Monday, August 31, 2009

4.5 Million Gallons a Day

Over a year ago I posted Your Place or Mine? (4/3/2008) about the open pit Rosemont copper mine that appears to be approaching inevitability. Congressman Grijalva, Congresswoman Giffords, State Rep. Daniel Patterson, Supervisor Ray Carroll, and other elected officials have come out against the mine. Apparently to the consternation of some, Giffords is making a distinction between being against the Rosemont mine for specific reasons and being against mining in general. More on that soon.

Skipping the scenic beauty of the Southern Arizona desert, and in particular, Madera Canyon and the Santa Rita mountains (I have priceless memories), I will focus on water. Of course the experts are clear, but the general discourse in Southern Arizona appears dangerously out of touch with the gravity of its water situation. CAP only provided a temporary upward blip in the shrinking gap between supply and demand. The migration towards the Southwest shows no signs of abating meaning a continued growth in the number of faucets, dishwashers, and toilets, let alone commercial use of water. By the way, notice the trends in climate? How were this summer's monsoons? Remember what they were like in the 80s? Even without a new open pit copper mine at the base of Mt. Wrightson, Southern Arizona faces a huge water challenge.

An open pit copper mine typically consumes 10 to 20 thousand acre feet of water a year. Rosemont claims it will only consume 5 thousand acre feet a year. I doubt this, but even accepting their promise, we're looking at 4.5 million gallons PER DAY. Does Green Valley, Arizona strike you as a place with an extra 4.5 million gallons of water per day?

In terms of what's in the media regarding local elected officials and the Rosemont Mine, Congresswoman Giffords has shown the greatest awareness of the water implications. She raises the issue of water every time the mine is discussed and properly so. I wouldn't argue with Ray Carroll or Raul Grijalva that the mine stinks purely on the grounds of what it would be and where in a rare and precious place. There are not a lot of Madera Canyons. That said, I think environmental appreciation and love of nature will fail to defeat this mine. Those who really wish to keep this project from happening should listen to what Giffords is saying about water, about electricity, about transportation and operational infrastructure, about waste products and contaminants, and what all of this means for the region.

I devoted a lot of my heart and soul to an Arizona copper company. Then an Australian corporation took over. Ignoring the long term, for short term gain they shut the place down. Imagine their concern for the 2600 Arizona workers tossed in the street. Now a Canadian firm wants the copper at the foot of Arizona's tallest mountain south of Flagstaff. How much of the money generated by that copper stays in the region? Sure about that? Bulletproof sure? After ALL of the bills have been paid?

I am bulletproof sure that 4.5 million gallons of water per day won't fall from the sky over Madera Canyon for the next 20 years. Regarding staying in the region, I'm equally certain that the butt ugly hole in the ground won't be going anywhere.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Their Own Private Idaho

A particularly prolific and vocal set of Arizona Republicans have launched their own version of Facebook, calling it Republicanville. I won't dive too deep, but we're talking about the likes of Charles Jensen, founder of Politics on the Rocks, Jeff Vath (aka Tony GOPrano), David Schweikert, the GOP CD5 candidate who lost by better than 10 points to Harry Mitchell in 2008 (yet lists his political title at his profile as "Congressman"), Rachel Alexander, the paradoxically intelligent fountain of output at The Intellectual Conservative, and the rest of the Phoenix/Mesa/Scottsdale GOP bunch. Sometimes it's hard to tell if they are serious or joking, but they talk about Republicanville displacing Facebook. Not sure how many people are on Facebook, and it's not clear what this new site realistically seeks to accomplish, but they might be up to about 150 members. I doubt Facebook has cause for alarm.

The endeavor ties to a much larger one on the part of conservatives to craft their own world in the face of changing times. In response to the Wikipedia explosion and its remarkably detailed and accurate information, conservatives unhappy with reality (evolution, age of cosmos, fossils, glaciers, plate tectonics, Hispanics) launched their own pedia, called Conservapedia, which forwards the assertion that Obama is seeking to rule the Internet and features a picture of him with the caption, “Fascism.” They don't bother to mention that Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, is co-sponsoring the Cybersecurity Act of 2009, who said, "If we fail to take swift action, we, regrettably, risk a cyber-Katrina."

Do you know anyone who has looked something up in Conservapedia? Conservatives have not launched their own version of the academic Scholarpedia because they've never heard of it.

The Bush administration all but institutionalized "reality is what we say it is" and of course 911, Katrina, two botched wars, and last fall's financial meltdown occurred during its distilled ignorance. The country's pants were around its ankles for eight years. As Katrina victims were dying on rooftops and in stadiums, Bush agonized over which Air Force One landing location would make the best impression.

Perhaps they will create their own Google that only links to hate saturated Jesus freak pontifications. I would love to grant them their wish to depart our messy reality for a distant, racially pure Idaho where a 6000 year old sun revolves around a recently flooded flat planet that isn't getting warmer. They would be happier, and so would the rest of us.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Existential Blog Disgust

(Gail Wynand) With all due respect, I currently suffer from blogger disgust. Right now I'm not sure if I like my own. While it is clear that highly followed blogs like Drudge on the right and Huffington Post or Daily Kos on the left have some influence, I wonder how much blogs, like talk radio, principally preach to choirs.

Preaching, even if magnificently, to the congregation only produces a satisfied congregation. It makes tons of money for Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, but to what extent is it increasing the flock? I have no delusions that this blog has changed a single vote. It hasn't. Do the most popular and highly respected blogs change votes? Sure? Seriously, can you name someone who was going to vote for one candidate switch to another because of Espresso Pundit or Seeing Red? Can you?

Back in the spring of 2006, when Gabrielle Giffords faced Jeff Latas and Patty Weiss for the Democratic nomination for CD8, the blogs were new and the medium was fresh. Comment threads exploded to 200+ with dramatic vitriol and sophomoric cyber carnage. I remember a Daily Kos thread that went nuclear, ending with a few remarks by myself and Sirocco, who wrote, "Aren't we all just talking to walls?"

We have come a long way, but have we? I have come full circle and distinguished a new concept I will apply to myself as much as anyone, the difference between 1) creating information worth reading and 2) crafting yet another distortion to preserve a point of view. To the degree blogs degenerate into point of view preservation they become junk for junkies, talk radio trash for gullible filth. Let's cut a video to 20 frames (2/3 of a second) of Giffords saying one word and repeat it five times. Please, god, please, let us get an image of Grijalva picking his nose. It's twinkie politics and twinkie blogging. Until shown otherwise, twinkie blogging is talking to walls and preaching to choirs, forwarding nothing.

The distinction separates substance/argument from fabricated frames based on empty foundations. John Galt has received more attention recently. Ayn Rand's earlier work, The Fountainhead, features media mogul and multimillionaire Gail Wynand and his newspaper, The New York Banner. He makes a fortune telling morons what they want to hear (familiar?). He imagines himself on top of the world. When the time comes for him to say something not in line with what his customers want, it doesn't go well.

I am deeply questioning whether these blogs (mine, too) say a thing to a single person outside of their circle of agreement. Perhaps after processing, I will realize that an objective making sense is to offer additional perspective and supportive literature that empowers the circle. If at the same time, I can provide useful material for others, the enterprise is worthwhile.

I have become a pretty disgusted blogger. Some blogs have clearly become extra violins in a saturated orchestra, adding no value at all. I question my own and wonder if I am wasting my time. I've had this feeling before. It is the beforemath, the place one experiences before a transformation. It is not comfortable, and it involves the unknown. I don't know where this place is headed, but I know what it is leaving.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Back in Class

(Yes, the image is Chemistry and the instructor is way better looking.) The students are beginning to arrive on campus and one can feel that sense of excitement. Parents with smiling kids take turns before digital cameras capturing images of the thrill of fresh high school graduates brimming with the sense of possibility and unprecedented freedom from mom and dad. I didn't last six weeks on campus before finding myself talking to the math department.

I happily accepted a late afternoon course with about 35 students, the college algebra that every student must pass to graduate. Sadly, few freshmen have high school backgrounds with adequate math, so the course is always a challenge, but that's where the course leader concept proves most rewarding. Anyone can teach already motivated geniuses.

I've already written about course leading versus teaching. Leading a course involves managing the entire set of interactions, which makes it possible to reach and motivate the frightened and semi-angry through terrain they resist. It is a completely different conversation. The math is there, but it's not about the math. The only thing that beats the flashing bulbs is the enthusiasm and gratitude they have at the end, and best of all, the implicit satisfaction of having contributed and made a real difference. Almost without exception and especially with this course, when they experience the flashes as designed, the participants truly get that they can in fact grasp what they considered beyond them. It changes everything.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Seduction of Hatred

More than the other blogs on my admittedly limited radar, this place calls attention to the sentiments and expressions of the hate group elements as they are courted and inflamed by the more extreme elements of the Republican Party. A sample of these posts includes:
Dancing with a Snake (1/29/09)
Toxic Talk (3/01/09)
Toxic Distraction (4/15/09)
Darkness (7/21/09)

The McCain/Palin campaign opened Pandora's box with the Alaska governor's lack of regard for the implications of stirring a pot best left unstirred. The entire country got to see McCain inhale a dose of the stench when a woman called Obama an Arab. When McCain properly rejected the utterly false assertion, the mob booed him for noting reality.

The mob remains, but instead of McCain's, "No m'aam" we see the continued instigation of the animosity with deliberately designed fictitious sound bites (“cuts the number of health care providers”) and easily grasped images ("death panel") that pour nitroglycerin onto the flames.

The election of the first African American President was de facto going to inject energy into the extremist militias and white supremacist movements, and in a perfect storm the intentional fanning of similar sentiments via a misinformation campaign regarding health care puts the country on a collision course with acts of terrorism having nothing to do with Osama Bin Laden.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, perhaps the most knowledgeable source of information about militias and hate groups, has published a report The Second Wave - Return of the Militias (the complete 24 page PDF) documenting the disturbing escalation of activity on the part of people eager for a reason to shoot or worse, another version of Timothy McVeigh's Oklahoma City bombing. From the report, Authorities around the country are reporting a worrying uptick in Patriot activities and propaganda. "This is the most significant growth we've seen in 10 to 12 years," says one. "All it's lacking is a spark. I think it's only a matter of time before you see threats and violence."

We have already seen the threats. Does anyone really think a staged lynching of an effigy of an elected official is about health care reform? The death threats continue to multiply and now number over a dozen.

The Republicans may indeed seduce the hatred with which they flirt. I don't think they fully comprehend what happens next.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Gun at Giffords Douglas AZ Event

(Photo-Congresswoman Giffords at Tucson Medical Center 8/7/09)

Liza's comment at the last thread let me know about a Huffington Post article on the gun that showed up at the Douglas, AZ "Meet and Greet" event held by Rep. Giffords (D-AZ) last week.

It turns out that prior to that event, the Service Employees International Union received a phone call which declared, "Stop trying to repress people's First Amendment rights... That, or you all are gonna come up against the Second Amendment."

Then they find a loaded weapon apparently dropped by one of the tea party crowd attending the event. This comes after at least one death threat and the lynching of effigies of elected officials identified by name.

Long before his election I posted my concerns for Barack Obama's safety, arguably the most at risk POTUS in history. I pray for his safety and the highest diligence possible of the Secret Service. However, members of Congress do not remotely have the security resources of the Secret Service.

Update: The gun-toting protester shown here at an Obama event was holding a sign referencing the Jefferson quote: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

The unconscionable instigation of the worst of the herd, the talk of "death panels" before people stupid enough to believe it, strokes the fingers at the triggers and forces our elected leaders to take steps for their own safety. Then the same goons condemn these officials when they decline to stand in front of the firing squad.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

Three Beasts

The Arizona Daily Star today features yet another Rob O'Dell article regarding the cloth shenanigans that choke Tucson's downtown and economic development. Readers were shocked (NOT!) to learn that the Fourth Ave. underpass will dramatically exceed (about 50%) all prior cost projections. Even better, officials apparently knew about the cost overruns for years but never bothered to disclose it. It is predictable that this week the city will announce the additional stuffing of funds into the burgeoning coffers of the Downtown Tucson Partnership. CEO Glenn Lyons is proving to be a Clothmeister of Larry Hecker proportions. These guys never met a million they didn't love. As above, so below, and the Cloth distinguishes the three beasts of greed (DTP, Rio Nuevo), corruption (Lot 175, Rio Nuevo), and incompetence (TREO, Rio Nuevo).

The tea party crowd could point to local greed, corruption, and incompetence and apply it to the current health care debate. They could assert that a federal program or universal health care would "clothify" the nation's medical care. Conservatives enjoy films like "1984" or "Brave New World" and have deep skepticism regarding government. Progressives see films like "The Corporation" or "The Smartest Guys in the Room" and have deep skepticism regarding corporations. The news is bad, for both are correct as amply demonstrated by the perfect storm created during the Bush Administration. The storm produced unbridled bestiality in an unconscionable orgy of gluttony and reckless abandon. AIG made Enron look like a cheap date.

Those working to create a world that works for everyone face the beasts of greed, corruption, and incompetence. Faith in the free market is as folly as faith in government. Unchecked, NEITHER WORK. That's what we must learn. We need a health care system that works and the current one is decaying. Cost disease alone puts it on a downward spiral that can tank the entire country. The nation faces a huge challenge this fall as it debates this situation. We would be smart to address the beasts, in particular greed and corruption(fraud), and apply the best minds possible to craft a system which, while it may not slay the beasts, at least places some chains around their ankles. That would be far more productive than insultingly stupid images of "death panels" and trains taking grandma to an Auschwitz in Montana.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Arizona Daily Star Article Shatters Its Online Comment Record

Tucson, Arizona. An Arizona Daily Star article, Giffords a no-show at movie; 'tea party' protest put on hold, penned by Jamar Younger, has shattered all records regarding the number of comments posted on articles published at the online version of the paper.

While some online Star articles have been known to solicit 200 or more comments, none to date have reached 300, less than half of the 600+ comments submitted at today's piece, an indication of the inflammatory and dangerous situation now unfolding.

Congresswoman Giffords made the right call in staying away. Her presence would have only exacerbated the vitriolic aggression of the hate mongers. She rightfully withheld her presence from a situation primed for violence.