Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The Future of the GOP

One of the delegates to the GOP Convention from AZ is a young man by the name of Paris Dennard. Paris is keeping a delegate diary of his experience. You can certainly note the fine Public Relations training at Pepperdine in his writing and in the various interviews he has done.

This isn't young Paris' first convention, despite his youth. He actually was the blackface and had a speaker's slot at the 2000 convention, when he was only 17 years old. At the time, he was the Chairman of the Arizona Teenage Republicans. Later he became the President of the Pepperdine College Republicans. In fact, the extent of Paris' political involvement and public advocacy of his chosen party's principles make him a budding political professional. In Paris, we can see the birth of the next generation of black Republican leadership and its role in the GOP.

Paris' life story and his choices can tell us a lot about the future of African-Americans, and minorities in general, in the GOP. Paris grew up in modest circumstances with a single mom and dedicated grandparents. Despite their struggles, Paris is proud to claim that his mother never went on welfare, as if that were a mark of shame. But all is not ideologically harmonious with young Paris. Despite his undoubted convictions about self-reliance and the evils of government-sponsored support programs, and his party's position on racial preferences, Paris accepted a racially exclusionary merit scholarship which Republicans are trying to eliminate.

So why, despite the bigotry and intolerance flowing just below the GOP's surface, and despite the undeniable impact of its economic and social policies on people of his race, does Paris support W and the GOP? Paris said:

"I just won't allow people to box in a Republican. I won't allow people to box in what a Republican looks like, sounds like or feels like. I think George W. Bush did an excellent job when he said there's a compassionate conservatism that comes out. People said George W. Bush didn't sound like a Republican when he said I want to, you know, get rid of the soft bigotry of low expectation. Traditionally, does that sound like a Republican?"

Yes, in fact, it sounds like a familiar refrain. Something darker and more atavistic lies behind the minority Republicans' confident pronouncements of ideological identification. Black republicans, like social conservatives, are attracted to the GOP by the same strategy: cultural backlash.

Social conservatives have been convinced to ignore economic reality and vote against their self interest with the carrot of conservative policy changes which always hangs just out of reach, and by manipulation of their rage against a culture which denigrates their values - the myth of a liberal media and elite who despise them. Minorities are being baited with the same lies. They are told that the liberal establishment, embodied by affirmative action, racial preferences, social and economic programs which knit together a safety net against falling out of the American dream, are nothing more than a war against the self-esteem, self-reliance, and individual worth of minority citizens. These things are not a boon to you or community, they are holding you back in a culture of dependence, and a stereotype of mediocrity you don't deserve. As Paris put it, minority Republicans are encouraged to go to war against "the soft bigotry of low expectation."

So long as the outrage against the perceived insult of being thought less capable because of your race can be fanned, talented and proud minority citizens will heed the call. It is more difficult to maintain minority Republicans' attention on their rage and keep it off of real issues. It is hard to hide the numbers of minority men in our prisons. It is hard to hide the stark disparities in wealth and opportunity between minorities and whites. It is hard to hide the disparate impact so many social ills have upon minority communities, from crime and violence, to AIDS and other health risks, to environmental pollution. It is hard to hide the fact that so many of these real crises in minority communities are rooted in historical discrimination and perpetuated by the very entrenched economic interests that the GOP champions so diligently. So minorities fall away when the scales fall from their eyes.

So too, perhaps, might young men like Paris, possibly even Paris himself, turn away from the GOP. Minority adherents to the GOP like Paris are soldiers in a very ugly and cynical cultural war. We cannot assume they will realize for themselves that they are on the wrong team, even the brightest peoples' judgement can be impaired when they perceive themselves to be the focus of bigotry. The attitudes of Paris and other minority conservatives are a barometer for how well we are doing in communicating with minority voters and in recognizing and following our own minority leaders.

Paris could be an anomaly - blackface for the GOP - or he could be the vanguard of a movement. With demographic trends as they are, the GOP clearly understands that they must make inroads into minority communities or face becoming a permanent minority party. Social conservatives are a growing segment of a shrinking population. The cultural war which has brought the GOP the spoils it now enjoying must open a new front to sustain the power of the wealthy and privileged: Paris is that new battlefield.

There is no doubt that the African-Americans who are attracted to the Republican party are very capable and idealistic people. Paris seems like the sort of hard-working and ambitious young man who would get ahead and thrive in any milieu. Paris is a natural leader and, no doubt, a persuasive and passionate advocate for his views. Those very qualities are what make him vulnerable to the blandishments of the GOP's minority culture war. They also make him and other minority men and women like him vulnerable to something else which requires intelligence and self-discipline: the truth.

The facts will set them free. Progressive leaders, including minorities, have to make a more persuasive case that the disadvantage and deficits that minority communities and individuals suffer is not a result of lack of merit, but rather of a design of both historical and contemporary origin to slip them the short end of the stick. Further, measures to remedy those injustices are not the result of guilt, or condescension, but the demands of the American value of equity. Redress of these continuing handicaps is not a claim to entitlement by those to weak to compete fairly, but a demand for justice by those who have borne injustice and fought free of it to take their place as equals in society in all ways. The myth that there is a distinction between equality of opportunity (which is supposedly Conservatively Correct to the GOP) and equality of outcomes (which is the root of all evil - the quota) must be exploded. If minority citizens are in every way the equal of other citizens (which they are) equality of opportunity will result in equality of outcomes.

Minorities obviously do not have equal outcomes in today's America. Any shortfall in equality of outcomes must indicate that there is NOT an equality of opportunity, unless you accept that there is something wrong with minority citizens, or with their culture. This is the second prong of the GOP's culture war attack on minorities. The myth they want to sell is that since minority citizens have perfect equality of opportunity (a fallacy supported by the lack of any 'official' discrimination against them), their failure to achieve equal outcomes is due to a flaw in their character. That flaw is the dependency culture, the "soft bigotry of low expectations," that has been forced upon them by liberal America. In short, it is not the continuing disabilities to your opportunity the social and economic systems impose upon you which cause your poor outcomes, it is your belief that those disabilities should be removed. Only when you just stop fighting for equal opportunity will you be able to achieve equal outcomes.

What complete poppycock. But it is convincing even to some of the best among us, as young Paris Dannard demonstrates.

Republican Convention Coverage

I highly recommend truthout's Republican Convention Coverage is quite good and up to the minute. It provides some ground level views of the protests and the progressive activity surrounding the GOPolooza that you won't find elsewhere. William Rivers Pitt is a very good commentator and interviewer and updates obsessively. The site includes video and audio posts which bring a needed full-media feel to the coverage.

Democracy For America Tucson Site Coming

DFATucson.com is now in development. You can visit, but don't forget your hardhat. There isn't much content there yet, and the only constant is change, but you can register at the site if you wish. If you are interested in providing content and assisting with site development in the form of administration assistance, forum moderation, graphic design, copy editing, feature writing, or just about any other imaginable task, contact Michael Bryan at MBryan AT aol DOT com - or just start doing it. The site is a community portal which is designed to accept content from the members.

Monday, August 30, 2004

One Picture's Worth a Thousand Deaths...

Click image to view full size.

Get full info on all 975 American fallen.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Justice Department Censors Supreme Court Quote

Despite the fact that the ACLU's brief on the Patriot Act was a public document, and they had their own copies of it, the Justice Department insisted on censoring it before releasing it to the public. One result is this redaction of a quote from a Supreme Court decision.

Yes, do the double take. It is hard to wrap your mind around such mind-numbing idiocy at first. The Justice Department censored a quote from a published Supreme Court decision. Further, the quote was about abuse of the excuse of 'domestic security' to curb civil rights. The irony is so deep it is recursive. Push it slowly against various orifices in your head and try to relax. It takes practice to allow such an enormous stupidity into your brain, but if you practice diligently it becomes almost routine - as the Justice Department under Ashcroft so capably demonstrates.

At first, I could not understand this thing. It made no sense. I shook all my frames of reference. It pissed me off. But now, I think I understand.

Imagine the complete bewilderment of a RadCon faced with a man pissing on an effigy of Christ, or a woman covered in chocolate and frigging herself with a G.I. Joe doll. What can he make of this... these have to be the stupidest, most vile, perverse and pointless scenes he has ever witnessed. His mind automatically rejects these messages and concludes that this all must be a joke, in very poor taste, of which he is the butt.

Now I get it. This is performance art... fascist performance art.

Whose Horn? Mine.

What would be the point of running a blog if one didn't occassionally have both means and opportunity to self-promote just a touch?

I can't think of one, either.

So what do I awaken to today in the Sunday AZ Daily Star, on the front page yet, but a story involving me. I can't think of many front page opening paragraphs a lawyer could wish written about him more than this one:

"When a Midtown homeowners association made Michael Bryan take down the sign in his window supporting Howard Dean for president earlier this year, Bryan struck a blow for thousands of homeowners in the Tucson area."

Click through and read on if you are interested in the gory details of Home Owner Association law reform. If not, just email that lead paragraph to everyone you know ;P

Lackoff the Wizard

Linguistics professor George Lakoff dissects the "war on terror" and other conservative catchphrases in the Berkely News. Lakoff has significantly improved the way Progressives approach public policy debate. However, sharpening Progressive's ideological combat skills is only a small part of the struggle to put Progressive ideas back at the center of American politics. Even when we win the debate with the RadCons, we still have to overcome the central weakness of our political system: campaign financing.

We may effectively package and pitch our values and policy directions, but is the Democratic Party as it now exists capable of delivering on those promises? The Rad-Cons face the same dilemma, now. They promise a government-backed war against smut, homos, abortion. They promise prayer in school, church in government, and, apparently, a Fundamentalist Pope in the White House. Except for the latter, they have failed completely to deliver, despite being triumphantly in control of the government. The reason? The Rad-Cons voters may want these things, but their financial backers do not. The establishment, the wealthy and the special interests, who finance the Republican Party and its candidates don't mind the lip service if it brings the votes, but they won't stand for actually delivering the goods. They dribble out cheap appetisers hoping the hoi polloi will get bored and go home so that they can break out the real feast.

Those same folks who tuck into the Republicans' buffet pay for and, ultimately, control the Democratic Party. The same corporate officers, wealthy families, and foundations steer money into both parties. The same interests own both parties.

If you think the wealthy will gladly tolerate a flattening of this nation's income disparities, greater economic equity and security, universal health insurance, and greater investments in human capital in this country simply because it is the Democrats promising it, you are mistaken. The danger to Democrats is the same danger that now faces the Republicans: failed expectations. Having successfully delivered a message to voters that they respond to, and having captured ultimate political power, can you now walk the talk? What the Republicans have delivered in the past four years is a bonanza for the real owners of the Republican party and a plethora of hot air and empty genstures for the voters who actually put them over the top. How long will socially conservative voters tolerate Republican impotence on thier issues? Who knows. The Fundies seem obdurately oblivious to being used like a cheap whore, but they won't tolerate such treatment forever. Then either the Republicans will have to put up, or find millions of new voters to replace Christian conservatives.

Four years from now, Kerry may find himself in the same postion. Can he deliver affordable health care for all with the insurance industry breathing down his neck? Can he lower the price of prescription drugs with billions for the pharmas on the table? Can he wean America off petroleum with the oil companies financing his Congress? Can he hold off the investment banks and financial companies baying for privatization of Social Security? Is the reason that Kerry officially tolerates follies such as NCLB, Star Wars, and the current farming subsidy system that powerful special interests benefit of them? You bet. Kerry faces the very same institutional incentives which drive Bush. Will he respond judiciously and with circumspection, instead of with criminal glee? Certainly. But respond to them he must.

Our present campaign finance system only benefits those with the money to foot the bills. Without deeper systemic reform in our political system, more effective rhetoric is merely a way to put a fresh and sympathetic face on the same cruel masters. When the coin of the realm is given political rights, as Buckley v. Valeo does in our realm, he with most coin has most of the rights. In our duopoly political system, if you provide the coin to operate both parties, you always get to win. If we want this nation to be run in the interest of its people, not it's corporations, conglomerates, and cronies, then we need to do much more than sharpen our message.

Lakoff is a genius. Progressives do need to re-learn how to connect with voters and he's helping with that. But winning elections isn't enough. We need to reform the corrupt and crudely implemented American political system to ensure that our government can never stray so far from the real needs and priorities of its people again. Not only Progressive people, either. All people. Even the bloody 'Fundies. The system should operate to represent the interests and priorities of everyone, especially those who have less than five or six zeros trailing their net worth.

If we fail in this task, this 'most important election of our lives' will be just one of a never-ending series of struggles to keep the ship of the American state off the rocks. I don't have the energy for that, and I don't want my children and grandchildren to have to battle back creeping facsism all of their lives, or to suffer under the sort of invasive, arbitrary, corrupt, racist, dangerous, xenophobic, and destablizing government the Rad-Cons are now providing.

Before we become too smug in our moral superiority, it would behoove us to recall that throughout this century the worst of Democrats and the Democratic party have also been corrupted, and also played the game of neo-imperialism, and also served special interests and the wealthy to the detriment of the common good. The current batch of RadCon yahoos are only a difference of degree, not of kind. If we want to give birth to a better democracy, we have to reform our system of democracy. The same incentives and the same institutions will only produce the same dysfunction and gridlock. As we improve our rhetoric, we had best ensure that the ideals which underlay those words can become reality, and not just another in a very long string of unfulfilled promises to America.

Cheney the Criminal

Another major criminal enterprise that the press in this country won't touch is how Dick Cheney got away with $35 million right before the government launched a probe into Halliburton. This Italian article (don't worry, it's in English) explains how, if it were not for Cheney being VP, he would be sitting an dock next to Bernie Ebbers and Ken Lay. He used the same acounting dodges to cook the books and mistate income to investors as did others in the corporate cess-pool of the late 90s. In fact, he used the same corrupt, now defunct, audit firm as those other criminals. Cheney is a snake and criminal... and he's getting a pass from the press.

Saturday, August 28, 2004

Bush the Deserter?

As part of the AWOL project, a new working paper analyzing the transfer requested by Bush to the Alabama Reseve has been released for public comment. The analysis concludes that Bush's 'attempted transfer' was simply an attempt to desert his position in the Texas Guard by exploiting the transfer procedures of the Guard, exploding several myths and blockades of agitpop produced by the Bushit Machine, such as the following:

MYTH: Bush was requesting a temporary training assignment when he submitted his “Request for Reassignment” to the 9921st Air Reserve Squadron.
FACT:  The purpose of the document submitted was a complete reassignment, involving cutting all ties to, and eliminating all commitments to the Texas Air National Guard.
MYTH: Bush was approved for transfer to the 9921st Air Reserve Squadron, and he didn’t have to train with his Texas unit until that transfer was overturned by the Air Reserve Personnel Center (ARPC).
FACT: No orders reassigning Bush to the 9921st ARS were ever issued, and absent such orders Bush no transfer had ever taken place.  Until Bush received those orders, he remained assigned to the Texas Air National Guard, and maintained his training requirement.
MYTH:  Bush did not know he was not eligible for a transfer to the 9921st ARS.  (This, of course, is more than just a myth.  It is Bush’s “official” position, as expressed by his spokesman during the 2000 presidential election campaign).
FACT:  The documents themselves prove that Bush was fully aware that, as a member of the 9921st ARS, he would be unable to fulfill the requirements established for him under United States Law, and Air Force policy...

There is a law concerning a member of the United States Armed Forces who :”quits his post or proper duties without leave and with intent to remain away therefrom permanently”.  
That law is 10 USC 885 of the United States Code, also known as Article 85 of The Uniform Code of Military Justice. 

And Article 85 has a name. It is “Desertion.”

This should be a very awkward time for Bush. However, you and I both know that the mainstream media would rather eat baby rattlesnakes than print this or confront him with the questions raised by this analysis. This will have to be be spread through the net, by email, blog, message board, and IM. We will have to print this article and pass it around, make fliers with links to the appropriate info, talk to reporters in our communities about this information, and make this material available to vets and active duty servicemen and women at VFWs and bases in our communities. It is up to you to make the people pay attention to the possibility that a goddamn deserter holds the rank of Commander in Chief of our armed forces.

Spread the word.

Thursday, August 26, 2004

Paul Babbitt Wins Major Native American Endorsements

The Paul Babbitt for Congress campaign announced today the endorsements of a dozen chapters of the Navajo Nation.  The support of these Chapters is indicative of the tremendous support and Babbitt has received from Arizona's Native community.

Babbitt said, “I’m very proud of all the support that I’ve received from First Americans. The sovereign Navajo Nation, and the other Indian Nations across the district, believe in my ability to do better for Native Arizona.  This support is just a start of what’s to come.  The campaign is visiting Native Arizona on a nearly daily basis, taking the message of hope, of more funding for education, better access to health care, and expanding instead of cutting economic development programs, across Indian Country.”

Babbitt has spent his entire life in friendship with the sovereign Indian Nations of rural Arizona.  Two of his first jobs were working on at a Babbitt Brothers Trading Post in Tonalea and driving a soda delivery truck across Northern Arizona reservations.  As a county supervisor for the last 17 years, Babbitt has supported over 100 projects benefiting Indian Country.

The Chapters of the Navajo Nation announing their support of Paul Babbitt are:

  • Tolani Lakes

  • St. Michaels

  • Tsaile/Wheatfields

  • Inscription House

  • Shonto, Kayenta

  • Lupton

  • Indian Wells

  • Jeddito

  • Kaibeto

  • Coppermine

  • Round Rock 

Bush Pitches a Swift Wedge

The latest ad from Swift Boat Veterans for Truth (sic) is simply another attempt by Bush to exploit a sensitive wedge issue in American politics. Vietnam is portrayed very differently by the two sides of a cultural divide running down the middle of America.

On one side - John Kerry’s side - Vietnam is the war that should never have been. It was an aimless waste of life, inevitably stained by war crimes and atrocities as meaningless as the war itself. In this Vietnam, the peace movement were heroes who stopped a crime of global scope. The lives of the American men a women who died in Vietnam were wasted by a criminally stupid political leadership who failed to understand the nature of the Vietnamese nationalist movement. The war was a betrayal of the American people.

On the other side - George Bush’s side - Vietnam is the war that American service men and women were not allowed to win. The objective, to save a people from Communism, was unquestionably right and altruistic, in this view. There may have been problems, but they were no different than with any other war - war is hell. In this Vietnam, the peace movement were not heroes; they were traitors. They were a fifth column who turned public opinion against the war and made victory impossible. The lives of those nearly 60 thousand soldiers were lost in vain, not because our political leadership lacked direction and insight, but because the peaceniks lacked patriotism. The peace movement was a betrayal of the American people.

It is this conflict of viewpoints to which the Swiftians second ad is pitched. This is largely the same demographics to which ‘family values’, homophobia, ‘right to life’, and the GOP’s other wedge issues are pitched; people who would be voting with the Democrats were it not for a cultural disconnect with values of the left. People who are voting to slowly kill themselves economically in order to express outrage at outpourings of the cultural watershed of the 1960’s.

Only time will tell how well Bush’s kulturekampf politics will work in the context of the Vietnam war. The supposed consensus that many thought had definitively consigned Vietnam to a historical pigeonhole labeled ‘mistake’ is being contested. In the long-run that many even be a good thing. Greater perspective may allow a wider consensus about that war to grow and this Presidential season’s attack may be the germ around which that new alignment forms. My instincts tell me that Bush has made a significant error. His recent, somewhat ambiguous, agreement to call for the ads’ withdrawal is a sign that Rove senses a backlash against their scheme.

The ugliness at the heart of Bush Swiftian strategy is his willingness to rip open 30 year old wounds and exploit a fraternal argument among Vietnam vets for his own political gain. The blunt fact that Bush avoided service in Vietnam, yet is using this wedge in a naked attempt to divide those who did, speaks volumes about his character to any Vietnam-era veteran. There will be a backlash in response to the fundamental disrespect this tactic demonstrates.

That disrespect is also visible in many exploitive things this Administration does to politically leverage the military. The catalog of budget cuts and policy slights to our active-duty soldiers and veterans by this Administration will be set against the insulting sops, symbolic gestures, and presumptuous identification with the military this Administration affects. Bush’s desperate imposition of a back-door draft, violating the trust of our citizen soldiers, is the final betrayal. Stop-losses and inactive recalls laid bare Bush’s contempt for our military personnel, their families, and their futures. The Swiftians attacks will be salt in that wound.

Our military personnel and vets are patriotic and self-sacrificing, but they are not blind to tyranny or injustice, nor are they blindly loyal to the office of the President despite how they are treated. Few Presidents have treated our military with greater disdain and hypocrisy than Bush. A price will be paid for Bush’s blatant exploitation of the Swiftian wedge on top of all the other insults he has rained down upon a long-suffering military. Bush has compounded his errors with his insulting treatment of Vietnam heroes like McCain in 2000, and more recently, his shabby handling of Cleland’s visit to Bush’s Crawford Estate. There is a backlash brewing and Rove can smell it. It won’t be long before BushCo is hanging the Swiftians out to dry, trying to salvage the damage this campaign has caused.

Many veterans, faced by Bush’s two-faced treatment of the military, and his vilification of veterans who opposed the Vietnam war through Kerry, are likely to reconsider who is best to lead the military through the aftermath of Iraq. Will they prefer Bush, who manipulated the military with lies, exploited them with campaign appearances and mummery shows, such as his landing on Lincoln, is even now actively repressing the truth about Abu Ghraib and other potential war crimes, and himself avoided the draft? Or will they prefer Kerry, who himself has paid the political costs of telling the truth about the horrors of war, who has championed veterans issues throughout his career, and takes pride in his stellar record of voluntary military service? Veterans know that the only disinfectant for the disease of war is the truth. There is no one who is better suited to the task of leading the military through the coming traumas than John Kerry. As the full scope of the dishonor Bush has brought to the military by his policies these last 4 years continues to come to light, veterans and soldiers are likely to turn away from Bush’s lies and exploitation, toward Kerry’s empathy and truth.

Kerry has turned his campaign into Bush’s Swiftian attack. With a backlash against Bush’s tactics powering his counter-assault, it is only a matter of time before he overruns Bush’s position.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

New Rocky Mountain Poll: Arizona Looking Ready to Swing

Bush 46 (48)
Kerry 41 (36)

Sample=452, 8/13 - 8/17, MOE 4.7%

Editor's Summary: With an increasingly narrow race in Maricopa County, the odds are improving that the race in Arizona will be decided by outlying counties, such as Pima and Coconino, where Democrats have a registration advantage. Poll does not include any affect of Swiftvet ads. Independents and Latinos seem to be backing Kerry in larger numbers than Bush and may make the crucial difference. Class warfare by the GOP seen in economic disparity of support. Middle income voters split evenly. Retirees evenly split, though normally 5/3 in favor of GOP.

FromRMP2004-III-11.pdf, the PDF publication of the poll:
President George W. Bush holds a decreasing, and surprisingly narrow, five-point lead over Democrat John Kerry in predominately Republican Maricopa County. Polling completed on August 18, and conducted just as a controversial television commercial attacking John Kerry’s war record was aired, finds Bush with 46 percent, Kerry with 41 percent and 13 percent undecided. What is more, since Maricopa County accounts for close to 60 percent of the vote in Arizona, the Bush lead appears to have narrowed to such a degree that the election could be determined in the outlying counties and, particularly in Pima County, which has traditionally favored Democratic candidates.

Among voters most likely to go to the polls in any election, Mr. Bush has a wider eleven-point lead, but with a strong voter turnout expected in this year’s hotly-contested presidential election, the narrower lead is probably the more realistic projection to watch. The survey also reveals that among Kerry and Bush voters, roughly 16 percent say they ”might change their vote” prior to election day (a figure that is roughly equal in proportion for both candidates). These “might change” Kerry or Bush supporters represent about 13 percent of the overall
electorate in Maricopa County. Their numbers, when added to the 13 percent who declare themselves to currently have no favorite in the race (“undecided”), raises the proportion of potential swing voters to 26 percent. And just as Pima County and the rural counties may play a pivotal role in the outcome of this year’s election, so may Independent voters. For example, while 72 percent of Republican and 75 percent of Democrat voters are “firm” in their loyalty to the flag-bearer of their party, only 46 percent of Independent voters are firm in their commitment. Further, Independents may be leaning toward Kerry. As of this survey, for example, 46 percent of Independent voters favor Kerry, compared to only 35 percent for Bush, but more importantly, 31 percent are “firmly” in the Kerry camp, compared to only 15 percent firmly committed to Bush. Kerry has also started to show greater strength among Latino voters than we have seen in the recent past: 60 percent of Latino voters in Maricopa County are now for Kerry, including 51 percent firmly committed to Kerry’s election. In contrast, 28 percent favor Bush, and all are firmly committed.

The findings outlined in this report are based on a survey of 452 voters throughout Maricopa County conducted between August 13 and August 17, 2004, by the Behavior Research Center of Arizona as part of the Center’s independent and non-partisan Rocky Mountain Poll series. The public is welcome to visit www.brcpolls.com to read this and other recent polls.
Other findings reveal that the race may be tightening because of emphasis made by the Kerry campaign to characterize the Bush tax program as favoring America’s most wealthy families over middle and lower income families and his arguments that Bush administration policies on social security and prescription drugs hurt retirees. The impact of these arguments may be seen in the vote when it is broken apart by family income of the voter. More specifically, the vote for Bush is 53 percent among the highest income families, drops to 41 percent in middle income families and to only 29 percent in the lowest income groups. Middle income families may be the deciding battleground as they are currently divided 41 percent for each candidate and 18 percent uncommitted. Retirees are splitting 45 percent for Bush to 41 percent for Kerry in a county where retirees usually vote five-to-three for the GOP candidate.

SwiftVets on Kerry's Testimony

The second ad from the Swiftvets has been released. If anything, this one is worse than the prior. At least in the prior one there is an issue of perceptions under difficult circumstances and personal animosity. Personal opinions can vary about what occured in the heat of battle. There are reasons we can all understand, though not approve, behind their charges. They are still likely lying bastards, but there are possible excuses. Here, however, the Swiftvets accuse Kerry of betraying his country simply by telling the truth about it. There can be no excuse for this.

They don't deny that the things which Kerry relates in his his famous testimony happened - they incontrovertably did. No, instead they say he's a traitor because they were undergoing torture to deny that same truth. Whose fault is that? Not Kerry's. It is Kennedy's, Johnson's, and Nixon's fault. They are at fault becuase the lie they created was vital to continuing the war. Soldiers had to die and suffer to protect a lie because these Presidents lacked the courage to tell the truth. Kerry wisely, and bravely, told the world the truth about the war in Vietnam. He did the right thing. The strong thing, and the noble thing, and the difficult thing. It is also the thing that best qualifies him for leadership.

The last thing a leader should doubt is his own ethical impulses and judgment. This is why some love Bush so deeply. He doesn't fear the judgment of others on his choices. Unfortunately, his supporters share the same limitations which make Bush's own judgments consistently wrong.

Now these Neanderthals want to fight Vietnam, and the greater struggle of eithics it prompted, all over again. They seek to blame the messenger for the message, and intimidate into silence a new generation of potential whistleblowers currently fighting a fruitless imperial war in Iraq. The Swifties message is clear: tell the truth, and when your time to lead comes, others like us, lacking sufficient moral fiber to tell the truth, will attack you from the shadows for your courage.

The Swifties are only a remnant of bygone credo that the Neo-cons hope we will embrace once again. Shut up, take your orders, don't ask questions. To question authority is unpatriotic. They bring this anachronism clanking out of storage for the kulturkampf which they are fighting so successfully on every other political front. It is an old, time-tested mechanism. Wound by fear, powered by an atavistic reflex - the instinct to obey the group. It is strong, often irresistable. But those who knuckle under to it, or who use it, are not courageous in the least - almost universally they are cowards, villians, and criminals. The brave are those who fight this limbic-system bully and follow their ethical convictions, even if they are proven wrong in the end. John Kerry, whether you believe he was right or wrong to deliver that speech, was braver in that hearing room than he ever was on the rivers and estuaries of Vietnam; braver than most of us will ever be in our lives.

Depleted Uranium: Slow Motion Nuclear War

It is often the case that the worst and most persistent evils of an age are overlooked. The obvious, fast acting, policy is condemned, but there only later does the unmitigated evil of a quiet, almost unquestioned policy come to light. So it is with the use of Depleted Uranium on the battlefield.

Its widespread use in ordinance of all kinds, from 20mm cannon rounds up to 120mm tank sabots, has resulted in the contamination of battlefields around the world with nuclear waste that will have health consequences for millenia to come. This is not only immoral, it is illegal under international law. It is one very likely reason that our ancestors will despise us as a pack of irresponsible moral monsters.

This sort of thing has happened before. An industrial waste product which has a useful property, whose health and environmental effects are not well-established, or are borderline carcinogens, is marketed as a beneficial product. This saves the cost of disposal and may turn a handsome profit besides.

MTBE and flouride also fit this pattern. The reason is the immoral nature of the corporate incentive structure. If a profit can be made by marketing a potential health hazard, it must be done. The officers and managers of a corporation really haven't any choice in the matter. The law regulating corporate governance leaves them little choice but to chose profit over prudence. How much better then, when your market is the military, which is exempt from much of the environmental regulation of the civilian economy?

Corporate malfeasance is the root cause that feeds the sicknesses of greed, corruption, and fascist politics that are destroying the American dream. The story of DU allows one to trace this malignancy from root-tip to noxious flowering.

Rational Voting: Ballot Portals

New America Foundation is a different kind of think tank; the kind that thinks and comes up with sensible suggestions for public policy.J.H. Snider, a fellow there, suggests a remedy for the problem of rational voter ignorance: a Ballot Portal. Essentially, it allows voters to very efficiently get information on ballot candidates and measures, and also to get disclosure on those providing the information.

In a very rough sense, a Ballot Portal is a far superior equivalent of the sidebar for this site - listing all the candidates and information resources for them in a systematic fashion. It is a simple idea, but surprisingly thin on executution. Other nations, and some states, have created such Ballot Portals with excellent resutls. See CA's Smartvoter, MN's Secretary of State's Publius. Without the exposure and marketing power of a national system, however, such efforts will likely remain underutilized.

Write your representatives. This is something that is worthwile spending public funds on.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Taste My Fasces, Peon!

Man was fired for heckling Bush this weekend. It doesn't take much imagination to surmise that I am more than a little disgusted by this. Bush may not be openly marching gangs of Brown Shirts around yet, but there are certainly more than enough Brown Noses out there willing to get the job done.

In case you feel the rage, here are the scum that need to be scraped off the shoe of the nation: www.octavodesigns.com

Friday, August 20, 2004

Local Coverage Highlights 8/14-8/20

This is a new feature I am trying out. About every week I plan to post links to the most important and interesting stories about local news. Most of these will come from the hard-working folks at the AZ Daily Star. Some of these links will be archived after a week or so and not available to non-subscribers. I'm considering how to solve that issue.

In the meantime, please leave feedback regarding this feature, so I can decide whether to keep doing it. Even if you read the paper daily, you might miss some of the imporant local material. The newspapers don't cover everything which is newsworthy, of course, but the local reporters generally do a good job of covering what they do look at. Show them some love :)

Each week I will choose a top story, which is important and/or reported in an especially skillful or intelligent manner, and stinker, which is an eggregious example of slanted or biased reporting. I encourage readers to send kudos to the former, and raspberries to the latter.

TOP NEWS for this weekVia AZStarNet:
Carol Ann Alaimo sensitively reports on Pfc. Christopher Fernandez, of Tucson, whose heroism under fire earned him the Silver Star, our nation's third-highest battlefield heroism award. Private Fernandez risked his life and displayed great personal courage defending his fellow soldiers. I, for one, am damn proud to have people like Chris in our armed services.

Seldom is a man faced with such a life-and-death test of his selfless devotion to his fellow soldiers and to his duty on the battlefield. When a man passes that test as valiantly as did Chris, that man's heart is proven to be true and honorable in a way few match. That is why they are our heroes. Unfotunately, some don't see it that way. Maybe thirty years from now, the GOP can attempt to slander Chris for his heroism in winning the Silver Star, when he runs for office.

Via AZStarNet:
C.J. Karamargin reports on Bush's reluctance to put any stress on his guest-worker program on the campaign stump. Could Bush's taciturnity be the result of a desire not to ruffle the feathers of his base in Arizona?

Via AZStarNet:
Barrett Marson looks at Randy Graf's 'disrespect' for a photo of himself and Bush in protest of Bush's guest-worker program. That incident has now become an issue in the Graf-Kolbe primary.

Via AZStarNet:
Howard Fischer of AZ Capitol News reports on the likely fiscal impact of the Graf-backed Protect Arizona Now initiative. Arizona agencies looking at implementation to protect their employees from criminal charges are reporting 10's, possibly, 100's of millions in additional operating and compliance measures.

Via AZStarNet:
Michael Marizco reports on a border-wide alert issued for a suspected Al Qaeda operative. Unfortunately, Marizco did not more closely examine the means by which such an alert was being implemented. This story highlights the lack of intel coordination between Mexico and border state agencies, and is, to my mind, a missed opportunity.

Via AZStarNet:
Thomas Stauffer brings us a meat and potatoes story of new contracts for cruise missiles to Raytheon. A reminder of how the industrial defense complex addicts our communities to the crack of weapons contracts. Jobs or morality, which will it be, sir?

Via AZStarNet:
Howard Fischer of Capitol Media reports that Gov. Napolitano is ready for the Defense Department to move ahead with the next round of base closures. Of course, this is mainly because she believes that Arizona will do very well in the next round of closures and consolodations.

Via AZStarNet:
David Wichner brings us the skinny on efforts to raise 7 million in private funds to bring the Institute for Global Pharmaceutical Development to Tucson as part of the genomics/pharma development initiative. The future of Tucson's economic development may be strongly affected by the decision.

Via AZStarNet:
Mitch Tobin reports on a new agency for LUST (leaking underground storage tanks). Beyond the apparently irresistable juvenile jokes, this is a serious pocketbook issue. Cleanup of leaking tanks, in AZ alone, could cost taxpayers more than 260 million. Congress is meanwhile trying to pass liability waivers for the MTBE fuel additive industry, which is responsible for much of the groundwater contamination from LUST, sticking taxpayers with cleanup costs which are estimated at up to 150 billion nationally. That's right, 150 billion; the cost of another Iraq war.

Via AZStarNet:
Barrett Marson reports on the Republican primary candidates in the oddly competitive LD 25. This is a district in which Dems have nearly a 20% registration advantage on GOPs. There shouldn't be any issue about a Republican in office there, yet here we have a moderate Republican under attack from the right of her party, trying to hang on to seat in 25. Shame on us.

Via AZStarNet:
Tony Davis examines some of the reasons why Pima County tax rates are consistently the highest in the state. He does a game job of explaining why, but fails to punch the clown squarely in the nose: growth. Growth and who pays for it, and more importantly, who shifts the costs onto others who aren't as politically well-connected, is the central issue which Tony only hints at.

Via AZStarNet:
Howard Fischer of Capitol Media reports on Nader's latest lawsuit alleging Arizona's ballot access laws are unconstitutional. Assistant Attorney General Jessica Funkhouser had no comment about the case. The most likely reason is because Nader's allegations are facially viable attacks. He probably won't make it on the ballot, but Nader could well force a re-examination of our third-party ballot access laws.

Via AZStarNet:
Sarah Gassen reports on TUSD's new Parental Access Accounts. This is a website which allows parents direct access to important and timely data about their child's performance. About time. It is good to see schools finally leveraging IT resources intelligently to involve parents in their children's education. This might be the foundation of a whole new way of empowering parents and the biggest idea since the PTA.

Via AZStarNet:
Tony Davis reports on how Tucson's planned annexation of unincorporated county areas could wipe out road building funds. You think Tucson's transportation problems are dire now? Just wait...

The Weekly Stinker:
Via AZCentral:
The Republic's Pat Kossan valiantly attempts to limit the damage of a new national report on charter schools demonstrating that they generally lag behind the performance of public schools.

Kossan suggests that because of sample size and the length of operation of many charters, that judgement of charters in Arizona should be delayed. In a nod to intectual honesty Kossan does admit figures which suggest that the less regulated charter schools are, the worse they perform. But this data doesn't dent Kossan's obdurate efforts to stave off the obvious conclusion regarding Arizona's charters. Arizona's charter scores lag behind and they are the most unregulated charters in the nation. The obvious and logical conclusion, that the experiment is failing, and likely to get worse, not better, will not be admitted by Kossan.

The final damning bit of evidence is Kossan's naive reliance on the intellectual output of the Goldwater Institute. A more biased and right-wing hack tank does not exist, and their output consistently is polluted by political wishful thinking, and they are terminally afflicted with a mission to build a case for preselected conclusions. No self-respecting journalist would rely on their output without even a word about their bias. Presumably to 'balance' the use of the Goldwater study, Kossan presents the results of a Progressive Policy Intitute study. The PPI is the policy wing of the Democratic Leadership Coucil, who are largely far-right DINOs like Joseph Lieberman. The spectrum of opinion Kossan presents is extremely right and far right, being presented as right vs. left. Kossan richly deserves to be served raspberries for this load of propaganda.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Bush Takes Olympic Gold

As with all things concerning Bush, if you scratch the surface you find wealthy influence peddlers, political back-scratching, war, and, of course, oil. These Olympics, or at least those parts of it which relate to Bush, are no different.

The largest and most damaging hypocrisy is Bush’s refusal to recognize the Olympic Truce in Iraq. The UN passed the resolution by a historically unanimous 190-1 in favor of the Truce, yet Bush officials explain American unwillingness to observe the Truce in Iraq with non-sense. They simply deny any connection between the Truce and Iraq. No explanation of their thinking, no arguments, just a flat rejection of any connection. That’s not just hypocrisy, but a healthy dose of contempt for the world’s expressed will, and for American voters who support the Truce.

It is true that the Truce, much like the modern Olympics themselves, are a recent phenomenon. The Truce only found its feet again in 1992 during the crisis in former Yugoslavia. However, there was almost two-thousand years of tradition of observing the Games’ peace before the Christians killed off the original games almost 1700 years ago. Now there is a strong international consensus that the Olympics should once again be a time of peace in the world. And really, couldn’t the world do with an extra few weeks of peace every two years? Not according to Bush. We need to kill and kill now if we are deliver democracy on time for Bush’s re-election... er, the Iraqi elections, that is.

When he is not angering the Gods by impiously flouting their traditions, Bush is hobnobbing with the world’s power-elite. In this case, Bush has sent proxies for the purpose; his poppy, mom, and those tight little Bushes, J & B Bush. They headed to Athens as the official Presidential Delegation to the Games. They also brought along one of the wealthiest men in America, Alex Spanos, in case they need change for the parking meter. Spanos is a big Bush - GOP supporter, a big wheel in CA apartment development and the owner of the Chargers. Spanos is the fifth highest Pioneer on Bush’s dance card. Is it any surprise then that Bush would pay off his political patron, who happens to be Greek and damn proud of it, with a minor Ambassadorship to the Games? So Bush is using the Games to stroke a major campaign donor and fundraiser. I thought the Games were for amateurs only. Spanos is obviously a pro and a ringer, so Team USA has a lock on the Gold for long-distance influence peddling.

And Bush’s delegation are going to the Games in style, too. They arrived in Greece aboard the yacht Dumara, on which they will stay during the Games under heavy guard. The Dumara is owned by one of the wealthiest men in Greece - in the world, in fact - Spyros Latsis. A nice courtesy to a head of state, no? Absolutely. Oh, and who is this on Spyros’ OTHER mega-yacht, the Alexander, coming to the Games? It is Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is being hosted aboard another of Spyros’ mega-yachts. Why is this odd? Perhaps because Spyros and Putin are in business together through Lukoil. Lukoil is a ‘private’ business in the new crony-capitalist style of the new Russia. The state calls the shorts, hits the company up for money like a ne’er-do-well brother-in-law, taxes the heck out of any profits, and what profits remain are allowed to flow, mainly, to private owners. Among the many other things he owns, Stavros owns refineries in Greece, Saudi Arabia, and the former Greek state oil company Hellenic, in partnership with Lukoil.

So why might Stavros and Putin and Poppy Bush want to meet in this exclusive little flotilla behind security tighter than a gnat’s ass? Anyone’s guess. Mine is they are talking about the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis (B-A) pipeline project which Hellenic is developing to provide a bypass of Turkish control of the Bosphorus tanker routes. It’s the sort of thing that can only be dealt with substantively by the two men, Stavros and Putin, who control the salient companies and properties, and Poppy Bush, powerbrokering on behalf of his best friends, the Saudis, and Junior, of course.

Why is the B-A important enough for this mini-summit? Because American oil interests do not want Turkey to have a monopoly on the movement of oil out of the strategic Ural-Black Sea region. Turkey has proven itself politically unreliable (read ‘democratic’) by refusing to allow the staging of troops for the Iraq war in accord with the wishes of 90% of its population. The most efficient land route around the Bosphorus, by both construction cost and transit fees (the tax each nation will charge for pipeline flow through their territory) would be minimized by placing it entirely on Turkey’s European peninsula. Instead, the B-A pipeline is routed through Bulgaria, Macedonia, and Albania, all of which add their own political risks and financial costs to the project. Why would canny businessmen make such a choice? To punish and threaten Turkey, of course.

So, poke through the appearance of a merry outing to the Games by Poppy and the clan and what do you find? International power politics, the corrupting influence of the wealthy, and oil. Don’t these people ever take a vacation? From plotting to rule the world, that is. We know they don’t mind blowing off the people’s business. W amply demonstrates that by taking 42% of his only term off to unwind from wrecking the country. They just never tire of working their own angles, however. So it looks like Spyros, Poppy, and Putin will be medaling Gold, Silver, Bronze in the synchronized cloak and dagger competition.

So where does that leave Bush? Is he walking away from the Games empty handed? No laurels for Bush? No way. Bush just hasn’t any competition. He is so dominant on his chosen field that no one will even play against him; Bush gets the Gold, Silver, and Bronze for Olympic Hypocrisy. (Note: all three medals to one athlete is an Olympic first, which they are redrafting the rules to deal with - I hear it has something to do with electronic voting machines for the judges... with no paper trail...)

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

PAN's dirty laundry

Dave at Orcinus has a big scoop of dirt on the backers of PAN. I suggest people scoot over and jot down their talking points about the people who are really pushing this measure. The more the public sees these people and understands the sort of people they are, the less and less likely people are to vote for this turkey.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


The FDA warns that reimported pharmaceuticals are the target of terrorist activity based on vague claims of 'chatter' that are flatly contradicted by the Homeland Security Department. I guess the Administration hasn't yet perfected getting all concerned deparments to sing from the same talking points regarding bogus claims of terrorist activity.

The increasing number of frustrated state governments seeking to reduce prescription drug costs with reimportation threatens the efficacy and political viability of Bush's gift to the industry, the Medicare Drug Plan. So the Administration prodded it's FDA Commissioner to throw a little fear into the public to discourage the practice.

Commissioner Lester said, "We get our cues from chatter that occurs around the world, which is related to us by the intelligence community, and also from past incidents and things that happened domestically."

That wouldn't happen to be the same 'intelligence community' which was so accurate in its claims about WMD in Iraq? Interesting he should choose such an ill-defined term to explain the basis of his claim. Just about anyone could be part of the 'intelligence community.' Hell, I might be a part of the 'community' Why not tell us a particular intelligence agency? Oh, that would be because while these sources may be part of the 'intelligence community' they are not a part of any American government agency. My guess is a Right Wing think tank or private intelligence company. Well, at least it is comforting that this Administration rarely lies, and you can always spot the bullshit amid the squishy language and misdirection, if you know to look for it.

The main disclosed support for this terrorist scenario? The Tylenol tampering case of over 20 years ago. The person or persons responsible were never caught, so we don't know if this was terrorism, an unusual MO for a serial killer, or industrial sabotage for commercial motives.

Regardless, Lester lamely claims relevance for the Tylenol case saying "I would think that's something they would be looking at. Nothing like that has happened, but it is a source of continuing concern." 'I would think' is not the best of bases upon which to build a case for a terrorist threat.

What becomes more clear every day is that the Bush Administration, finding the tactical use of terrorist threats useful in electoral politics, is now applying the technique to unrelated policy struggles. How long until the entire Bush domestic agenda is hung on the terrorism peg? Just wait for the Convention and see how many otherwise indefensible Bush policies are reframed as anti-terror measures.

I can hear it now:
"Taxes give aid and comfort to terrorists!"

"Terrorists are planning on infiltrating the US as election monitors!"

"Terrorists are living off Social Security payments. We must end the program to cut off their sources of funding!"

"Unions are breeding grounds for domestic terrorists! Down with the Fair Labor Practices Act!"

"The minimum wage allows Middle Eastern immigrants to send some of their wages to Islamic charities, which fund terrorism! End the minimum wage!"

"We have intercepted chatter which proves that homosexual marriage is a terrorist plot to weaken America's families and morals!"

"Abortion doctors are being trained and supported by Al Qaida to reduce the U.S. population!"

"The separation of church and state prevents us from effectively fighting the War on Terrorism. We need to bring these institutions together to enhance information sharing..."

"Environmental regulations provide a tempting target to terrorists. Terrorists are planning to cause environmental devastation by disrupting these systems. So we must eliminate these complex rules before terrorists can disrupt them and wreak havok on our environment!"

I'm sure the truth will be even stranger than fiction.

Monday, August 16, 2004

Guest Posting: The Need For Speed

Rev. Straatemeier writes:

In tears, I just watched the most upsetting program on World Link TV (On both Dish and Direct TV, I don't know about cable).  It was called "The Need for Speed," on the program Spotlight.  You can go to Link TV for a summary and schedule - if you have DSL, you can
stream it.

In this documentary program, undoubtedly not to be found on corporate media, US military personnel describe (and top US Air Force officials defend) the required use of dexadrine for pilots to be allowed to fly, and then of course, the downers that are given them to sleep.

The brass claim there are no side effects, this is absolutely safe, and needed to get the job done. (Why is it when truck drivers believe the same thing, they are arrested and lose their license at the very least?)

They talk about friendly fire and other times when Americans have killed either allies or civilians, believing, in their drug-induced paranoia, that they were under attack.

This is not a case of the military looking the other way when people abuse drugs - this is a case of the government as drug pusher, refusing pilots the privilege to fly without "go pills." They are not told that these go pills are dexadrine.  

Of course, now I begin to understand how it is that American soldiers can become so aggressive and inhumane, and this is heartbreaking.

This is not a only Bushfeld phenomonon, BTW, but certainly a major reason why things are going so badly for our men and women in uniform and those they encounter.  

In peace,

DFA-Tucson Meetup Minutes

Meetup Minutes
August 4, 2004
Next Meetup September 1,
7:-00 p.m. at Northwest Community Center.


Jim Driscoll of the Arizona Leadership Institute announced that the goal is to register at least 24,000 new voters, of which about 14,000 have already been registered.  The group goes to targeted precincts that have low registration levels, primarily minority and low income areas.  Registration will be followed up by phone calls to get out the vote.

Katie Bolger and Jeff Simpson of Keep it Clean reported that although the Superior Court ruled that the item should not be on the ballot, the group continues to campaign and have house parties to pay off legal fees and prepare for the next challenge.  (Note:  the Supreme Court agreed with the Superior Court last week, so the threat to the clean elections system is over for now).

John Losh urged people to download materials at www.johnkerry.com for distribution while getting out the vote.  GOTV activities will include phone calls and precinct walking, as well as helping people get early ballots.  Contact the Democratic party to help.

Anthea announced that DFA/T will sponsor some candidate forums and a political film fest in the near future.  Progress is being made on a DFA/T web site.  Specifics to follow.

Main Speaker
City Councilman, Steve Leal
, talked about The Political Economics of Annexation.  He first described what he feels are seriously flawed economic analyses conducted by city staff to support the concept that annexation benefits the city because of increased tax revenue.  He challenged the validity of the analyses on the grounds that a large percentage of the real costs of serving annexed areas, such as police and fire protection, were ignored or underrepresented.  He pointed out that it is expensive to provide services, especially to areas such as the Catalina Foothills, where homes are relatively far apart.  His challenges to staff analyses resulted in more accurate approaches, but the current analysis is still lacking.  New figures show that annexation actually costs more than it brings in in taxes.

He then pointed out that the areas to be annexed are predominately Republican and successful annexation would result in long-term control of the city council by elected republicans, especially since candidates are selected by ward in the primary and city-wide in the general election.
The City introduced a bill in the legislature to change annexation requirements.  Currently landowners who want to be annexed can petition to do so.  The bill would reverse the process so that the city can propose annexation and the landowners can only petition to stop the annexation.  It failed, but will be reintroduced.

If you are member of a DFA chapter elsewhere in Arizona, please send your minutes in for posting.

Whither The Blogosphere?

With the advent of the 2004 Olympic Games, the world has a standing date with their televisions, VCRs and Tivos. It seems every site unrelated to the wonders of amateur sporting competition has seen it's readership drop precipitously. Around the Blogosphere you can hear the site masters groan at their traffic loads, wondering if their readers are ever coming back.

This highly unscientific assertion is based on the open site meters of few dozen blogs on various non-sport subjects and my own experience, of course. You can almost hear the crickets chirping out there.

I wrote a research paper recently in which I claimed, among other things, that internet use and television viewing are only fungible activities among the heaviest of internet users. It seems that my theory is supported by the great Olympic-Blog trade-off which began to be felt on Friday.

I suppose I will just continue blogging through the lull about what I seem to be spending all my time doing instead of reading the blogs, recently - watching the Olympics :)

Sunday, August 15, 2004


One does have to wonder if the only way out from under the wingnuts, cardealers, bankers, and developers who run this state is to start a separatist movement. Some have noted that we here in Baja Arizona, as well as Alta Arizona from, say, Sedona up to the Utah border would make a fine Blue State. If we could just excise Maricopa county from the state, or even just certain parts of it, the result would be a great place to live.

Perhaps we can build a wall around Phoenix metro and force the RNC to airlift supplies in. Or perhaps we can fortify the Gila as a sort of Maginot line. We would have to mine the area with Bibles, used cars, and land use lawyers, to distract and confuse those seeking to invade our fair desert.

Or we could perhaps appeal to Mexico to re-invade Southern Arizona and re-annex the area. I think I would prefer to live under the Mexican government than under the bozos currently controlling either the federal or state government.

We don't have the advantage, if you can call it that, of a historical moment making possible our secession, as did West Virginia in the Civil War. Our long-standing grievances will probably remain unaddressed.

I haven't given the issue any serious study, so I don't know the legal way for part of a state to separate from that state. I suppose the real legal answer to the problem is a political question: i.e., "whatever works."

However, I do know that the very first section of the state constitution contains a description of Arizona's physical borders. The decorative text in the header graphic of this site is, in fact, that very language. One can change the constitution by an Initiative measure pursuant to a simple majority vote. Getting a constitutional amendment on the ballot requires only 15% of the total votes cast for Governor in the last election. So perhaps one could wait for a low turnout year, probably 2006, slap a new set of geographic boundaries on an Initiative, and pass it with a thunderous turnout in the north and south of the state.

The borders of Arizona would no longer include our dreamt-of blue state. Or Maricopa county is no longer within the state: like a big donut, the Initiative could just knock a hole in the state. What happens then? I don't know. The area no long part of Arizona becomes a territory again and petitions Congress for statehood? Maybe.

It's an interesting problem. How to get rid of the creeping crud in the middle of the state without the crud being able to stop it. Whoever figures it out, and more importantly, carries it out, would be hero to many.

Everyone knows that outlying counties are getting screwed regarding tax disbursements. Everyplace outside of Metro Phoenix would be materially better off by no longer having to feed the beast with their tax dollars. Everyone knows that Conservative wingnuts would be greatly weakened without the population of Phoenix to perpetuate their power. Places that now have no voice in government, i.e. pretty much everywhere outside of Phoenix, would get meaningful representation. Heck, we could even start over with a rational multiple-member electoral district system that would allow smaller parties a realistic chance at representation.

Of course it is all just a dream. Or is it?

Saturday, August 14, 2004

And They’re Off... And Confusing

I have just cast my ballot in Arizona’s primary election. I ordered my early ballot at the first possible moment, and I just received it today.

I was amazed by the abstruse language on the ballot envelope. This is pretty important stuff! If you fail to sign your ballot, it is invalid. Yet despite a regular person needing to understand this language, it reads like it was written by a committee of second-rate lawyers - which it probably was. Except for the parenthetical comments, which are mine, it says:

I, [MICHAEL DAVID BRYAN] do solemnly swear or affirm (I suppose the ‘affirm’ option is for the atheists who won’t ‘swear’ to anything) that I am the identical person (Huh? Does this mean your clone or identical twin could sign?) whose name is signed to this affidavit and that this name and signature are my true name and signature, or if I did not personally sign, it was because of physical disability and that I requested (there is a big gap here for a line on which a helper can write their name)
[name of person signing the affidavit]
to sign for me, that I have not voted and will not vote in this election in any other state during the calendar year of this affidavit and that I personally voted the enclosed ballot or that it was marked according to my instructions because I was unable to do so. (take a deep breath...) I understand that knowingly voting more than once in any election is a class 5 felony. I declare that I will be a qualified elector of the State of Arizona and the County of Pima, that I am registered in precinct [259] in Pima County and that I reside at [what you think I’m giving the wingnuts my home address?] where I resided at the date of my registration. If a challenge is filed against my early ballot, I understand that a copy of the challenge will be sent to me by first class mail and that I may have as little as forty-eight hours notice of an opportunity to appear. For purposes of notifying me of a ballot challenge between the time I return my ballot and seven days after election day, please use the following address: [lines for temporary notice address]

Sheesh. My wife has a Ph.D and sometimes switch-hits as a professional technical writing editor. I have a J.D. and, obviously, I write a lot, though it would be a stretch to say that I edit all that much. We were both confused and annoyed by this language. I can only imagine what my mother, or a person with a high-school education, would make of it. Do our ballots have to make our brains hurt?

There is a - well, ‘movement’ is too strong a word... ‘faint suggestion’ might be more accurate - faint suggestion in legal writing courses these days that lawyers use simple English instead of the complicated formalistic and archaic locutions soo often seen on legal forms and contracts. If ever there were an appropriate place for simplifying and making accessible legal language, a voter’s ballot has got to be it.

So, in the hopes that thousands across our legalese-benighted land forward this post to F. Ann Rodrigez demanding reform, here is my poor attempt to unkink the syntax of this monstrous piece of legal cruelty. I leave the task of straightening the Spanish version, should it be needed, to someone who is actually fluent in the language. The key to simple legal language is short declarative sentences, sensible organization, and the use of concepts regular people use and understand.

By signing this document, I swear to the following:

  • I am [VOTER'S NAME];

  • I live in Precinct [#] at [HOME ADDRESS];

  • I am registered to vote in Pima County;

  • I lived at the above address when I registered to vote;

  • I will be at least 18 years old on Election Day; and,

  • I am qualified to vote in Arizona.

I signed this document with my own hand. If I did not sign this document myself, I requested [SIGNER’S NAME] to sign for me because of my physical inability to do so.

NOTICE: If your ballot’s validity is challenged:

  • A copy of that challenge will be sent to you by first class mail.

  • You may have as little as 48 hours notice of your right to appear to contest any challenge of your ballot.

  • If you cannot be reached at [HOME ADDRESS] between returning your ballot and 7 days after election, please specify an alternative address at which you prefer to be notified of any challenge to your ballot: [ALTERNATIVE ADDRESS]

    WARNING: Your ballot cannot be counted unless you sign below.

    DATE: [DATE]

    Now, I haven’t gone into the Arizona Statutes or the County Code to ensure that this affidavit meets all the legal requirements, but it says the same thing as the current early ballot affidavit without inducing migraines. Was that really so hard?

    Friday, August 13, 2004

    Editor's Picks 8/13/04

    Chief Justice Uncle Thomas:
    It seems Bush may want to make pet rock Jusitice Clarence Thomas the Chief Justice of the United States. Just what we need, total White House control of yet another branch of government. The Court may have been a lap dog for Bush, but at least it hasn't yet abandoned all pretense of independence. Truth be told, Thomas as C.J. couldn't do much to change the court's behavior, but the affrontery of putting yet another reactionary Conservative mediocrity into the Madam Butterfly robes is intolerable.

    Stealing Venezuela:
    The polls are looking good for Hugo Chevez, one of the few elected officials in the Americas who actually cares for the poor, to retain his Presidency in the coming recall election. However, things are made uncertain by the 67 million dollars our Justice Department has paid Choicepoint (of the FL purge fame) for the voter rolls of Venezuela and other Latin American countries, according to Muckraker Greg Pallast. Choicepoint may have given these files to Chavez's opposition. Looks like the Bush Administration is preparing for another coup attempt in Venezuela. Let's hope they underestimate support for the Bolivarian leader once again.

    Like We Didn't Already Know:
    The Congressional Budget Office confirms that about 1/3 of the Bush tax cuts have gone to the top 1% of the wealthiest people in the nation. Expect this issue to wind up in the Presidential debate dialog. Expect Bush to level charges of class warfare and that those who pay the most deserve the most relief. Expect Kerry to demolish this position with ease.

    Also Like We Didn't Already Know:
    The Nation reports on the ongoing reconstruction of Iraq. It finds what looks much more like organized crime than legitimate business. Suprise! Not.

    Interim Council Showing Some Spine:
    Aljazeera reports that over half of the 30 member council have resigned over the American assault on Fallujah. It's nice to see the occassional government official with some sense of propriety. Just what does crushing Fallujah, and other semi-autonomous cities, by a massive use of force have to do with 'bringing democracy to Iraq' anyhow? I challenge anyone to give me a reason to for these campaigns that is defensible in terms of pacifying and democratizing Iraq. Give these Shi'ites civil rights gaurantees in exchange for a prescribed role in the government, including veto power over any laws regarding their practice of religion, and the heart would go out of the 'rebellion' overnight, depsite any pressure from Iran to demand majority control of Iraq's government.

    Thursday, August 12, 2004

    The Beauty of Pacifica Radio

    Ah, KPFK Los Angles. Broadcasting for freedom and justice for 59 years now. The second Pacifica Network station to go on the air, its prime location in Los Angeles and powerful transmission which reaches 17 million people in California continues to make it one of the most important Progressive media outlets in the country. With the internet, this wonderful gem of Progressive media is available to all of us live over the internet.

    If you have never listened to KPFK, you owe it to yourself to do so. Listening to KPFK one can for a time entertain the illusion that this nation is a rationale and humane place with a media which cares more about truth than profit.

    I have placed links to live feeds of both KPFK and Air America Radio on the sidebar. Listen in and support these wonderful stations however you can.

    Our Plan for America Released

    The Kerry/Edwards campaign released another campaign book. It details in fairly comprehensive terms John/John's plan for making America safer, stronger, and more prosperous. It can be pre-ordered now, but if you don't want to wait, or don't want to pay for it, you can download a PDF version from JohnKerry.com now.

    Wednesday, August 11, 2004

    Sidebar Redesign & Other Administrative Minutiae

    Yesterday, I uploaded a redesign of the blog sidebar. Please take a look. Besides reducing the amount of material, information is now more tightly focused on Arizona politics.

    The Arizona candidates section is greatly expanded and enhanced with all statewide, Congressional and state legislative districts listed. If you know of Democratic candidates who were inadvertantly left out, please let me know. If there is sufficient demand, I may add more races to the tables, such as races in major counties and cities.

    Only Democrats will be listed. This is an unabashedly Democratic site. No GOP or third-party candidates will be listed. Ever.

    Instead of textual links I have opted for graphical icons to conserve space and ease visual interpretation. The icons are fairly self-explanitory, I hope. In order to see what an icon links to, just place your cusor over the icon, pause for a second, and a tool tip box will appear. Those candidates running Clean Elections campaigns are marked with a "Clean!" icon, of course.

    The smaller graphics and coding of the tables allows for a quick, progressively rendered, load. This should result in a more responsive site with less wait time and more consistent display of elements. Please leave any comments on the new design on this post.

    The Blogroll is now reserved for Arizona-based political sites. Please allow the tool tips for listings to appear before clicking through, unless you are already familiar with a listed blog. I have chosen to include several of the better written Conservative Arizona blogs for completeness of coverage. Such blogs are noted in the tool tips. Failing to allow the tool tip to display could result in inadvertent, and unwanted, contact with many faulty premises - and we all know how ugly that can get, especially if the blogger has commenting available :)

    I have eliminated Amazon book sales from the sidebar. Loading the links was taking too long and too few readers were availing themselves of the recommendations. Henceforth book purchase links will only occur in the context of book review or publication announcement post.

    This site does incur regular hosting fees. If you find Blog For Arizona useful and informative, please consider a teeny-tiny little donation via the Amazon honor system tip jar on the sidebar.

    You can also help promote this site. Just download, print and hang Blog For Arizona promotional posters, also on the sidebar, where the public can see them. Libraries, bookstores, coffee shops, public bulletin boards, and performance spaces are ideal.

    Please always ask permission before hanging a poster. These posters are great attention getters, and anyone who dislikes the Bush Administration will gladly agree to hang one in their place of business. The posters with white backgrounds work fine in B&W to reduce duplication costs, while those with solid color background are best in color.

    There is also now a script to send a story link via email. Just click on the perma-link (the date and time of posting) at the bottom of any posting. The first link in the sidebar will then read "Email This Entry to a Friend". Clicking on it will open a precomposed email in your default email application, ready for you to address. Doing this also helps to promote Blog For Arizona.

    A hearty thanks to all of you regular readers of Blog For Arizona who have driven this site's traffic well past where it was at the height of the Dean primary campaign. I'm grateful for the opportunity to share views and information with so many of my fellow citizens.

    If you have news and information you would like to share (especially good inside baseball of Arizona politics) or would like to become a contributing writer of Blog For Arizona, my email is on the sidebar; drop me a line anytime.

    Keep It Clean: Coming Clean Elections Events

    Clean Elections is the most progressive law in Arizona. Our system is a model for the nation, and it is up to us to protect it. Please do whatever you can to support Clean Elections.

    Prop 106 may be off the ballot for now, but appeals are pending and anything could happen. We mustn't slack off because it looks like 106 has died due to its drafters incompetence. Until the ballots are printed on August 13th, Clean Elections are not safe. Even then, Prop 106 backers may be able to obtain injunctive relief to get back on the ballot if the state Supreme Court ruling doesn't go our way.

    Hotel Congress Clean Elections Benefit
    Friday, August 13
    Info booths open @ 5 p.m.
    Music starts @ 6: p.m.

    Featuring: Mankind, Gliss, Kevin Pakulis, Mitzi Cowell, A:chim,
    Caliche con Carne, Tucson Roller Derby's Smack Rack, and Salvador Duran

    To table for your organization at the event,
    please contact John Hartsell @ 602-369-4506

    Salt of the Earth Labor College Keep It Clean Benefit           .

    Sunday, August 15 @ 6pm
    Salt of the Earth Labor College
    1902 E Irene Vista, Tucson, AZ
    (1⁄2 mile south of 36th St. on the SE corner of Campbell and Irene Vista)
    Refreshments will be served.

    Keep It Clean Campaign Rally

    Tuesday, August 17, 2004
    Doors open at 5:00 PM
    Event starts at 5:30 PM

    Grace Lutheran Church
    1124 N. 3rd Street

    For more information or to RSVP call (602) 263-7894,
    or email azkeepitclean@yahoo.com

    Tuesday, August 10, 2004

    Kerry in 'Foreign Policy'

    John Kerry discussed a Democratic foreign policy in, appropriately enough, Foreign Policy magazine in March/April of 2003. In that essay Kerry stated:

    I support the Bush administration’s goal of a regime change in Iraq. Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is a renegade and outlaw who turned his back on the tough conditions of his surrender put in place by the United Nations in 1991. But the administration’s rhetoric has far exceeded its plans or groundwork. In fact, its single-mindedness, secrecy, and high-blown phrases have alienated our allies and threatened to undermine the stability of the region.

    This is entirely consistenet with Kerry's recent comments at the Grand Canyon in which he said he still would have voted to give President Bush the authority to go to war in Iraq, even if he had known in October 2002 that US intelligence was flawed, that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction, and that there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

    BC'04 is portraying Kerry's statement as both a flip-flop and a vidication of Bush's policy. It is neither. Kerry is saying the exact same thing he was saying over a year ago. His subsequent condemnation of Bush's handling of the military and diplomatic tasks involved in executing a policy of regime change in Iraq are completely consistent with his earlier and current statements.

    That said, I personally disagree with Kerry's viewpoint. I do not think that the sorts of disasters which have befallen us in Iraq are the product of poor leadership, though Bush's is extraordinarily poor, indeed, so much as the inevitable wages of neo-imperialism. All the more ironic is the juxtapositon of James Judis's new article 'Imperial Amnesia' in Foreign Policy this month. (Free registration required). The irony comes in the form of thematic similarities between Kerry's article and Judis's, especially their references to Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. For both writers, these Presidents are touchstones of their articles, but Kerry emphasizes a determination to have an active and engaged foriegn policy, while Judis instead highlights the lessons learned about trying bringing democracy to foreign soil by force.

    Undoubtedly, there is a dimension of political neccessity to Kerry's position on Iraq. There isn't time to give most of America, terrified by a new conflict whose rules they do not comprehend, a good history lesson before the election. Kerry must advocate a muscular and aggressive security policy to ensure people of his strength. But he does America, and himself, no good by staying in the kiddie batting cage with Bush. He needs to play in the big leagues where he belongs and insist that force cannot solve all our problems, and 'regime change' always becomes a continuation of imperialism by other means. Imperialism has never been the midwife to democracy as neo-Conservatives claim. Imperialism always has been an abject failure in terms of security, democratic values, and human rights, and it always will be. Our good intentions cannot make it so.

    Protect Arizona Now Contains a Trojan Horse

    Protect Arizona Now (PAN), an initiative which will go before Arizona voters in the November election, is a Trojan Horse. The many arguments regarding border policy and protecting the democratic process are cover for deeper political motives among the Initiative’s backers. The purpose and intended side-effects of PAN’s statutory changes are consistently obscured under misleading and inflammatory rhetoric, but PAN is intended simply to preserve the GOP’s electoral power in Arizona. It has other effects which are certainly positive in the view of its backers, such as scaring resident aliens and illegal aliens away from use of public services, but the real purpose of PAN is not protecting the electoral process or conserving tax-payer funds. The real purpose of PAN is its predicable side-effects on Democratic registration and voting rates across the board, not just those of minorities.

    PAN has two main provisions. The first requires proof of citizenship for all new voter registrations and casting of ballots after PAN passes. The second requires all agencies providing public services in the state to verify a person’s citizenship before providing service and to report any violations of immigration law to Federal authorities under penalty of state criminal charges. The first provision is misleading as to its purpose, and the second is morally monstrous. I will deal with the second portion of PAN in a later article. The ‘vote fraud’ provisions of PAN are my focus today

    The changes to the electoral laws by PAN will apply to all new registrants after the Initiative’s passage. The law essentially changes the evidentiary standard for voting eligibility. Currently, public policy favors voting by presumptively allowing people vote. Such a presumption encourages registration and places the burden on the State, or a party in opposition, to prove the individual is actually ineligible to vote, in which case the vote is discarded. Given that the United States has one of the lowest registration rates of any democracy and we do not automatically make every citizen eligible to vote at the age of majority as do many other democracies, this presumption in favor of the voter is appropriate, and arguably necessary, even if it allows a certain amount of systemic abuse. Any abuse is outweighed by the desirable effect it has on legitimate voter participation. By denying both registration and ballots to anyone lacking an ID deemed sufficient to prove citizenship, PAN places the burden of evidentiary production on the voter. This will certainly reduce the registration and voting rates of all those the law affects.

    Every student of the political process knows that even the slightest inconvenience will dissuade a percentage of potential voters from participating. For instance, the Motor Voter law increased registration rates in AZ by about 10%. The correlative conclusion is that simply requiring citizens to register at a separate state office effectively prevented many thousands of people from voting. PAN will have a similar, if not greater, impact on voting behavior among new residents of Arizona, the vast majority of whom will be legal citizens who are eligible to vote and could easily prove their citizenship. Despite their ability to meet the requirements of PAN, a percentage of these citizens will be dissuaded from political participation in Arizona by the requirements of PAN. A greater portion of these affected citizens will be Democrats than will be Republicans; or at least that is the plan of PAN’s backers.

    PAN reads:


    This language grandfathers all current residents who are registered to vote, exempting them from the requirements of PAN. Potential Democratic voters are unregistered at a greater rate than likely GOP constituencies. Hispanic and Native American citizens are more likely to not be registered than any other demographic groups and are more likely to vote Democratic than Republican. The Hispanic community is the swiftest growing in Arizona and thus will suffer the greatest losses in political representation as a result of PAN, even though they are citizens. Recent immigrants from other states are more likely to register and vote Democrat than Republican, a trend which is swiftly transforming Arizona politics. Exempting current registered residents tends to freeze the political status quo by disproportionately reducing the participation of new arrivals to Arizona.

    The real purpose of PAN is fully revealed in the language of the following clause:


    Those moving into Arizona from other states will have to prove citizenship, even if they were previously registered in another state. The real purpose of this is to inconvenience the people who are immigrating to Arizona from other states, not to plug a hole through which only a minor number of fraudulent registrations, if any, are likely to pass.

    Notice that there are no conditionals and no administrative discretion provided for in this clause. Were the purpose of this clause actually prevention of fraud, registrars or the Secretary of State should be given discretion to determine if procedures in various states were sufficient to certify their voter registration as sufficient to prove citizenship. The result would greatly reduce the potential impact on voter participation. This law does allow such a procedure deliberately, because it is not inspired by a desire to protect the electoral process from fraud, but to inconvenience and harass all immigrants from other states in hopes that they will be dissuaded from registering or voting.

    The terrible burden on legitimate citizens’ voting rights that PAN imposes is vastly outweighed by the very slight possibility of filtering out a few fraudulent registrations. This great burden on voting by citizens new to Arizona is not an unfortunate side-effect of PAN - it is PAN’s main purpose. PAN is not intended primarily to prevent non-citizens from voting. PAN’s registration and voting provisions are intended primarily to suppress the political participation of all new residents in Arizona. Everything else in PAN is but political bait to get a clear majority to vote for it against their own best interests.

    With an influx of new residents moving into Arizona from predominantly liberal areas, Arizona’s Democratic population is growing quicker than the GOP’s. The GOP is aware of this trend and fears the loss of their electoral advantage in Arizona over next decade as a result of these demographic changes. If they can suppress the registration and voting rate of new citizens, they can hold onto their numerical superiority in Arizona longer, perhaps indefinitely.

    The framers of PAN either intended to exacerbate the side effects of PAN on legitimate voters, or they are criminally inept legislative drafters. In either case, the side-effects of this law constitute sufficient cause to reject this draft of the law, even if you support its stated purposes.

    PAN’s purpose is to disenfranchise Democrats and prolonging GOP hegemony over Arizona politics. With support for PAN polling at around 75%, many Democrats are obviously supporting PAN. What these voters don’t realize is they are not protecting the electoral process by supporting PAN, they severely damaging voting rights in Arizona. A vote for PAN is a vote to intentionally disenfranchise many of your fellow citizens. Concerns PAN’s backers raise over illegal immigrants and non-citizens corrupting the electoral process are merely a red-herring to garner support for what amounts to a Democratic voter suppression act.

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