Flashes of Wit Give Relief from Negativity

January 6th, 2012 · No Comments · Uncategorized

By Arthur Alpert

Who knew that John Fleck had a sense of humor?

Perhaps his friends and family, but not me, not until I read his Upfront column headlined “The Locksley Factor, Plus Tasty Bratwurst” Tuesday, Jan. 3.

A riff on the presumed correlation between losing football teams and high student GPAs, it was slyly funny, as well as thoughtful; thus breaching Leslie Linthicum’s monopoly on wit at the Albuquerque Journal.

Fleck’s other front-page story, a feature on a Sandia retiree whose Rio Rancho home depends for its entire water supply on the rain that runs off his roof, was more serious, but it was excellent, too; particularly where he explored the limitations as well as payoff of the conservation strategy.

This was good stuff and I was enjoying relief from the negativity that reading the Journal usually provokes, when I spied another Robert J. Samuelson column on A5.

As I’ve pointed out here too often, Journal management’s economics menu is brief, consisting of Establishment economist Samuelson (on the left!) and “libertarian” voices from all over.

This time, the contrast between the Journal’s wares and those you’d get in a real marketplace of ideas was bright because I’d just read the Sunday, Jan. 1, N.Y. Times.

The Times had six economists weighing prospects for 2012, including:

Gregory Mankiw, conservative advisor to Mitt Romney; Christina Romer, liberal former Obama adviser; Tyler Cowen, “moderate libertarian”; Robert H. Frank, scholar of motivation and status-seeking; Robert Schiller, housing and bubbles expert and Richard Thaler, economic behavior specialist.

All six are regular contributors to the Times, which adds up to a slightly better stocked store, doesn’t it?

My relief from negativity was waning.

Then, another contrast – I read a fascinating Wall Street Journal story (Tuesday, Jan. 3, A3) on Ohio shutting down oil and gas wells after making a tentative link between seismic activity (earthquakes) and hydraulic fracturing.

I never found it in the Albuquerque Journal.

There was, however an Op Ed (Dec. 29) extolling the virtues of fracking, from one Thomas Molitor, identified as “an adjunct scholar with the Rio Grande Foundation in New Mexico and a regulatory analyst with the American Action Forum in Washington D.C.”

The American Action Forum, a Google search reveals, has a board of right-wing political activists including Fred Malek (who I remember as John Mitchell’s deputy in the Nixon reelection effort that birthed Watergate), plus former Senators Norm Coleman and George Allen. It’s kin to Karl Rove’s American Crossroads.

Adjunct scholar? Regulatory analyst? Sure.

Darn, I was back in negative territory.

And then the Wednesday, Jan. 4 Journal boasted a front-page story headlined, “USDA Scuttles Valencia Matanza”. Having once read a great matanza scene in Rudy Anaya’s novel, “Alburquerque”, I was intrigued.

And the front page of the Food section, B4, contained a special surprise – another big matanza story, also in Valencia, with a big color photo.

As an aside, I used to edit a monthly and it was a kick to link related stories. Editors do that.

Sadly, the Journal’s editors didn’t.

It’s not a sin, just a missed opportunity and I think I understand. Spending so much energy turning the newspaper into a political tool leaves little for the basics.

But I’m negative, again. Maybe I can re-read Fleck’s piece on the “genius of Mike Locksley’s tenure” for a pick-me-up.

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