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Wining the Battles but Losing the War.

Earlier this year, the Koch Brothers hosted the elite of the Tea Party Republicans at a posh resort here in New Mexico. This meeting was so exclusive and private that they rented the entire resort and did not allow anyone including the media anywhere near the place.

The speculation that ensued had Democrat Senator Tom Udall and Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham certain they would be targets in the sights of Republican hopefuls for the 2014 elections. Well in fact, Senator Udall and Congresswoman Grisham are indeed high value targets for Republican strategists, however the story doesn’t end there.

The greater Republican strategy incorporates winning and maintaining offices at the very root of government in New Mexico Counties. From School Board, City Council, Mayoral and County Commission races.

Democrats in red Counties with little financial  support from local donors, and even less support from the State Party, are hamstrung when trying to find candidates to compete in local races. Who wants to put up big dollars only to get their butts handed to them on election day. I sympathize with them, I’ve seen it happen time and time again.

When Republican Party officials at a national level with all of the PACs and hidden money target local races slowly but surely Republicans win the day not because of public support but because of the money and organization behind their candidates. 

Chaves County is a perfect example. We have a single elected official on the City Council and not another official anywhere else in the County. Despite turning out an additional 6% of Democratic voters in 2012 we lost a veteran State Senator of 36 years to a Tea Party candidate with barely a high school education. Already part of the local Republican boondoggle, this kid will reportedly put in excess of 2 million dollars in his pocket.

Don’t believe me? Then explain this. Why would Republicans in Washington be conducting a Push Poll for a local tea Party Mayoral Candidate when that candidates opposition is also Republican? Why is Governor Martinez paying so much attention to this race? 

Republicans have placed paid operatives in local communities to orchestrate voter registration drives that only register Republicans or pay kids $14.00 per hour to canvass and push poll the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in a negative light. They own the newspapers and local radio stations and apparently have unlimited resources to do their biding.

We Democrats, by neglecting our local races and letting our share of power sift through our fingers like sand, will wake up one day living in an America void of Democracy.

Secretary Of State Duran Leads Voter Suppression Efforts Against New Mexicans

by DPNM Chairman Sam Bregman
Secretary of State Duran had barely assumed office before unleashing Republicans favorite scare tactic that is used to suppress groups they fear and dislike-voting fraud. The scenario is always the same: throngs of non-citizens appear on Election Day to cast ballots, thus changing the results of said election to favor ‘Democrats.’ Wild claims and charges were made by the Secretary of State, eventually proving invalid and worthless. This unqualified official was then forced to back down and look for new ways to suppress turnout and discourage Democratic voters.

Next up was finding a job for out-of-work former state senator and chief political hack, Rod Adair. Qualifications? While serving in the State Senate, Mr. Adair warned against ‘Sharia Law and radical Muslim aggression’ repeating over and over again that “we must prevent the introduction of Sharia Law within the United States.” Then, upon retiring from the State Senate: “…..I can have a greater impact trying to help create a Republican majority, rather than trying to be a part of it.” Enough said.

Ms. Duran’s agenda and priorities are clear—create roadblocks wherever possible to suppress Democratic voters and politicize the Office of Secretary of State with ultra-partisan Republicans. Representative Nate Cote (D-Las Cruces) introduced a bill to help fix the voting nightmare that engulfed Chaparral on Election Day 2012, which had long lines, leaving the last person in line to vote at 10:45 PM. Not surprisingly, Secretary of State Duran opposed Rep. Cote’s bill. More excuses and explanations when all that is required is for Ms. Duran to just do the job voters elected her to do.

Next year Democrats will elect a Secretary of State that will encourage and empower all New Mexicans to exercise one of their most cherished responsibilities as citizens—the power to vote and make change.

The NRA Is Wrong: The Myth of Illegal Guns by Matthew Parker

The NRA says gun control won't work because illegal guns are so easy to get. But as a convicted felon, I know Adam Lanza never could have gotten an illegal firearm.

Nearly 100 confiscated illegal firearms rest on a table before a press conference on gun trafficking with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, NYPD Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, and New York City District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Friday, Oct. 12, 2012 in New York. (John Minchillo/AP)
There is a prolific myth in the United States which asserts that illegal firearms are easily obtainable. Bolstered by pro-gun lobbyists like the NRA, we are led to believe that, in most cities in America, there is a shady character on a particular street corner who will sell a gun to anybody, no questions asked, and because of this, there is no reason to eliminate loopholes allowing legal sales of firearms to, well, shady characters.
I’m a convicted felon who lives in the Bronx. Despite the nonviolent nature of my crimes—my convictions range from counterfeiting to felony-shoplifting to possession of narcotics and drug paraphernalia—I cannot legally purchase a firearm. But given my somewhat shady past (not to mention the Bronx being the Bronx) I’m fairly certain that I could find a shady character close to home who will sell me a gun illegally—with three caveats: I’d risk being sent back to prison if caught, I would be putting my life in danger, and the price of weapons bought in such deals can be in excess of five times their retail cost. To put this in perspective, the assault weapon that Adam Lanza used to murder 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut, last December, which has a retail value of between $1,000 and $2,000, could cost between five and ten grand on the streets.
My point is that purchasing firearms illegally should be an ordeal, and that effective background checks would be the first step in making it so. But what’s also pertinent is that Lanza was not a shady character with a long criminal history, and so would have had no experience moving in illicit circles. Background checks may have forced him to do so—to risk being arrested, robbed, or even killed in some dark alley for the substantial sum he’d have needed in order to buy a gun illegally.
There is, of course, a legitimate argument that background checks would not have prevented the Newtown massacre. This is likely true, but it’s also equally true that Lanza would have been denied easy access to legal firearms if his mother, the purchaser and owner of the assault weapons he used (and the first one to be murdered by Lanza) had utilized trigger locks and/or a gun safe—prudent safety features that any good NRA member would wholeheartedly advocate.
Can any level-headed American honestly picture Adam Lanza gaining the confidence of hardened, street-level arms dealers?
But let’s suppose for a minute that she did, and that Lanza, after failing a background check, would have had to purchase his weapons from some inner-city shady character. Can any level-headed American honestly picture Adam Lanza, the spineless murderer of children, gaining the confidence of hardened, street-level arms dealers?
And let’s not stop there. What if Jared Loughner or James Holmes had to go out into the streets and risk their lives in order to obtain their weapons? Loughner killed six and injured 14 in Tucson, Arizona, in January of 2011, and Holmes is responsible for murdering 12 and wounding 58 in Aurora, Colorado in July of last year. It would have been an ordeal for them to buy illegal weapons simply because, like Lanza, they were not immersed in lawlessness.
When pro-gun lobbyists insist that it’s relatively easy for criminals to obtain firearms illegally they have the luxury of categorizing Lanza, Loughner, and Holmes as criminals because it is after the fact of their crimes. But if you examine the scenario before the fact it’s plain to see that you’re dealing with sick individuals whose criminal proclivities existed solely in their minds. Their first step in becoming criminals was getting their hands on guns and ammunition. Holmes and Loughner, in particular, were able to buy their weapons legally, passing the nominal background checks that currently exist with ease. So the question remains: How do we mold an effective law that would flag psychotics attempting to buy guns?
Every inmate admitted into the Arizona Department of Corrections is required to take a mandatory psych test. I took it on four separate occasions, one for each time I was sentenced to an Arizona State prison. The test runs about two hours, and was quite proficient at identifying the mentally disturbed—especially those prone to violence. Incoming inmates who failed this test were automatically removed from general population and redirected for further psychological evaluation.
This simple test should be mandatory for any individual who wishes to purchase a firearm.
Which brings us back to the original question: How easy would it have been for Lanza, Loughner, and Holmes to have purchased their weapons illegally? In response I challenge any pro-gun lobbyist and/or pundit to pocket a few thousand dollars and head out alone into the streets of any major city, find a shady character, and purchase a firearm illegally in the same manner that a psychotic and/or criminal would have to do if we had effective background checks in place.
But all this is, of course, academic, since a watery background-check bill was recently defeated by the Senate, leaving me to wonder if there aren’t a lot more shady characters out there than we are led to believe.
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Matthew Parker is the author and illustrator of the graphic memoir Larceny In My Blood.
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