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.

Friday, August 11, 2006

CD 8 Playing in the Sandbox

Although it’s hard to believe, there is more to life than politics. I had to get out of the sandbox for a couple of days and when I returned discovered a veritable sandstorm.

Giffords’s ‘Quorum Queen’ ad blew up a whirlwind of commentary. Patty’s defenders fired off the ol’ “Liar, Liar Pants On Fire” attack and the Giffords campaign responded with an explanation from democratic legislative leaders saying that she had, indeed, accomplished exactly what the ad claimed. link

In continuing developments

## A new Giffords ad is running now, you can see it on TV as well as on her web site. link

## Patty’s ads are posted on her website, in case you missed them on TV. link

## The Latas campaign has started robo-calling, still flying under the radar. It makes political sense to remember that CD 8 is still essentially a multi candidate race.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Waiting for Connecticut

The most interesting domestic political event for some time is going down in Connecticut today. A pretty fair blow-by-blow can be followed on the Connecticut chapter of Lefty Blogs.

Lieberman’s web site went down and his campaign accused Lamont forces of a denial of service attack. Bull-Pucky! The explanation, and an account of Lamont’s honorable response, is on Kos. Link

ABC’s The Note reports:

There are no pooled network exit polls. The Connecticut Legislation and Elections website (Link) will be updated continually, as soon as information comes in. The state is using a brand new system, which may or may not work. Should the system not work, officials are prepared with a spreadsheet and the site should be updated at roughly fifteen minute intervals with results.

Lever machines will dominate in today's primary, with a smattering of optical scan voting places. And here is a chart, courtesy of the excellent folks at the AP, detailing the timing of the reporting of results on election night in 2004 to use as a guide for tonight.

First Reports from Counties: 8:35 pm ET
20% of Precincts Statewide by: 10:00 pm ET

Speaking of voting…I wish I believed in the tamper-proof character of optical and electronic voting, but I don’t. I would much prefer to mark my X on a paper ballot which was counted at the voting place under the watchful eyes of judges from the major parties.

In CD 8 news Patty Weiss has two TV commercials up on her web site for your viewing pleasure. Good production values, very slick, just what you would expect from an old pro. Link

Friday, August 04, 2006

Arizona CD 8: A Few Quick Notes

Liza, x4mr, Dave, Framer, and Kralmajales have been engaged in an interesting discussion of Lebanon, Hezbollah and Israel in the comment thread to the Data Port post of July 31. I have nothing to add, but I think the exchange might be of interest to a broader audience. Here’s a link.


And on the CD 8 front the Giffords campaign has posted a new TV ad, which you can see here. Incidentally this was the occasion that earned Giffords the title of Quorum Queen… link.

“The GOP attempt to move the bill took place after most Senators had left the Capitol for the night on May 12, 2003. Giffords blocked the bill, which would have reduced health care coverage and hurt senior citizens, by invoking a legislative rule requiring that a majority of the senators be present before the budget could be voted on. A majority of Senators was not able to be convened.

Giffords’ action forced the Republicans to withdraw their after-hours bill and go back to the negotiating table with the Democrats to craft a better budget for Arizona. Thousands of people who currently have health care in Arizona would have had their coverage eliminated had Giffords not taken a stand against
the Republican majority that night and forced a new budget to be negotiated.” (Quote from Giffords’s website.)


The link to Jeff Latas’s blog seems to be missing from his web page. Has he moved it elsewhere?


Looking for the “bug,” the Union Bug, that is. I always check campaign material to see if it was printed in a union shop. Most, but not necessarily all, Democratic candidate material carries the bug on the bottom of the last page. It’s rare on Republican material, but I may see less of that.

If you’ve found the bug, or found it not, drop a note in the comments section. And what about yard and road signs? Anyone found the bug?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Fight Warrantless Wiretapping

What follows is a notice from FCNL [Friends'(Quaker) Committee on National Legislation] on a constitutional matter of great importance to ACLU. If you wish, you can go to the first FCNL website to send a message to Senators Kyl and McCain on the matter: link

Sen. Arlen Specter has struck a deal with the White House on a bill to allow the
president to proceed without limits on his warrantless wiretapping program covering both telephone and electronic communications.

Under the new version of Specter’s bill, S.2453, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) would no longer be the "exclusive means" for governing domestic surveillance. The bill would ratify the president’s self-described "inherent authority" as the Commander in Chief, exempting him from seeking FISA court approval, either for the entire warrantless wiretapping program or for individual cases.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will take up this legislation on Thursday, August 3. If they take a vote, the bill will probably pass. But many senators, even supporters, have a number of questions about this complicated deal.

Take Action

We need your help to persuade the members of the committee not to approve the bill this week. The committee should proceed carefully on a matter that affects the privacy of so many people in the United States. Please urge your senator to ask for more substantive hearings on the legislation. They should ask to hear from constitutional scholars, technical experts, private citizens, and organizations dedicated to protecting individual privacy, before they proceed with this or any similar legislation.