mhallen headshotMerritt Hamilton Allen, whose work is published previously in the Edgewood Independent, will also provide her columns to the Grant County Beat. 

One person, one vote should mean something

It's interesting to me how unbothered many New Mexicans are by the decades of gerrymandering that have taken place in our state. The November 27 affirmation by the state Supreme Court of the lower court ruling upholding the 2021 redistricting plan signed into law by the Democratic legislature was similarly anticlimactic.

The all-Democrat Supreme Court simply agreed with the previous District Court ruling that well, yes, the Democratic legislature gerrymandered the 2nd Congressional District to improve Democratic performance in that district by 12 percentage points. But that wasn't an "egregious" gerrymander.

Meh. Politicians are going to politick. What are you gonna do?

Read more ...

The gift of creativity

Thanksgiving is not my favorite holiday, but it serves as a modest kickoff to the best time of the year: the Christmas and winter holiday season. I start the day after Thanksgiving and keep it going right up until Ash Wednesday. For me and my household, these winter months are a time to celebrate what and whom we hold close.

The house we live in now is the house we have lived in the longest. It is where we cared for both of my parents until their deaths. It is where we reimagined our lives and managed a business through the shock of the pandemic. And like many New Mexico homes, it is filled with art from local artists. None are from Santa Fe or Taos.

A number of the works are gifts. In the 1990s a Silver City artist drew an astonishing charcoal portrait of me and one of my mother, and one in color of one of my sisters. Nancy Sims worked full time in management at Gila Regional Medical Center but was drawn to the human face, perhaps from her career in nursing. Despite long hours at the hospital, she made beautiful art to give away. I don’t know if she ever had a formal show before her death.

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Good soldiers struggle to fight just wars

"But, say they, the wise man will wage Just Wars. As if he would not all the rather lament the necessity of just wars, if he remembers that he is a man; for if they were not just he would not wage them, and would therefore be delivered from all wars."
St. Augustine of Hippo, "The City of God"

St. Augustine was the first Christian theologian to suggest the theory of a just war. Over 1600 years later, theologians, ethicists, politicians, and soldiers still wrestle with the topic of killing others for a national purpose.

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The right to be left alone

In school we all learned the basic tenets of classical liberalism upon which the United States was founded: liberty, equality, capitalism, freedom of religion, private property ownership, free trade, and limited government, to name a few. These concepts were considered radical at the time of the founding of the United States, the first nation formed out of the Age of Enlightenment.

So far, it has been successful experiment, although not without its missteps and tragedies.

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The new Speaker faces the most uncertain world our generation has seen.

Three weeks in, the House GOP caucus finally got its act together and elected Congressman Mike Johnson from Louisiana as Speaker of the House on Wednesday. The day prior, Congressman Tom Emmer of Minnesota, Majority Whip, saw his candidacy derailed by social media posts from former president Donald Trump. Emmer voted to certify the 2020 election results, making a permanent enemy of the loser of that election.

Johnson is a reliable Trump company man and apparently the moderate majority of the caucus had had enough and just voted for him already to get this nightmare over with after rejecting hardliner Jim Jordan in a previous vote.

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How to put an end to tribalism.

We've seen for most of 2023 what it looks like when a minority of a narrow majority pulls the strings in the House of Representatives. Because this small segment of the GOP caucus is also among the most voluble, vocal, and visible, it's easy to assume they represent the mainstream of the caucus.

They do not.

Complicating the optics is the role of conservative media, which, to drive advertising dollars, encourages maximum staged drama in on-air appearances. This is not news. This is theater.

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Gerrymandering may be constitutional, but it’s bad for voters.

The New Mexico Republican Party was dealt a surprise blow in their lawsuit over the state Legislature’s redrawing of the 2nd Congressional District. Republican Judge Fred Van Soelen, presiding in a courtroom in Lovington, ruled on Oct. 6 that while it was clear that Democratic lawmakers intended to dilute Republican votes in the redrawn district, the new map did not violate the state Constitution.

In other words, the new district is totally gerrymandered. It just doesn’t “rise to the level of an egregious gerrymander,” as Van Soelen ruled, citing the specific criteria set in a previous ruling by the state Supreme Court. 

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Speaking of chaos

Tuesday's vote to remove Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House has been in the making since his painful election to the post in January. After 15 rounds of voting, McCarthy agreed to a new rule allowing a single member of the House, for any reason, at any time, to call for a vote for his removal. And that's what happened when he put the country ahead of his job on September 30 and brokered a compromise with Democrats to push through a stopgap funding bill to prevent a government shutdown.

The hardliner Republicans who brought about his removal, led by alleged sex trafficker Matt Gaetz of Florida, say they voted to remove him because they wanted a more orderly and fiscally conservative budget process and an end to continuing resolutions (CRs). This is truly needed.

Read more ...

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