Thursday, January 28, 2010

Choir Blogging

I've received emails about my That’s All Folks! on New Year’s Day. At the time I’d been stricken with a "blogger malaise" I could not distinguish or understand. I knew that it was there and had to stop, unable to do "IT" anymore. Of course, what is "IT"? What "voice" did I lose? The answer was not simple and involved months of pondering.

At a comment exchange mostly between myself and Framer, I said that I refused to become a "broken record" blog. This led to additional reflection, and at last the bulb turned on. I am pleased that I now have the distinction, "Choir Blogging." It nails it.

Choir Blogging. Noun. Blog content mirroring talk radio that distorts or fabricates issues to praise or condemn political figures. What distinguishes Choir Blogging is that it accomplishes absolutely nothing – the message is only heard by its own "Choir" - those already sharing the sentiments of the material.

Choir Blogging:

- criticizing how many times Obama mentions himself in a speech
- concern about whether or not Obama wore a flag pin
- noise about Obama's courtesy bow in Japan
- asserting that attending a global warming conference is an outrage
- alleging that Giffords spends all of her time in Houston
- making a fuss about Giffords car (Toyota 4-Runner). GOP superstar Scott Brown drives what?
- emphasizing Obama's middle name like it means something
- asserting Obama is a Muslim
- anything about Obama smoking a cigarette
- applying labels like socialist or socialism with no regard for what the words mean

I could go on, and the lefty blogs, self included, are guilty as well. When Michael Steele made his remark, "I'm the cow standing in front of the train," I posted footage of a real cow in front of a real train, which turned out badly for the cow. Entertaining perhaps, but it was Choir blogging.

Criticism, even a brutal bashing, is not necessarily Choir Blogging. To make anything out of Jesse Kelly's inability to score the "KellyforCongress" URL is Choir Blogging. Who cares? However, it's not Choir Blogging to note that Paton's campaign website still sucks.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Brief CD-8 Website Update

Following up on the January 18 AZ CD-8 Website Post, the Jonathan Paton site is now up, although barely, consisting of three pages and minimal content. His campaign may have rushed a quick template online because someone was being obnoxious about his lack of a site over at Sonoran Alliance.

Brian Miller's site has just undergone a significant upgrade that now features slide show content and video. The site also reinforces his Facebook material. Well done.

The five sites are:

Giffords for Congress
Vote Jesse Kelly
Brian Miller for Congress
Paton for Congress
Goss for Congress

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Outside Agency Funding

If the press ever covered these revisions, I didn't see it. Below are solid data on the budget revisions by the Tucson City Council regarding outside agencies, some of them pure Cloth, some of them worthwhile endeavors. The first number is the original budget amount adopted by the Council. The second number is the revised figure after reductions implemented to help balance the budget. The default cut, minus exceptions, was 60%. Pure Cloth are red. Partial Cloth are purple. Cloth free (that I can confirm) are green. This city will throw domestic violence victims in the street before it will touch funds allocated to the Clothmeisters.

Economic and Workforce Development
Critical Path Institute (C-Path) - $158,440 to $79,220 (50%)
DTP Business Improvement District (BID) - $280,020 to 224,016 (20%)
JobPath - $380,250 to $184,006 (50%)
MTCVB - $4,036,350 to $3,115,740 (23%)
Pro Neighborhoods - $68,450 to $44,325 (35%)
School Plus Jobs - $471,510 to $188,604 (60%)
TREO - $1,242,700 to $994,160 (20%)
TOTAL Economic and Workforce Development - $6,637,720 to $4,830,071 (27.2%)

Arts and Cultural Enrichment
Tucson-Pima Arts Council - $525,530 to $376,999 (20%)
El Centro Cultural de las Americas - $9,140 to $3,656 (60%)
Tucson Botanical Gardens - $41,120 to $16,448 (60%)
Tucson Children's Museum - $35,640 to $14,256 (60%)
Tucson Museum of Art - $65,240 to $26,096 (60%)
Tucson Sister Cities Association - $12,190 to $4,876 (60%)
Tucson Pops Orchestra - $22,820 to Nothing (100%)
TOTAL Arts and Cultural Enrichment - $711,680 to $442,331 (38%)

Human Services
88-Crime - $12,610 to $5,044 (60%)
Community Mediation Program - $41,700 to $16,680 (60%)
Human Services Plan - $1,882,570 to $1,526,074 (20%)
Humane Society of Southern Arizona - $13,710 to $5,484 (60%)

Metropolitan Education Commission - $53,870 to $21,548 (60%)
Pima County / Tucson Women's Commission - $39,360 to $15,744 (60%)
Subtotal Human Services - $2,043,820 to $1,590,574 (22%)

Civic/Special Community Events
City Co-Sponsored Events - $258,570 to 258,570 (0%)
El Tour/Perimeter Bicycling Association of America - $22,820 to $9,128 (60%)
Southern Arizona Regional Science and Engineering Fair - $9,510 to $3,804 (60%)

Tucson Gem and Mineral Society - $27,420 to $13,710 (50%)
Subtotal Events - $318,320 to $285,212 (10%)

Other
Access Tucson - $758,740 to $379,372 (50%)
YMCA - $88,410 to $88,410
(0%)

TOTAL OUTSIDE AGENCY FUNDING - $12,099,420 to $9,156,700 (24.3%)

The colossus (Downtown Tucson Partnership) is so mighty and powerful it transcends the outside agency conversation. The Business Improvement District is just a tiny morsel on its vast smorgasbord. I doubt DTP saw a thin red cent cut from its raging torrent of city funds. Cuts to the other big dog, MTCVB, are perhaps limited due to laws regarding the bed tax paid by the region's hotel and resorts, but $900K is $900K. That was pure Cloth gravy the city recovered. MTCVB will have to cancel the luncheon in Prescott.

Word is that Council Member Shirley Scott rose to TREO's defense and kept the cut to a modest 20%, apparently buying the assertion that TREO somehow had something to do with results produced by the University's Tech Park and others. Word is that she was also impressed by the new taco truck on South 12th.

Jobpath got slammed, but for the real picture, you have to find the County side of things. Jobpath is pure Pima County Interfaith Council (PCIC), whose strings extend far more into County coffers than City. Declining Eckstrom influence may spell the end of Jobpath over the next few years. PCC will be irritated as Jobpath was quite the cash cow. The $200K reduction translates to 4 fewer students.

My heart goes out to the Arts, Culture, and Human Services organizations that had tiny stipends cut to almost nothing. This is just stupid. The city protects TREO (cash reserves over $1M) and hacks the Children's Museum from $35K to $14K. They drown MTCVB in millions and bleed the Botanical Gardens. It's so clear who are Cloth and who have soul.

That's just the terror of the situation. Access Tucson, an inexpensive and incredibly productive vehicle for giving those without money a chance to express themselves, got butchered. Yes, some of the stuff is weird, but that's the point. It fuels a lot of expression for a song. I produced two short films there in the early 90s.

The city slammed the Community Mediation Program. This program provides low cost mediation services for struggling families, pregnant moms in fragile marriages, couples on the brink, relationships in pain, the challenged teetering on the brink of violence and addiction. Uh, yeah.

What the likes of Snell, Shelko, Lyons, Hecker, and the rest will never understand is that the money they guzzle for themselves takes money from other efforts. Real people are dead today so TREO, DTP, MTCVB, and their ilk can have an extra million in the bank. Think I exaggerate?

Don't take my word for it. Look at the numbers. Investigate and think. What do you see?

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Off Year Now Obsolete

You don't need the math to grasp the key take away from the graphs available at Pollster.

The left compares Coakley (dark blue) with Obama's light blue distribution in 2008. She's to the left (fewer votes) as one would expect compared to a presidential election. More interesting is what happened with Brown. His vote distribution almost exactly duplicates McCain's. In other words, for a January special election Brown got ALL (as in CLONE) of McCain's voter turnout in a presidential contest.

Note the curve shapes are almost identical. In no way am I suggesting this week's election is not important. It's huge, but the more accurate perspective is that a block of voters (casting ballots in 2008) has become extremely energized, generating for Brown in an off year special election the voter signature exactly matching that of the GOP presidential nominee in a hot election. While blue exhibited the typical slacking off, red remained hot - but contrary to their swaggering, not in greater numbers.

As the graphs show, in particular for Democrat incumbents, if you allow 2010 to be an “off year” for your voters, you might be sent packing, because the assumption that it's an off year for your opponent's voters just bought the farm.

I am thinking of an upcoming Congressional race in the Southeast District of a Southwestern border state. Blue incumbent with red to consider.

The above graphs could not be more relevant.

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Arizona CD - 8 Campaign Web Sites

Incumbent Democrat Gabrielle Giffords

Giffords for Congress (GiffordsforCongress.com)
Naturally with years of development and considerable resources, the web site and email campaign infrastructure are first rate and feature top quality content and functionality. Slide shows, multimedia, Youtube, FB, and Twitter communities, web icons, RSS feeds, and one can sign up to volunteer, receive emails, donate money, learn about upcoming events, and obtain all sorts of information about the candidate, positions, issues... For all practical purposes, the site is as good as it gets.

Republican Jesse Kelly

Vote Jesse Kelly (VoteJesseKelly.com)
Kelly's web development team has done the work necessary to make the campaign web site the first hit on the first page of a google search on the candidate's name. As individuals google his name to learn more, having the campaign site be the first hit is valuable. Like Giffords site, the place is professionally done and features an attractive color scheme and layout.

Having a relatively common name and newer to the game, Kelly did not have the option of obtaining what some consider to be the optimal web site URL: LastNameForCongress.com (net/org), which Giffords obtained back in 2005. Kelly's site features credible quotable quotes and provides a growing list of endorsements that (so far) well exceed those of his Republican rivals.

Republican Andy Goss

Goss For Congress (GossForCongress.com)
Mormon Andy Goss did have the good fortune of a name uncommon enough that GossForCongress was available. A google search returns an excellent web presence with the campaign site as #1 hit. The site has the features but lacks the level of sophistication of Kelly's material. The issues page shows that Goss is completely clueless about almost everything, but that's another conversation.

Visitors can make online contributions by credit card, but are not allowed to purchase raffle tickets for the DPMS Panther AR-15 Rifle Andy is raffling off as part of his fund raising efforts. Assault rifle enthusiasts have to mail their purchases to a PO Box.

Republican Brian Miller

Brian Miller For Congress (BrianMillerForCongress.com)
When the last name by itself is not available, a good second choice is to use both first and last name, which worked for Miller. Having a very common name, Miller has to compete with a photographer and some guy that gives advice on garden tractor pulling. The campaign pages are on par with the Goss site with enough military content to compensate for the lack of an assault rifle raffle.

Miller also appears to be generating more in terms of Twitter and Facebook, the site linking to a public Facebook page that reads a lot like a blog. While up on the web tech, his economic views are apparently 50 years old, providing a youTube of JFK arguing for a tax cut in the face of the 1962 recession. Speaking of 50, Miller has founded a PAC called “The Freshman 50.” 50 what? Members? Don't ask me. While it has its own URL, the PAC web page sure looks familiar.

Republican Jonathan Paton

Paton For Congress (PatonForCongress.com)
Actually, the above URL is dead, but it's been parked. Odds approach metaphysical certitude that this is the place for a new web site being designed as we speak. Paton's Senate campaign (patonforsenate.com) site is down and his general site (www.votejonathanpaton.com) is broken with the home page down yet ancillary pages left dangling. Consider these abandoned. What points to the new URL?

The group that registered the last URL above (Admin Contact: Michael Haller of Halo Public Affairs, LLC) have locked in the .com, .net, and .org domains for PatonForCongress. When did this happen?

Yesterday.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Jonathan Paton Enters CD-8 Race

All paying attention now know that Arizona Senator Jonathan Paton has thrown his hat into the ring for the GOP nomination to face Democrat incumbent Gabrielle Giffords for AZ CD-8 this fall. A peculiar meltdown in 2006 gave Giffords a walk in the park over the marginalized Randy Graf during her first run for the seat, and anti-GOP sentiments enhanced her margin of victory over Senate President Tim Bee in 2008. Facing Jonathan Paton in the 2010 political environment, irrational as it is, probably presents Gabrielle Giffords with the most challenging and sophisticated campaign in the history of her career.

Only local Palinites and Limbots entertain the notion of Paton failing to win the primary. Jesse Kelly has in fact raised a respectable sum and may wish to start exploring options that don't involve spending money against Paton, but unlike NY 23, nothing suggests Scozzafavacation screams from the right any time soon. It won't happen, not with memories of 2006 still lingering in the Southern AZ GOP psyche. Giffords will face her worst fears regarding the opposition in 2010, strongly unified and funded support for a formidable candidate in what is shaping up to be a foul election environment, although frankly, the jury really is still out regarding what that environment will actually be in eight months.

AZ CD-8 is one of the more interesting congressional races in the country given its demographics and location. Gabrielle Giffords faces the same challenge all incumbent Democrats face this year, the difficult task of framing the current mess and the justified outrage against it in the context of who truly made the mess and who is holding the mop trying to do something about it. This race may also provide an “As above, so below” regarding the tea-baggers and their ability to translate a bunch of idiots howling about birth certificates into real November votes.

Clearly, Paton will come at Giffords with the well established rhetoric against spending without addressing what the spending is meant to address. We don't need no stinking health care, and stimulus? What a waste! Never mind those jobs and signs of recovery. Global warming? We need less government. Regarding Paton's record, I don't follow the plethora of Phoenix fiascos, but no doubt Giffords will find items worth noting. Neither candidate will commit a game changing blunder.

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Friday, January 08, 2010

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Frank Baum's original The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900) with the W.W. Denslow illustrations represented a real breakthrough in children's literature and paved the way for what Walt Disney would master. While the 1939 film is terrific, the original novel offers the superior tale, rich with social and political commentary oozing between the lines.

Unlike earlier children's tales, which featured European themes of princes, princesses, nobility, castles, and dragons, Oz is a truly American story. The characters discover their virtues, qualities they seek, not nobility. Free of the Wicked Witch of the East (Europe), equipped with her silver shoes (Locke, etc.) Dorothy has lost her way and found herself in a new world (modern America). She is desperate to return to her home as it was (early America - Kansas). With her we have the Scarecrow (farmer) without any brains, the Tin Woodsman (industrialist) without a heart, and the Lion (politician) without any courage. All will follow the road of yellow brick ($$) to find the Wizard of Oz (God).

Book: The road of yellow brick
Film: The yellow brick road
Book: Silver shoes
Film: Ruby slippers
Book: The Tin Woodman
Film: The Tin Man
Book: Oz meets with them separately, one at a time, appearing as a different image to each. All are given the same task – kill the Wicked Witch of the West.
Film: Oz meets all four. The task is to obtain the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West.

The difference I found most interesting involved Dorothy herself. In the book, she is a small pre-pubescent girl (12) yet the leader of the group, the focal point around which the Scarecrow, the Tin Woodsman, and Lion rally. In the film, Dorothy is a sexually viable 16 year old damsel in distress, "Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!"

I highly recommend the 100th Anniversary Edition which can be had at Amazon for $18.

Anyone dismissing the work as trifling story for kids has no clue. Those who appreciate writing that operates on multiple levels will find it an intriguing read. Some notable quotes:

Scarecrow: It is such an uncomfortable feeling to know one is a fool.
Dorothy: You may come with me if you like. If Oz will not give you any brains you will be no worse off than you are now.
The Tin Woodman: I shall take the heart, for brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world.

They shock Oz by killing the Wicked Witch, and then find themselves shocked to learn the wizard is nothing but a frail, old man. Consider what's below in the context of religion.

"I thought Oz was a great head," said Dorothy.
"And I thought Oz was a lovely lady," said the Scarecrow.
"And I thought Oz was a terrible beast," said the Tin Woodman.
"And I thought Oz was a ball of fire," exclaimed the Lion.
"No; You are all wrong," said the little man, meekly. "I have been playing make believe."

"I think you are a very bad man," said Dorothy.
"Oh, no, my dear; I'm really a very good man; but I'm a very bad wizard."

Rich. Like all classics, the ideas are as pertinent today as they were 110 years ago. Any ideas on the Wicked Witch of the West? What did she want? How did she get it? What brought her down?

Baum's novel is a magnificent addition to the best works of American fiction.

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Friday, January 01, 2010

That's All, Folks!


While new posts will arrive occasionally, comments on a particularly worthwhile film, book, or thoughts on an interesting development, for practical purposes one can regard this as the final post in what has been a remarkably rewarding, interesting, and challenging experience.

I became a blogger in the spring of 2006, nervously submitting my first comments at Art Jacobson's The Data Port, Michael Bryan's Blog for Arizona, Stacy's Arizona Congresswatch, and at those free for all exchanges at Daily Kos. That fall, in the context of the AZ CD-8 and LD-26/30 elections, peppered with outrage at the Bush administration, I started this blog. It had nothing to do with my employment as Executive Director of a customized training institute.

Like many non-profits, the institute (SAIAT) relied on a public subsidy to allow it to offer services a for-profit school could never provide, but since we actually trained real people in real companies, we infuriated the local do nothing non-profits. Outside a cigar shop, I was warned we would be destroyed. I started taking classes towards a PhD. The warning proved accurate when another non-profit, TREO, stole SAIAT's funding. Instead of resigning at once, I chose to tie up loose ends and manage a six month “controlled burn” while researching and writing the SAIAT story. I dodged saboteur bullets, returned fire, and in May 2007, I resigned to devote full time to my dissertation. Something Else went live on 7/7/7.

For the do nothing money pits like TREO the story coined the expression "Cloth" which caught on in the local blogosphere. When TREO learned of the blog and the story, they considered hiring armed guards. I saw attorneys searching the material and wrote a post addressing them directly. The lawyers correctly surmised that the drama of legal action would reinforce my efforts, knowing that I had thorough and exhaustive documentation behind my facts.

The results exceeded my expectations. Local awareness of the Cloth, its lack of results, and the money squandered has reached targeted levels. On safe turf city council members fully acknowledge, "We know TREO stole funding," and people are now beginning to speak of substantive change regarding economic development. They have chosen to address leadership at the Chamber first, but make no mistake, with the Chamber they seek to have, the other money pits would have no place and no support.

I completed the dissertation, graduated with a PhD, and left Arizona for cloth free employment.

I would like to thank some of those who have posted comments. Their contributions have been invaluable.

Sirocco doesn't post often, but his remarks always contribute to the conversation. He's an extremely sharp software engineer with extraordinary depth and breadth. He's read shelves of books you haven't heard of. For reasons unknown he is super concerned that his anonymity remains intact. Maybe he's one of those genius cryptographer code breaker types that works for a secret acronym housed ten stories underneath DM Air Force Base.

Liza is a delightful human being with a real soul, one of those who truly understand that the one who dies with the most money may have in fact missed all that life is about. I've spoken with her, exchanged emails, and one of my regrets regarding how I left Tucson is that I did so without meeting her face to face over a cup of coffee. I will never forget Liza or the short story that she wrote and sent to me. Best Wishes, Liza.

Navigator was too frightened to meet with me personally. I think my border material spooked him. Nav has a thing for Liza and all but admits it. Some of his insights have been remarkable.

Observer always comes up with stuff I hadn't thought about, in particular good links to material on YouTube or elsewhere. I still cringe over his posting of people being interviewed outside of a Sarah Palin book signing. OMG.

Robish – Robish is a well meaning and terrific person truly committed to making a difference for the community. He probably understands Tucson as well as anyone here and definitely knows what it is to deal with the self-serving, do nothing goons of the Cloth.

Travis – Travis only very rarely submitted comments back in the days when I was fuming about Rio Neuvo and the Club/Cloth/Superclub, etc.. He has submitted some of the most insightful writing I have seen regarding the screwed up nature of the Tucson community.

Framer – Like myself, Framer started blogging in the context of the 2006 AZ CD-8 election, calling his blog Arizona Eighth. His blog gained quite a bit of momentum and has since merged with Gila Courier. He's now quite actively engaged in the Tucson tea party efforts. Framer, Liza, Sirocco, and I go way back to the TDP days.

Casey - I met Casey during the SAIAT days. He uses his real name and now lives in San Diego. He knows blogs, Twitter, Facebook, and all this stuff at a level I can barely imagine. He calls it "social media." Casey can probably Twitter to his Facebook page and blog at the same time from his cell phone.

Texpatriot – I bet Texpat, a friend of Sirocco's, is hot. She's a sharp example of what Republicans can be when they don't jettison intellect, education, and facts. She's what the GOP could be if it didn't drink the Dobson kool-aid and start kneeling before the likes of Limbaugh and Palin. We need more people like her. I would like someone like her with me, right now.

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes to All. I honestly don't know what is next, but the time has come to make it official that this place is dropping back to a far less active status. Let's face it. How do you engage someone howling about death panels and birth certificates, thinks socialism and fascism are the same thing, and wants the world to end next year?

I'd like to extend a huge "Thank you!" to all readers. Folks are most welcome to check in now and then, for I will continue to post commentary about a particularly good film or book, or a compelling development. For example, if you can stomach it, consider this documentary about PNAC and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan.

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SOMETHING ELSE