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Take responsibility for your bad habits

I HAVE TO disagree with the Florida jury’s decision to award a smoker’s widow $23.6 billion in punitive damages from a major tobacco company.

What’s next? Suing alcohol companies because some people die from alcohol abuse, food companies because some people have eating disorders, casinos because some people have gambling addictions? Maybe we should sue God, because the devil made us do it, and after all, God made the devil.

I quit smoking after 20 years and I know an alcoholic who quit drinking after 35 years of extreme alcohol abuse, but it seems more and more Americans are unwilling to accept responsibility for their own actions.

What happened to free will in this free country of ours? However, let me in on it if anyone wants to start a class-action suit against God.

JOYCE STERNBERG

Rio Rancho

Journal showing bias for tea party

YOUR EDITORIAL (“Why has IRS left local Tea Party group hanging?,” Sunday, July 20) contains a factual error that makes the editorial itself a political statement rather than the high-moral-ground pronouncement it pretends to be.

The editorial claims that “Groups with a liberal or progressive bent did not receive the same scrutiny.” This is not true, according to the Washington Examiner, Aug. 20, 2013, and several other sources.

The Examiner reported, “Ways and Means Committee ranking member Sander Levin of Michigan on Tuesday made public previously redacted IRS training documents showing that agency employees were instructed to screen tax-exemption applications for Democratic-leaning ‘emerge’ organizations alongside ‘progressive’ and conservative ‘Tea Party’ groups.” They were also instructed to watch for “ACORN successor” organizations.

In fact, only one application was denied, and that was for Emerge, a liberal group which trains Democratic women to run for political office.

The IRS was doing its job. It is supposed to issue tax-exempt status only to groups whose purpose is charitable or educational, not political. Surely it is reasonable to assume that groups with the term “party” in their name just might be political in nature.

The Albuquerque Tea Party application for tax-exempt status should have received quicker resolution. It should have been denied, as were the applications of Emerge groups.

But please, let’s be factual, and let’s not make martyrs out of transparently political groups that do not contribute to the charitable life of the country.

ROXANNE ALLEN

Albuquerque

Make marijuana available to rich and poor

I THINK THAT the editorial regarding access to marijuana in (the July 21) Journal is excellent.

As one follows developments here in New Mexico, one could be easily confused about whether the state is trying to make things more difficult for those who really need the relief — in several forms — or easier, as they claim.

Just to avoid having to take another drug whose side effects include agonizing constipation is a big winner, so why would the state do anything but make it more readily available to as many people as possible? If we bear in mind that those with easy financial means have never had a problem getting marijuana, but it is those who are in financial stress who do, perhaps our perception of the problem will change. The Journal has taken a very nice step in helping and I thank you for that.

JAMES STEEVES

Albuquerque

Flight 17 not first airliner to be shot down

THE HORRIBLE shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was an accident by untrained soldiers under attack by the Ukrainian army.

Before applying yet more economic sanctions, which would throw many innocent people out of work, let us recall that on July 3, 1988, the U.S. Navy guided-missile cruiser USS Vincennes shot down Iran Air Flight 655, killing all 290 aboard, and that on Oct. 4, 2001, during a military exercise, a missile fired by Ukrainian soldiers at a target destroyed Siberia Airlines Flight 1812, killing 78 people.

Accidents happen. We should not deliberately weaken the global economy because of them.

KEVIN CAHILL

Albuquerque

Palestine has right to defend itself, too

TO ANSWER ALL of Charles Krauthammer’s lies in his July 20 column in the Journal would exceed the Journal’s limits for letters or op-eds, so I’ll just note that both President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry have said, “Israel has the right to defend itself.” In response to that I ask, “Do the Palestinians have the right to defend themselves?”

The rockets being fired from Gaza are in response to the Israeli atrocities inflicted upon them over the last 40 or so years. The people of Gaza are confined to a small area with exits and entrances blockaded by Israel and Egypt, without sufficient food, medical supplies, or other needed resources — especially potable water. Israel controls the conditions under which they live and allows them not even basic human rights. Israeli drones fly over nightly terrorizing the people. The disproportionality is outrageous.

The only time the world pays attention is when violence flares up that affects Israel. We deplore violence on all sides, but the question persists, “What can these people do?” Yes, Hamas did not accept a cease-fire negotiated by Israel and Egypt, obviously because they were not included in the negotiations, nor were the root causes of the conflict considered.

There will be no lasting peace until Israel acknowledges the injustices imposed upon the Palestinians and accedes to international laws that require an end to their domination and occupation of Palestinian lands. The people of both nationalities want to live in peace and security. The solution is clear.

SALLY MCMILLAN

Albuquerque

Tell us the truth about NM job growth

“NM ADDS jobs in June; first time in 9 months,” proclaimed the June 19 business page banner headline.

Well, maybe, or not.

The numbers first came from a news release issued the previous afternoon by the Department of Workforce Solutions. The numbers originated in a release from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, covering all states.

As I understand it, DWS takes the New Mexico numbers from the overall BLS release, does some reformatting, removes the BLS commentary and adds its own commentary or spin.

The BLS provided job numbers for employees on nonfarm payrolls, seasonally adjusted and not seasonally adjusted, and offered two more for those willing to do a bit of arithmetic — employment by state, seasonally adjusted and not seasonally adjusted. Of the four numbers, two showed a job loss in New Mexico from June 2013 to June 2014. Two showed a gain.

DWS — and the administration — picked the best number, politically no surprise, but not the whole story. Nor did DWS give us the state comparisons, which showed just two states losing a greater percentage of jobs than New Mexico, year over year.

This gamesmanship appears to be a long-term administration policy. It should stop.

New Mexicans are grown-ups. They can handle the truth.

HAROLD MORGAN

Albuquerque

Maybe GOP could put NM on ‘good’ lists

JAMES MONTELEONE’S piece on GOP efforts to gain a majority in the state House fails to tell the full story of decades-long Democratic Party dominance of the Legislature.

He indicates that the last time the GOP had “outright control” of the House was 1953. This “outright control” consisted of a one-member advantage that year, an advantage that was quickly lost when one of the GOP members changed parties during the legislative session. Monteleone also fails to note that the Democrats had a 22-9 edge in the Senate that same year and that the Democratic dominance of the state Legislature has actually extended back to the 1931 10th session.

Except for that brief moment in 1953 that Monteleone notes, Democratic Party dominance of the New Mexico state Legislature had continued for more than 80 years, often holding almost obscene pluralities as during the period 1937 through 1938, when they held 47 of the 49 seats in the House and a 23-1 majority in the Senate for that and subsequent sessions. If Democratic Party Chairman Bregman is right that the Democrats win because they are on the right side of — unspecified — issues, maybe New Mexico should have long ago stopped showing up at the top of all the “bad” lists and on the bottom of so many “good” lists.

ROBERT J. TóRREZ

Albuquerque

It’s easy to vote in primary elections

FIRST, NO NEW Mexico voter is “barred” from voting in a primary election. All you have to do is choose a party affiliation. This choice can be changed for every election if you want. You are not required to vote for your party’s candidates in the general election — a sometimes misconception — nor do you have to “join” that party and pay dues or make contributions.

Political parties should be able to pick the candidate that best represents their philosophy without interference. Open primaries, which allow voters of other parties or no party to help decide the candidate for a particular party, can distort and disrupt the orderly election process.

Consider this example. In our recent primary, Gov. Susana Martinez ran unopposed on the Republican slate while several candidates ran for the Democrats. An open primary would allow registered Republicans to vote en masse for the weakest, least-electable Democrat in order to provide Martinez with a better chance to win the general election. Does this sound like the way to elect the best governor?

Independents who do not feel sufficiently aligned with any party to register with them can choose to sit out the primary election. Or they can exercise their right to register with a party and vote. They are not being “unconstitutionally denied.” The choice is theirs.

RICHARD METTS

Albuquerque

Discrimination on top of discrimination

WHAT PLANET DO some of these women live on, who think if they are not freely given birth control where they work, they are being discriminated against? That is totally ridiculous.

If their employer doesn’t believe in birth control and they are made to take care of your protection, then why wouldn’t it be discrimination against them for being Christian. I don’t know where all this craziness comes from.

Ladies, if your employer does not want to pay for your birth control, then go buy your own. You can get it for $5 anywhere or free from Planned Parenthood. Stop crying about poor you. This is America — or used to be. Everyone has their freedom of speech, liberty, religion, and life and anyone who wants to stray from this should leave our country.

I am so tired of the use of the words discrimination, racist, and hate. And I won’t even get into the most pathetic argument about the Washington Redskins, that is a whole other story. Now I need to go peel my red skin potatoes for dinner. I hope it doesn’t upset anyone.

CINDY HUMMEL

Albuquerque

NMSU doesn’t need higher requirement

I WAS SADDENED to see the editorial in the Albuquerque Journal endorsing the proposed increase in the GPA required for admission to New Mexico State University.

While I understand that the six-year graduation rate for students who enter with a GPA under 2.75 percent appears low, the lack of comparison information for similar institutions makes it hard to know what that rate means.

On the other hand, there is excellent information on the overall performance of New Mexico State University under current conditions, and that information shows the institution is doing quite an impressive job.

Among public four-year institutions with large shares of Pell Grant recipients — i.e., low-income students — and taking into account entering ACT scores and other characteristics as well as net price, New Mexico State is one of the best performing institutions in the country. In its most recent rankings, The Washington Monthly ranked NMSU eighth in the country for social mobility!

I do not know the relationship between family income and entering GPA at New Mexico State, but I suspect that low-income students, who are more likely to attend weaker K-12 schools, probably enter with lower GPAs overall.

If this is the case, they will be disproportionately affected by changes in admissions policy. Furthermore, if we know anything from research on college persistence and completion, we know that it is in the student’s interest to attend the most challenging institution he or she can enter. The greater the challenge, the greater the likelihood of graduating.

LANA MURASKIN

Placitas

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