Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Who's Wagging Whom?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Messiah Complex

At his "Restoring Honor" rally Saturday, Glenn Beck said, "Something beyond imagination is happening."

Actually, no. It's called a Messiah Complex. It's happened before. Think kool-aid, "Something that is beyond man is happening. America today begins to turn back to God. For too long, this country has wandered in darkness.”

Darkness? That would be the Bush administration. Yes, we are still digging out and will be for years.

87,000 white people attended the rally in what is now considered to be the largest ethnically cleansed audience in the history of the United States, "This day is a day that we can start the heart of America again, and it has nothing to do with politics, it has everything to do with God."

Consider the gall of this guy, "We must get the poison of hatred out of us...we must look to God and look to love."

Other Messiah Complex cases include Jim Jones, David Koresh, Marshall Applewhite (remember Heaven's Gate?), Charles Manson, .. the list is long. You get the idea. The three I listed before Manson killed their entire flocks. Manson had his followers kill others.

Adele Stan has an excellent piece also referring to Beck's obvious Messiah Complex. Most messiahs report to no one (comes with the job) and command the flock to feed their egos with cash contributing and/or sexually submissive devotees. Beck is in fact a pawn serving and worshiping higher forces having nothing to do with God: The Koch brothers and Rupert Murdoch.

Frank Rich gets it perfectly: The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party.

This is about money, the ultra-rich working to insure it continues to reap all of the rewards of human endeavors while the rest of us live off their scraps.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

All Koched Up

If we’re going to give a lot of money, we’ll make darn sure they spend it in a way that goes along with our intent... And if they make a wrong turn and start doing things we don’t agree with, we withdraw funding.

Billionaire David Koch, of the giant Koch Industries, and founder of the Koch Families Foundation.

The Foundation funds the Institute for Justice (fights regulation), the Institute for Humane Studies (fights regulation), the Bill of Rights Institute (fights regulation), and of course, the Americans for Prosperity, currently in the news for its ambitious assault on the Obama Administration, sound energy policy, and global warming.

AFP is also funding very election specific hit pieces in four states, one of them Arizona. For NAME substitute Ann Kirkpatrick, Harry Mitchell, Gabrielle Giffords, or in my current stomping grounds, Jack Conway. The ad is the same for each.

NAME voted for Obamacare and cuts to Medicare. NAME raises taxes and supports out of control government spending that costs jobs. NAME is Pelosi's puppet.

Yawn.

Americans for Prosperity will spend millions of dollars in this election cycle in an effort to 1) slam the Obama administration as a force destroying the country and 2) defeat as many Democrats as possible to put as many people in Congress as possible that will do their bidding. Note the quote above.

Who leads AFP? Tim Phillips, former Century Strategies partner of Christian Coalition Director Ralph Reed. If you don't recall, Century Strategies was the outfit used by Jack Abramoff to launder money.

The Democrats have filed a complaint stating the obvious, which is that the foundation is clearly breaking the law by funding groups to run election specific pieces hitting candidates by name, which is flat out illegal.

The grotesquely irresponsible gutting of financial regulations combined with the windfall tax cuts for the ultra mega-rich has given greed soaked scum like Koch a taste of what it is to truly plunder the planet. Armed with a virtually limitless war chest, they have no problem spending vast sums to insure that their domination of the world continues. They will do everything they can to make sure that the country remains organized so that all economic production is funneled directly into their coffers.

It's not the government that's on the backs of the American people.

Friday, August 27, 2010

AZ CD-8

Republicans have nominated over a dozen tea candidates less likely to prevail in the general election than their establishment GOP rivals. The nomination of Sharron Angle (NV) gives otherwise challenged Harry Reid a decent chance. You know the others, from Rand Paul in KY to Scott in FL to Quayle in AZ.

Yes, they may prevail in their blood red worlds, but Quayle's nomination is as nuts as Paul's. Have you heard these guys? Were it not for being their father's sons, these clowns might be night watchmen for junkyards not wanting to be cruel to dogs. Okay, Paul can do teeth, but word is that his employees can't stand him.

Of course, we have AZ CD-8, which has entertained ever since Jim Kolbe retired after holding the office for 24 years. Establishment favorite Jonathan Paton, despite having the backing of the Click/Diamond machine and state representative credentials, fell to newcomer Jesse Kelly, also a son, in this case of local construction mogul Don Kelly, who of course has strong ties to other construction moguls.

Many (self included) considered Paton a sure thing, with years of generally well thought of legislative experience, and clearly the superior candidate to face Giffords in November. Yes, I've left town, but I've met many in the Giffords campaign. Not taking any credit from the candidate, it is important to recognize the truly extraordinary organization working for her election. For that reason, I still think she would have prevailed over Paton even in this foul economic climate with the tenuous CD-8 dynamics, but it would have been nerve racking.

Kelly's primary victory is good news for the Giffords campaign. Now a Congresswoman for four years, Giffords commands the deep and thorough understanding of national, state, and CD-8 specific issues that comes from living with them for four years. In the upcoming debates, Kelly will repeat the tea party talk about big government and cutting taxes. He'll declare Giffords is like Pelosi.

Sure, a fourth of the room will cheer, like they did for Graf and Bee. Then come the hard general election questions about education, social security, the economy, and the hard district questions about the water supply (Rosemont mine?), solar energy development, the University of Arizona (I hope they post it on YouTube), immigration and the border (for real), transportation infrastructure....

Kelly has the luxury of having no record in elected office and some tea groups that will hit Giffords on his behalf.

Giffords has, and it is no luxury, but the result of years of very hard work, the advantage of knowing what she's talking about.

She also has the ability to hit back.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Cigar Man Graph / Identity


Thanks to Cigar Man for sending me an email that suggested I produce the graph showing total enrollment figures for the University of Arizona and Pima Community College. The graph reflects the solid data that public institutions are mandated to submit to the Department of Education. The counts reflect real students taking courses for credit.

As you can see from the graph, Pima College enrollment is growing at a rate faster than that of the University of Arizona, and it is generally felt that the harsh economic climate is causing students to choose PCC over the university to save money, either settling for two year degrees or using PCC and then transferring.

Folks should understand that the growing enrollment is occurring as public funding for both institutions has been cut dramatically. The impact hits both institutions and students. Class sizes are increasing. Faculty are being stratified to include lower paid instructors and lecturers. Use of graduate students as fully accountable teachers operating with minimal supervision (or none) is climbing.

This is but one of the countless consequences of the Bush administration, which set up policies that funnel all wealth to the richest 1% of the nation. They get everything. The rest of us do without.

Speaking of Cigar Man, I've received more than a few inquiries on his identity. He has granted me permission to let people know that he is in education and has been involved with workforce development for many years. He has taught classes himself and understands the front lines of what it takes to teach and develop people in the real world. What he and I share is the interest in REALITY versus the bullshit of empty rhetoric and the circus we know as the Cloth.

When SAIAT started to really take off in 2005 and 2006, training thousands of people in hundreds of companies, the cloth components of workforce development and economic development went crazy. Someone started to actually do something on the stage where they enjoyed their do nothing jobs. I owe him a lot for warning me that my days were numbered. As far as I can remember, he has been 100% correct in everything he has said.

SAIAT is long gone, and Nina Trasoff is being paid $5000 to tell us about training. We know the difference it will make. Things are back to normal.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cloth Magnified

Arizona Star reporter Rob O'Dell must have obtained a keen sense of smell for the cloth, for he has an article in today's paper that reeks, and I mean REEKS, more strongly of the concept than anything I have seen in the press. I'm not sure I've written anything that quite captures the stench of the scam so succinctly.

Cigar Man can say better than myself the clothified nature of the bloated budget of Pima Community College and its over saturated plethora of senior executive vice presidents paid outrageous sums to wear a suit and clap at the rollout of the latest TREO initiative to stimulate the creative class.

I couldn't make this up. PCC is going to pay Nina Trasoff $5,000 to do a series of radio infomercials.

PCC's cash cow has been cut. The charade is that putting Trasoff on the radio will boost interest in PCC courses, thereby increasing its tuition revenue. The scam is that PCC's enrollments are already maxed because the brutal economy and tuition increases at the University of Arizona are causing large numbers of students to choose PCC for the first two years. The radio stint is a way to hand Trasoff a chunk of change because someone wants to.

Did you catch the pay grade of adjunct faculty at PCC? $2130 for an entire semester.

If you think you can transform a workforce paying course leaders $710/month, you're Bob Walkup.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Foreperson

Aside from racism, xenophobia, and unbridled stupidity, one of the greatest issues facing the human race is the extraordinary quantity of people perfectly content to do whatever it takes to swindle, steal, swipe, pilfer, exploit, gouge, or in any way possible grab a stash of cash without earning it.

I served as the foreperson on a jury in two cases this month. Both cases faced the same animal.

Case 1:
People are driving north on a freeway when a sudden downpour occurs. It's raining very hard and everyone slows down, but some slow down more than others. A 20 year old woman in the left lane hydroplanes and spins off to the left of the road, hitting the concrete divider and bouncing back into traffic. Despite slamming on the brakes, an elderly couple hits her in what could be called a fender bender. The air bags did not deploy on either vehicle. No one was injured based on the hospital records on the day of the accident.

But wait. Two years later the elderly woman sues the young woman for $8000 for 120 chiropractor treatments plus $16,000 for pain and suffering since the accident. Oh, uh, the woman suffers from degenerative disc disease and arthritis. She was seeing the same chiropractor for these permanent conditions prior to the accident. All pain attributed to the accident is explicable by the disc disease and arthritis she had prior to the accident.

No one, including the elderly couple, would testify that the young woman was speeding.

VERDICT: Accidents happen. We awarded nothing.

Case 2:
A hairdresser routinely does the hair of an elderly woman. The old woman had the horrible practice of signing checks with the payee, date, and amount left blank. In July 2007, the woman dies. In August 2007 the hairdresser, having some of these signed, blank checks, fills two out payable to herself, one for $10,000 and one for $200,000. She attempts to cash them.

The $10,000 check clears. OF COURSE the $200,000 check bounces (WTF?!!). Instead of taking the ten grand and fading away (I kid the reader not), the hairdresser SUES the estate of the dead woman for the $200,000!! She asserts the woman hated her family and wanted her hairdresser to get everything she owned.

The entire estate is worth about $150,000 (almost all of it the value of her home). It has no cash after the $10,000 check. Now being sued, the executors of the estate counter sued for the stolen ten grand.

Knowing she was ill, the month before her death the ailing woman signed a will equally dividing her possessions among her next of kin.

The dates on the two checks are several weeks after the woman died. Seriously. Can you imagine having a blank check signed by a person who died last month? Then, you fill it out payable to yourself for a huge sum. THEN you date the check for TODAY!!

VERDICT: The hairdresser gets nothing and owes the estate the $10 grand she took.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tax Plans

Rachel Maddow showed this chart a few days ago illustrating the difference between the taxation policy proposed by the Democrats and that proposed by the Republicans. The chart says it all. Thanks to the guys at Blog for AZ for posting the image where I could easily grab it.

When you hear all of the screaming about the differences in the tax policies, note that for those making less than $200,000 (i.e. about everyone) there is no difference in the plans. The bottom of the chart shows who the GOP represents. I guess all that noise about a balanced budget and fiscal responsibility takes a back seat to stuffing the coffers of the ultra rich.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Paranormal Activity Truly Frightening

Paranormal Activity (2007) is one of the most genuinely frightening films I have ever experienced, and having reached middle (if not older middle) age and devoured a ridiculous volume of cinema, it takes a lot to scare me. The gore genre films such as Saw, Hostel, bore me, or worse (House of 1000 Corpses), are disgusting and unwatchable. While the more respectable Carpenter films (Halloween) and the best of the zombie films (Dawn of the Dead) are fun in a certain respect, they don't evoke the slightest fear at all. None.

Films that truly frighten, such as Friedkin's The Exorcist (1973), Scott's Alien (1979), Kubrick's The Shining (1980), The Blair Witch Project (1999), the Ring (2002), and The Descent (2005) provide far greater experiences. Nothing produces fear like an unknown, barely seen, and clearly not understood evil menace lurking from a place beyond one's grasp. Paranormal Activity successfully employs these elements in a way that patiently escalates a growing malevolence terrorizing and stalking a couple with clearly evil intent.

Shot for a song (about $15K), the film now has the distinction of generating the greatest return on investment in motion picture history. Yes, there will be a sequel probably as horrible as most sequels, but the original is indeed original and worth a watch. Afterward, you might find yourself sleeping with the lights on.

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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Cloth Ousts Rio Nuevo Treasurer

Dan Eckstrom was on the Rio Nuevo board at the time various builders were paying Larry/Dan Consulting fees (one figure tossed around was $6000 / month from Garfield Traub) for "consulting." I don't have documents, but word is that many wannabee builders/developers (including GT rival Lopez) pay Larry/Dan in the hopes of securing lucrative deals. Last I heard, GT is stuffing the coffers of other local Cloth Aficionados as well. Whether Larry/Dan can deliver remains unknown now that the state has mandated a new board with members committed to transparency and integrity.

One of those the Governor specifically appointed was Alan Willenbrock, to be the board's treasurer. After comparing the projected costs for the hotel to similar projects elsewhere, Willenbrock wrote an opinion piece published in Inside Tucson Business. He showed how the current proposal has Tucson paying Garfield Traub significantly more than the costs of comparable hotels in other cities. His article concludes:

Many suggest that Rio Nuevo is where it is partly because no one has ever asked tough questions. I am here to ask some of these critical questions before we spend another $200 million.

Why is the Tucson Sheraton hotel 39 percent more expensive than the Phoenix Sheraton?

Why did Portland terminate its project in 2009 as not financially feasible despite the fact that it was at least 17 percent less expensive than Tucson's hotel?

Why should Tucson pay twice what HVS' survey says is the median cost per room?


That was August 9th. On August 11th, guess who resigned from the Rio Nuevo board?

Apparently the Rio Nuevo board can do whatever it wants so long as it builds the hotel using Garfield Traub and pays them whatever they want.

By the way, the Rio Nuevo $820,000 video will be shown at the Fox Theater on August 21. Even if I had an easy commute, watching 27 minutes of Cloth propaganda sounds about as appealing as surgery without anesthetic.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Arrogance, Ignorance, and Education

The United States emerged as a world super power after WWII, undamaged at home with a military industrial complex dwarfing that of any other nation. We wisely used our strength to invest in our future with the interstate highway system, construction projects, the GI Bill, and then pursued true greatness itself in the 60s with Civil Rights legislation and unprecedented support for education. This included the landmark Higher Education Act of 1965, which opened the country's colleges and universities as never before. It was magnificent, and it transformed us from not just a military superpower, but into the most powerful economic force in the history of the human race.

Then in 1980 we elected a man who insisted that government was an evil on top of the backs of the American people. Never mind that we had the highest standard of living on the planet, the greatest transportation infrastructure, the greatest education system, the most advanced science and technology, and our flag on the moon several times over. Reagan/Bush I inflicted massive deficits, gutted programs, and more than quadrupled the national debt. While Reagan failed to destroy the Department of Education, he succeeded in planting many razor blades in the educational system.

The mushrooming national debt helped elect Bill Clinton, who in eight years restored sanity and established a surplus.

Then SCOTUS put serious stupid in the White House, who had a deficit orgy to toss trillions at tax cuts for billionaires and two corrupt and utterly bungled Vietnams. Money for education? Roads? Infrastructure? Why pay to teach your kids when you can pay to kill people in other countries?

Conservative outrage over deficit spending is such the lie. If a Republican is in the White House and the deficit spending transfers funds to the rich or pays for a war, then SPEND!!! Borrow quattro-megamondoquizintotillion and borrow it TODAY!! Obama is quite possibly a one term president, and when his successor takes office, watch the noise about the debt return to its Bush era silence.

Reagan's razor blades have inflicted the internal bleeding he desired. America has slipped from first to twelfth in college degrees among 25-34 year olds, and it is not because academic standards have climbed. The situation is complicated, but the key drivers are 1) the financial burden inflicted on the students and 2) huge numbers of students leaving the K-12 system unprepared for college. Universities find themselves forced to devote ever increasing amounts of energy to remedial courses. Graduation rates are an appalling 40%, and these are six year rates.

Canada now ranks first, followed by Korea, Russia, Japan, New Zealand, Ireland, Norway, Israel, France, Belgium, and Australia. (Complete Report PDF.) Now, China and India lag us in percentage ranking, but in numbers, they dwarf us. America started hemorrhaging intellectual hegemony in the 80s, bleeding that slowed with Clinton, but then became a massive bleed out during Bush II. Yes, we restored a functioning brain into the White House in 2008, but other components of the public discourse have amply compensated for this.

For example, in addition to the blind denial of evolution and climate change, the persistence of birthers and other tea noise conspiracies, conservatives are now suggesting that Einstein's Theory of Relativity must be wrong because "virtually no one who is taught and believes relativity continues to read the Bible."

Think about that.

We also have Sarah Palin's telling reaction when a woman identified herself as a teacher. The contempt and ignorance is thick enough to taste, and you can tell you are listening to an arrogant buffoon who knows nothing about a classroom and remembers positively nothing from what happened when she was in one.

If you think education is expensive...

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Wisdom and Ignorance

WISDOM

Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
- ARTICLE XIV of the United States Constitution

Rights are not subject to a vote. The nine don't get to vote on the rights of the one. That's why it's called a right. The conservative "rights for white Christian heterosexuals only" crowd saw their self-righteous opinions fall flat against the rule of law, reason, and solid academic research. Regarding California's mean spirited Proposition 8, Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker analyzed all of the legal issues, thoroughly examined the evidence and the arguments, and wrote a very careful and well written 136 page opinion.

1. Marriage is a fundamental right.
2. Gender roles are not specified in the institution of marriage.
3. Denying individuals the right to marry without cause is a direct violation of the Constitution.

There is NO CAUSE for denying rights to same gender couples.

Congrats to those fighting the fight for real equality under the law.

IGNORANCE

Speaking of the 14th Amendment, conservatives are choking on the first sentence after being whipped into a frenzy over the notion of anchor baby birth centers where the brown people conduct "baby drops."

Quantities, people. The few with enough sense to consider numbers are citing the Pew Hispanic Center (but not providing a link) that the TOTAL number of births to the illegal immigrant population is in the range of 300,000. Right wing SB1070 supporting FAIR puts the number at 425,000. It is no higher than that, and that's ALL births to families lacking papers, the vast majority having been here for years.

So how many are pulling the pop in, squeeze a pup, and pop out?

About 10,000 / year. MSNBC suggested about 8,000. Those on the right all fuming still only come up with 20,000 or a little more.

We are a nation of 310,000,000 people, and these characters want to modify the US Constitution to stop 10,000 baby drops, one drop per year for every 3.1 million people. That's TWO (yes, 2!!) baby drops in a state the size of Arizona. OK, fine, let's say Arizona gets TEN times the national rate.

20 babies.

OK, fine, let's say it's children of ALL illegal immigrants.

600 babies. Do you really think this is about 600 births a year in a state of 6 million people?

Even if the numbers above are off by 30 or even 100 percent, it's clear that this is not about the actual impact of the phenomenon. This is about the racism that has erupted like an ugly and hideous boil now that a certain set of white people are incensed that they have an African American President.

Said more accurately, this is about hate and fear mongering for financial or political gain now that a certain set of white people are sheep ripe for fleecing. It speaks volumes about the hypocrisy of both the shepherds and the sheep who profess with such energy their commitment to the US Constitution, until, of course, they see an opportunity to score a short term gain by throwing parts of the Constitution under the bus.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Cloth on YouTube

I stand by everything I said at the WakeUpTucson radio show and everything I have written at this blog and at Something Else. That said, watching the videos produced to accompany the show was actually unsettling since I had no control of the images and didn't know what was coming next.

The videos show photos of many people, some of them key Clothmeisters including Snell, Lyons, Hecker, Trasoff, Myers, Lynn. Frankly I know less than half of the faces. Not all of the photos represent the Cloth. For example, one photo is of Donovan Durband, former director of the functional Tucson Downtown Alliance. Clothmeisters bloated the Alliance into the half as much for twice the price Downtown Tucson Partnership led by their pal Glenn Lyons, who ousted Durband to hire the wife of Nina Trasoff's Chief of Staff. Last I heard, Durband works for Councilman Steve Kozachik, so until shown otherwise, I would regard him as squarely in the “non-Cloth” camp, i.e. someone who produces results.

The videos really do put faces to the names, especially the second one, which provides photos for everyone or almost everyone on the TREO board of directors. These are the individuals that, in theory at least if they were on the board at the time, approved of TREO's usurping funding intended for other non-profit agencies. These are the individuals that approved or held their tongues when Snell gutted SAIAT like an animal in a slaughterhouse.

What fuels the Cloth conversation is not the modest readership of this blog. What fuels the Cloth conversation is the abject failure of the Tucson economic development machine to produce results. Worse than failing, they destroy those who do succeed in making a difference. If they were truly contributing and moving the local economy forward, the videos below would never have been produced.





SOMETHING ELSE