© 2022 NEW MEXICO NEWS SERVICES 7/18/22
Hearings reconstruct chain of events leading to Jan. 6 attack
By Diane Denish
Corner to Corner
If you haven’t followed the Jan. 6th select committee the past year you are likely not planning to watch the final public hearing this week. I would suggest you think again and tune in.
This is the 8th hearing. It will be broadcast in prime time on Thursday, July 21, just over a year after the committee was formed. Even though some might think the committee has moved slowly, it is remarkable what they have accomplished. Let’s look.
In July 2021, Speaker Nancy Pelosi appointed a diverse committee of highly skilled, thoughtful members of the House. Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy nominated five members, two of whom Pelosi rejected. McCarthy then withdrew his nominees. Pelosi moved ahead and named Republicans Liz Cheney, of Wyoming, and Adam Kinzinger, of Illinois, to complete the committee. Former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman, of Virginia, joined the staff.
Over 1,000 witnesses have been interviewed and 125,000 documents reviewed. White House staff, Trump family members, advisors, and state election officials have testified under oath before millions of Americans. Powerful testimony by mostly Republican witnesses has spurred others to come forward.
The committee focused on seven areas:
1. False information, including the big lie, being fed to the public.
2. Attempts to corrupt the Department of Justice in service of the big lie and to install a conspiracy theorist, Jeff Clark, as Attorney General.
3. The public and private efforts by the former President Donald Trump to pressure Vice President Mike Pence into an illegal scheme to overturn the election.
4. Pressure from Trump on state election officials to “find” fraud or extra votes.
5. The attempt to create false electors in seven states, including New Mexico.
6. Incitement of a mob prior to and on Jan. 6 by Trump and those around him.
7. Trump’s failure to come to the aid of Congress when insurrectionists breached the capitol with weapons in hand.
Here is what we have learned from the testimony so far:
There was no voter fraud in the 2020 election. It was disproven in 64 lawsuits. The election was lost, not stolen.
Former Attorney General Bill Barr as well as other DOJ officials testified Trump pressured them to claim fraud in battleground states. Barr said Trump had no evidence and “no interest in the facts.” White House witnesses confirmed that on Jan. 4, Trump was informed that his plan to have Pence delay the certification was illegal. He didn’t listen.
Election officials from Arizona and Georgia testified that Trump directly pressured them to violate their oath of office and “find votes” or claim fraud to support his claims.
John Eastman, with Trump’s support, had a scheme to overturn the election by organizing false electors in seven states, including New Mexico where Biden won handily.
White House aides, insurrectionists, and advisors all testified that Trump’s rally, tweets, and social media communications leading up to and on Jan. 6 contributed to the attack on the capitol.
This week’s hearing will focus on the last area: Why did Trump fail to act when Congress and democracy were under attack. Why did he ignore calls from Republican Party leaders, family, advisors to DO SOMETHING?
The hearings are a reminder of what millions of us saw in real time that day. Jan. 6 was a bloody day. Insurrectionists brutally assaulted 150 police officers. Five people died. Elected officials and appointees were pressured to overturn a free and fair election. A mob was incited to violence. For the first time, the peaceful transfer of power was temporarily interrupted – inspired by the lies and actions of a sitting president.
It's not too late. Tune in. Hear the facts. See for yourself.
© 2022 NEW MEXICO NEWS SERVICES 7/4/22
Taking a moment to mark the passing of landlines
By Diane Denish
Corner to Corner
For the first time in my life, our household is without a land line. Research shows we are a little behind the times. And maybe it’s a generational thing.
I remember as a kid when my parents got a second land line for the kids in the family. We were teenagers and the phone was on a small table in the hall. There were many nights of long, lazy, talk-about-nothing conversations with friends and boyfriends. My sister and I would drag the phone in our room with the cord under the door and talk for hours – hoping our mom wouldn’t catch us in the middle of the night.
Those sentimental memories might be one reason for my attachment to a landline. We had one because, well, we had always had one.
Practically speaking though, there was nothing practical about hanging on to a landline in 2022. It was a $30 a month charge by Comcast/Xfinity in addition to our wi-fi, cable and other charges. We rarely checked the messages and when we did it was usually no one we needed to talk with. And then, we conservatively calculated that in the last 10 years we had spent $4,000 for a service we no longer needed.
A survey was done in 2018 by the CDC to determine what was happening with telephone use. At that time, 55% of households used only cell phones. In just over a dozen years, that number had increased from 10% to over half of households.
More than a third (36%) of households had both a mobile phone and a landline. We were one of those households. Just 5% of households had only a landline.
Those who used cell phones exclusively were found to be generally younger, healthier, and didn’t own their own homes.
My group, the 36%, were generally older and owned their homes. But, I wondered, why did we hang on to a landline for so many years when we almost exclusively used a cell phone to communicate? I inquired with other people who had done the same.
The bottom line was not sentimentality. Security drove the decision. What if the cell phone service failed? In my own urban area, the heart of Albuquerque, calls often get dropped, and the service can be poor. In rural New Mexico, the answer is unequivocally security, as cell service is often unreliable.
Landlines have been around for more than 146 years – from the time inventor Alexander Graham Bell secured the patent in 1876 – and made his first call. Before that, communicating across distance was virtually impossible. The landline and the telegraph changed that forever.
Telephones, like many inventions, were originally thought of as a novelty and only available to royalty. By the start of World War I there were 10 people to every landline and by 1945 there were 5 people to every landline. Forty years later in 1998, there was one phone for every man, woman, and child in the country.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that telephones were not only revolutionary but also revolutionized our lives.
Today, everyone carries a phone. Little kids to reach their parents. Teens to reach their peeps and to report in when not home on time. Young adults have them to track their kids and their parents.
When I asked some of these same people why they had cell phones with them all the time – beyond just communicating – the most frequent responses were “for safety,” “making sure my kids are safe,” and “recording terrible things happening.”
Turns out that from landlines to small computers in our pockets or purses, the safety and security of communicating and being in touch still drives our love affair with the telephone.
© 2022 NEW MEXICO NEWS SERVICES 6/27/22
Disappointing court decision presents opportunity to respond: Vote!
By Diane Denish
Corner to Corner
For every woman who might read this, welcome to being a second-class citizen. No matter your age, your ethnicity, your income status, your location in the country, this is what happened to all of us on June 24, 2022. For the first time in history, the Supreme Court of the United States took away a right. Women may no longer make their own healthcare decisions.
Some people say there is a lot to unpack in the Supreme Court decision. Not really. It’s simple. The court is on track to roll back our rights as citizens and this may just be the first of them.
But we should be clear – it’s not all about the final decision. It has been in the works for years, but recent actions helped the right be successful. When it couldn’t be done legitimately through well-established norms, they did it by lying to the country and changing the rules.
During the confirmation process, the truth was devalued by the three justices confirmed in the previous administration. To put it more bluntly, Amy Coney Barrett, Brett Kavanaugh, and Neil Gorsuch lied openly in their confirmation hearings to the committee and all of America when they claimed Roe v. Wade was established and reaffirmed precedent. They lied to become a part of the most powerful court in the country where they would never be held accountable as unelected justices. They were appointed by a president who we now know perpetrated lie after election lie, and they followed his lead.
Sen. Mitch McConnell spent the last years as majority leader bastardizing democracy. First, he denied Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to the court, a hearing and an up-or-down vote in the U. S. Senate. His reasoning was that seven months was too close to the presidential election. Then he fast tracked all of the twice-impeached president’s nominees confirming Coney Barret just eight days before the election. EIGHT DAYS.
More than half of white women (53%) and the anybody-but-Hillary crowd gave us President Donald Trump. They green lighted the repeal of Roe v. Wade by voting for him or just not voting. They just couldn’t bring themselves to vote for Hillary – they didn’t “like” her. And polls show they didn’t believe that if Trump became president that Roe v. Wade would be overturned. Now here we are and the rights of women, members of the LGBTQ Community, and others are on the chopping block. Maybe now they get it – everyone’s rights are at risk.
Since the ruling there have been protests in almost every city. But this is the time for something different. People who support the right to privacy and don’t want to return to burning witches at the stake, as Justice Samuel Alito suggests, can’t just protest, lament and whine.
With every disappointment there is opportunity. This is ours. We know women, young people, and underserved groups can organize and turn out votes. The GOP has thrown up as many obstacles as possible, but we have done it before, and we can do it again.Americans who are reviled and frightened by this decision need to once again, step up.
The 70% of Americans who want our rights protected need to show up. We must organize to make sure every single person who is enraged or marginalized goes to the polls, wherever they live. We must talk to those with whom we live, work, and play and remind them that what is happening is not democracy. It is not equality. It is not equal just under the law. It is not America.
© 2022 NEW MEXICO NEWS SERVICES 6/6/22
Don’t look away from gun violence
By Diane Denish
Corner to Corner
Last week as I was preparing for a trip to Tulsa to see my daughter and family, a scroll came across the TV screen announcing a mass shooting in that city. In a medical facility. Having spoken to my daughter earlier, I knew she was taking her son to an appointment in the complex that day. Horrible thoughts ran through my head. What if?
My family had left the facility before the shooter showed up, a shooter who had purchased an AR-15 just two hours before the killings – no background check, nothing. This was the 243rd mass shooting in the United States this year.
Four families had their lives destroyed. Tulsa lost two beloved doctors, a patient, and a friendly receptionist. Survivors were in shock. The Tulsa World headline screamed “ATTACKERS KILLS 4” on Thursday.
My granddaughters picked me up. I hugged them with tears in my eyes. Grateful for their safety and their warm hugs, I was also weeping for the state of the country we live in together. A country where guns are not the American dream but the American nightmare. A country where lawmakers look away and distract us with excuses of mental illness, security doors, poor police response. A country where we fail to face the fact that the problem is too many guns and access to them. A county whose Second Amendment, with the help of the NRA and spineless leaders, has gone from “well-regulated militia” to an unregulated citizenry. A country where those same leaders are willing to sacrifice the right to grow up for the right to bear arms.
A country in which these are facts about gun violence:
Across the country, 311,000 kids have been exposed to gun violence since 1999. That includes kids in New Mexico: Roswell, Aztec, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Clovis.
In 2020 guns became the leading cause of death among kids and adolescents 19 and younger according to the CDC, surpassing auto accidents and disease. Gunfire killed 4,368 kids, and 60% of those were homicides. The remaining deaths were suicides and accidents.
Gun laws matter. In Florida and Texas where there are few if any gun restrictions, gun deaths are up 28% and 37% respectively. In states where gun laws are stricter, numbers have decreased by 10% or more. In California you are 60% less likely to die by gun violence than in Texas thanks to a combination of laws that work.
Ten years of the assault weapon ban made a difference. It didn’t stop every death, but it saved some lives. Gun massacres were reduced by 37%, and gun deaths fell 43%. Since 2004 when the ban expired, mass shootings rose nationwide by 183% and deaths by 239%.
In every high-profile mass shooting in the last 20 years – Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland, Orlando, Las Vegas, and now Uvalde – lawmakers have failed to act. Congress has blocked debate. They have chosen to delay and look away.
And yet, there are glimmers of hope.
Recent surveys show the American people get it. Across the country and party lines 88% support universal background checks, 67% support banning assault weapons, 67% support raising the age for purchase of firearms to 21, and 63% support banning the sale of high-capacity magazines (over 10 rounds).
Students and young people get it and have Marched for their Lives and passed legislation in Florida since Parkland in 2018.
Moms get it. (Along with Dads, grandparents, businesspeople, and others) Moms Demand Action was started after Sandy Hook and now has a chapter in every state working to prevent gun violence.
The glimmer of hope? Regular Americans are not willing to look away. Lawmakers shouldn’t either.