Friday, April 30, 2010

Wait, I Forgot One.

Have you ever stood up at a political convention, a rally, or in front of your TV whilst watching coverage of the same, and gleefully chanted, "Drill baby drill!?" Fuck. You. That goes for allegedly progressive political candidates who, once in office, fall over themselves to be as Republican as possible too.

Christ, what a week.

Emily Litella Day in Arizona

After basking in the national spotlight for the better part of a giddy, sniggering week, maybe the legislature decided it's not that much fun being a pariah after all, or maybe they were running low on noses to cut off to spite all those socialist secret Muslim faces in Washington. Whatever the cause, the paper was full of interesting news this morning.

The biggest news is that the language of the immigration law has been scaled back from compelling the police to question the immigration status of any person they suspect is in the country illegally during any lawful contact to determining said status only of the person in question is being stopped, arrested, or detained, and that reasonable suspicion can't be based on race, ethnicity, or national origin.

The relatively reasoned explanation--as far as anything related to this law can be reasonable--comes from Jan Brewer's spokesguy Paul Senseman:

Senseman said both charges are designed to undermine lawsuits seeking to have the law overturned on the premise that it allows officers to stop and question anyone who looks like an illegal immigrant.

He said the secondary enforcement language strengthens provisions in the original bill designed to reassure illegal immigrants who are crime victims or witnesses that they can call police without being asked about their legal status.

The bitchery comes from the original bill's sponsor, Russell Pearce:

Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, defended the original provision as being relevant, saying 90 percent of those in this country illegally are from Mexico and points south.

What the change does, Pearce said, is remove a target for foes, both those in court and those criticizing the measure in speeches and demonstrations.

"I'm just tired of the games played by the left," he said. Pearce said making the change and leaving pretty much everything else the same "strengthens the bill's ability of being enforced without letting the left leverage bad stuff."

I suspect the left will take a break from all that leveraging just so we can sit back and watch with great interest exactly how the cops will decide who to demand papers from without recourse to race. The original language allowing people to sue agencies or officers who adopt or implement a policy of lax enforcement remains unmolested, however, and while I assume the racial profiling prohibition extends to private citizens who want to sue Officer Friendly for not clapping that obvious Mexican in leg irons, well, this is Arizona, so who the hell knows. After all, the senate amendments to HB2162 include this little gem:

Of the monies appropriated to the department of public safety for the gang and immigration intelligence team enforcement mission in fiscal year 2010-2011, the sum of $200,000 shall be distributed to the Cochise county sheriff's office for border security, including the costs of equipment related to a pilot program to dispatch a volunteer security force to the United States-Mexico border.

The Minutemen ride again! Swell. The guys at Sportsman's Warehouse must be totally stoked. How will this play out in real life? Probably a lot like George Bush claiming that America doesn't torture, because torture is illegal, and whatever we're doing is legal, so it can't be torture.

Back to the noses and faces, remember the 300,000+ low-income people Arizona kicked off the state Medicaid rolls, and the 36,000 kids they were set to kick out in June? Yeah, somebody noticed that doing so would make AZ forfeit close to $8 billion in federal healthcare reform cash, so the legislature backed up that truck in a hurry.

Finally, and most deliciously, the birther bill had to slink out of the side door of the senate committee room when not even all the Republicans involved wanted to have anything to do with it.

Sen. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, said Thursday not enough of the 18 Republicans in the state Senate support the House-approved measure. And with all 12 Democrats opposed, Harper said it makes no sense to force the issue to a vote.

But Harper defended the merits of the change, rebuffing claims by critics it is silly.

"It's not about Barack Obama," Harper said. "He has shown his birth certificates and birth announcements, from the time he was born, in Hawaii newspapers."

What it is about, Harper said, is "states' rights."

States' rights. Still meaning the exact same fucking thing it meant back in 1861 and in 1964. Does it still count as a dog whistle when everyone can hear it and can tell it's not really Fido you're calling for?

Final tally: Birther bullshit, check; poor people's healthcare, check, at least until the legislature decides to balance it with $7.8B in corporate tax cuts; immigration law, very slightly better in letter, still repugnant in spirit, still unworkable in practice. Still out there menacing the populace: permitless concealed guns, the gay marriage ban, the closed parks, and, oh yeah, the squintillion-dollar cuts to education and social services. But we might be a little closer to Sunday morning liquor sales. There's some hope for you.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Want More to Chew On? We Provide.

Well, "we" here means our excellent friend K, who keeps us busy thinking about the real world when we should be thinking about archaeology. Go here and read this, right now, and then show it to everyone around you. Especially if you're in the vicinity of an older white Republican male who just. wants. his. country. back, with or without Beckian tears.

Let’s play a game, shall we? The name of the game is called “Imagine.” The way it’s played is simple: we’ll envision recent happenings in the news, but then change them up a bit. Instead of envisioning white people as the main actors in the scenes we’ll conjure - the ones who are driving the action - we’ll envision black folks or other people of color instead. The object of the game is to imagine the public reaction to the events or incidents, if the main actors were of color, rather than white. Whoever gains the most insight into the workings of race in America, at the end of the game, wins.

Well, except that we all lose, but yeah.

And While We're At It

Fuck Oklahoma too.

Posting from the Last Bastion of Hope in Southern Pariahstan

Dude, the rest of the country hates us now. Well, at least the parts of the country that have yet to be overrun by racist, anti-government gun nuts, that is, and that hurts me where I live. Fuck. Since I can't go more than a few sentences at a time on the Brown Star Law without completely losing my shit, here is Jon Stewart to lose it for me in a much more controlled and constructive fashion.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Law & Border
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Further required reading is available at the MaddowBlog; to wit:

But if you want to meet the guy who's taking credit for writing the new law, that would be Kris Kobach, a birther who's running for secretary of state in Kansas. His campaign Website brags, "Kobach wins one in Arizona." He's also an attorney for the Immigration Reform Law Institute, the legal arm of an immigration group called FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

FAIR was founded in 1979 by John Tanton, who's still listed as a member of FAIR's board of directors. Seven years after he started FAIR, Tanton wrote this, "To govern is to populate. Will the present majority peaceably hand over its political power to a group that is simply more fertile? As whites see their power and control over their lives declining, will they simply go quietly into the night or will there be an explosion?"

For nine of the first years of FAIR's existence, the group reportedly received more than $1 million in funding from something called the Pioneer Fund. The Pioneer Fund describes itself as based "in the Darwinian-Galtonian evolutionary tradition and eugenics movement." For the last 70 years, the Pioneer Fund has funded controversial research about race and intelligence, essentially aimed at proving the racial superiority of white people. The group's original mandate was to promote the genes of those "deemed to be descended predominantly from white persons who settled in the original 13 states prior to the adoption of the Constitution."

Arizona has turned into the wettest of right-wing dreams. A bona fide problem (drug smugglers--hello, US drug habits and drug laws--and human traffickers--hello, US economy--kidnapping and shooting people) has become prima facie for every nativist, supremacist, exceptionalist fantasy they can cook up. No no no, the tea partiers have protested, it's not racism, we just want to take our country back. Well, hell yes they do. They fucking want to take the country back to April 12, 1861, and the pretenses are fast falling away.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Epic spiderwebs in Casa Bolt.

The spiders have been busy over the past few months, building haunted house-worthy webs high in every corner. We have been infested with gnats, so I'm letting the spiders stay, only occasionally brushing the outer extents of the webs away when they threaten to eclipse the light coming through the windows. The spiders need the web-building exercise anyway to work off all the annoying-flying-insect calories they've been ingesting.

This is how I ignore Arizona for a few minutes. I write about the desultory state of my housekeeping.

Bruce Wheeler came by this afternoon for me to sign his petition to get on the ballot for state representative. I happily signed and gave him five bucks and asked him to kick Russell Pearce in the balls when he gets to Phoenix.

Sunday in Southern Racialprofiletia.

Nicked from a friend's Facebook, offered without comment.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Another Morning in Lower Wingnuttia Province, Southern Jesustan


Ignoring warnings of illegality from their own secretary of state, most House Republicans voted Wednesday to require him to verify that presidential candidates on the Arizona ballot are, in fact, born in the United States.

SB 1024 would require political parties to submit to the Arizona secretary of state "documents that prove that the candidate is a natural born citizen, prove the candidate's age and prove that the candidate meets the residency requirements for President of the United States."

But the measure, approved 31-29 with no Democratic votes, goes even further. It gives the secretary of state the unilateral power to keep a candidate off the Arizona ballot if he or she has "reasonable cause" to believe the candidate is not qualified.

There really isn't much more to say about a state that recently, sort of in order:

1. Kicked over 300,000 people off the state-subsidized healthcare rolls, including 31,000+ children from the CHIP program.

2. Made drastic cuts to public education in response to the state's budget disaster, to the extent that school districts are laying off hundreds of teachers, schools are closing and merging, and librarians, counselors, and even full-time principals are things of the past. Shall we talk about what it's doing to the state university system? That's a whole 'nother post.

3. Enacted legislation preventing unmarried (read: gay) couples from adopting unless absolutely no one else wants the children in question.

4. Closed all but four of the 17 rest stops on the highways in our rather large state. Take a leak and a nap at McDonald's if you need a leak and a nap that bad, bitchez!

5. Closed numerous state parks, including some containing prehistoric ruins that will now be wrecked by pothunters in the absence of ranger patrols.

6. Made it illegal for anyone receiving subsidized healthcare--state employees, that means you too, not just the poor folks--to get an insurance-covered abortion, unless the woman's life is in danger.

7. Made it legal for doctors, nurses, and pharmacists to refuse to dispense emergency contraception, even to rape victims, and also made it legal for the same to refuse to refer said victim to a healthcare provider who will actually do his or her job. Want Plan B, you slut? Get it off the internet. No internet access? It's your own fault for taking such a low-paying job.

8. Made it illegal for anyone to provide a minor with a prescription for contraception, or perform any mental health screening or treatment, or provide comprehensive sex education, without parental permission.

9. Made it legal for anyone over the age of 21 to carry a concealed weapon without a permit and the training that such permits require.

10. But has a governor who vetoed a bill that would have ended the state ban on 4th of July sparklers, because she thinks they're too dangerous.

11. Passed a law requiring law enforcement to demand proof of citizenship or legal residency from anyone they arrest who they suspect might be Mexican in the country illegally.

12. Decided to allow the citizenry to sue any cop they see not being rigorous enough in demanding papers from a Mexican person they happen to be questioning.

And now (13) the fucking birthers have managed to tack a giant birther turd onto an unrelated piece of legislation that got through the state House. No way in hell will it withstand a challenge from even the night janitor at the Supreme Court, should the state Senate pass it, but that's immaterial. With this latest variation on the dog whistle, Arizona has officially wrestled the Dumbfuckery All-Around Championship from previous titleholders Mississippi, Alabama, and South Carolina.

It's not even much of a dog whistle any more. It is more of a train horn blasting at different intervals and varying decibel levels, but the message is the same. ZOMG BLACK GUY IN TEH WHITE HOUSE!!11!!!1!!! Just come out and say it, fuckers, and save yourselves some breath and time spent typing amendments to every House bill that comes down the pike.

Seriously, just hammer this one out and append it everything else you fucking do up there in Phoenix: Whereas, Barack Hussein Obama is the 44th President of the United States, therefore, be it resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Arizona, the Senate concurring, that: ZOMG BLACK GUY IN TEH WHITE HOUSE!!11!!!1!!! SOCIALISM!!!!! SAUL ALINSKY!!!eleventyone!!!!

It's very easy to say oh my god I'm moving to Canada, or Massachusetts, or Washington, but it's not very easy to actually do it. My partner and my job--I still have one--and my friends and my son's roots are here. So we stay and watch the state, and sanity, crumble around us.

Note: should you find yourself in need of a birther takedown, I suggest this.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Well, That Explains *That*

Why didn't I think of this? JordanCornblog has sussed out the ultimate cause of Iceland going kablooey in such dramatic fashion.

You know how when they are electing a Pope the black smoke indicates a failed ballot … while white smoke means that a new pope has been elected? Well, isn’t it pretty obvious that God is telling old Benedict that there’s been a big mistake? Good grief – today is even the 5th anniversary of his election … and he was born on April 16th!

Could it be any clearer? Black smoke … God is telling you to step down, Ratzo … seriously. You need to listen!

The elegance of simple, clean logic--ain't nuthin' better.

Saturday, April 17, 2010


What. The. Fuck.

Mexican educators and officials defended the country's public school sex education Friday from criticism by a Roman Catholic bishop who said such teachings make celibacy vows more difficult for priests to keep.

On Thursday, Bishop Felipe Arizmendi said that "when there is generalized sexual licentiousness, it is more common to have pederasty."

"In the midst of the invasion of so much eroticism, it is not easy to remain faithful in celibacy, or in respecting children," Arizmendi, the bishop of the San Cristobal de las Casas diocese in Chiapas state, said at a meeting of Mexican bishops.

Wow. Really? Do I really need to point out to this fine Man of GodTM that despite having gleefully sought out the invasion of eroticism since I was a teenager, I have never once felt the urge to, you know, go out and rape a child? Because that's not eroticism. That's predation. Conflating the two is to conflate singing with screaming, and for the Church to continue to insist that it really can't see the difference is beyond sick. And beyond redemption.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Postcard from South Teabaggeria

Oh, Arizona. Is there no new low to which you just won't sink?

The past week saw the legislature decide--without a single word of debate--that open carry is just too restrictive, and concealed weapons are now fine and dandy without a permit. Are you a grownup? Get down to the gun store, Elmer! Because the governor's set to sign this puppy into law, so cram as many pieces into your pockets, waistband, and asscrack as you can fit, and don't worry about taking a silly class--education is for socialists and Muslims, after all--that will teach you how to handle a gun safely and discern when the use of deadly force is legal.

Now for Act II, the legislature is crowing about having passed the toughest immigration law in the nation, which both empowers local cops to arrest people who are in the country illegally, and compels said cops to investigate the immigration status of anyone they suspect might not be a legitimate Real American. So if you're here on a visa or a green card, you will have to carry those documents on your person at all times, because if Officer Friendly hears your funny accent and surmises that skin tone isn't just from staying out in the sun too long, he has to ask you for your papers. Seriously, he or she has to do that, because the law also allows upstanding Real American citizens to sue law enforcement agencies whose officers do not demonstrate significant rigor in questioning every guy running a leaf blower in the Circle K parking lot.

So not only do we have a genuine police state brought to us courtesy of the same faction that howled about fascist government takeover of the country when healthcare reform was enacted, but we have a police state with heat-packing citizen snitchery built right in! Who says Republicans don't really care about infrastructure?

Meanwhile, the state's budget disaster is claiming victims from the school districts at an alarming rate. Hundreds of teachers and support staff are being axed, programs are disappearing, and the president of the University of Arizona is threatening to cut financial aid if a one-cent sales tax fails on the ballot next month. Of course, even if the temporary sales tax passes, the legislature is casually mulling enacting corporate tax cuts that would offset most of the revenue gains the sales tax would provide. Because nothing lures businesses to a state like the promise of a grossly undereducated labor pool.

But don't worry, Arizona parents who are concerned with the quality of public education here and the amount of cash you'll have to shell out for niceties like having art class, or sports teams, or keeping the school library open--the legislature has you covered! Just keep the brats in school through tenth grade, and if they can pass a standardized test, they get to "graduate" early with something called a "Grand Canyon Diploma," which really ought to be printed with quote marks around the word "diploma" on the parchment too, since its relationship to actual academic achievement will be on par with the relationship of a giant bowl of Cap'n Crunch to "this complete breakfast."

Life will continue here in the Wild Wild West, but it isn't going to be pretty.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


My son signed the official papers for his university of choice tonight, fresh out of the shower and smack dab in the middle of Lost, leaving me simultaneously insanely proud and profoundly sad and preemptively lonely.

This is what I raised him to do and who I raised him to be. Independent, inquisitive, confident, eager to go out into the world and give of himself to make it a better place.

Sixteen and a half years ago his father let him go from his hands and he stood there by himself for a moment before taking his first teetering steps toward my waiting arms. Tonight at seventeen and a half he hugged me for a longer moment than usual, playfully punched me in the head, and took his first firm stride toward the rest of forever.

I do not know what I will do without him.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Quick Review Monday

Jordy asks, Jordy receives.

Hummmmm baby!

In a nutshell, la familia Bolt were formerly Alltel customers who then got switched over to Verizon and were due for phone upgrades. Verizon knocked fifty bucks off the price of the phones to entice us to stay, and it worked. Forthwith, the Droid Eris review:

The short version: LOVE.

Care to expand on that? Yes. Disclaimer: I am a complete geek from way back in the day. No, really. Like at the level of maybe having been a member of the Star Trek Club that met in the basement of the South Bend Public Library on Thursday evenings in 1978. But hey, I'm not embarrassed to admit that any more, because now I have a goddamn fucking tricorder in my pocket! W00t!

I used the Eris over the weekend to check Google maps for the route to a volleyball tournament in Phoenix, find the nearest branch of my bank for an ATM run, check the Cubs score (Cubs lose again on a bases-loaded walk? There are, regrettably, about a million apps for that), read and respond to e-mails, send texts, play a fishing game (uncannily close to real life; not a single bite), and even make some calls.

Best bits: I am still new enough to the magic of touchscreens to still squeee a little every time I flick menus up, down, and sideways. The lack of a physical keyboard was initially daunting, but I got the hang of the touchscreen QWERTY keyboard pretty quickly. You have seven screens you can customize by parking widgets all over the place, if you want. I have only scratched the surface of the available apps, but so far am completely enthralled with Google Maps, Google Sky (a star chart that works off GPS to show you the constellations you would be seeing RIGHT NOW if you lived in a dark place), and the ability to speak your search terms and have Teh Almighty Google take care of the rest. My Tracks is a nifty app that plots your runs/hikes/bikes onto a map, recording distance, time, and elevation gain, and then twangs them into a spreadsheet if you want, or uploads them if you'd like to share favorite routes with friends. I haven't tried it yet but am excited about using it on the next hike.

The downside: Battery life sucks with the factory settings, but there are things you can do to improve it. Disabling data synching, turning off the mobile web and WiFi when you don't need them, and several other tricks you can find online help a lot. If you rely on mobile access to your e-mail on a constant basis during the day, this may not be the phone for you, but if, like me, you just like having the option there to access mail and the web on an on-demand basis, it's probably not a problem. I ran the battery all the way down and charged it overnight two days in a row, and then with the WiFi and mobile network only on when I needed them over the weekend, I got almost two full days of battery life with my usual amount of texting and calling (and occasional checks to see what Alfonso Soriano's latest mishaps in left field have done to the baserunning situation).

Also, the tiny touchscreen keyboard means drunk texting or even tired texting is really not an option. Then again, maybe seeing wtyshgf on the screen when you thought you were typing hello might come in handy when you're wondering if you've really had as many as maybe you think you have but aren't sure.

And now, the inaugural WPS Game of the Week Review. Carli Lloyd was essentially invisible for Sky Blue? I'm stunned. Despite no longer having Lloyd on the roster (and forcing 15-odd corners), the Red Stars failed to score a goal? Shocked. Still wearing my Red Stars scarf, but looking forward a little more to next week to see my second team and pretend soulmate in aging knee troubles Kelly Smith take on the new Philadelphia Independence.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

One-Handed Typing

No, not like that. Too many years of weightlifting have left my right elbow in tatters, meaning tomorrow is a cortisone shot and the weekend will be lost to fairly intense pain and the next month will be lost to any kind of meaningful movement on the starboard side.


Meanwhile, the boy is down to the wire on a college choice, and I'm down to the wire on a new cellphone choice, and the nerves from the former are wrecking the fun of shopping for the latter.

I have lots to say, but it's going to have to be in spurts over the next few weeks.

Monday, April 05, 2010

A Day Late

And now, on Dyngus Day, our Easter Message for 2010:
Let’s see let’s see let’s see THINK GODDAMMIT what’s a good term to use when you’re defending an actual NAZI in a Pope Hat over his role in defending and protecting Catholic priests all over the world who rape little boys? How about “anti-Semitism.” Ha ha, Jesus may have died on Good Friday but irony sure didn’t.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Firelight Blogging

It has simultaneously felt like a month that they've been here, and a day now that they're leaving. The family left me alone by the backyard fire about ten minutes ago. Tomorrow they head home to Flagstaff and Chicago, and life returns to the normal routine.

I miss them already.

The week was a mixture of familiar (Sweetwater Wetlands, Sabino Canyon) and new (San Pedro Riparian Conservation Area, Pima Canyon Trail) hikes. Birding took most of our attention, but other natural wonders couldn't be ignored.

Cooper's Hawk chowing down, Catalina State Park.

View across the arroyo from Romero Ruin, Catalina State Park.

Beaver attack, San Pedro National Riparian Conservation Area

Cottonwood by pond, San Pedro NRCRA

Bullfrog, SPNCRA

Snowy Huachuca Mountains over a pond, SPNRCA

Highlights included a Scott's Oriole on the Pima Canyon Trail, American avocets at the Sweeetwater Wetlands, and a yellow-rumped warbler on the San Pedro. And food, oh my goodness.

When my dad walked out the door tonight I hugged him and said you're the best, which here means I know you try your best and sometimes that doesn't even come close to being enough but I love you anyway. And they all hopped into cars and drove off.

They'll be back in December. I hope I'm rested up.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Post 1,111: Strange Days

Today the little facets of my world were in flux. Enforced left-handedness, a snowstorm in the mountains above Tucson on the first day of April, the realization that we will be able to pay for the boy to go far away for college after all, his sudden decision that the Pacific Northwest is calling.

I am in Bizarro World.

Image > Rotate Canvas > 180, in Photoshop-speak, wreaks havoc with my pathologically right-handed equilibrium, puts knots in my back, pulls at my hamstring. The sun and blue skies visiting relatives came seeking have evaporated into raggedy clouds and cold breezes. The indisputable forward motion of time, stubbornly ignored for day after just one more day, asserts itself in a thick and difficult mixture of pride and excitement and quiet sadness.

Random words fall wrong and land badly. And on we go.