Sunday, December 31, 2006

Tax Breaks for Rich Kids’ Schools

Someone in the State Legislature has finally been fast enough on the up-take to recognize that the scheme that allows tax credits for donations to their kids’ schools benefits the rich more than the poor.

It’s a simple matter, really. Wealthy parents are more likely to have the discretionary cash to donate than are the poor. The result is that school districts with poorer populations receive less money with which to fund enrichment ac
tivities for their kids.

This is pointed out in a story in today’s Arizona Daily Star. There’s a little irony here. The story quotes Republican Rep. Mark Anderson, who was one of the original sponsors of the Arizona Tax Credit Program, the 1998 law that lets individuals donate up to $200 to public schools for clubs or class activities and get a dollar-for-dollar tax credit.

It’s taken Anderson eight years to recognize that the tax-credit deal he co-sponsored is inequitable, which may not be fast after all. Maybe only half fast. Here’s a quote from the Star:

"The one flaw … is that schools that are generally wealthier demographically have an easier time raising money from the parents who live there, because they can afford the $200," Anderson said.

“Differences in donations between districts and individual schools can be dramatic, he said. For example, Franklin West Elementary School in Mesa took in $5,817 in tax credits in 2005, while Red Mountain Ranch Elementary got $34,758.

Poorer families can't afford to give to their schools, Anderson said, even if they know they will get it back later.

Anderson wants to establish a corporate tax credit to fund a program that would make up the short fall. This would mean less money in the general fund. (As does the existing tax credit.)

Why, in the past nine years, hasn’t some Democratic legislator spoken up on this issue? Geeze, why not scrap the tax credit altogether, let the money stay in the general fund, bite the bullet and go on to fully fund education.

But that just ain't the Republican way.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

A Thousand Points of Light…

…won’t cut it. On Christmas morning Katherine and I joined volunteers at the Tucson Convention Center to assist the Salvation Army in serving Christmas dinner. Our particular job was to drive around Tucson and deliver Christmas dinners to the sick or elderly who simply couldn’t leave their homes.

Christmas and Thanksgiving attract great numbers of volunteers eager to reach out to serve their fellow Tucsonans who are struck down by illness, homelessness, poverty, or the isolated loneliness of the elderly.

The Salvation Army PR person reports that more than 200 people volunteered on each of the two holidays. 3600 meals were served or delivered on Thanksgiving and 2400 on Christmas.

I think it’s fair to ask what good, in the long run, this annual feeding of the poor does. Of course it certainly provides a hot meal to people in need on two days out of the year. What it does not do is solve the problems of homelessness, poverty, the mentally ill forced on the streets as the result of the arbitrary closure of mental health facilities, or the social isolation that frequently comes with old age.

Feeding the poor is a ritual act, like washing feet, but as at least one famous foot-washer observed, “The poor you shall have always with you.” However extensive volunteerism becomes it will not solve problems embedded in a socie
ty’s social and political structure. The solutions require political action.

The value in volunteering is that it puts volunteers in direct contact with the poor and dispossessed. It reminds them (and I include myself here) that “the poor” are not just a category of social analysis but human beings. If we could get more people to spend just one day working in a homeless shelter they would be more inclined to endorse the political action nec
essary to really address the problems of poverty.

I wonder if that might not be the idea behind John Edwards’s One Corp?

Sunday, December 24, 2006


A "Merry...Whatever" to each and all, among whom I include: Mike, Ted, Lisa, George Tuttle, Matt, Kralmajales, Sirocco and all the other commenters and bloggers (left and right) who have made the year's jiggery-bloggery so much fun.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

A Little Something (Russian) on the Side

If you decide to get into hacking my guess is that the most cost-effective way of doing that is to buy Russian Iron…that is, a complete Ural outfit, bike and sidecar, sold as a unit.

It may also be the least aggravating. Why? Because mating a sidecar to most modern motorcycles requires that you build, or buy and install, some type of sub-frame. Few contemporary motorcycles have what used to be called a full cradle frame. Today the engine is part of the frame and that offers fewer mounting points for the sidecar.

I sometimes refer to the Ural as the greatest motorcycle of 1943, but I really like these outfits. The Ural is a Russian copy of the WW II German BMW military hack. When the Urals were first imported, only the sidecars themselves were brought into the country. Full outfits, bike and car, came in later.
The story of the Ural factory and the history of the bikes can be read at the official web site. link

The first outfits to come to the United States were, um..well, quality control challenged. Each year has seen improvements. Fit and Finish is excellent; engine size has been boosted to 750cc; new alternator; new carbs; electronic ignition. The bikes are constantly being improved and I don’t think a new buyer has much to worry about.

The current crop of Ural owners seems to be having a great time with their hacks, in large measure because of their boon-docking capabilities. Irbit Motorworks of America took bikes to Death Valley and filmed the hacks on some pretty gnarly desert trails. (Irbit, incidentally is the town in Russia where the bikes are made.) Take a look. link (This download is slow)

The military hack, although considered by the American armed forces, never caught on. Something better came along, the Jeep. The Russians are still promoting the Ural as having useful military applications. Here’s a clip from a longer promotional film. link
(Slow Download)

Monday, December 18, 2006

A Little Something On The Side

In a little over forty-five years of motorcycling I have almost always owned two bikes, a solo bike and a hack. A hack, of course, is a motorcycle with an attached sidecar. This is sometimes also referred to as an “outfit.” You can see a tiny picture of my current outfit in my profile over in the right panel. The bike is a BMW K1200RS. It is very fast.

Sidecarists (say, sigh-DECK-a-rists) are generally looked down on, or askance at, by solo bikers. The attitude of the lookers-down is either pitying or

The pitiers: “Poor old Bill got married and lumbered with rug rats. The poor guy’s old lady made him tie a tub to his motorcycle and now all he can do is putt around the neighborhood.”

The condescenders: “You got to hand it to gramps. He’s still out there in the wind, even though he’s too old and feeble to ride a real bike
any more.”

We tend to get the sideways look from bikers who tried siDECarism once with less than satisfactory results. “Geeze, I tried one of those things once and it scared the #%*& out of me.” There’s a reason for that response, which we’ll examin
e later.

Sidecar driving is one of the great motorsports. It is both very different from two-wheel biking and at the same time very like it. Working a hack at speed along a looping mountain road can be a real challenge and great fun.

Sidecaring has changed a lot over the years. The current Grand Prix racing sidecar is pretty exotic, and the racing competition is between two-man teams, which you’ll see, in the following clip.

1000cc engines and top speeds of 170 miles per hour. We don need no stinkeen stock cars. (Click)

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Motorcycle Emissions Tests

Sometimes the bear eats you and sometimes you eat the bear! In this case Pima County motorcyclists have eaten the bear. A story in the Arizona Daily Star reports that we’ll no longer have to take scoots for emissions testing.

In all the years they’ve been testing here in Tucson my bikes have never failed the test. I’m glad to be free of the pointless trip half way across town.

While The Data Point takes a holiday vacation from politics we’ll be posting about motorcycles in a series called “A Little Something on The Side.”

Thursday, December 14, 2006

‘Holiday’ Commentary

The Data Port surfaces from the frenzy of the alcoholidays to comment on the little disturbances of man…some of them my own.

When you pass me the greetings of the season I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t just pass off some generic greeting on me. Don’t wish me a ‘happy holiday’ out of misguided political correctness.

Instead wish me a Merry Christmas or a Happy Hanukkah. I can go with a Good Kwanza, or a Festive Festivus, too. In no case will I be insulted or injured. Rather I will take it that this is a season of particular significance to you and that your greeting is a generous invitation to join in your particular joy.

I find it annoying when I offer someone a Merry, or a Happy, or a Good, or a Festive greeting to be snapped back at, “How do you know I’m….”

Incidentally I have, for the first time in three or four years, followed the grand pagan tradition of tree worship and gaily decorated my Festivus Pole. It is a genuine Chinese imitation pine tree. Political prisoners probably built it but they did a great job! It actually sheds its needles just like a real tree.

Have you noticed that ads by the watch-making industry are through the slick magazines like citron in fruitcake? To give your sweetie or your guy a Rolex or an Audemars Piguet, A Mont Blanc or Breguet is a big deal. It is the big deal, never mind that it can break your Christmas budget and cause your bank account to implode.

I suppose it’s the status value of these watches that make them sought after. If you can afford that much for a wristwatch you must surely have arrived.

It may be that these watches are essentially a guy thing. They are, after all, the last, the ultimate, achievement in mechanical timekeeping. Ooooh, wheels, cogs, springs, jewel bearings, dozens of finely machined parts, all whirring and spinning!

As mechanical collectibles they may certainly be worth the money for the folks who lust after them. They keep pretty good time, too, which somewhat justifies the thousands you can pay for them.

On the other hand if keeping really accurate time is your primary need you can get a very nice radio controlled watch that keeps time more accurately than an old fashioned mechanical watch for about 35 bucks.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Tax Breaks And Other Items

I read in this morning’s Arizona Daily Star that everyone’s favorite political reporter, D. Scarpinato, has been cited for DUI. (link) A comment on this story led to an interesting backgrounder on Scarpinato from the Arizona Daily Wildcat. (link)

On a political note…this is the season when schools across the state urge us to make tax-free donations to our kids’ schools. Your good deed will be rewarded with a handsome tax right-off. For couples filing jointly this means you could knock as much as four hundred bucks off your state income tax bill, hence doing well by doing good.

Instead of giving tax money to the state general fund you may give it to your kids’ school so that Sis and Junior and their classmates can take advantage of increased extra-curricular goodies. Well, hell, you were going to have to part with that money anyway, why not use it for you and yours rather than put it into the general fund where it might be spent to enhance education all over the state?

What a deal, right? Well, yeah, if you live in the rich part of town…say Tucson’s Catalina Foothills. For folks up there a little discretionary cash is not a problem. But what if you live in a community that is not so blessed, one where life is often lived paycheck to paycheck? Even a little may be hard to come by.

Well, let the kids get back to basics. Who needs more than that?

My suggestion is that if you want to take advantage of this program you might want to find out what school districts in the state have the poorest families and make your donation to those schools.

(To read the details of this tax deal for the well-to-do, visit the Arizona
Department of Revenue. (link)


For some months now The Data Port has been running a parallel blog, DataPortMotorcycles. The point of the exercise was not to clog the Lefty Blog feed with non-political posting during the hot and heavy campaign season.
I’ve deleted DataPortMotorcycles, so once in a while you may expect to read some motorcycle news, purely personal reflections, and commentaries on the little disturbances of man, right here.


As a final 'housekeeping ' note I'll be cutting back on the blogging in the interest of taking time to celebrate the holidays both religious and secular.

Monday, November 27, 2006

“Stand Up” Stands Down

“Stand up and be Counted” is no longer standing up and no longer being counted. Its owner has deleted the entire blog. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand it was George’s blog and he can damn well do with it as he pleases.

On the other hand the blog and all its comments were part of the history of one of the most interesting political campaigns in recent Arizona politics. In deleting it he deleted not only his own commentary but also all the comments from both left and right. Looked back on in a cool moment the whole collection might have helped us understand what was important to the electorate, and why.

Tuttle seems to have come to the conclusion that political blogging is somehow a waste of time—time that would be better spent in practical action out in the community.

I certainly approve of action in the streets, but I would remind George that the blogosphere is also becoming the great alternative press. At the moment there is a good deal more rant and a good deal less responsible reportage than we might want, but that will change.

Currently, the major non-opinion function of the blogosphere is editorial, pointing out stories that might otherwise have gone un-read and un-remarked on if some blogger had not said, “Hey, here’s an interesting story,” and added a link.

I believe that dedicated amateur journalists, like amateur astronomers, can make a significant contribution to their particular areas of interest.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

What Is To Be Done?

Mike Bryan, over at Blog for Arizona, raises an interesting question: After a year of partisan warfare how should liberal bloggers direct their energies? As Mike puts it,

“My heart just isn't in the blogging at the moment. Every time I think about a topic I might want to blog about a little voice says, "Well, who cares, really?" I've been locked in oppositional mode for so long that I've lost the taste for anything but GOP blood.”

I have a modest suggestion for a collective undertaking by Arizona’s political bloggers of both the left and the right. You’ve probably noticed that the daily press has pretty much stopped local political reporting even though there is plenty going on in each party.

(Even during the hot dead center of the political campaign I doubt that political reporters—many of them relative newcomers—would have written as much had it not been for the fact that they were bombarded by press releases.)

I think we should take over the neglected political reporting. Why not attend your district’s Republican and Democratic club meetings and briefly report on what’s going on. Is there a leadership debate, local pressure for a particular piece of legislation, or action plan under consideration?

Volunteer to cover your legislative district’s representatives. How are they voting, what are they saying about current and future legislation? Call them on the phone, introduce yourself, and get them to think of you as a reporter, rather than yet another disputatious blogger. (Grins)

Just a couple of suggestions, but you get the idea. Less editorializing, more reporting.

Friday, November 24, 2006

In CD8 and CD7: Homeless For The Holidays

A note from Tucson’s Primavera Foundation reminded me of what I should be truly grateful for. I am grateful for the fact that my family and I are not amongst the twenty percent of Tucsonans living in poverty. (U.S. Census Bureau figures)

This is the highest poverty rate of any city in Arizona.

Quoting from the Primavera Foundation mailing:

“The sheer number of people struggling to survive on the streets, in the washes, or in temporary shelters can be overwhelming. According to the Arizona Deprtment of Economic Development there may be as many as 20,000-30,000 homeless people on any given night. Children make up approximately 40% of the homeless population.”

Happy Holidays, All

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

LD 26 Goes Progressive

At last night’s meeting of the District 26 Democrats, Peggy Toomey Hammann was elected Chair, replacing the retiring Juana Mase. Hammann’s candidacy was actively supported at the meeting by Rev. Gerry Straatemeier, MSW. Straatemeier is an advocate of, and contributor to, the Sonoran Progressives' web site. The SP is headed by Jeff Latas.

Hammann is a relative newcomer to District 26, but not to the Party. She served as the 1st Vice Chair of the Arizona Democratic Party; Vice Chair, Democratic National Committee (Western States Caucus) and 1st Vice Chair of the Coconino County Democratic Party.

In her introductory remarks before the election Hammann announced that she had been urged to run by Lena Saradnik, District 26’s newly elected Democratic House member. Saradnik did not attend the meeting.

Clearly the Progressives are doing what all interest groups within a party try to do…expand their spheres of influence for the sake of changing the party’s direction. Fair enough, and they’re going about it the right way.

So far the only explicit program the Progressives have had (apart from general statements about promoting various aspects of the general welfare) is urging the rapid withdrawal from Iraq.

By the time Arizona Progressive Democrats achieve enough influence to move the sluggish national party beast in their direction on Iraq the issue may be settled. (Not necessarily to anyone’s satisfaction.)

It will be interesting to see what Arizona-oriented action plans they come up with. How about the complete repeal of Arizona's "right to work" laws?

Now that would be progressive.

Monday, November 20, 2006

CD 8, CD5, And Life’s little Ironies

Congresswoman elect Giffords was given a piece of advice by old Washington hands: Don’t get stuck on the top floor of the Cannon House Office Building. Well, Gabby drew number 47 in the lottery to pick space and ended up on the top floor of Cannon.

Because J. D. Hayworth would not concede, his very desirable office in the Rayburn Office building was held out of the office lottery. It will now go to Harry Mitchell.

When the Republicans took over they assigned what Gabby describes as a large hallway to the Democrats to use as their caucus space. She was there when some fairly rueful Republican staffers came down to measure how to divide up their new hallway.

Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch…what goes around comes around!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Election and After

Rant One

I’ve been taking some time off---obviously. I haven’t really had much to say about the election, a state of affairs that seems to have affected more than one member of the blogosphere. We won what we won, lost what we lost, and although there have been plenty of voting machine problems there does not seem to have been any out-and-out fraud.

I’ve been bemused by the talking heads’ analysis of the Democratic victory, which is that it evidences a great swing to the center. Sorry, but I think that’s a big heap of horse poop.

What happened was that Americans were dismayed by what they took to be an attack on some of the axioms of American Democracy, one of the most basic being the rule of law. They were appalled by the notion that the law was to be the law except when the Great Decider decided it wasn’t.

Most of us having been raised on the notion of equal justice for all were aghast at the notion that that no longer applied, even to citizens--- who could be arbitrarily imprisoned without trial or access to the evidence against them. Habeas Corpus? Drowned in the neo-con’s bathtub.

We were repelled by the notion that our privacy could be violated without the protection of judicial oversight.

More than once Republic committee chairs refused even to entertain issues proposed by Democratic members, a violation, it seems to me, of the notion of fair legislative procedure, which requires that opposing ideas be heard, even if the majority will, in the end, reject them.

None of these violated principals belong distinctively to the left or the right, but to the very foundations of American democracy. Rising up in defense of them does not constitute a great movement toward the center.

“Hands Across the Aisle” and “The New Bipartisan Spirit” are all well and good, but there was none of that from the Neo-Con Republic Party when it was in the majority. Democrats should use their power fairly, but by God they should use it…and undo some of the damage of the last six years.

There is still a great difference between the Repulic Party and the Democratic Party. We forget this at our peril.

Friday, November 10, 2006

What Do Progressives Want?

It will take a few more weeks for happy Democrats of all stripes to move out of celebration mode and begin to offer a plan of action for America’s future.

Crafting such a plan may be harder than we think. It’s possible to argue that the Democratic victory was fueled primarily by anger over Iraq coupled with what was perceived as the Bush administration arrogance and incompetence.

Bush will be gone in two years. He may effectively be gone, or going, already. When Bush and the war are no longer our issues, when Democrats are deprived of something to run against what will they run for? What should the program be?

Here is (in part) what the Sonoran Progressives want to do:

“Advocate and promote policies that improve the health, education, environment, prosperity, safety, and well-being of the residents of southern Arizona, the nation, and the world.”

Frankly I don’t think most Republicans would disagree with those goals, but the devil is in the details. What is to be done? What exactly should we advocate to see those goals achieved?

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day! 4… Voter Suppression Calls

5:30 PM

In about an hour I’ll be heading out to Tucson’s Doubletree Hotel to watch the returns at Gabrielle Giffords’s campaign suite. The Doubletree is where all the Democrats are gathering to enjoy either the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat. I think it’s safe to say that they are expecting the former and will be surprised by the latter…although we won’t know until the traditional fat lady sings.

Before I leave I want to say something about voter suppression calls, which have been a feature of this campaign. So far as I have heard or know all such calls have originated from Republican supporters.

Such calls represent an essential contempt for the voters and disregard of traditional political discourse. They are an attack, not on their opponents, but on the very system of electoral democracy. When you have run out of arguments, plans, or programs what is left but to attack the system, to discourage men and women who are, after all, your fellow citizens…from exercising their electoral rights.

This kind of campaigning is symptomatic of the intellectual bankruptcy of the Republican Party, of its desperation, and its struggle to stay in power without consideration for truth or decency.

It is despicable, and it’s loathed by many traditional Republicans.

Election Day! 3

1:30 PM

Just got off the phone with Steve Farley, who was poll-watching at the Lighthouse Y on in central Tucson. He reports that voters were coming in non-stop for the three hours he was on duty. A very large turnout.

Farley also reports that he was approached by four Republican voters who said they were so angry with the current crop of Republicans that they voted Democratic. “I’m bitter” one told Farley.

Rumor: I’m hearing a story that voters on the south and west sides were being intimidated by people (wearing black shirts ? Hard to believe) taking pictures with video cameras. Anyone heard anything?

Election Day !

6:42 AM

Back from my polling place. I arrived a few minutes early and by the time it actually opened there were 10 people in line. Poll workers seemed just a little disorganized to begin with, slightly unsure of the most efficient way to handle the paperwork. After processing four or five voters things seemed to smooth out.

While we were waiting for the first hitches to un-hitch someone in line pointed to the vote counting machine and asked what that was. A voice from the back of the line said, “That’s the vote shredder!”

Note to both parties: When people make jokes like that about the honesty and security of the voting system we should be seriously concerned.

It takes a while to mark the ballot, what with all the ballot propositions, and by the time I left there were 25 people in line. A volunteer at the 75 ft limit was holding up a sign urging a NO vote on 107

Election Day!

5:23 AM

Okay, I’m like a kid on Christmas Eve. I go to bed early the night before so the big day will come even sooner. The alarm went off at five this morning but I had been awake for a while. Got up, hit the shower, checked my ID and got ready to go to out to vote. Polls open a 6 and I like to get there when they do.

I’ll report when I get back.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

CD8: Giffords Leads Graf by 15 Points

According to the latest Tucson Weekly/Wick Communication Poll:

"The survey of 400 Congressional District 8 voters, which was conducted by local pollster Margaret Kenski, showed that half favor Giffords; 35 percent say they will vote for Graf; and 11 percent remain undecided. Just 2 percent of voters said they were supporting Libertarian David Nolan, while 1.5 percent said they liked independent Jay Quick."

Read the whole report on the Tucson Weekly Blog.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Early Ballots

An interesting story was buried in last Saturday’s Tucson Citizen. According to reporter Blake Morlock 166,563 people in Pima Co have applied for early ballots for the 11/7 election. This is a large number of early ballots out of an active voter list of 420 thousand.

In 2002, the last mid-term election, 114,487 early ballots were requested. The current figure is a forty-five percent increase. (Of course there is a Senate race this year and a hotly contested Congressional race in CD 8.)

So far only about 50,000 ballots have been returned.

With nine days to go that leaves a huge number of ballots not yet voted. If you request a ballot and don’t vote it you MUST bring it with you to your polling place or you will not be allowed to vote. If the dog ate it, or you have otherwise lost it, the best you’ll be able to do is submit a provisional ballot.

A political junky friend wrote the following comment:

“The number of requests this year seems large (170K out of 420K on the active voter list). I have previously worried that an election could be tampered with by making early ballot requests for people (without their knowledge) so that such people would be denied the vote on election day. I would be on the lookout for significant numbers of people complaining at the polls that they did not request a mail ballot even though their name is marked as such. I would also be concerned if less than 90% of the requested mail ballots are voted and returned.

"My worries are probably not warranted but it would still be prudent to keep this in the back of your mind on election day."

Voter fraud? In America? Oh surely not!

Toward a Progressive Agenda

Nine days to go. When the hurly-burly’s done, and when the (political) battle’s lost or won, what will the lefty Blogosphere look like? The Left’s political attention has been focussed on the current campaigns, on defense of our candidates and the exposure of our opponents’ sins and failings.

This focus has, for the most part, papered over some apparently serious differences within the Democratic Party. I’m inclined to say “apparently serious” because I’m not really sure that the differences are as significant as some take them to be.

The most obvious and extreme political difference is the one between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. That difference is so important that it makes any differences within the Democratic Party insignificant.

Rest easy, I’m not suggesting we launch into lengthy discussion of political theory now, but after the election when our post-election-party hangovers have mellowed away, I think we should be discussing how to form the plans, programs and attitudes of the Left for the greatest political impact.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Arizona Range News and San Pedro Valley News-Sun Endorse Giffords

Here is a portion of their endorsement editorial:

One good thing about the election being just around the corner is that we are only two weeks away from not having to listen to political ads. It seems they become more obnoxious every year and less dependent on actual facts.

That has certainly been the case this year.

Advertising against one candidate and for one proposition has been so misleading and so devoid of facts that we are taking this opportunity to clear the air a bit and endorse in those two races…. One of the more egregious examples is Randy Graf's ad calling Gabrielle Giffords an extreme liberal. (Data Port emphasis) Giffords is moderate by any reasonable definition. Graf's ad makes it sound as if Giffords is helping to smuggle undocumented workers across the border. Part of the problem for Graf is that he is essentially a one-issue candidate. He has focused most of his campaign on border issues. They are important issues, but we need congressional representation with a little more depth and breadth.

Giffords has run a campaign that addresses the border, but also addresses health care, education, public safety and a host of other critical issues that don't seem to get much traction in the Graf campaign. Jim Kolbe was a good congressman for more than 20 years. We need someone to replace him who will represent all of the District 8 constituents. We need someone who is fair-minded and measured in response to challenges.

It isn't about Democrat or Republican. It's about the individual. For that reason, we endorse Gabrielle Giffords for the District 8 congressional seat.

Link to San Pedro Valley News-Sun

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Olbermann Tears Bush a New One

Just in case you missed these two savagings of the Republicans--- something we have all waited for Democrats in Congress to do--- the videos are available at AlterNet.Org.

Interesting to note that the second piece ends with the Ed Murrow tag, “Goodnight and Good Luck.”

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tucson Theater and The Tucson Press

Just taking a breather from reading other folks’ political blogging to pass on a commentary about the state of the press. Art Almquist, MFA, is a local actor and the Director of Theatre at Tucson High Magnet School. He’s submitted the following commentary for a Guest Opinion spot in the Arizona Daily Star.

Not sure of getting published he’s passed it on to folks in the Tucson theater scene and I’m posting it here:

Since mankind learned to communicate, live theatre has been one of the most invigorating art forms around. The movies can give you special effects, but in what other story-based performance art form can you feel the thrill of knowing that the play’s world is being created and controlled right before your very eyes? Kathy Allen, the Star’s theatre critic, knows this. What frustrates me is that those behind the new, “improved” incarnation of Caliente don’t.

Clearly aiming for the ever-important younger demographic, they have decided to “hip up” Caliente. (Music is now referred to as “Soundz.” How hip is that?) Caliente now features no fewer than 11 pages devoted to music and 13 devoted to movies and TV.

Local live theatre, which is made up of Tucsonans working insanely long hours for little or no pay (and almost always in addition to a full-time job), all for the sole purpose of entertaining other Tucsonans? Beyond a tiny calendar listing as far back as possible without being the crossword, it receives no mention. “My Ride” devotes a page to someone’s hip mode of transportation, but local theatre gets not a word. Not a picture. Not a thing. This is not just a snub to the thousands of us who either work in or support local theatre; frankly, it’s a slap in the face. We’re confused by this decision, and yes, we’re angry.

Any member of any theatrical community will tell you: we depend on newspapers for our audience. We wish this weren’t the case, and that people would fill our seats every night on their own. Among the many things we have to compete with are DVDs, satellite TV, movie theatres, and, ironically, touring theatrical productions. A trendy touring production brings with it name recognition (“I heard it was such a wonderful show!”), more expensive production values (“Now that was a show!”), and cocktail party conversation (“Did you see that show?”). Local theatre has precious little money to spend on anything, and so depends on coverage given in the newspapers for its publicity. In my years as a local actor and Director of Theatre at Tucson High, every bit of coverage given in the Star has helped enormously in bringing audiences out.

And please, don’t tell me that it’s all good because the reviews and previews will still appear on other days. It’s not okay. People go to Caliente for their entertainment plans. I speak from immediate experience: On the Verge, the play in which I currently am acting, received a positive Tuesday review from Kathy Allen. Audience response to the show has been tremendously positive. The size of our largest house: 27. Caliente coverage: zero. It’s no coincidence.

I am not exaggerating or being “dramatic”: if this does not change, local theatre will die in Tucson. And it will be missed. I ask everyone, from actors to patrons to directors to ushers to fans: please contact the Star and tell them you don’t care about being “hip.” You want local theatre!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

How To Steal an Election

I’ve commented more than once that I prefer to vote on Election Day, and that if I had my 'druthers’ I’d be marking a paper ballot. As old as I am…just slightly older than dirt…I still don’t think I count as a Luddite, but where voting is concerned I have more faith in my neighbors of all parties counting paper ballots.

Yeah, yeah, I know….elections have been stolen in the past. But the theft can be so slickly done on some electronic voting machines as to be undetectable.

Here’s an interesting explanation of how it can be done in about sixty seconds o
n the Diebold machines. (Can you say “Ohio?”)

I missed this You Tube offering in September.

The full paper, published by the Center for Information Technology Policy, Princeton University, is available here.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

A Serving Officer Protests His War

Finished with the War
A Soldier’s Declaration

I am making this statement as an act of willful defiance of military authority, because I believe the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.

I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this war, upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them, and that, had this been done, the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.

I have seen and endured the suffering of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe evil and unjust.

I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.

On behalf of those who are suffering now I make this protest against the deception which is being practised on them; also I believe that I may help to destroy the callous complacence with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share, and which they have not sufficient imagination to realize.

S. Sassoon
July 1917

After his protest was published Sassoon was sent to a mental hospital to be treated for “shell shock.” He was an officer, wounded twice and twice decorated for bravery. He survived the war and died in 1967.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Esquire Endorses Napolitano, Giffords, and 502 Others

Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated. What can’t be exaggerated is my declining interest in continued jousting in an arena where political junkies on both sides of the aisle seem to have run out of new stuff to say.

I find political TV advertising particularly discouraging. Much of it is so outrageously mendacious that it seems almost designed to discourage political participation altogether. Perhaps that’s what it’s intended to do.

On the other hand I am encouraged by what I sense to be an awakening of political interest in great numbers of Americans whose past political passivity has been noteworthy. It is almost as if the political genius of the nation is stirring and the process of self-correction and re-adjustment is underway. We’ll see.

As evidence of this political interest in unexpected areas I offer the latest edition of Esquire. In addition to a spread on the sexiest woman alive (Scarlett Johanson,) there’s the usual pretty good fiction and features, along with fashion advice for men who are as rail thin as the models in Vogue.

And this month: Something entirely different, a “Get Out & Vote” feature. Esquire chips in with endorsements, and their rationale, on 504 races.

Here are the endorsements in Arizona: Napolitano, Pederson, Simon, Thrasher, Shadegg, Pastor, Flake, Mitchell, Giffords and Grijalva. There is a short justification of each choice here.

To read all 504 endorsements, their justifications, a statement of Esquire’s method, and short sections on the best and worst in Congress click here.

Monday, October 09, 2006

McCain and Graf

Everyone seems to be all tingly and pleased, or shocked and surprised, by McCain’s endorsement of Graf. I really can’t understand why. McCain is a Republican, Graf is the Republican candidate.

Despite what all the single issue zealots on both sides of the aisle thought, and all the attacks on primary opponents’ ideological purity, the pros understood that the only vote the winners of the primary would cast that really mattered…was the vote to organize the House of Representatives.

Once the primary is over you damn well better support your candidate. You know that you are in complete agreement with him or her on that first vote. The pros don’t sulk in their tents like Achilles when their candidates lose their primaries. They soldier on with the candidate they have


Everyone has probably noted this already, but just in case you missed it:

By Jill Lawrence, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — Four weeks before congressional elections, a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows Democrats hold a 23-point lead over GOP candidates. That's double the lead Republicans had a month before they seized control of Congress in 1994.



For motorcycle fans there’s a new post up at Dataport Motorcycles, the first in a series on sidecars. Yeah, I know, not for everyone

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Anger is Good

There’s a wonderful short essay by Garrison Keillor over at Salon.Com Here are some excerpts, on the subject of anger as a miracle drug.

Pick up a newspaper and read about Congress and you will find yourself yelling at walls and terrifying the cat. Last week, Congress moved to suspend habeas corpus, one thing that distinguishes a civil society from a police state. Reaction was muted.

Then the Party of Family Values was revealed to have protected a sexual predator in its midst until finally a reporter asked some pointed questions and the honorable gentleman resigned and ran off to recovery camp: This level of hypocrisy takes a person's breath away. You thought that Abramoff, Norquist, Reed & DeLay had established new lows, but the elevator is still descending.

The power of righteous vexation is what keeps so many old Democrats hanging on in nursing homes long past the time they should have kicked off. Ancient crones from FDR's time are still walking the halls, kept alive by anger at what has been done to our country.

And I agree when he goes on:

As Frost might have written, "The woods are lovely, dark and thick. But I have many butts to kick and some to poke and just one stick."

We each have a stick. Voting starts tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Latas Heads Sonora PDA

I’m glad Latas continues to be active in Arizona’s political life. I hope that his first project for the new organization is a clear definition of Progressive goals and programs.

American political life has not been driven by platforms. Parties have had them, of course, but our political genius has been largely to forget them and solve particular problems based on the very general political inclinations of each of the parties.

We used to know, in some very broad way, what Republican political inclinations were, and what Democratic political inclinations were. Those distinctions have become blurred with the DLC adopting some of the fiscal conservatism of the Republicans, and the Republicans leaning heavily on huge deficits and extensive government interference in our personal lives.

I think the Progressives need a platform, and some detailed programs for realizing that platform. Right now I don’t have the faintest idea how Progressive Democrats are different from good old fashioned New Dealers. If they aren’t any different then I don’t see the need for another organization. If they are different I’d like to know how.


In the meantime---

I think a Progressive project here in Arizona should be a repeal of right to work legislation and the re-empowerment of the labor movement.

Nationally, the only way to insure ‘affordable health care’ is to go to the Canadian single payer system and get the insurance companies off our backs.

If we really are at war with terrorism, let’s nationalize the petroleum industry until we win the war.

Let’s reinstate some level of corporate taxation to pay for healthcare and other social welfare programs.


And isn’t it too cheery for words to watch the Republicans, the self-declared party of moral rectitude, twisting in their own ‘October Surprise.’

Monday, October 02, 2006

Sex! Politics! Religion!

There you have it; the three topics you are not supposed to discuss in polite society. Well, poop! Why not? If not the three most interesting topics of discussion they are certainly right up there in the top ten.

‘Discuss’ is an interesting word, derived from a Latin root meaning ‘to shake to pieces,’ which is, I suppose, why we are urged to avoid rending the polite fabric of social chit-chat by raising the banned topics.

As denizens of the blogosphere, political junkies of the left and the right, we cheerfully rend what’s left of the social fabric of polite discourse by our partisan rants. We care. We are passionate. We know that civilization and who we are as Americans somehow hangs in the political balance.

I’m not sure this sense of things is shared, or shared with the same intensity and urgency, by the vast majority of our fellow citizens. In particular I wonder how many of our politically sensitive, but non-blogging, friends even know we have web logs.

So let me suggest that one day a week we let our blogs go dormant, leave the virtual world, and make the effort to engage acquaintances, friends, and co-workers in the real world; quietly suggesting some political issue that particularly concerns us, explaining why we think it’s important, and asking them to give it some thought, too.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Politics and The Rogue Theatre

I haven’t had much time to post about the former, because the latter has been rushing toward opening night and I have been spending more time on Keats than on politics.

A discussion of “the abortion issue” morphed out of the discussion thread of my last post and x4mr has taken it up in his new blog, “Sustainability….”. If anyone is interested in continuing to flog this issue, take a look over there. Good stuff.

The Rogue Theatre production of “Endymion” previews this Thursday and opens on Friday. Anyone interested in the full story can click in here.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Arizona CD-8: Kos, Graf, and the KKK

I am about to lose the last vestiges of my reputation as a Chicago-bred political street fighter: I think that the Lofty Donkey post on Kos is over the line.

Yeah, I know, TDP put up the link to Graf’s take-down on Comedy Central but the photo-shopped pic of Graf in KKK regalia seems of an entirely different order. Even admitted to, it’s dishonest; and it accuses Graf, through innuendo and implication, of racism and anti-Semitism of the nastiest possible kind.

I have no use for Duke, and I think Graf’s guns-in-bars trip was loony, but I think that implying that because Duke likes his stance on immigration Graf is somehow cut from the same racist bolt of cloth is wretched.

Who has endorsed whom? When I go to Duke’s web site I find a lot of anti-Semitic nastiness, but I don’t find any explicit endorsement. (If I’ve missed it I’m sure someone will point it out to me.) What I do find is a two page US News and World Report piece by Angie C Marek all about Graf, his elevation of border security to a major campaign theme, and a nod in the direction of Gabrielle Giffords.

Does this amount to an endorsement by the KKK? Is such an endorsement to be found? It’s all bull-pucky.

Lest I’m misunderstood let me assure you that I have every intention criticizing Graf and his political platform. Oh, yeah, I might also treat him as an object of chirping mirth from time to time—but only in the most loving way possible.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Pardon The President?

This in the mail from

This week, the Senate is planning to quietly hold a vote that would pardon President Bush for breaking the law by illegally wiretapping innocent Americans without warrants. According to Senator Leahy, the bill would "...immunize officials who have violated federal law by authorizing such illegal activities."

President Bush broke the law, and courts are starting to agree. Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter once said the program was illegal "on its face." But he has now caved to pressure from Vice President Cheney, and introduced legislation that marks a new low: the bill justifies everything the president did. Worse, it makes it legal to wiretap Americans, in secret, without warrants or oversight, whenever the administration wants to.

Here are some quick facts about the Cheney-Specter bill:

* It allows President Bush ­and every president after him ­to wiretap Americans indefinitely, in secret, without a warrant and without any oversight.
* It effectively pardons the president for any illegal behavior by forcing Congress to concede that he has the inherent authority to conduct the program ­something federal courts, numerous legal experts and many leading Republicans disagree with.
* It completely guts FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) which has protected the privacy of Americans against illegal wiretaps for close to 30 years.
* It prevents any legal challenges from taking place in the public court system. Instead, it moves all cases to a secret court, where only Bush administration officials can argue it.

Since the program was exposed in December of last year, we've learned that President Bush personally blocked a Justice Department investigation of the program, Vice President Cheney also personally intervened to stop telecom companies from testifying to Congress about it, and a federal court recently ruled the program unconstitutional. In an effort to protect himself from further consequences, the president is pressuring Congress to let him off the hook.

–Nita, Eli, Jennifer, Wes and the Political Action Team
Monday, September 18th, 2006

To sign a petition against pardoning the President for breaking the law click here.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Anti-Munsil E-Mail

The Data Port received a strange e-mail from “Len Munsil Facts.” It was paid for by an outfit called the Arizona Conservative Trust with money from the “Arizona Values Coalition.”

On the face of it, it seems to be the sort of piece conservatives would launch against another conservative in the primary season. They do realize that’s over, don’t they?

The e-mail note refers us to another site: (link) which is rich in reasons for Democrats to vote against Munsil. What’s this all about?

This whole Arizona Conservative Trust thing seems as bogus as a three dollar bill.


I’ve been very busy preparing for the opening of the next Rogue Theatre show—September 28. Happily, Data Port visitors have been keeping the site alive two cents at a time in the comments thread. Thanks… It’s all been fascinating!

My view on the gun issue. My wife and I have been enthusiastic pistol shooters. We always found shooting relaxing—an hour or two of controlled breathing on the range really set us up for our quotidian trials.

I would be well and truly pissed if the government said I couldn’t do that. At the same time I don’t mind registering my guns, or waiting three days for delivery, or even having to take a licensing exam. Geez, I’m a biker. I register my scoot, license it, take a rider’s exam, and periodically retrain.

However, the “pro gun” folks's argument that somehow gun ownership is what protects us from government tyranny is absurd. Our nation is literally drenched in guns but creeping fascism and corporate control of our lives is a continued and continuing threat under Republican control of the government... Armed to the teeth we seem helpless in the face of it.

Unless , of course, we are ready for armed insurrection-- but that would interfere with Monday night football.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

CD-8 Fun With Negative Attacks

Let the negative atacks begin, but lets have a laugh on the way. Here's Comedy Central's take on one of Randy's sillier proposals: Guns In Bars

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


A telephone call or visit to your victorious opponent is an important part of American political tradition. Its most important, if informal, function is to legitimize the election; to acknowledge that the election process was legitimate and the result fair.

It’s also the way that any wounds of political combat are forgotten and forgiven, opening the path to future political cooperation and participation.

Patty Weiss’s appearance at the Giffords victory celebration was greeted by solid applause and the general feeling that it was a class act-- the first step in continuing a political career.

I know that some folks think I was just being a wise guy when I raised the “Patty For Mayor” banner, but it’s a suggestion that has been made to her by more than one political activist in town and I hope she considers it.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

CD-8 6:50 am-- I Practice Citizenship

I got up early this morning and practiced citizenship. Threw a leg over my scoot and had a lovely, if short, ride to my polling place. There were seven or eight people in line ahead of me, but the line moved quickly even though the workers had to sort through 2 precincts.

I didn’t see anyone with ID problems; all the voters approached the officials with driver’s licenses dutifully clutched in hand.

Monday, September 11, 2006

CD-8 Latas Opposes Giffords Support of Troops

The latest Latas attack ad on Giffords strongly opposes her support for the 2003 Senate Concurrent Resolution 1026. Does that mean that if he had been in the Senate he would have refused to vote for the following language? I don’t think so, but that's what he criticizes Giffords for doing.

The Members of the Legislature express their gratitude for the members of the United States armed forces who are serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom and recognize their excellence, patriotism and exceptional bravery.

The Members of the Legislature extend their prayers and best wishes for the families of the United States military personnel who are serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The trouble with the “Die For a Lie’ ad is that in the last analysis it won’t get him elected this time around and it damages any hopes he might have for a future political career. (Personally, I hope he pursues those hopes by taking a shot at the legislature. We haven’t had a hell raiser since Kromko.)

CD 8: Patty Weiss Counting on Occasional Voters

Got a nice e-mail from Weiss’s campaign manager, Frank Costanzo, urgently requesting volunteers to turn out “occasional voters,” apparently the new secret weapon and the secret to Patty’s success.

Maybe attack ads aren’t working too well, but occasional voters? The thing about those rascals is that they only vote, well…occasionally. The late call for a volunteer base to phone unlikely voters seems to me to be a day late, a dollar short, and desperate.

But what do I know? Miracles do ‘occasionally’ happen.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

ABC Agitprop

Let me again recommend David Kaiser’s blog “History Unfolding.” Kaiser is a well-respected historian who regularly publishes long, reflective, very un-blog-like, articles on foreign and domestic policy.

I hope you’ll grab a cup of coffee and click over to “History Unfolding” for his latest, on the ABC 9/11 Mini-Series.


What are they thinking of? My very Republican next door neighbor has been sent an entertaining hit piece on Huffman. It shows him posed in a chicken suit and the theme is (surprise surprise) if you want a conservative you don’t want this guy…he’s chickened out six times on voting on illegal immigration.

The mailing is clearly labeled as from the Arizona Democratic Party. How will my neighbor take this? Will he think, “Thank God the Democrats have sent me this crucial information?” Or will he think, “Well, these Democratic rascals don’t want me to vote for Huffman so they must be really afraid of him. Guess I’ll vote Huffman?”


Nothing is over ‘til it’s over and I can’t wait for the end of this primary season, which is one of the weirdest in my memory. For one thing I’ll be happy to see Democrats start attacking Republicans instead of one another.

Also, I’m not sure of the wisdom of spending money to play in the other guy’s primary, mainly because I have no idea if this is an effective use of campaign funds.


I’m going to do the old fashioned thing on Tuesday and actually go to the polls. No vote by mail for me…that’s like going to church by mail.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

In Arizona CD-8 The Beat Goes On

The Arizona Daily Star poll shows Gabrielle Giffords handily beating retired anchorwoman Patty Weiss by 17 points, a figure that’s basically unchanged since the Tucson Weekly poll. This probably explains why Weiss has recently pumped her own money into the campaign…she needed to pay for the latest hit-piece mailing against Giffords.

A short quote from the Star report:

(Weiss) Campaign spokesman Andrew Myers said the campaign is betting on "occasional voters," those who did not vote in the 2004 primary but are enthused by the competitive race and Weiss' local celebrity status.
"I think the strategies of the campaigns have been very different," he said. "We know that we're going to live and die by occasional voters."

Provided those voters don't turn out, Weiss would need to claim 93 percent of the undecideds in order to win, which would be a rarity, pollster (Carol) Zimmerman said.

Read the entire Star report here.


Still, everyone thought Dewey would beat Truman. It’s best to wait until the fat lady sings next Tuesday and for the Giffords campaign to keep its nose to the grindstone. Here's an odd thought: Perhaps, thanks to early voting, someone has already won.

I caught the DCCC anti-Huffman ad on the tube yesterday. Does that mean Rahm Emanuel thinks Huffman would be the CD-8 Republican hardest to beat? Must be…and the Star poll would seem to indicate that. Yes, but which
Huffman, the middle-of-the-roader or the newly minted super conservative?

Incidentally, there’s some very interesting commentary and debate going on over at Arizona 8th.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Essay For The Labor Day Weekend

Everyone loves Labor Day. It's a great three day weekend, with a paid day off. The weather's fine and the back yard and patio look as good as they have all year. If you're not going to the mountains, lakes or seashore... kick back, light the grill, and suck down a brew.

You might also remember to thank the men and women of organized labor many of whom were beaten, murdered, or run out of town so that we could enjoy the eight hour day, paid vacations, pensions, and guarantees that women and children would not be exploited in the workplace.

You may have forgotten, but the eight hour day and the paid vacation are not part of the natural order of things. They represent labor union victories.

I am now about to use a certain word. It's not a bad word, it's just a simple noun. I guarantee you I do not freight it with any nasty emotional overtones. Ready?

Capitalism. Our economic system is Capitalism. It is a nifty system; it really works. But it is intrinsic to that system that it treats labor like any other raw material and will always try to buy it as cheaply as possible. It will go overseas for it; it will confine it in little cubicles; and it will buy a lot of it part time so it doesn't have to pay benefits.

That's the way the system works...for labor. It doesn't work quite that way for other kinds of raw material. Sure, a contractor will try to buy cement cheaply, but he has to dicker with the cement guy, who will raise or lower his price until the two can agree to do business.

In the sports world, when a college basketball star hires an agent to negotiate with team owners we think nothing of it. The agents bargain with the owners for the players' services and the athletes refuse to play until they have a contract. But if a group of carpenters gets together to do the same thing it's socialism, or worse.

On the 2nd of November in 1909, during what became known as the "Uprising of the 20,000," female garment workers went on strike in New York. Many were arrested and a judge told those arrested: "You are on strike against God."

Wow...who'd have guessed?

There's nothing unpatriotic about the union movement; it's as American as apple pie. Boston carpenters walked off the job in April of 1825 in the interest of a 10 hour work day. Ten years later, children working in the silk mills in Patterson, New Jersey went on strike. Of course they had an outrageous demand: A six day work week of eleven hour days.

Sweatshops, eleven hour days, inadequate wages and wretched or dangerous working conditions are largely a thing of the past. The result is we tend not to notice or care about Capitalism's continuous attack on the power and even the existence of the union movement. This may not be a good thing.

A union is the average hourly worker's only defense against the economic power of a system that always tries to buy raw materials at the lowest possible price. It's not dumb, if you're an hourly wage person, to remember you're just so much raw material to that system.

The union maid and her guy aren't opposed to Capitalism. If you stop and think about it, the fact is that just the opposite is true. These folks simply want to behave exactly like all the other links in the capitalist chain of supply and demand. All they ask for is the right to bargain for the price they get for their labor and the conditions under which it is supplied.

Why should they be the only players in the game denied that right?

But for now, enough. Get the ol' hammock swinging, pop another brew, and dribble mustard from a hot dog on your shirt. Enjoy the day off with pay. It looks like we've all profited from the American labor movement, even if we've never belonged to a union.

On Labor's special holiday let's all heed the old organizing slogan and "Take it
easy, but take it."

Art Jacobson

..................First published in the Desert Leaf

Politics Free

Tomorrow morning I’m running away from home for two days. I’ll fire up the Yellow Peril (left) and trace a relaxed, looping, blue highways route up to Jerome, Arizona. I will set no speed records. As a matter of fact I intend to set some slow records, proving that any ride worth five hours is improved by taking seven hours.

I will look at things, pull off to read historical monuments, see the clouds
and enjoy the way the world smells. You’d be surprised how much more you see from the saddle than you do sealed in an air conditioned car. (There’s a reason that bike people call cars ‘cages.’)

My destination is not the purpose of the trip, the ride is the purpose of the trip and t
he Jerome Grand Hotel above is just a nice place for the ride to end. The hotel was once the hospital serving the mining community of Jerome and the Verde Valley.

The restaurant, called The Asylum (no straight jacket required,) is located in what used to be the hospital’s pharmacy. I like the bar.

The hotel is suppos
ed to be haunted.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

CD-08 NRCC Makes Major Media Buy

The CD-08 primary wars are going to be getting hotter.

With two weeks to go the National Republican Campaign Committee has made a major media buy, in the neighborhood of a quarter of a million bucks. That’s some neighborhood, and the street talk is that it’s a neighborhood in which Randy Graf is not welcome.

Will the NRCC also be dipping a toe into the CD-08 Democratic primary? Guess we’ll have to start watching TV.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Campaigns and Scorpions

Is it just my imagination, or have folks on the Democratic side of the aisle (and their loyal opposition) stopped beating one another up about which Democrat is…should…or will be their entrant in the CD 08 race?

It feels very much as if they have all fallen face forward into their keyboards in a state of emotional exhaustion. We’re all just waiting now for the “inevitable victory” or the “miraculous upset” on the day, two weeks from today, when the fat lady si

Across the aisle the Republicans are managing to focus everyone’s attention on their squabbles and what seems to be their only issue…illegal immigration and all that that entails.

Since Democrats have temporarily stopped fighting with one another they ought to take aim at the November Enemy. Are these guys hot for the great Republican policies or not? Tax breaks for the rich? Privatizing Social Security? Health plans that favour insurance companies and big pharma? The notion that Iraq was a great idea and an enormous success?

At the risk of damaging The Data Port’s reputation for balance and even-handed
reportage… We’d be suckers to vote for any of those clowns.

about the scorpions. Katherine and I share our home with two cats. We are also sharing our home with a plague of scorpions. Of the two cats, the oddly named Mr. Squeak is 19 pounds of “live and let live” but Ms Deborah, our the little gray huntress, has a nose for these rascals. She prowls around the house staring at electrical sockets, looking for long minutes under the desk at the tangle of computer cords, and into clutter on the floors of closets.

This started when she hopped to the top of the fridge and stared fixedly at a ceiling light fixture. Sure enough, when I turned on the light there was a scorpion trapped in the glass shade. Scorpion died of heat. Four days later another scorpion…and then one skittering across the bathroom floor.

Scorpions I can see don’t bother me, but the ones I don’t see are really upsetting. I was stung in bed one night…in the face, thank God, and not in any more tender location…and that really hurt.

What the hell is that cat staring at now?

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Data Port Margarita

Here is a recipe for joy or despair. Regardless of whether your candidate wins or loses in the CD 08 primary you may wish to consider the (therapeutic or celebratory) virtue of a fine Margarita.

I believe that devotion to this drink has been expressed by several Data Port visitors. Our prejudice here is that the only drinkable Margarita is hand made. I’ve never had a decent one in a bar.


One lime squeezer. (Use only fresh limes that you squeeze yourself.)
One box of coarse salt to rim the glass.
A solid cocktail shaker. Never blend a Margarita. If you want a slushy go elsewhere….maybe Eegees.
Real limes. Never use bottled lime juice.
Tequilla. It must be good, but need not be great.
Sugar. Make your own simple syrup. 3 oz. water in which 3 oz of sugar has been dissolved. These are volume measures. Make as much as you want.

Recipe for 4 Margaritas

9 oz. Teguila
3 oz. T
4 oz. Freshly squeezed lime juice
2 oz. Simple syrup.

Shake very vigorously in cocktail shaker and pour into glasses rimmed with lime and salt. Repeat as needed.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

CD 08 Tucson Weekly Poll

Here are the results from the Tucson Weekly web site:

Gabrielle Giffords: 45 percent
Patty Weiss: 27 percent
Jeff Latas: 6 percent
Alex Rodriguez: 1 percent
Bill Johnson: 1 percent
Francine Schacter: 1 percent
Undecided: 20 percent

OK, so the numbers add up to more than 100 percent. We rounded Francine Shacter’s .3 percent upward.

Randy Graf: 36 percent
Steve Huffman: 13 percent
Mike Hellon: 10 percent
Mike Jenkins: 1 percent
Frank Antenori: 1 percent
Undecided: 39 percent

The poll, conducted by Margaret Kenski of Arizona Opinion, surveyed 300 Democrats and 300 Republicans in CD 8. It has a margin of error of plus/minus 4 percent.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Why Conservatives Can’t Govern

That headline is the title of a major article by Alan Wolfe that appears in the July/August issue of the Washington Monthly. Wolfe teaches political science at Boston College and is the author of Does American Democracy Still Work published by Yale University Press.

Wolfe lays out a neat pocket history of conservative thought in America from the time of the American Revolution to the era of the Goldwater revolution and beyond. It’s a nice referesher course.

The heart of Wolfe’s argument I take to be this—and if I mis-take it, you can get it straight by reading the article—you can’t govern efficiently while you are committed to the notion that government is an evil.

As an example consider Wolfe’s analysis of the prescription drug fiasco:

“It is significant that in America's recent debates over prescription drugs, no one, not even the Cato Institute, argued that government should simply not be in the business at all. A political party which consigned to death anyone who could not afford to participate in this medical revolution would die an early death itself.

“But Republicans were just as unwilling to design a sensible program as they were unable to eliminate the existing one. To prove their faith in the market, they gave people choices, when what they wanted was predictability. To pay off the pharmaceutical industry, they refused to allow government to negotiate drug prices downward, thereby vastly inflating the program's costs. To make sure government agencies didn't administer the benefit, they lured in insurance companies with massive subsidies and imposed almost no rules on what benefits they could and could not offer. The lack of rules led to a frustrating chaos of choices. And the extra costs had to be made up by carving out a so-called "doughnut hole" in which the elderly, after having their drug purchases subsidized up to a certain point, would suddenly find themselves without federal assistance at all, only to have their drugs subsidized once again at a later point.

"Caught between the market and the state, Republicans picked the worst features of each. No single human being could have designed a program as unwieldy as this one. It took the combined efforts of every faction in today's conservative movement to produce a public policy so removed from common sense.” (My italics)

Read it all here.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Roguish Behavior

The cast of the Rogue’s opening show is solidly into rehearsal now. Today’s gathering at our rehearsal hall, affectionately known as ‘the clubhouse,’ marks the end of our third week.

The Clubhouse is an echoing industrial space located between a humming electrical transfer station and the railroad tracks. When the trains howl their approach to the street crossing with their diesel horns all rehearsal, particularly work on the show’s music, stops.

There’s a corny old saying that there are no small parts, only small actors. It’s particularly true at the Rogue since performers wander on stage even as the audience enters…and never leave.

You don’t enter at the opening of the first act with some classic line like, “Oh, oh, oh…Eight o’clock and the master not up!” and then exit to the green room for twenty minutes. You’re always there, being there, even if you have no lines.

“Being there” may mean being part of a tableau vivant, singing Debussy choral music, miming, or all three at once. I find it damned near impossible to leer like a satyr and sing prettily at the same time.

The music sounds great and as an old Barbershop singer I can tell you I’d like to get the cast together in a small room where we could really hear the chords ring. Singing in this show has been about as much fun as I’ve had in a long time.

Visit the Rogue here.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

CD 8: Arizona Daily Star Will Endorse…

...No one! Nope, not in any primary election race, according to the rumor trolls. Could that possibly account for why Fitz’s August 17th Lisa Simpson cartoon is missing from his archives?

(Or am I simply too dense to find it? Help me out here.)

All the campaigns will be giving this the “no news is good news” spin until our collective heads spin.

Friday, August 18, 2006

CD 08: Another Giffords Endorsement

21st Century Democrats is an organization whose mission is to be:

“--- the catalyst for a new progressive movement in the United States through which we ensure the next generation of elected officials are bold, forward-thinking leaders. We seek out, train, and support extraordinary leaders who are courageous risk-takers and who inspire Americans to take action.”

21st Century Democrats has endorsed 33 candidates in this election cycle including Gabrielle Giffords. Visit 21st Century Democrats here for information about the organization and its recommended candidates.

The Giffords Campaign press release is here.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

DCCC and Arizona 05

I have received an interesting e-mail from Karin Johanson, Executive Director of the DCCC asking for my vote. My task, should I choose to accept it, would be to choose three candidates from a list of thirty six in the DCCC’s “Candidate for Change” contest. The top three vote-getters would receive special assistance from the Campaign Committee:

# A fundraising email from Democratic House Leader Nancy Pelosi or DCCC Chairman Rahm Emanuel to our list;

# A phone bank run out of the Democratic National Headquarters for their campaign;

# The feature spot on our Web site to get their message out,with a link to their campaign contribution page;

# An online chat with the DCCC community to exchange ideas on the
campaign and the future of our country.

There is only one Arizona contest on the list, Harry Mitchell in AZ 05. Very interesting, huh? You can vote for Harry Mitchell here.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

CD-8 After The Primary, What?

I was given a copy of the Latas CD. It’s a nifty strategy for getting a candidate’s message out and I believe it’s the first time this has been done in Arizona politics. A tip of the hat to the Latas campaign.

Salette Latas, who also appears on the disc, is an excellent spokesperson for her husband’s campaign and would make an appealing candidate in her own right. Will the disc make up for a shortfall in other advertising strategies? Probably not, since I imagine that bulk mailings in sufficient numbers would be prohibitively expensive.

The disc is a nice compilation of video clips we’ve pretty much seen before and lays out positions we already know.

Both Latas and Weiss inveigh against “professional politicians” and offer themselves as “citizen legislators.” Of course once they are elected they will be professional politicians…the job, after all, that they have been campaigning for. I would certainly hope that once elected that they would stick around, season politically, rise in seniority and wisdom and serve the district for more than a term or two.

This “citizen legislator” pitch is pretty, but nothing more than a rhetorical flourish.

The Arizona Republic has endorsed Gabrielle Giffords to be the CD 8 Democratic candidate. The Republic had this to say about Weiss and Latas, her two most prominent opponents:

"Patty Weiss has high name recognition after three decades as a news anchor with Tucson’s NBC affiliate. Her views on the issues are thoughtful but not substantially different than those of Giffords. Her work as a journalist has made her an informed observer of Arizona government and politics, but there is significant difference between reporting the issues and crafting public policy to address them.

"Jeff Latas, is a pilot with a hero’s record in the Air Force. His stridency about the Bush administration’s handling of Iraq may appeal to angry Democrats in the primary, but he will lack the necessary appeal to moderates in November."


With less than a month to the primary election it’s time to speculate about what will come after. Let me cut to what I take to be the heart of the matter, as unhappy as Data Porters of whatever camp, may be.

I’ve noticed that there is an assumption amongst Democrats here on TDP that when the hurly-burly’s done, and when the battle’s lost or won, the Democratic Party is going to pour money on the anointed head. Doesn’t matter who it is, or how much money they’ve raised, all shortfalls will be overcome and we can press on to victory with other people’s money.

Well, it ain’t going to happen. Yes the party has money, and some will find its way in support of various campaigns, but after the election the DCCC will evaluate the winner of each campaign and only on the basis of that evaluation call major donors and say, “Listen, you have to send Jones 2100 bucks.”

Simply winning the primary will not be enough. What is the candidate’s fund raising record? Can he help us out with the financing of the campaign in the general? What about breadth of support in his community? Are organizations representing a variety of interest groups supporting him? How does his political record, if any, measure up against the general demographics of his district? And so on, and so on, and so on.

Disappoint the DCCC in some category or categories and suddenly the race in your district, which before was one of the leaders, will drop down toward the bottom of the list of possible winners and eyes will be turned elsewhere.

Suppose for a moment that Patty wins. She wasn’t endorsed by Emily’s List, for whatever reason. Do you think those folks are now going to ask their members to send money to Weiss? I don’t. I think they’re going to think they have many other candidates they like better.

Remember that no matter how much money there is, there is a limited amount of it.

I believe that Giffords, by virtue of her background, temperament, experience, and fit with the people of Congressional District Eight, is our best chance to beat the Republicans in November. Vote your heart, vote for anyone you like, but remember that this is a fight to control Congress, a fight to defeat the New American Century people, and remember that winning in November is all that f-ing matters.

Now what about the losers after the election, whoever they may be. My guess is that Latas doesn’t want a state job. He might want to take a shot at Congress in two years, when incumbency has not yet become an advantage that is so hard to overcome. Kolbe came back and defeated McNulty the second time around.

If Patty doesn’t win, I’d like to see her run for Mayor. She would make an ideal spokesperson and front man for Tucson. I have no idea what Gabby might do, run again for Congress would be my hope. But, who knows?

Whoever the losers are, does anyone think they will put their shoulders to the wheel and hit the campaign trail? No, me neither. Maybe Francine would God bless her.

This has been a very long post. Sorry…now let the blog wars begin.