Martini served with political twist

Caller ID told me it was Barney, my friend from New Jersey. It was a call I had been dreading. Just a few days before, a New Jersey professor had been busted in New Mexico for running a multi-state Internet prostitution ring. I had been unmerciful to Barney, told him to keep his goons at home.

Now, it turns out, the New Jersey guy was here apparently visiting a beloved University of New Mexico professor who was allegedly a partner in the hooker deal. I was going to get an earful.

Surprisingly, that was not what Barney had on his mind. It was but 3 p.m. and he had yet to launch his cocktail marathon. “Tell me about this Susana Martinez,” he said. “She doing any good?”

Quickly shifting gears and trying to put together some cogent thoughts, I answered to the effect, well, sure, the governor is doing some good but she needs to learn it can’t be her way or the highway.

I told him the jury is out and won’t return with a verdict until her term is up in three years. If I were to carry a protest sign outside her office it would say, “Susana, you can’t make all the rules!”

If Susana doesn’t like what the Legislature does, she just overrides it with a line item veto or issues some kind of executive command. No one likes that style very much and it will continue to enrage the Legislature with whom she must cooperate to get anything done.

Just recently, I explained, the State Supreme Court had again rebuffed her attempt to legislate. She had line-item vetoed an appropriation. The Legislature had appropriated $150,000 for a program. The governor erased the “1” and made it $50,000.

“I don’t get it,” Barney said, “she is a lawyer. Shouldn’t she understand that stuff?”

“Go figure,” I said.

I told him my particular problem with the governor is her hard line on illegal immigrants. She is determined to repeal a 2003 law that allows immigrants to drive, thus depriving too many really fine people the wherewithal to function in our New Mexico society.

“Good for her,” Barney said. “If a person wants to be an American and do American things like driving, and attending school, and going to Super Bowl parties, he should have had the foresight to belong to families who came over on the Mayflower.”

Cocktail hour had apparently arrived.

“Hold on, my confused friend,” I challenged. “Look, this country has every right to protect its security, and there are some really bad actors among the 11 million undocumented immigrants living here. We can and should crack down on those who would endanger our communities.”

“That’s a no brainer, Barney. Isolate the bad guys. But the debate over driver’s licenses for illegals shouldn’t focus only on the scoundrels, it needs to consider the needs of the thousands of hard-working people like Maria who couldn’t start to support her kids were she unable to get to the housecleaning job. Responsible people should be licensed, irresponsible folks banned from the driver’s seat, regardless of citizenship.”

I was getting warmed up and knew I was also getting on Barney’s nerves. “You know, my friend, we so often hear this is God’s country. True enough, and I am guessing God wants us to share it.”

I waited for a reply but got only silence. “Do I have you thinking?” I asked.

“You do,” Barney said. “When you make a Down and Dirty Dry Martini, and you pour in the three ounces of gin, do you then add a half-ounce or a quarter-ounce of olive juice?”

I hung up.