Monday, July 31, 2006


The terms “Islamo-Fascism” and “Islamo-Fascist States” are cropping up in the conservative press, and media outlets like Fox News. The term “Fascism” is clearly being used as a derogatory epithet intended to marshal all our negative emotional energy in the war on terror, or whatever it is exactly that we are making war on.

As a rhetorical device I suppose we have to take it for exactly what it is, an essentially meaningless expression of disapproval, something like a good juicy curse, and move on.

But if we take the term “Islamo-Fascism” as somehow descriptive, rather than merely expressive, we may make the mistake of thinking we know something when in fact we don’t. We may think we know something about the government or social structure we are facing.

Theoretical fascism was a system of government in which individual representation was replaced by representation of corporate bodies within society. (These were not corporations in the business sense, but rather something more like feudal guilds, or interest groups within society. The clearest statement of this might be in the writing of the English fascist Sir Oswald Mosely.

The Wikipedia entry under Fascism is extensive and the variety of definitions so great that the free floating use of the term to refer to a social or governmental form in the absence of detailed analysis is meaningless.

For your amusement I offer you this, followed by this.


Or, if you're tired of politics, try the latest entry at DataPort Motorcycles.


Saturday, July 29, 2006

An Inconvenient Truth

I saw Al Gore’s movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” Friday night. As I assume most readers know it’s about the very real near-term consequences for our planet of the fact of global warming.

The film does three things. First it explains in detail how and why global warming takes place. Second, it shows, through simply astonishing pictorial evidence, the effect of the warming that is now taking place and establishes that this process is not merely some natural cycle but the unique result of Man’s effect on the environment. Finally, it spells out the disastrous consequences with which we may be faced, not in some far off future but in the lifetimes of our children and grandchildren.

Gore’s message of hope is that we need not resign ourselves to an inevitable disaster. There is something we can do, but it requires a political will that has so far been lacking.

Immigration, reform of health care, and facing up to the energy crisis are certainly important issues that require political will to resolve. The inconvenient truth is that it may be that the greatest potential threat, not only to the United States, but to the whole world, the greatest potential killer, is climate change.

The home page for the film, which contains trailers and info, you can get to here: An Inconvenient Truth. This is a fascinating web site. And, finally, it seems that three out of four conservatives agree. (link)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

CD 8 Opening the Media Barrage

The Giffords camp launches a major media campaign today. The first TV ad is available on the Giffords web site. (link)


Jeff Latas’s financial report has been posted on the FEC site and shows cash on hand of a tad more than $20,000. Of course the FEC report covers only up to June 30th and we can reasonably expect that fund raising continues, but it compares to Giffords’s $588,000 and Weiss’s nearly $145,000. Even conservative Democrat Bill Johnson reports fifty grand. (His own money in the campaign.)

Latas is a determined candidate and his supporters are both energetic and devoted. Jeff is not likely to throw in the towel and that’s what makes this campaign an interesting test: Can a net-roots campaign and shoe leather make up for under funding?...or is the concept of under-funding simply too last century for words.

If Latas wins the primary he will face a serious financial challenge from his Republican opponent.


There have been several news stories lately about the importance of the CD 8 race, as evidenced by the fact that the national Democratic Party has reserved 8 weeks of media time for the general election campaign.

The operative word here is “reserved.” The time was not bought and banked, to be parceled out for the benefit of the Democratic primary winner. Whoever that is will still have to buy his, or her, own time.


A short note on the war on terror and terror's war on us.Oh, I know the chaos seems healthy but there are still people who are not doing their part. Where are the Rational Humanist terrorists? Why are there no Suicide Reasoners or Logic Bombers?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Night Ride

The ghost of a river runs in every desert dry wash, a faint dampness that you feel or smell as the road dips into it and then vanishes as the road lifts back into the unrelieved heat. You don’t notice this if you’re in a car.

We took the Yellowjacket for a ride last night, an old fashioned stylin’ run in the dark desert heat. Riders in other parts of the country probably can’t imagine what this is like. If you’re not a low desert rider you’re used to a night that cools off some and that’s why you ride then…to escape the day’s heat in the cool of the evening and a sixty-mile-an-hour breeze.

Desert rats know something altogether different. A sixty mile wind is a blowtorch. When we rode out the temperature was just a scattering of degrees below blood heat. It was 92 when we got home some hours later. That’s not ‘comfortable,’ not ‘warm,’ that’s just plain too hot to ride in anything but a T-shirt. No jackets, no riding pants. We courted road rash in shorts and sandals.

We wore helmets and gloves of course, because there are limits to our willingness to gamble with the laws of natural selection but, still, ours was a riding style that would be a scandal to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

After a stop at Bookman’s we decided that we would make a nostalgic run down the length of Speedway. When we first came to Tucson a kind of styling parade down Speedway was a regular occurrence on a breathlessly hot Saturday night.

Kids would gather in parking lots, folks brought beach chairs and coolers and watched the parade of fancy cars and bikes. Proud owners would pull into parking lots, kick a tire or two, and be back on the street. It was great fun and, I thought, basically harmless….but the police, or the city fathers, or property owners, or folks afraid of the young decided these were dangerous people and the whole wonderful spontaneous event was closed down.

Last night we were the parade. There were a few bikes in front of one coffee house but no bikes at all in front of the Bashful Bandit. We would have waved at people in lawn chairs but there were no people in lawn chairs. We went for ice cream and sat out in front and chatted with a guy who arrived in a Mini.

Still, the night was fine and the hot wind of our riding blew sweat dry, leaving salt lines on our shirts before we felt wet.

It is sometimes said by folks back east that they couldn’t live in Tucson because we have no changes of season. Not so. Some hot night ride in September we’ll feel the slightest softening of the heat, a barely perceptible edge of cool…and we’ll know that fall has arrived.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Az LD 28: Heinz on Health Care Reform

The Data Port got a note from Dr. Matt Heinz announcing that his campaign web site is up and finished. This is Heinz’s first run at elective office and although his primary motive for running is health care reform he has plenty to say on other issues.

Matt’s web site is here.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A Therapeutic Rant

I’ve found it hard to comment on our collective “vie politique” for the last few days. Things don’t seem to be going well in the “Man’s Inhumanity to Man” department, and at least part of the blame seems to settle on the doorstep of three of the world’s most populace religions.

Here at home, welcome to the faith-based administration. The President believes that a collection of as yet undifferentiated cells in a petri dish is a little human being. (If that’s the case let’s give it a birth certificate, a social security number, and the last rites when it dies.)

His recent veto of stem cell legislation on religious grounds strikes me as a violation of the separation of church and state.

What we have here is another step toward the destruction of secular government …Christian Nationalism anyone? You might take a look at an interview of Michelle Goldberg that appears in AlterNet currently. (link)

Meanwhile, In Iraq, the Sunnis and Shiites are having at one another, largely on the grounds of a centuries-old animosity based on theological disputes.They are willing to kill their fellow citizens on the ground that heretics couldn’t possibly be their fellow citizens. So much for the possibility of a democratic Iraq.

In Lebanon and Gaza the Israelis seem to be following the rule I once saw posted in a company break room: The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves. Hezbollah…The Party of God…wants to create an Iranian-style theocratic state in Lebanon and in passing destroy Israel.

The Israelis, who believe that God promised them the land thousands of years ago, of course want to hang on to it and are willing to destroy large portions of Lebanon to do it.

What a world!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

More Fun Than a Comment Thread…

…And possibly more violent. Had a great night out last night at Blade World, taking in the Roller Derby contest between FTW (easy, now, that’s the Furious Truckstop Waitresses) and the Vice Squad. I’ve always been a Roller Derby fan and only discovered a couple of weeks ago that the women were skating like demons right here in Tucson.

Read all about the WFTDA here.

Friday, July 14, 2006

CD 8 Talking and Talking and Talking The Talk

The dust-up between Giffords and Weiss at yesterday’s Nucleus Club debate came as a surprise to some, not the least of whom was Patty’s recently hired communications guy who was actually heard to blurt out his surprise that Giffords had defended herself.

What did they expect? Weiss has been piously proclaiming the wickedness of support from special interests and implying that was a brush with which she wasn’t tarred.

Well, you all already know she’s accepted money from these special interests:

United Transportation Union Political Action Committee (utu pac)
American Psychiatric Association Political Action Committee

Add to those:

The CEO of Aetna, our largest HMO provider. (John W. Rowe)
The CEO of JDS Pharmaceuticals, (Phillip Satow)

The Data Port has also learned that she approached the Pfizer PAC for support but was turned down; and finally she asked for (and received…her legal entitlement) a delay in filing the complete financial disclosure required by the House Ethics Committee. We don’t yet know where her personal financial interests may lie.

My guess is that the Weiss holier than thou game is over.


And a good thing, too, as Francine Shacter observed. (We should all be grateful for Francine, who is acting as the Party’s gad fly.) Francine reminded the gathered throng that we should be careful in our campaigning lest we elect a candidate who is ‘damaged goods’ as the result of primary warfare.

Shacter also offered a perceptive analysis of the Bush regime that went beyond all our particular criticisms to the heart of the damage that Bush has done to the American political system. The government has broken the basic social compact between the government and the governed, which is embodied in the sense of mutual responsibility for the general welfare. When the government treats its critics as traitors the system is on the verge of collapse.


I was pleased to hear Jeff Latas, who was at his angry man best in the finest tradition of Harry Truman. It’s easy to see why “charismatic” is the adjective used by his supporters to describe him.

Latas pledged to fight oil interests and refused to accept campaign contributions from them. So far none have been offered, but if he wins the primary I hope he takes anything that’s offered. He’s going to need the money and I think he’s quite capable of taking it and still making independent decisions.


All the candidates were asked to pledge their support for the winner of the primary. All said they would. Can’t wait to see if they do.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

CD 8 Election Finance Reform

Reporter Blake Morlock, writing in the Tucson Citizen, recently noted:

“The first real dust-up among Democrats seeking to replace retiring Republican congressman Jim Kolbe is turning on who pays for campaigns. Patty Weiss, a former newscaster, accused former state Senator Gabrielle Giffords of coming late to the idea that government should fund federal Campaigns.”

That could be a powerful indictment, except that while it makes tough-sounding campaign rhetoric it falls short of accurate reporting.

On the occasion of Giffords’s signing of the “Voters First Pledge,” which calls for public financing of election campaigns, the Giffords campaign published excerpts from a letter by Charlene Bozack who served as the Executive Director of the Clean Elections Institute from 1999-2001. The letter praised Giffords’s record of strong support of campaign finance reform.

The letter says, ““without your strong commitment to seeing that the [Clean Elections] law not be overturned, the State of Arizona would not have such a system today.” The letter hailed Giffords for having “stood firm in your support of the system when it was under challenges at the state legislature,” and noted that Giffords “helped strategize with me to make sure the system did not get overturned in the legislature.”

The Giffords campaign continued: “Giffords also has a record of fighting to preserve fair elections by ensuring that a paper trail exists for voting machines. In 2004, Giffords authored a Senate floor amendment to the Help America Votes Act (HB 2083). Her amendment required all voting machines purchased after April 1, 2004 to provide a paper statement of each person’s vote. The amendment was approved and the Senate passed the bill with Giffords’ amendment.” (Reference link.)

Now what are we to make of all this? Either Weiss knew Giffords's record and deliberately ignored it for purposes of political aggrandizement, or she didn’t know Giffords’s record of support for election finance reform and simply said what sounded good without checking. Take your choice. Odd behavior for a “journalist.”

Giffords was on NPR today. Check her interview out here. Link

A Weekend Without Politics

A friend sent me Alan Furst’s most recent espionage thriller, “The Foreign Correspondent,” and I have been lost in the Europe of 1938 and 1939---the final collapse of Republican Spain, Germany’s entrance into Czechoslovakia, the anti-fascist Italian resistance, and a Paris filled with the displaced.

easy to “get lost” in Furst’s novels because they are so meticulously researched. The look and feel and emotional tone of a Europe tuned cold and gray by what has been called “the banality of Evil” surrounds the characters… to which small, yet terrible, things happen. In such a world love is sad, heroism sometimes accidental, and tension unrelieved.

Reviewer Nancy Pate wrote in the Orlando Sentinel:

Some books you read. Others you live. They seep into your dreams and haunt your waking hours until eventually they seem the stuff of memory and experience. Such are the novels of Alan Furst, who uses the shadowy world of espionage to illuminate history and politics with a gripping immediacy.”

Furst has a web site. Be sure to watch (and listen to) the opening montage. Link

Django, right?
(Photo by Shorma Valeska)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Hard Not To Love The Az Daily Star

It’s right there keeping us informed about the latest political news.Example: In this morning’s paper there was a front page headline that said, “Cluttered Nov.8 ballot is stirring concern.”

Well, no. There is no Nov. 8 ballot. On Nov.8 no one will have his concern stirred. The Election is Nov 7.

Can’t wait to read the correction.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Arizona LD 26

Lena Saradnik, Democratic candidate for State Representative, announced today that the AFL-CIO and the Arizona Education Association have endorsed her.

In a brief statement Saradnik said:

“I am indeed honored the two major Arizona unions organizations support our efforts. As your elected State Representative, I will fight for quality public education, honor for our public school teachers, affordable healthcare for families, and well paying jobs and prosperity for all Arizonans.

Together we can win in 2006!”

A Test For Net Roots?

In Connecticut a battle is going on for the soul of the Democratic Party. On the right is Senator Joe Lieberman and on the left is a newcomer, Ned Lamont, who is challenging Lieberman in the Democratic primary.

Lamont represents, and is supported by, the left/progressive/ ‘Democratic wing of the Democratic Party.’ These folks hold that on issues like Iraq, universal health care, the partial privatization of social security, school vouchers, and other issues dear to the Democratic heart, Lieberman has been too close to the President.

Lieberman is sufficiently worried about the outcome of the primary that he has announced that, should he lose, he will run as an “Independent Democrat.”

This seems to be a wonderful situation for a casebook study of the Progressive belief in the efficacy of net-roots organizing. Will they be able to knock Lieberman off in the primary by flooding the Lamont campaign with street soldiers and, more importantly, with money.

Secondly will they be able to negatively impact Lieberman’s petition signature gathering? He must submit his signatures to run as an independent the day after the primary.

Will Progressives, playing a tit-for-tat strategy, conduct their own signature drive so that in the event of a Lieberman victory Lamont could also run as an Independent Democrat?

There is always the chance that with a three way race the two Democrats would split the vote and allow a Republican victory. A chance, but according to current polling Lieberman would win a three way race.

Connecticut is the testing ground for a Progressive net-roots strategy. It will be fascinating to see how it plays out.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

CD 8 The Candidates' Independence Day


Sierra Vista 4th of July Celebration
Meet Jeff at Veteran's Memorial Park at 11:00 a.m.

Veterans of Foriegn Wars Open House, Tuesday, July 4, 2006
Jeff will speak at 2:00 p.m. at the VFW Hall, 1884 S. Craycroft Rd.

Oro Valley 4th of July Celebration
Celebrate in Jeff's home town at Canada del Oro Riverfront Park Amphitheater, 551 W. Lambert Lane, at 5:00 p.m. Park at Casas Church, 10801 N. La Cholla Blvd., or the Home Depot at Oracle Road and First Avenue. The air-conditioned shuttle costs $1 per adult; children ride for free. Admission to the park is free with a donation of a nonperishable food item that will be donated to Catalina Community Services.

Marana 4th of July Celebration
Meet Jeff at 6:00 p.m. at Ora Mae Harn Park, 13250 N. Lon Adams Road. $5 to park


Weiss will be on hand at 10am for the Douglas Parade and follow that up an hour later with an appearance at the Bisbee Parade.

From 2pm to 4pm she will visit park activities in and around Tucson.

From 5pm to 9pm she will spend her time with the good folks in Marana, where she will be joined by the Patty Weiss for Congress "Independence Day Celebration Squad."


Giffords is celebrating the 4th observing the scheduled lift-off of Discovery.


Nothing planned, according to her web site.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Pederson Signs

I've just noticed the first political signs of the season. Jim Pederson has signs at major intersections in the foothills. (Non-Tucsonans: That means they're in Pima county but not inside Tucson city limits.) Looks like he made the first strike in the pre-emptive sign wars.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

The Political Blogosphere--How Useful?

An interesting comment made by anonymous blogger x4mr is buried down at the bottom of an 87-comment thread to the June 23 Data Port. I’ve brought it up here because I think it’s well worth our discussing. Here ‘tis:

"I may be out of my depth here, and if so, apologies in advance.

How many people are we really talking to here? How many people are really reading/listening? How much do these blogs really influence elections? Who does this discussion really serve?

Make no mistake, I enjoy doing this and actually TDP is my favorite place.

If we are 50 people, or even 100, that perhaps get watched by another 100, we mean what?! This is over 80 comments deep and I am really not trying to start anything, but I think these blogs serve the bloggers, all 200 of us (or whatever) that might actually vote in CD8.

I think campaigns need to watch what is happening, but blogging is not an effective way to get votes."

What do the Data Port political junkies think?