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.