates, through Governor Richardson and Crony Capitalism demonstrates how the “pit-rule” has cost the state $6 billion in overall revenues, and the state and local governments, specifically, $1 billion.

Remember New Mexico is a poor state, and the rule chronicled in the book, the pit-rule, is just one rule that favored one of Richardson’s friends. Similar actions likely played out over-and-over by a governor with higher aspirations. Similar actions likely continue to play out in the Obama White House with bigger numbers.

Johnny Cope was a long-time friend of Bill Richardson who the newly-elected Governor intended to appoint to an important position in his administration. (Note: the definition of cronyism is “Favoritism shown to old friends without regard for their qualifications, as in political appointments to office.”)

Cope owned a financially troubled business: Controlled Recovery Inc. (CRI) which serviced the oil industry through oil field remediation and waste management. At the time of Richardson’s election in 2002, CRI was near worthless and struggling, yet in 2006 CRI was sold for $10 million.

CRI grew to include a fleet of trucks and round-the-clock operations in just four years. Along the way, CRI got regulatory preference, uncooperative officials were removed, CRI’s business was increased, and its competitors were eliminated through agency orders. Official filings show that, on six specific occasions, Cope made substantial donations—or raised donations—totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars to Richardson, which coincided with critical regulatory events.

Pit-rule 17 was proposed in March 2006—the same month Cope’s companies donated $70,000 to Richardson’s re-election campaign. This statewide rule virtually required that all drilling waste from new drill sites be transported to an approved disposal facility.

But in 2004, the Richardson administration had made the CRI facility exempt from tough new regulations on oil field waste landfills and oil sludge recovery facilities, such that CRI had a huge advantage over its few remaining competitors. Effectively, the oil and gas industry had to pay CRI for the privilege of drilling new wells in New Mexico.

(On a national level, we have what could be called “crony environmentalism.” Laws and regulations, which should apply to everybody, are waived for the favored few. For example, the oil and gas industry is hauled into court if a migratory bird happens to die in an oil pit, but the thousands of birds—including protected eagles—killed by wind turbines are actually authorized.)

In the years prior to the pit-rule draft release, New Mexico’s drilling rig count closely paralleled the neighboring oil-and-gas states of Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado. However, after March 2006, New Mexico’s rig count started trending downward and fell below Colorado’s for the first time in more than a decade—costing New Mexico lost jobs, and severance and royalty income.

Chapter 1, Overview, starts with “Environmentalists eagerly claim fatherhood of the pit-rule. However, a close examination of the evidence leads to the conclusion that, while environmentalists indeed were useful midwives in the delivery of the pit-rule, cronies of former Governor Richardson sired the rule.” Chapter 6, The Price We Paid, ends with these words: “Such is the legacy of a Crony Capitalist enterprise.

The losers were the state’s public education system, state employees, the state infrastructure, and generally, the citizens of the state. If the environmental community wishes to assume part of the responsibility for the loss to the state because of its role of midwife of pit-rule 17, that is probably appropriate.”

Governor Richardson left the state with a budget deficit. Yet he was somehow able to have plenty of campaign cash to launch his presidential run. Governor Susana Martinez took on the deficit. She put different people in charge of the agencies and changed the policies.

Instead of using regulations as a hammer, they are now used as a guideline. The industry with New Mexico’s single largest economic impact is coming back. Nationally the economy is still in crisis, yet in one year, the New Mexico state budget has gone from deficit to surplus.

There is an obvious parallel with the New Mexico story and the national one. Governor Richardson and President Obama seem to be cut from the same ideological cloth. They hurt the industry that has the ability to help—if not fix—economic woes while making policy decisions that help their friends at the expense of the tax-paying citizens, often under the cover of environmentalism.

Yates’ Governor Richardson and Crony Capitalism shows how it was done in New Mexico through the tight, single story of the pit-rule. The reader can easily extrapolate it out to the national stage.

Additionally, Governor Richardson and Crony Capitalism offers activists a lesson in the power of FOIA. There are surely similar stories being played out in other states where winners are picked and others are punished while the person in power laughs all the way to the bank.

In New Mexico, we elected a new governor who doesn’t share Governor Richardson’s ideology, and, in one year, the state budget went from a deficit to a surplus. On a national level, the problem is bigger than that of my poor state, but the results of a change at the top—and therefore, a change in the various agency heads—could well produce similar results for America.

This article was submitted by Marita Noon. She is the author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.



Branding and the Cheesehead Summer: Wisconsin recall fails

Posted on 08. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Politics, Social/Cultural

Never thought I’d see the day when my beloved Wisconsin was branded!

Last year we were living in what was called, the Recovery Summer. This year it’s the summer of the Cheesehead Revolution and the failure of Wisconsin’s Democrats to unseat and recall their controversial Governor, Scott Walker.

We’re pretty accustomed to branding in the West. Without our brands we’d be rustling and feeding on each other’s livestock.  So, from a practical point of view, the identification aspect of branding makes sense, but the brands have to mean something and stand for something of value.

Re-branding America’s Dairyland

Nothing is immune from branding, not even our states or our state representatives.  I don’t want a brand representing me in Congress or anywhere else for that matter. Nor do I think that states should be branded.

I want representatives and Governors with slightly rough edges who actually say something rather than rolling out a sound-bite, and I certainly don’t want any of our fabulous fifty states straying too far from their beaten paths, creating whole new identities for themselves, either.

Last night, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin survived an intense recall effort designed to unseat him. Our normally understated laissez-faire cool as cucumbers Wisconsinites spent $17 million of their hard-earned tax dollars for the pleasure of airing their dirty laundry in public, only to confirm the validity of their initial vote. Result: Walker stays. Status quo wins.

Millions more dollars were spent by the organized labor movement in their propaganda campaign leading up to last night’s vote in an effort to brand Walker as a union-buster and the Republicans as cold-hearted callous anti-democratic storm troopers armed with cattle prods on a search-and-destroy mission bound for Local Teachers’36.

Move over Darth Vader

From the outset, the contest was branded as an epic confrontation between good and evil. It was the forces of darkness (Walker and his gang) against the people (organized labor) – the prize being the power to chart the Dairy State’s fiscal and political course for the future.

The only thing the branders seemed to leave out of their argument were the facts, facts like Wisconsin’s dire economic straits due to the escalating cost of public sector union benefits that were bankrupting the state when Walker took office.

But last winter the branders didn’t let those facts get in the way. Instead, they mobilized both in-state and out-of-state and headed for the Wisconsin Capital Building and occupied it, illegally. They shouted, screamed and in general threw a tantrum in the public square. The real victim, though, was decorum which they successfully trounced during days of heated protests with authorities.

Exit Democrats stage left

Their actions were Act II of the Cheesehead street theatre play which started with eleven of Wisconsin’s Democrat legislators fleeing the state for neighboring Rockford, Illinois to avoid doing their elected duty (voting on the legislation that would enable communities to negotiate pension benefits, locally).

After the legislation passed without their vote, the floodgates were opened. The recall petition drive that followed was impressive (garnering 900,000 signatures), and it revealed the strength of the Democrat Party apparatus and of labor unions’ organizational skills.

The opponents of Walker forgot one thing in their zeal to brand him and his supporters of fiscal responsibility as radicals. They forgot that no matter how well organized you are or how fat your checkbook may be, there is nothing, repeat nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come.

Maybe the Cheesehead Summer in the State of Wisconsin has come just in time for the rest of us to have a serious discussion about the path our country should take going forward.

Wisconsin did prove one thing, however, that where there’s the whey there’s the will.

- Editor

America’s heartstrings are not for sale

Posted on 04. Jun, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Economy, Energy/Environment, Healthcare, Politics, Social/Cultural

I think we’ve finally reached the dead-end on the long political road of seduction. After being subjected to one year of campaign promises and three years of governing promises from President Obama, many Americans have managed to shake themselves awake from a mind-numbing REM sleep induced by the most elementary marketing tactic known to man – appealing to our deepest-seated desires…and fears.

And to be fair, the Obama win was also based on the incumbent fatigue that nearly always occurs after a political party has been in power for eight years, irrespective of its failures or successes.

It’s really pretty impressive how the President and his acolytes constructed a campaign organization whose singular purpose was to win the power of the Presidency, and it’s equally impressive how they’ve kept the campaign going for three additional years! They would all deserve an ‘Emmy’ for their performances if this were a made-for-TV movie. Unfortunately, this is no movie. This is reality, American style.

The great PR victory

And while we must give them all credit for this remarkable PR accomplishment, America cannot afford to swoon in admiration of its theatricality any longer, especially when our country is smarting from unprecedented deficits, obscenely high unemployment, a vacillating and seemingly sophomoric foreign policy, along with a new class war that can only be described as a bait and switch tactic designed to move voters’ focus from the Administration’s many failures.

The Presidents’ men are convinced that Mr. Obama’s personal likeability will save his Presidency, but they forget that the voters didn’t elect a class president. They elected a real President that was supposed to represent all of the people and not just those that subscribed to his own political philosophy (and that goes for his own party that has repeatedly refused to vote for his proposals like the budget)!  This President’s modus operandi has been to avoid working with the opposition, and in some cases even demonizing them.

This is not statesmanship. It is blind stubbornness and a total affront to Americans’ sensibilities and a misreading of their inherent fairness. It is also unworthy of a leader who resolutely adheres to a narrow economic and social philosophy that has effectively stiff-armed the desires of millions of moderate Democrats and independents who cast their votes for him in the hopes that he would bring us together as he so often promised on the campaign trail in 2008.

Leadership not followship

Presidents’ decisions must never be based solely on political polling, nor should they totally ignore them, especially when they concern foreign policy or social issues that affect all Americans. Every President must occasionally swallow his pride and cross the aisle of the political divide to get things done. Stern looks, veiled threats and smugness will not win the day, neither will condoning ramrod techniques to pass massive social legislation (the Affordable Healthcare Act) in the dark of night.

While some may judge his actions as courageous, and encourage him to redouble his efforts and take off the gloves, others will call his intransigence hubris and arrogance, not audacity.

I believe that most Americans are tired of bare knuckle street fighting tactics and want their leaders, starting with the Commander-in-Chief, to unclench their fists and extend their hands in bi-partisanship (though this may be wishful thinking in a political season that can only be described as a free-for-all). That shouldn’t stop us from wanting it, however.

Critics of the President will accuse him of being a totally political animal, one that cares little for the Constitution or the institutions of government if they get in his way. Supporters will say that process shouldn’t stop progress, and that if the President can get what he wants by going off script (Executive Orders, etc.) then so be it.

It’s getting harder to ascribe the best motives to Mr. Obama’s actions when indications of his willingness to go rogue are everywhere. The latest example is the ‘forced contraception coverage’ decision that mandates religious institutions discard their own strongly-held theological beliefs and accede to an overbearing government’s view of what those beliefs ought to be.  If that doesn’t skirt the edges of the First Amendment, I don’t know what does.

Should likeability trump good governance?

In the end, I’m convinced that the likeability factor will loom large in the 2012 campaign for the Presidency, probably accompanied by the have and have-not (the 1%) argument. We’ll have to accept that fact as part of the package, but what we should want to see and hear is a serious discussion of the candidates’ visions for America, absent the usual platitudes and harkening back to shining cities on a hill or I have a dream-like references that sounded much better when uttered by their original authors.

We are electing a leader in November and not a heroic figure conjured up from the wellspring of our own imagination or one that is based on a composite of our own personal desires. If we really want a President that can help get us out of the metaphorical ditch we find ourselves in, then we need to elect one with the skills, talent and the experience necessary to truly lead our fragmented nation into the next four years.

To do that, you and I will need to reboot our decision-making process in favor of a rational, objective assessment of the candidates’ records. There’s an old saying in the entertainment business, “You’re only as good as your last performance,” and performance is the one metric that Americans have traditionally chosen over advertising when buying anything of enduring value.

- Editor-   Opposing viewpoints are always welcomed and may be sent to:

Joy and Grief – Two sides of the coin of life

Posted on 30. May, 2012 by Stephan Helgesen in Social/Cultural

This week I met a woman who runs a center for children’s grief counseling. Her name is Katrina Koehler and she’s been ministering to hundreds of children each year for over ten years at a place called ‘Gerard’s House’ up in Santa Fe.

Most of us push the thought of death as far away from our conscious thoughts as possible, preferring instead to pretend it’s way out there someplace – like a bad tornado that’s swirling around some other community and not on a path of destruction for our town.

I guess that’s only human, but when death strikes our families abruptly like it did for the Sanchez family of Santa Fe back in 1996 after their son, Gerard, died in a car crash, the results are catastrophic, especially for the children of those families affected.

The year 1996 was a particularly bad year for teenage deaths in Santa Fe, with several resulting from auto accidents and others from suicides. The ‘walking wounded’ were the children in the affected families, many of them very young, impressionable youngsters who had never faced tragedy of this magnitude before.

Their brother was gone and wouldn’t ever play video games with them again, or their sister wasn’t around to braid their hair. Maybe their mother or father would no longer tuck them in at night or tell them another bedtime story. It could have been a classmate taken by a swift illness that left the seat in front of them at school forever empty. The pain is excruciating and often confusing.

How do we tell our children about death but more importantly, how do we help them understand their grief and go through their grieving process? That’s the goal of Gerard’s House and what prompted its establishment in 1996.

As I sat on a comfortable sofa in the center, surrounded by the colorful drawings done by grieving children, I saw their grief and pain depicted in many different ways, so I asked Katrina how children experienced such a massive shock like the loss of a parent.

She took a moment, collected her thoughts and seemed to look directly past my eyes into my soul and said calmly that while loss is universal and grieving a natural part of that loss, every single child experiences it differently.

She gestured with her arms around the room and said that this was like a ‘safe house’ for battered emotions, a place where children from the ages of 3 to 21 come together and find safety and get the permission they need to FEEL and DISPLAY their grief.  It was not a place where adults would lay out a six point plan for grief management and expect them to follow it as if it were instructions on building a model airplane.

“No,” she said. “Children need to release their sadness and their pain and even their anger at the unfairness of losing a loved one, and they need to know that they WILL recover and return to joy, eventually.  We choose our ‘companioners’ (volunteer grief counselors) carefully.

We are not here to push children through a clinical regimen. We don’t want them to look good to the outside world but harbor a profound sense of loss on the inside simply because they weren’t shown how to deal with their grief. That is just a recipe for more confusion and more pain when death occurs again.”

My last moments with Katrina were at her memorial wall of remembrance where the photos of deceased Gerard’s House’ children’s parents, brothers and sisters hung proudly, reminding all who walk by them of their special lives, cut short by untimely deaths.

I’m confident their memories will never fade and their sons and daughters, grandchildren, siblings and friends have learned to accept their deaths thanks to the spiritual triage and inherent goodness of people like Katrina and all the volunteers at Gerard’s House.

- Editor: If you’d care to volunteer or to contribute to Gerard’s House, please contact them at:  Tel. 505/424-1800 or Email:

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