Monday, November 27, 2006

The System—Giffords, Latas, Fundraising and Character

This started as a reply to comments at my last post but got long enough to post here. Folks might want to read Liza’s remarks at the previous story. While focusing on the AZ CD 8 Democratic Primary, the implications elsewhere are obvious.

I appreciate Liza’s frustration with the system. IT STINKS, but until it is fixed, fundraising is critical for viability for any serious office. When the April FEC reports came out, Giffords had over $500K, Weiss $180K, and Latas only $18K.

His number was so low that I just couldn’t see him as viable anymore. Nothing personal, but Why couldn’t Jeff raise money? Until the system changes, the ability to invent, create, and successfully hold fundraising events and other activities that produce contributions is critical. Without it, game over.

The race does not always go to the candidate with the most money, but it NEVER goes to the candidate with NO money. Should Jeff Latas choose to run for office again, and will be glad to see it if he does, I hope he hires staff that knows how much money will be necessary and how to raise it.

The founding fathers would wretch. Unfortunately, we have a systemic Catch-22 that the only people who can change the game are those who have learned how to win it, and real change will require people truly dedicated to what is best for the country. How many of those are in Congress? Good question.


In the context of 2003 politics, I find it difficult to judge the vote on Senate Resolution 1026 regarding the Iraq war. I couldn’t stand Saddam Hussein and knew he’d gassed the Kurds. My heart goes out to Colin Powell, who addressed the entire planet, only to later learn he had been set up. The Bush Administration LIED to us, and IMHO human history will crucify this president and his top level staff.

If I had held office in 2003, would I have known or seen enough to go against the tide at the time that vote was cast? Probably not. I don't buy this vote as saying anything substantive about Senator Giffords. I just don't, and Weiss and Latas have the luxury to Monday morning quarterback this thing. Assertions on what they would have done in Giffords position in 2003 occur to me as folly.

Wasn’t in Patagonia, but I do recall Giffords speaking in Tucson of this race as a huge opportunity, but my read was that she was referencing the ability of the democrats to finally win, i.e. an open seat as opposed to the horrible odds of facing an established incumbent. Kolbe’s retirement did in fact open up an opportunity for democrats.

Did a similar statement at another time reflect the race as an opportunity in terms of her personal ambitions? I don’t know.

Based on prior posts he has made, Sirocco clearly knows more about our new Congresswoman than I do (sometimes I think he is Gabrielle). There have been negative assertions about her character, like her behavior after a fender bender, but I consider it safe to bet that if Latas had polls showing him at 50+% and seven figure funds raised, we’d have heard plenty more about his character, valid and otherwise, and for what’s it’s worth, he occurs as a fine human being to me. “All that criticism” seems a little strong for the earlier remarks.

At this blog I addressed a letter to Gabrielle Giffords the night she won. I put some effort into it and have cause to believe she read it.

In it I noted that no one is perfect. Nothing exposes one’s flaws like a tough job and a committed relationship. Now she has both, and 2008 approaches. Tick Tock. Using different words, I requested she use the the inevitable challenges of the next two years to become a better person.

Shouldn’t we all?

Sunday, November 26, 2006

GilaMonsterVille No More

Tucson, Arizona--Last spring, George Tuttle created his blog GilaMonsterVille as part of support for the candidacy of Jeff Latas for Congress in District 8. George was a solid Jeff supporter, and various threads at his blog and others showed his commitment to his candidate, and in particular, his lack of enthusiasm for Gabrielle Giffords. Will spare you the back and forth between George and Giffords supporter Roger Kralamajales, but suffice to say the Gilaville was rich with anti-Giffords rhetoric and the faith that Jeff Latas was an individual of more substance.

Was Latas of more substance than Giffords? Difficult to say, and while he triggered my "self-important" meter, so do many who seek office. Frankly, I never saw Latas as viable. I just didn't. The democratic primary, from the word go, was between two women. In terms of popularity and electibility, it was between the Giffords campaign machine and Weiss's name recognition.

With hindsight, in terms of genuine effectiveness and political experience, the CD 8 democratic primary was also between two women that could really do the job effectively, Gabrielle Giffords and Francine Shacter. Giffords had the resources. Francine did not. The others were wannabees that in my opinion had a weak understanding of the path they were cutting through the forest.

Well, George, life goes on. I certainly don't judge you in any negative way for deleting your blog. Perhaps one day I will delete this, but I do wonder about the distinction between just stopping future posts, leaving the record available, and deleting it. Not sure what you think of what you have posted over these past few months.

My blogger future is uncertain. I do however, stand by every story I allow to remain posted at my place. (Yes, I have posted some, and then upon reflection, either modified or deleted them). I currently believe that even if I were to choose to stop, I would leave the past material on line, whatever its value.

That said, hindsight constantly alters perspective, and perhaps some day that big button that says, "NEVERMIND" will make sense to me as well.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Mask 4--The Betrayal

A couple months ago Congressman Mark Foley had his meltdown as messages he had exchanged with teenage congressional pages were exposed. Disgraced, he tendered his resignation and added homosexuality, alcoholism, and prior abuse by a Catholic priest to his disclosure. This post really isn't about that, but about the fact that this guy served as a chair on the very committee addressing the exploitation of children and young adults, and we even have video footage of him talking about using electronic correspondance to stalk children precisely during the time he was emailing and text messaging sexually explicit content to teenage boys.

A month or so later, evangelical super star Ted Haggard pulled his version of the sobbing Jimmy Swaggart with quivering lip, "I have sinned against you. I have this darkness." and added the use of methamphetamines to his disclosure.

Haggard, the prior head of the 30-million member National Association of Evangelicals, vigorously attacked and condemned homosexuality and same sex marriage while he engaged in years of homosexual encounters outside of his marriage to a wife with whom he had five children.

I couldn't care less if Foley or Haggard or anyone is gay. We might as well condemn folks who have green eyes. The pathology I want to distinguish is the betrayal: The Brighter the Mask, the Darker the Soul. What I find remarkable is the footage of these guys and those like them before the fall, Foley standing before the press so proudly regarding his achievements in curbing the molestation of children, or Haggard's boastful better than thou remarks regarding homosexuality. What's going on with these guys? A statistic you won't see on CNN is that your odds of having molested a child increase over threefold if you become part of the Christian clergy, and it's not just because of the Catholics. What's that about?

Interestingly, Rabbis molest children at rates below that of the general population. Perhaps it's not considered kosher.

Now knowing what was really going on at the time, the footage of these guys is something to watch, remember Jimmy Swaggart up on that stage blasting the sinners? We now know that after these rants he'd sneak into sleazy motels to do things a prostitute called "perverted." Remember the beaming Jim Bakker on TV with Tammy Faye, praising Jesus while he committed rampant sodomy in the steamroom and eventually allowed a fling with Jessica Hahn to spin out of control?

Also fascinating are the painful denials during the implosion, "I bought it but I threw it out" or "we never had sex."

In De Palma's 1983 Scarface, Al Pacino delivers some remarks in a restaurant, "I am the last honest crook you will ever see. I always tell the truth. Even when I lie, I tell the truth."

Drug dealer, killer, thief, but even when he lies, there is an authenticity. At another point in the film he states, "In this life all I have are my balls and my word, and I don't give up either for nobody."

Who cares what Foley emails to whom so long as they are responsible adults? I couldn't care less what Haggard did with Mike Jones.

What is worth considering is what Haggard did to Gayle Alcorn, his wife of 28 years and mother of his five children.

It is one thing to be a complete fraud living a lie because you've chosen to do so. It is another matter entirely to find out you've been living a lie for years and and didn't even know. When I replay the footage, now knowing what was really happening, it makes for interesting viewing. When she presses replay, now knowing what she knows, she isn't playing a video, and it alters the very nature of her life.

In the far less impressive 1999 The General's Daughter, James Woods is being asked what crime has been committed, "Murder?"

Woods replies, "Worse."

What is worse than murder?

Ask Gayle Alcorn.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Democrats Impeach W? Don't Think So!

Will spare the reader various articles and links and speculation about whether the new Democratic Congress will try to impeach the President.

They won't.

The modestly astute can figure out why without too much effort.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Separation of Church, State & Theocracy

No one should be surprised that Iran's pursuit of nuclear technology has continued, and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently announced that its nuclear program is nearly complete (whatever that means). The 35 nation International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) didn't comment on his announcement, but their 4 page report raised concerns about Tehran's refusal to cooperate with the investigation of "certain aspects" of its program, that and the fact that they found unexplainable traces of enriched uranium and plutonium.

Iran became a theocracy in 1979 when the US backed Shah was overthrown. Reformist efforts in the 90's, while producing some results, pretty much failed, and a theocracy it remains. Ahmadinejad has called for the elimination of Israel and suggests the holocaust never occurred.

Pictured above is Atefeh Rajabi, a sixteen year old girl hung for talking back to a judge. She had been assaulted by some older men, and when the judge alleged it was her fault, she lost her temper. He was so enraged by her behavior that he personally put the noose around her neck. When you are hung in Iran, there is no scaffold. You are hoisted into the air by crane. It is not fast.

During the summer of 2005, Iran hung two teenage boys who confessed to having sex with each other. Whether they actually did is not entirely clear, but apparently the community perceived them as homosexuals. The blogosphere published a flurry of activity at the time. One was 18, the other 16 or 17. We are talking about kids. By the time of this photo, their minds are mush and numb. Will spare you the earlier photos--a sixteen year old kid, realizing his imminent execution, for what?

The wisdom of the founding fathers of the United States of America and what happened during the magical years of 1770 to 1800 can bring tears to my eyes. It is as if some magical force from above descended into the minds of the right people at the right time and the right place, to produce documents and a vision that has altered the course of human history. The people that came to this country fled religious oppression, and the people that laid its foundation were clear that the separation of church and state was a vital component to freedom in a society and the ability of each human being to enjoy what they called Liberty, the Freedom without which Patrick Henry preferred death.

The likes of Pat Robertson, Ralph Reed, Jerry Falwell, and others confidently proclaim that the United States is a "Christian" nation founded on Christian principles, but they make little note of the fact that Christ does not appear in our Declaration of Independence, our Constitution or its Bill of Rights. Christ is not mentioned on any of our currency, coin or paper.

God? Absolutely, but the founding fathers left each individual FREE to take it from there.

Under the Iranian penal code, boys as young as fifteen and girls as young as nine can be hanged. I find myself completely incapable of imagining what a nine year old girl does that warrants being hoisted into the air with a noose around her neck. There is an answer to that question, and those that wrote the Iranian penal code know what it is.

Some nine year old girls.

I am not a 21st Century Elected Official, and for good reason. Not sure I have what it takes to sit across the table from a human being that thinks hanging children is moral and just and the will of any God by any name.

Most unfortunately, this theocracy dominated by religious extremism (or is it, really?) is clearly reducing the distance between itself and the ability to attack with nuclear weapons.

North Korea is Dharmic. Iran is Abrahamic.

They are COMPLETELY different pitches coming over the plate. I assert one activity is critical in handling both: communication. We have got to listen, not smile and nod, not scream and yell, but listen. Both have said they want to talk. Let's hear them. Really hear.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Before the Next Superpower

The Associated Press noted a new death toll Thursday for Iraqi civilians that far exceeds the estimates released thus far, 150,000 killed in the war.

In your Tucson Friday morning paper was a graph illustrating the casualties in deaths per day on average per month from April of 2005 through this month. There is a possibility of some error for the end months (4/05 and 11/06), but other than that, you see the equivalent to the left with the multiplication performed to give actual fatalities per month.

Folks coming here before should find the graph familiar. It has the same look and feel as the graphs of our American soldiers dying in Afghanistan and Iraq on a monthly basis. Nuff said except to note the obvious: It's getting worse.

If we are to believe Wesley Clark, invading Iraq was actually part of a Bush Administration 5 year plan to invade 7 countries while the United States has a 10-15 year window of opportunity to conquer Islamic countries and bring them over to our side before the next superpower emerges, since the 1991 Gulf War showed the "Soviet Union" was in no position to do anything should the United States choose to invade another country.

Don't take my word for a thing on this one. Click above, listen to the General, and draw your own interpretation. Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and then Iran. 5 years, 7 countries. I really don't think Clark is lying and consider it safe to conclude the memo is reality, but what does it mean? Remember, it is a memo. That doesn't mean we were "all the way there." What cannot be disputed is that we were seriously thinking about it, and that ties to Liza's remarks at TDP this summer:

when George Bush was given the presidency in 2000, PNAC members became the most powerful leaders in the Bush Administration. You’ll recognize these names: Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, "Scooter" Libby, Eliot Abrams, Richard Perle, and a few others. The Bush Administration’s foreign policy and more specifically, the invasion and occupation of Iraq, can only be understood within the context of Rebuilding America’s Defenses, PNAC’s 90 page blueprint for American global hegemony in the 21st century.

Much has been written about PNAC, as you might imagine, so there are better places to start than the 90 page RAD publication. William Rivers Pitt wrote these two editorials in February, 2003, for Of Gods and Mortals and Empire and Blood Money. These editorials provide a good overview of PNAC.

It is interesting that RAD was published in 2000, but does not address Osama bin Laden style terrorism. It is as though these guys just didn’t get it. It might explain why the Bush Administration rigidly adheres to the idea that the "War on Terrorism" is a war against nations. Nonetheless, 9-11 was their much longed for "catalyzing event" that launched the first war on their agenda, regime change in Iraq.

RAD is long and boring, but it provides some incredible insight into the foreign policy objectives of the Bush Administration.


I invite the reader to consider that this set of folks led by Cheney and Rumsfeld, christened and indoctrinated during the 50's and serving in the 60's and 70's under folks like Nixon during the Cold War, applied Cold War thinking to the events of September 11 and the world situation at that time.

They've fought the big red bear for so long, they're gearing up for the next one.

Before the next Superpower!

What emerging superpower? China. So we need to invade these 7 nations to get them to "our side" before China moves in? Think I'm insane? Find and play the video of Reagan telling us that Ortega and Nicaragua was about to conquer the free world as we know it. Now that Ortega is back on the scene, saw that tape again recently, and it sounds even more ridiculous now than it did at the time.

Is China huge? Damned straight China is huge. They implement the equivalent infrastructure of Houston in a day and a half or something like that. They are going places, but this means we should invade seven countries because if we don't they will? The Chinese going into Somalia? Well, actually, they are. But this is the 21st Century. New thinking is required.

If you sink deep into cold war thinking (where Cheney still lives), you recall a world where the USA and USSR played this weird game. Countries were literally seen as chess pieces on a chess board. Instead of going at each other directly (certain suicide), the USA and USSR played chess with the rest of the planet. Remember the 1960 Nixon / Kennedy debates bickering about which parts of the world were "free" and which were communist? Consider that the entire Vietnam War was one nasty fight over a single piece.

What's a 21st Century Elected Official to think?

Well, first they might ask whether this notion of superpower even applies anymore. What is, after all, a superpower in this century, in this globalized high tech 21st century political economy?

There was a brief period of time after the USSR disintegrated when the USA could regard itself as the "remaining superpower" simply because the other one went away, but quickly, far more quickly than the likes of Cheney can understand, this concept became obsolete, as did the notion that some entity resembling the old USSR would resurface with a similar menu of threats.

The next major forces as nations which must be dealt with certainly include China and India, but the superpower label no longer applies. Their military designs on us are as minimal as ours towards them. They have no desire to occupy us, blow us up, and couldn't give a tinker's cuss who we worship or how we govern ourselves.

The Bush Administration's foreign policy is based on, or at least significantly influenced by, obsolete ideas held by old school thinkers I frankly believe are too arrogant to question themselves. Unlike the deeply insightful and extremely intelligent Robert McNamara, the likes of Cheney and Rumsfeld seem bent on command and control. They want to conquer to protect their precious oil, and make no mistake, ENERGY looms huge in this century, but command and control is dead in all but a few situations.

Is China hungry and getting more hungry for oil? Probably. Would China invade the middle east to get it? I think not. They'll figure something else out.

I have a better idea for all of us. Let's kick the oil habit. The entire planet will thank us for it.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Godspeed, Congresswoman Giffords

Dear Congresswoman Giffords,

A most heartfelt Congratulations!!

May you become part of a force for change that can’t wait that brings sanity, an awareness of reality, and 21st Century thinking to the leadership of humanity as it addresses its fragile existence on this increasingly fragile planet.

May you set a shining example for your fellow representatives as one who does not succumb to the special interest and self-serving components of the system, as one who does not allow its cynical elements to undermine your commitment to serving the people of Arizona's Eighth Congressional District, the United States of America, and Earth itself.

The weight on your shoulders is substantial, Congresswoman Giffords. You are better educated, far better read, significantly more aware, and substantially more intelligent than the vast majority of Congress. You are one of the first of the hopefully many more 21st Century Elected Officials that will be necessary to change humanity's direction to one that has a future with humanity still in it.

Yes, this is a victory and major achievement, but if you are who I hope you are, your election will occur more like a birth than a graduation, more like the opportunity to start work, to begin a task at hand, than a completion of work, although a resounding completion of work your election is indeed for you and your remarkable staff.


Contrary to the opinions that our President and Vice President have of themselves and each other, no human being is perfect.

Unlike these individuals, you have the wisdom to know that we are all works in progress. As this last campaign has no doubt shown, to serve as you are committed to serving will require growth and development. Witnessing your growth from afar these last eight months has been inspiring, and consider that you are just getting started. Given what I think is possible for you, I have a request. Should the occasion arise where the growth necessary to achieve your aim uncovers an area to improve, a skill to be strengthened, a flaw to resolve, and we all have ours, please don't react as our President has reacted. You are a better human being than that, and part of a nobler, bigger mission. I haven't a clue what might show up that impairs your serving as you are committed to serving, but if something does, FIX IT.

Global Warming is only one component of what we must address to establish a SUSTAINABLE balance with the production of the resources we need to survive. Not just in this country, but on this planet, we must find appropriate mechanisms to counter the forces that concentrate wealth, power, and privilege, and serve to maintain a level of EQUITY and fairness, economic fairness, judicial fairness, and political fairness, in a manner that makes sense.

Your commitment to Education has been demonstrated in the Arizona Legislature. The expansion of knowledge also includes supporting and enabling our scientists and researchers both public and private to operate free of handcuffs. I summarize the ongoing growth of our relationship with truth, be it at the level of knowledge, wisdom, or profound spiritual insight, with the word DEVELOPMENT. I assert that without this, humanity is doomed.


At the space shuttle altitude someone close to you has experienced, I imagine a perspective looking down on the human beings living on earth, and I see a fundamental bifurcation between 1) those eagerly promoting activities that generate new ideas, new ways of thinking, and new relationships with truth that integrate human beings with different points of view, and 2) those desperately defending inherited beliefs and points of view, regarding those who believe differently as threats.

One side will recognize and respond to inconvenient truths. The other will ignore and suppress them. One side will foster research, education, and the expansion of knowledge. The other will suppress it. One side will challenge assumptions, listen, welcome new thinking and learn. The other will not listen and will kill to protect its version of the truth.

This bifurcation is not new. Half a millennia ago the Catholic Church was beating up a man named Copernicus who had figured something out, and they didn't want to hear it. Back then, the world had less than 10% of the people it has today. With the population and technology of the 21st Century, this bifurcation is spiraling into what I speculate will be the true Third World War, a conflict between open minds who wish to expand knowledge at all levels to address the challenges we face, and closed minds who wish to suppress new ideas and maintain existing views, even if it brings about an Armageddon some actually believe is supposed to happen.

The subtitle of this blog, A Quest for Context and Meaning, is by design. We must find higher contexts: a higher spiritual context that illuminates the truth within all religions and renders their differences inconsequential, a higher economic context that nourishes production yet removes the financial bondage inflicted on all but a small fraction of our world, a higher political context where nations truly see that what is in the best interests of each must include the best interests of all. Ultimately, we must mature our relationship with what it means to be a human being and what is important.

The 21st Century Elected Officials are those that realize these ideas and those like sustainability, equity, and development are not abstract, irrelevant notions for entertaining coffee shop conversations. These ideas are very real, and they have profound implications for policies we desperately need to implement and soon.

In this context, your most powerful opponents are not in Iraq, Pakistan, North Korea, or Iran. They are in Washington DC.

I have no idea how one would go to Washington, open minds that are closed, find contexts not yet created, and become truly effective in facing the unprecedented challenges threatening humanity's future, not even sure I could begin to know how to begin to start.

I believe I speak for many when I thank you and extend the deepest gratitude for your having the courage and the spirit to fight the fight as part of the solution. Some have already started this fight. They desperately need help, and yours will be most welcome.

Now go to Washington, Congresswoman Giffords. You go.

Godspeed, and God Bless.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The Terrible Trio

This is directly under the headline of an article I included as a link in one of my stories yesterday:

Vice President Tells ABC News That Election, Public Sentiment Will Not Influence War Policy.

The more I think about it, the angrier I get. I am really baffled and scratching my head on this one--Is this guy really saying what he is saying?

The Election. Public Sentiment. Will not influence War Policy.

Cheney: It may not be popular with the public — it doesn't matter....We’re not running for office. We’re doing what we think is right.

The Bush Administration has truly decided that the entire rest of the country is wrong whenever it disagrees with them. Should there be any disagreement on anything, they are right, and we are wrong. They are infallible, and regardless of what happens in the election, this terrible trio (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld), operating like a self-anointed king of reality, asserts that the policy in Iraq will not alter at all.

The terrible trio really sees the executive branch as the King and the American people as its subjects. It views this country as subject to its rule. This flies in the face of everything this country and democracy are about, from the very roots of a republic, of representation, of democracy itself and Locke’s social contract, to the people’s consent to be governed, to the recognition that our elected officials SERVE US.

And when more and more voices started rising against Cheney and Rumsfeld, suggesting that parts of the trio are not effective, what does Bush do? Declare as if no matter what these two stay, period. They literally have a blank check regarding their performance. No matter what they do, no matter what occurs, they stay. Who is working for whom in this government?! Not only is the terrible trio in charge, we are told that it is unbreakable no matter what.

I don't know William Thomas and don't have time to research the guy. He's Canadian and has apparently won some awards, but I do NOT vouche for him. For what it's worth, he thinks Bush is a loon, and note that this was written in April 2003.

Loon or not, we really do have cause for fear. This election is absolutely critical. We MUST break this rubber stamp Congress free from these despots. We must elect democratic majorities in the House and Senate.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Sinking Ship and the Rats

In a preview of coming attractions, certain neoconservative voices are starting to distance themselves or flat out jump from the foreign policy atrocity that is the Bush Administration, and increasingly important parts of the military are voicing demands for Rumsfeld to go, and the GOP's troubles are just beginning. One significant miscalculation I'm a little embarrassed to be seeing so late is how do folks plan to remain in power in a democracy when they serve 5% and screw 95% of the population?

Flat out flim-flamming another 46+%? Completely rigging the elections?

Can't speak to the rigging yet, though the concept is terrifying. Regarding the flim-flamming program with guns, god, abortion, homophobia, and boatloads of fear, well, it appears to be showing some weakness.

How does it go about fooling some of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, all of the people all of the time, or none of the people at any time? At any rate, the boat may be taking on water. The disillusioned faithful are finding it difficult to escape the writing on the wall.

Time wounds all heals. Those on a collision course with reality do eventually lose.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Last Minute Desperation--Take Two

Not sure if this is necessary, but, well, disgusted enough to address this last minute Graf trash ad one more time. I don't have the resources to investigate the details of this kind of thing, so I just said what I said yesterday (see below). Well, our local papers have now looked into this. Here in Tucson, the Arizona Daily Star was so enraged they made it an opinion piece, and the Citizen, after doing its fact checking, chimed in here, both replicating your humble blogger's assertion yesterday that this is the embarrassing last minute lunge that shows the true colors of people that know they are losing, and instead of taking the loss with a display of character and dignity, they are showing themselves to be ugly and mean spirited.

I am actually really disappointed by this, and that's authentic. I have spoken with Randy Graf for more than just a few minutes. If we run into each other, we smile, say Hi, and shake hands. I have spoken with RT Gregg more than Graf. Based on those interactions, while we disagree on many issues, in particular social issues, I did have a degree of respect for both, especially Gregg, and considered them dignified human beings.

Not any more.

What makes this doubly sad, from my perspective, is that this was not necessary and will not affect the outcome. This is bad sportmanship, pure and simple, coming from someone who was once in professional sports.