Thursday, September 30, 2010

Score September For Susana; Now For October, Plus: Our Ruminations On This Joyless Campaign, And: Rasmussen With 10 Point Lead For Martinez

  • Rasmussen survey released Friday afternoon gives Martinez a ten point lead--50-40--over Denish in Guv race. When "leaners" are included it is 51-41 in favor of Martinez. 

  • Score September for Susana. She began the month five points ahead and either kept or expanded that lead, depending on which poll you look at. When Dem Guv nominee Diane Denish came with a poll of her own that showed  the GOP hopeful just one point shy of the critical 50% mark, Martinez took the month definitively.

    Previously, we scored June for Martinez when Denish's first round of ads backfired. July went to Denish when she regained her footing. Susana took August when Di failed to gain ground. So it is 3 to 1 in the month by month battle. But October is the month that can quickly wipe away earlier sorrows and mistakes. Hope is still alive for the underdog.

    The starting line for the final month will be drawn in chalk Sunday when the ABQ Journal comes with its second Guv poll. The late August survey had Martinez winning 45 to 39. If this survey has Martinez expanding her lead it will be a blow to Di, but if the lieutenant governor has narrowed the gap it could rejuvenate her forces.


    Former NM GOP Governor Dave Cargo ('67-'70) told us this week that this "is the most sterile campaign I've ever seen." And it may well be, consisting as it does of high-level nuclear attack TV ads and little else. The candidates hardly appear together to debate the issues. Contrast that with previous competitive Guv campaigns when the contenders have appeared together more than a dozen times. So far, we have had a mere two joint appearances. Two TV debates are scheduled in October, but that may be all we get. The turgid TV ads is all much of the public knows of this race.

    It seems to be fine with both sides, too. Neither candidate appears to especially enjoy their outings together. There is rarely any humor between the pair or from them individually and both seem wound too tight and over consulted. Maybe it is their inexperience at this level, but the authenticity that has been so prized in state politics seems to have been replaced by packaging. Maybe now that we've reached the 2 million population mark, we can't expect much personal politics--at least in the cities. But how about some door-to-door campaigning or some old-fashioned gimmicks to give this campaign some warmth and humanity to overcome the sterility?

    About the only one who seems to be having any fun is Brian Colón, the Dem Light Guv candidate who is the modern day version of the Happy Warrior. He's hopscotching from town to town and tweeting away with abandon.

    But the Guv candidates seem petrified of making a mistake and having it caught for the next wreckless TV attack ad which would be reliably delivered without joy, humor or irony. But the negative ads, of course, are effectively brutal. The 81 year old Cargo doesn't pine for the days of the past, just a future where there is some connection between the campaign and governing. In 2010, in New Mexico, he seems to be asking too much. 


    He's done everything but throw Rolex watches at the state fair parade crowd to get his popularity back up, but all recent polling shows Big Bill mired in the low 30's or even high 20's in voter approval. Maybe he'll get some credit for keeping his bills down?


    A nice pat on the back for southern Dem Congressman Harry Teague from the Alamogordo Daily News. They come with an early endorsement of Teague who is locked in a brutal battle for his political survival against GOP challenger Steve Pearce.

    We've seen the many things he has done for Alamogordo, Otero County and Holloman Air Force Base. We've seen his work with area veterans, an issue he takes so seriously that, as a freshman congressman, he was able to gain a seat on the Veterans Affairs Committee. That's where he's able to work on such issues as veterans' health care funding, veterans' mental health, economic opportunity for veterans, women veterans' issues and veteran homelessness.

    That the endorsement comes from the most conservative part of the district is especially gratifying for Teague who Pearce is painting as too liberal.


    We wondered in our June 15 blog about the grandparents of Susana Martinez, who would, if elected Nov. 2,  become the first Hispanic female Governor in the nation's history. The press has not told us much about her family background Well, it turns out on June 24 Martinez did address her grandparents' heritage. It was with an interview with national radio talk show host Laura Ingraham the candidate said her grandparents on her father's side were born in Mexico. From a reader:

    Martinez said her paternal grandparents were born in Mexico. Martinez was asked about her parent’s background and whether they came from Mexico. Martinez said,
    “No. My, my paternal grandparents did. My parents…who were born in the United States...and my maternal grandparents were in the United States but not my paternal grandparents...

    It may take some time, but just about every question ever posed here is eventually answered.

    Martinez was born and raised in El Paso. Large campaign contributions she's received from Texas are a focal point of one of Diane Denish's current TV spots.


    Democrat Karen Montoya looks good for re-election as Bernalillo County assessor, but appointed Bernco Sheriff Manny Gonzales seems to be struggling against Republican Dan Houston.

    This is the home of New Mexico politics.

    Email your news and comments. Interested in advertising here? Drop us a line. 

    (c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2010Not for reproduction without permission of the author

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    Chevrolet Cruze Hatchback Comes

    Chevrolet will present the pre-series version of Cruze hatchback at Paris Auto Show 2010. The model is one of four premieres of the American automaker at this edition of the Paris Motor Show.

    Chevrolet Cruze will be offered in a hatchback version, which will begin in a form that the guys from Chevrolet calls a presentation on September 30 at the Paris Auto Show. Obviously, the design lines of this model we can find on the car that customers can buy from showrooms in 2011, the specific elements of the copy presented at Paris are the head lights, the fog lights with blue LEDs, elements that will not appear on the final version.

    Cruze Hatchback will be available for sale across Europe in mid of 2011, and the prices will be announced closer to launch date. The model has the same posture as his sedan “brother” and fully benefit from the same type of chassis, “BFI”. According to Chevrolet, the use of the “BFI” system provides high levels of stability and strength.

    Regarding the specifications of the new Cruze Hatchback, the officials did not give a lot of details. However, we know that the Cruze hatchback trunk has a volume of about 400 liters and the rear seats can be folded split, 60/40. No information about the engines that will get this model, most likely they will be taken directly from Cruze sedan version. Do not expected that the model to has a model number calipers painted blue and blue head lights, the copy from the pictures is not the final version of Cruze Hatchback.

    New Ford Generation Ford Focus 2011

    Ford has presented, before the opening of the the Detroit Motor Show, the first information and pictures of the new generation Focus, a model that, this time, will be the same both in US and Europe.

    Ford Focus hatchback featuring a sporty 5-door, 4-door sedan that is elegant, and the station wagon 5-spintu stylish. Focus beramunisi a number of technologies including Low Speed Safety System, Active Park Assist, Lane Keeping Aid and Torque vectoring Control.

    Ford Focus will fill the market with diesel and gasoline engines. Range of gasoline engines: 1.6-liter EcoBoost with a choice of 150 hp and 180 hp, and 1.6-liter Duratec Ti-VCT-powered 105 hp and 125 hp. While the choice of the Focus TDCi Duratorq diesel engine, 1.6 liters (95 hp and 115 hp) and 2.0 liters (115 hp, 140 hp and 163 hp).

    The first generation Focus was born in 1998. Focus population has exceeded 10 million units. And, the latest generation Focus is a global car developed in Europe. Focus will be sold in more than 120 countries.

    Focus will be the base for 10 cars Ford and ready to reach production of 2 million per year from 2012. 80% of its components have in common. Focus into the production line in late 2010 and early 2011 began to be marketed.

    Ford presented the first official pictures of the new generation Ford Focus 2011 that will have its world premiere during the day, at the Auto Show in Detroit. Unlike the previous generations, the new Focus is a global model, planning to have the same form in the US and Europe, which is also why the model is presented to an auto show in its native country. Moreover, Ford has chosen – for this very reason – to present, in the same time, both the hatchback and the sedan versions of the new model, the US market being accustomed to rather choose the ordinary four-door version than the Focus hatchback so present on the European streets.

    Aesthetically speaking, the new Focus highlights a very clear belonging to the new line of models of the Blue Oval, being practically a larger version of the Fiesta subcompact model. Focus’s design is purely European, the car being developed at a design center in Germany that the Michigan brand owns. The dimensions remained the same both for the sedan and the hatchback, the dimensions of the chassis and the suspension’s hardware being also borrowed from the old generation, with the necessary improvements.

    The new generation Focus will be made in parallel in the Ford plants in Saarlouis (Germany), Michigan (USA) and Chongqing (China), following that, later, production sites in Spain and Russia to enter the game, too. The new Focus will go on sale in 2011.

    Wednesday, September 29, 2010

    Democrats Gone Wild: ABQ Councilors Worry About Nukes, Not Jobs, Plus: Di's Health Plan: What Did She Forget? And: The Taos Tax Rebellion

    Where is the leadership in the New Mexico Democratic Party or at least a unifying principle over the direction of the economy in the state's largest city? These questions arise in the wake of the four ABQ Democratic city councilors supporting a bizarre resolution that calls for dismantling nuclear weapons stored at Kirtland Air Force Base and shipping them to Texas.

    The non-binding resolution was shot down by the five Republicans on the council, but the vote was not innocuous. It came as military and business insiders were taking in fresh speculation in DC about a possible closure of Kirtland. A decision on the future of the base is expected in a couple of years. We avoided a shut down of KAFB in the mid-90s with a bipartisan effort and continue to enjoy the billions in economic impact the facility brings.

    Which leads us back to our questions. Where was Democratic Senator Jeff Bingaman who will seek reelection in 2012 on a platform of safeguarding Federal dollars for the state? And where was Democratic Congressman Martin Heinrich, seeking re-election this year and citing his service on the House Armed Services Committee as a boon for the metro area. Heinrich was once a leading liberal light on the city council. Could he not have spoken with some of his former colleagues before the ill-advised resolution saw the light of day? And what about business-friendly NM Dem Chairman Javier Gonzales?

    This place would be a ghost town without the base upon which the modern day city and its economy were built. It's true there would be a lot fewer Republican voters if KAFB went away, but we won't throw that brickbat at our wayward councilors.

    The most surprising vote in favor of the resolution came from council president and fiscal conservative Dem Ken Sanchez. He has been a longtime advocate of economic development who is thinking about a run for mayor in a couple of years. Guess he figured the far-left could derail his bid, but he should be more concerned about how he is going to get elected citywide after such a vote

    And before the  R's slap themselves on the back, could not Republican Mayor RJ Berry and his administration have done more to stave off a vote that puts this resolution in the record, perhaps to be taken advantage of by base closure advocates?

    The councilors voting for the resolution would seek to claim the moral high ground by advocating an anti-nukes position, but what of the thousands of "working families" the Dems repeatedly cite as their chief concern when electioneering? What about the morality of protecting their jobs and livelihoods?

    This being the political season we could see how the R's could score the Dems over this, but we hope they don't. What the city needs now is leadership and a bipartisan effort to lay the groundwork for keeping Kirtland open and keeping those working families working.


    That anti-Kirtland council resolution hit an especially raw nerve because:

    Albuquerque has experienced three straight years of private-sector job loss, losing a total of 27,800 jobs since 2007. The peak was in August of 2007 when the Duke City had 318,200 private-sector jobs. As of August of 2010 that figure is 290,400.

    Thirty-five of the nation’s 100 biggest metropolitan areas are on the rebound, according to a report issued Wednesday morning by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Albuquerque is in the other group of 65 that are considered sinking...

    The Feds say metro area unemployment is now at 9.3 percent. All we need now is to start losing Federal jobs. Not.


    Health-care jobs have been one of the few employment pluses in an otherwise dreary  jobless climate in our state. Dem Guv hopeful Diane Denish came  with a plan  Wednesday to attract more high school students to the booming field. But did she forget something? What about a dental school at the University of  New Mexico? Big Bill and Senator Jeff have both supported the concept but nothing much has happened. A dental school is going to cost money but so did the UNM medical and law schools, and they have been great successes for our state.

    New Mexico's youth need job opportunities more than ever. Why shouldn't a kid from Chama or Hatch have a shot at becoming a dentist right here and staying here? The business they would start would certainly contribute to our economy (Heck, it might even lower the cost of filling that cavity if we have more dentists). But first we have to invest and follow the model that the  state's political leadership of the 50's and 60's gave us.


    We can see why they said it, but we differ with the analysis of GOP congressional hopefuls Jon Barela and Steve Pearce on the political impact of the President's Tuesday visit to ABQ.  

    Jon Barela and Steve Pearce said Obama's visit would remind voters of Democratic policies that have been unable to significantly improve the economy. 

    But Obama made it clear by where he visited that he was mining for Democratic votes, not Republicans or independents or even swing voters. Much of that vote is already gone. What isn't gone is the Democratic base. It is just threatening not to show up at the polls. Obama's approval rating among state Dems is a healthy 69% in the latest Journal poll. His job here was to get them off their couches and into the voting booths. They don't disagree with "Democratic policies" but they are dejected that those policies have not gone far enough or done more to end the recession.

    This is going to be a low-turnout base election. It will be won on get-out-the-vote efforts as much as anything else. Obama aimed at the right target in ABQ this week. Whether he hit it is the question.


    There wasn't much rain on President Obama's parade when he visited ABQ this week. The weather was late-fall beautiful and protesters were minimal. Still, former NM GOP executive director Greg Graves, now a consultant with the Republican Governors Association, has a bone to pick, so pick away, Greg:

    Joe, what a great day for New Mexico...I am glad he got to see part of our city and experience the culinary fare. I am just wondering who paid for the trip. It was announced as a non-political trip but sure turned into one. Will the Denish and Heinrich campaigns be billed for a portion of the trip? If he had only stopped for lunch I assume it would be OK, but he walked around the café introducing the “next governor” and encouraged people to go vote for Denish.

    When I was executive director of the NMGOP we had numerous trips into NM by President Bush. We or the campaigns had to pay for the trips in the state. I suppose this is not a really big deal, but it is an interesting questions and I wonder if Ms. Ethics in government Denish will step forward and do the right thing...

    The Denish campaign says Greg can put his worries to rest. Everything was official:

    The backyard conversation in the South Valley was part of an official visit by the President and the stop at Barelas Coffee House wasn't planned, nor was it an event organized by the campaign. We follow all the relevant regulations about payments for campaign expenses and will continue to make sure we follow all the of the rules...

    See, no politics happened when the Prez was here. Whoever heard of politics in the South Valley of ABQ, anyway? Perish the thought!


    Rep. Martin Heinrich deprived GOP challenger Barela of some ammo when he joined with 38 other Dems Wednesday and voted not to adjourn the House. They got out of town by one vote after Republicans pushed to stay in so the Bush tax cuts could be extended. Heinrich explained why he voted to stay:

    Congress needs to provide permanent tax cuts for the middle-class while allowing tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires to expire. We can't pay down the Bush administration's debt and fund critical programs like Medicare if we're writing checks for $700 billion to the richest Americans. Anybody who's ever balanced a family checkbook knows that.

    We might ask Martin if he is so upset about those low tax rates for the rich why he didn't support the proposed tax on millionaires to help finance the Obama health-care plan. Oh, guess we just did.


    If you don't think there are all that many wealthy taxpayers to tax, we have fresh info here that says while our state is at the bottom in a lot of rankings when it comes to the number of millionaires, we look pretty fit: 

    New Mexico lands at No. 34 in a list ranking states based on the 2010 percentage of millionaire households. New Mexico has 34,145 millionaires, or 4.07 percent of the state's total households. New Mexico ranks below the national average, with 4.78 percent of all U.S. households considered millionaire status.

    The list, compiled each year by Phoenix Marketing International, bases its rankings on households with at least $1 million in investable, liquid assets and does not count sponsored retirement accounts or real estate values.

    By the way, embattled Dem Congressman Harry Teague voted for House adjournment and took the predictable hits for it from the national R's.


    We've been keeping our eye on the ever escalating gross receipts tax rates in New Mexico cities and towns and have been alarmed that some rates are now approaching 9 percent. In Taos, residents had enough when the Taos Council this summer passed an increase taking the tax from 8.1875 to 8.4375 percent. They circulated petitions calling for a public vote and that forced the town leaders to back off:

    The Taos Town Council unanimously voted in favor of repealing a proposed gross-receipts tax increase...Mayor  Darren Córdova announced  he would be asking the council  to repeal an ordinance that would raise the GRT by a quarter-percent.. The council voted unanimously to impose  the GRT increase Aug. 10, but petitions calling for a municipal election  over the issue were soon circulating.

    The personal income tax in New Mexico is not what the R's should call a "job-killing" tax. It is the on-the-rise gross receipts tax that especially hits middle and lower income voters that hurts job development. We've lowered the personal income rates on everyone including the rich. Those rates may need to go up while the job destroying gross receipts goes down. But good luck figuring out how, Governor whoever.


    Writing to you is not a privilege we take for granted:

    TEHRAN, Iran--An Iranian court sentenced the founder of one of the first Farsi-language blogs, credited with sparking the boom in Iranian reform bloggers, to more than 19 years in prison for his writings, a news web site reported Tuesday.

    Okay, if things get too hot around here, we're switching to Spanish. Let them figure that out.


    VP Joe Biden is in ABQ today for a fund-raiser in the North Valley for Diane Denish and Susana Martinez is prepping for a big name visitor of her own. Former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 GOP presidential hopeful will campaign for her next Monday. Want to go? Details: 

    Governor Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts Monday, October 4,  2010. VIP  Reception: $2,500  per  couple; $1,500  per individual-Photo  Opportunity  included--General  Reception: $500  minimum per person. Please R.S.V.P to Ashley at 505-974-1396 or

    Mitt is a quality candidate, but his Mormon background has been a hindrance here, say several GOP Alligators. His solid business credentials help. 


    The long-derided NM Motor Vehicle Department has been recognized for having one of the nation's best Web sites? Okay, did something freeze over down in you-know-where?

    This is the home of New Mexico politics.

    Email your news and comments. Interested in advertising here? Drop us a line.

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    New Front Row-Milan!

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    Competition time: Nickname comp!

    So time for another comp!
    This one, is kinda of simple. All you do is GB me on Stardoll your nicknames (there's more, keep reading) or email me at!
    You have to make nickname's for these names:
    (your name, if you have one)
    (Boy's names)
    Remember! You can do as many as you want; you don't have to do all of them, but the winner is going to be the one with the best nicknames, and maybe a second place for the most creative, but not best exactly. I hope you'll al try and make up your own and not to copy. If your stuck on it then don't do it and move on to the next one (I'm making this sound like test, lol)! The surprise prize will be revealed at the end!

    Bye for now Stardolls,

    Tuesday, September 28, 2010

    Bailing Out New Mexico: How It May Be Done, Plus: Latest From The Guv Trail, And: Obama In ABQ; News & Political Gossip From His South Valley Trail

    Since the candidates for governor won't tell us how they're going to close a Grand Canyon sized budget shortfall that will shadow their administration, we'll take a stab at where they may find themselves January 1.

    If oil and gas prices fail to rebound, depriving the state treasury of the hundreds of millions needed to get the budget in balance, we look for key state legislators and perhaps the new Governor to start circling the state's $14 billion permanent funds like hungry sharks.

    The budget has gone from a peak of $6 billion to $5.2 billion. Can we take it down another $500 million without a political donnybrook? Unlikely. And with both Guv hopefuls whistling past the graveyard and saying they will not raise taxes, the political alternative that looms large is those permanent fund dollars.

    That money is nearly sacred, with much of the cash having been built up since statehood. But if you aren't going to raise taxes, mammoth spending cuts are not politically feasible and federal stimulus funds are not gong to come to the rescue, what's a new Gal Guv to do?

    The plan floating around Santa Fe, soon to gain steam, we think, would not directly raid those funds. That would require a constitutional amendment approved by voters. Instead, a bonding scheme would be proposed to get at royalty revenue headed towards the fund before it was banked.

    Dem Di reacts lukewarmly to any fund raid that does not have the voters stamp of approval:

    Any governor would have to seriously consider such a proposal on its individual merits. But, before even considering using permanent funds, I would like to see my government-reform agenda fully enacted. There's a good reason we ultimately leave these decisions to the voters--it's because they are so important and our permanent funds are a promise to New Mexico's future generations," she said.

    Said conservatively, but important to note she kept the option open. 

    Republican Susana is more emphatic in opposing the use of permanent fund cash to resolve this modern day depression:

    The budget deficit is a result of overspending and mismanagement of the taxpayers' dollars," she said. "We can only solve the budget crisis by restoring fiscal sanity to our budgeting process."

    With both candidates taking the tax hike option off the table, budget solutions are few when the Legislature convene in January. Under those circumstances the permanent fund solution--as dreaded as it may be--appears ready to take off. 


    A lot of this final stretch is about establishing an emotional connection. That seems to be a problem for Lieutenant Governor Denish who is not a glad-hander and has a personality that is as laid back as a Lazy Boy recliner. But in her latest TV spot her handlers have her narrate the entire 30 seconds as they work to establish a more personal bond with Dem voters and get them to take ownership of her candidacy. Some of the copy:

    I’m the only candidate who’s owned a small business, created jobs and has a plan to turn our economy around. My opponent’s plan?

    (Martinez) wants to get rid of rules that protect us from big corporations allowing 400% interest on loans, mortgage lenders to kick people out of their homes and pollution of our precious land and water. We've been there before--As Governor I won't let us go back.

    Looks like a solid effort, but the Martinez camp is not hearing any of it. This is a  paragraph they put out taking note of Di's new populist tone:

    Trailing in the polls, Denish is desperately trying to recast herself as a populist and wage a class warfare campaign, which is a curious strategy for a woman of privilege whose household makes huge profits from insider deals with wealthy corporations.

    And Martinez accompanies that broadside with a spin-off of the controversial ad accusing Denish and her husband Herb of promoting an insider deal with land developer Mesa del Sol so he could get big lobbying fees. The factual content of the first ad has been shot down by the nonpartisan

    Here's the reworked ad, called "China." It continues Susana's "all-corruption-all-the-time" campaign.

    AG TV

    Republican Matt Chandler comes with is first TV as he challenges incumbent Dem Gary King for attorney general. It's a bio spot and can be seen here.


    Talk about bad timing! We shot a video at the Barelas Coffee House on 4th Street Monday with our political analysts John Wertheim and Greg Payne (posted on yesterday's blog) but should have waited until Tuesday. That's because President Obama, in town for the morning, decided to stop in and get some take-out at the storied restaurant in the Barelas neighborhood.

    Not that our timing was all bad. While there Monday the three of us ran into Diane Denish who was having lunch with her campaign manager. She expressed guilt over having a small plate of calorie-rich   chicharrones on her table. Judging from the pictures, she may have been too busy to have a second order when she accompanied the President to the restaurant on Tuesday. But he ordered some of the pork morsels along with some Huevos to go....

    Big Bill was pictured sitting and listening to the President as he addressed a backyard crowd of 35 at the home of a retired Marine in the ABQ South Valley. Wonder what he was thinking: "What could have been?"....

    Dem US Rep. Martin Heinrich also got face time with the Prez by attending the backyard event. Whether it is a Democrat or Republican representing the ABQ district, we always get a kick when they get to hang out with the Prez. Guess it's what you would call a vicarious thrill....

    Wonder how Mayor Berry felt greeting President Obama at Kirtland Air Force Base Monday night? That's one of the perks of his job--and a nice one at that....

    Maybe Obama will give Di a bit of a pop in the Journal poll that is being conducted this week and that will be released Sunday, but the visit was primarily aimed at the early voting that begins On Oct. 5 and continues all month. Obama's approval rating among Hispanics remains high....

    Maybe he calls her Di? The President mispronounced Denish's last name when introducing her at the South Valley event. He dubbed her: "Duh-neesh." Or is that the Hobbs pronunciation?.....

    What a contrast. Remember when Obama drew the largest crowd in New Mexico political history--about 40,000 in the fall of 2008 at the University of New Mexico? Yesterday 35 people were at the backyard event. Security is a lot easier that way, but you also manage expectations better. The video of that event is posted here....

    Nice symbolism for the TV cameras. Obama was framed by a red chile ristra and the American flag during his backyard speech. That was pretty cool....

    Did you get the demos (demographics)? The Prez made two stops and both were keyed to New Mexico Hispanics and culture. The South Valley visit with a Hispanic family and then to the Barelas Coffee House. This was not a stop to rouse independent voters, it was a stop to engage Democrats in this election....


    Here is Kendra Marr of the Politico giving us the White House Press Pool report from Obama's Barelas Coffee house visit. He made it no secret that he was there to help Di:

    Obama rolled up to the restaurant at 11:53 am and the four ladies behind the counter started screaming and clapping.

    "Hey guys," Obama said, sleeves still rolled up from the backyard event. Diane Denish stood by his side.

    Obama began shaking hands with employees in red aprons, then eventually all the workers came out of the kitchen.

    "I hear you guys have the best huevos rancheros," he said.

    The owner, who has operated the restaurant for 32 years, came to the front to greet the president and Denish.

    Obama said, "Here's a steady customer. She's gonna be a great governor."

    And then he proclaimed: "Let's go see some customers."

    Obama weaved around the restaurant shaking hands and obliging to cell phone pictures. "Everyone know your lieutenant governor? Soon to be ..."

    "Our governor!" a man finishes the sentence.

    "Tell everyone to get out and vote for Diane," Obama said.

    There was more hand shaking and Obama reiterating, "Thank you so much"

    "Everyone working hard for Diane I hope," he said.

    Obama told customers that their food looked "terrific." He said he was happy to be in a "beautiful community" with "wonderful people."

    The president met a young military veteran  Kiel Ellis. "You serve overseas?" Obama asked.

    "Yes sir I got out in 2002," Ellis responded.

    The president also met a firefighter and found a Chicago Bears fan in the corner of the restaurant.

    More hugs and cell phone photos.

    One lunch patron, Venny Sedillo, 78, who met Obama at the restaurant said after the encounter,"We need that kind of president. I told him thank you for what you've been doing."

    Finally Obama rounded up the entire staff for a group photo, directing people where to stand and who should get in front --"you guys are small"

    An employee handed him a bag of takeout and Obama began to holler
    "Where's my bill? Where's my bill?"

    Pointing to the press --"They'll write about it."

    The President in Barelas...a day in the life of our beloved La Politica...

    This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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    Also there is another new store (Gamezone)! It has things from videogames, like green mushrooms (1-up lifes) from something like Mario, and lots of other things. It also includes things like pac-man. And here is the code to get all of the items from the Gamezone store into your dressingroom,28065,28066,28067,28068,28069,28070,28071,28072,28073.28074,28075,28076,28077,28078,28079,28080,28081,28082,28083,28084,28085,28086,28089,28090,28091,28092,28093.28094,28095,28096,28097,28098,28099

    Bye for now,

    We know what Etrogim cost now, but what did they cost historically?

    What did an etrog cost about 100 years ago? What about closer to 200 years?

    Writing of Sukkot in Egypt in 1888, Elkan Nathan Alder speaks of having to pay "a very European price" for his etrog and lulav, but doesn't say what that is (Jews in Many Lands):

    An American source, the 1914 Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture, edited by Liberty Hyde Bailey, gives $5 to $10 as the price:

    What was $5 to $10 in 1914 in today's dollars? There are a few ways to measure that, but very crudely I used some online currency calculators which give a value of about $110 to $220.

    A British diplomatic source from the early 1880s says that an etrog could be had for as high as £1 or £2. In today's pounds that should be 75 or 80, which is something like $115 to $125 today (or twice that).

    Another source from 1893 gives the same £1 price:

    In 1829 a British source claims that they would sell for 2 or 3 guineas, which is like $212 or $318 today. Noting that this is expensive, it reports that about two sets would be found in the synagogue for people who didn't own one to use. Some enterprising businessmen would purchase one and then go around to the homes to allow people to make the blessing and take the lulav and etrog in hand for the sum of 2 to 7 shillings, which comes out to $8 to $27 in today's money. They could go to as many as 20 to 40 houses!

    There is no specific reason to doubt this, but it should be borne in mind that the wealth of British Jews was sometimes exaggerated in the British periodicals. For example, in 1802 the very credible Gentleman's Magazine reported that the newly installed British Chief Rabbi Solomon Hirschel's salary was £4000 a year. In today's money that's about £296,000, or about $468,000. This salary is not a gazillion billion dollars a year, but it is only on the outer reaches of possible. While Hirschel actually died a wealthy man, it was not from his salary, which initially was the far more modest sum of £250!

    Getting back to Etrogim, although this surveys is crude and only speak of two geographic areas, one gets the sense that Etrogim were very expensive, just as we might have predicted. Although Etrogim can still be had today at those high prices (adjusted), today more than $100 (or $200 or $300) are not the norm. While Etrogim are still pricey for a fruit, clearly they were out of reach of many in those times, while today there are enough imported and at a manageable price so that almost every one with an interest can purchase them. Of course replacing the more modest cost is the social pressure to purchase several sets per household - even for children. So perhaps on balance purchasing Etrogim today turns out to be as expensive, or even more so.

    These aren't Jewish pirates, part IV.

    On a fabulous blog I found pictures of the actual location drawn by Bernard Picart. Picart's engraving (as seen in part II of my Pirates Series™):

    Professor Laura Leibman of the awesomely named Early American Graveyard Rabbit blog took wonderful pictures of the old Spanish-Portuguese graveyard in Amsterdam, the Beth Haim Ouderkerk. Funny times we live in: this cemetery has a web site.

    First, as she explains, the building in which the men are seen is a funeral home of sorts (as we conjectured in the comments). It was a "House of Rounds," or Casa de Rodeos or Rodeamentos, as they were (are? hopefully) known. The "Rounds" are the very hakafot! Such a building was where the bodies were prepared for burial (the tahara), and where the circuits around the body took place. Picart drew the interior of the Beth Haim Ouderkerk's Casa de Rodeos, which was built in 1705 and still stands. Here is a photograph taken by Leibman:

    Even better, she took a beautiful picture of the plaque itself:

    (If you click the image you will see it at a much higher resolution as well as many more details, such as sinks, another inscription, etc.)

    Prof. Leibman is quite the connoisseur of old cemeteries and her blog is a must visit. But she also posted many photographs taken in the Jewish Hunt's Bay Cemetery in Jamaica (the subject of the first post in this series). Here are two of her photographs:

    The first is the same grave shown in the Flatbush Jewish Journal (original post), and the second is surely one of the other graves in the same cemetery mistakenly presumed to be those of Jewish pirates.

    Finally, just to point that the skull imagery was not only used by bewigged Western Sephardic assimilators, here is one from Frankfurt 1740, the same Kehilla Kedosha which the Chasam Sofer would proudly refer to all his life in his signature משה הק' סופר מפפ"דם:


    The above image is from a selichos manuscript written in 1740 and used by the Chevra Kadisha of Frankfurt. In the mid 18th century there was a Jewish revival of manuscript writing, and many beautiful hand written and illustrated siddurim and the like date from that era.

    Not a Pirate, part III, with additional info about attitudes of Sephardic Jews toward their brethren burned at the stake.

    Pardon my absence. :-)

    As an extension of my post I doubt he's a pirate, part II: Charity delivers from death! (part II of this post) I add some additional details.

    The second post depicted a scene from the very famous 18th century book about the rituals, customs and costumes of various religions, Bernard and Picart's Religious Ceremonies and Customs of All the Peoples of the World. In that post the point was to show skull imagery used by Jews as a reminder of mortality, a well known motif of the time period which had nothing to do with pirates.

    The actual image showed Dutch Sephardic Jews performing hakafot or seven circuits around a coffin. Rabbi Leone Modena mentions this custom in his Riti without giving a reason:

    Interestingly enough, although there were already two separate English translations of Modena's Riti (Edmund Chilmead's in 1650 and Simon Ockley's in 1707), the English version of Bernard and Picart's work included yet a third translation.

    Trachtenberg, in his Jewish Magic and Superstition, after describing the magical powers of circles writes: "it is interesting that in the Orient the general practice at a funeral is for the mourners actually to encircle the coffin seven times, reciting the "anti-demonic psalm." Similarly the late custom among East-European Jews (which also prevails in the Orient) for the bride to walk around her groom under the wedding canopy three, or seven times, was probably originally intended to keep off the demons who were waiting to pounce upon them." But alas, he just says it, and doesn't give a source or much beyond a "similarly" and a "probably originally." Although he mentions the "anti-demonic psalm" (which is Psalm 91) that is not the ritual I have seen.

    The prayers recited during this ritual are found in a fascinating siddur published in New York 1826.

    Nary a demon nor a Psalm 91 to be found. Of course it is possible that in other rituals this psalm was recited, but I bet Trachtenberg was conflating it with the Ashkenazic custom of stopping seven times during a funeral procession. Incidentally, the translator of this siddur, Solomon Henry Jackson, produced the first Jewish newspaper in America. In 1823 he published The Jew, which came out in 24 monthly issues. The purpose of this paper was to counter and refute the American Society for Meliorating the Condition of the Jews. Eleazar Samuel Lazarus, who was responsible for the Hebrew text of this siddur, was the poet Emma Lazarus's grandfather.

    Since we are discussing Spanish-Portuguese Jewish liturgy, here seems an appropriate place to post some images from Alexander Alexander's siddur, published in London in 1773. Horrifyingly, it includes the following Prayer For Martyrdom (השכבת השרופים על קדוש השם), for burned victims of autos de fé.

    Immediately following this prayer for those burned at the stake is . . . Birkhat Ha-mazon (Grace After Meals).

    Talya Fishman notes (Shaking the Pillars of Exile, pg. 57) that "Many conversos who had escaped the wrath of the Inquisition and relocated to safe havens suffered from what we might describe as "survivor's guilt." They had saved their lives by dissembling, while others, less fortunate, were burned at the stake."

    She goes on to describe their "need . . . to lionize the victims." Such former conversos idealized martyrdom as the highest religious ideal. For some reason she then switches to Iberian exiles in general, and footnotes R. Yosef Karo's desire to be burned at the stake, like Solomon Molcho had been. Here is one of the famous passages in Maggid Mesharim (זאת הברכה), where the Mishnah tells him that he will be burned at the stake:

    "I will make you worthy to be publicly burned in Eretz Yisrael, to sanctify my name in public, and be a burnt offering on my altar. Your sweet smell like incense will rise before me and your ashes will be piled on my altar. . . Your name will be remembered in synagogues and Batei Midrashot . . . You will be worthy to sanctify my name in public, just as my chosen one Shlomo, who was called Molcho, was worthy. . ."

    In case anyone thinks that the Mishnah is being harsh on him, note the very end: "I am the Mishnah speaking with your mouth, I kiss you with kisses of love and I embrace you."

    Thus for the prayer for martyrdom and the strong Sephardic feelings regarding the executions by fire.

    This post has gotten to long, so the hakafot themselves and more skull imagery will come in yet a fourth post. Also see this earlier post (Nobody Expects the Spanish Inqusition - in the late 18th century the autos de fe were no less fresh in the mind's of Sephardic Jews than the Holocaust is today).