Sunday, February 27, 2011

Winter took one last swing at Tucson last night and left the mountains white all the way down to the valley floor. The dog went out at 5:00 this morning, reluctantly, and came back in very shortly thereafter with big snowflakes all over her back. It only stuck to the dog, not to the ground, at least in my neighborhood.

I filled the feeders with seed and suet; songbirds need to eat close to their body weight each day when it's this cold. The finches and sparrows are fighting for prime spots on the feeders, occasionally getting muscled outta the way by a pair of thrashers and the occasional woodpecker.

Gila woodpecker nibbling on peanut dough.

The oven has been on all morning, so the house heat's been off. We have a lovely cookie sheet packed with roasted grape tomatoes and a big pot bubbling away with a braised roast nestled among onions, carrots, and multi-colored fingerling potatoes.

It's a day for noodling around in the kitchen and crashing out with a book.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Brief and Slightly Sad and More Than a Bit Befuddled Note

I have no video clips to back this up, mainly because I'm lazy. But. I think Jon Stewart thought his Rally to Restore Sanity was something very different from what roughly 90% of its attendees thought it was. I remember, when he and Colbert announced the rally, wishing I could go, because I thought it was meant to be a giant STFU to Beck, Limbaugh, O'Reilly, and their Tea party minions. And if you look at some of the signs people had at the rally, you'll notice about an even three-way split among pro-liberal/anti-teabagger signs, generic pro-civility signs, and pure comedy gold. Which tells me that a lot of the people had the same expectations that I did; of the hundreds of pictures I've looked at off and on since October, I saw exactly one that might be construed as saying well, both sides do it with equal vitriol and stuff, you guys.

But that last appears to be Stewart's new mission statement. Why, the rally wasn't aimed at the Tea Party or any commentators in particular! It was aimed at telling both sides to play nice, because they're totally equally culpable! Rachel Maddow is equivalent to Glenn Beck! Maybe George W. Bush was really just doing what he thought was best to protect the country after 9/11! The Wisconsin union protest is just like the Tea Party protests, but is totally unlike the Cairo protests (and saying one inspired the other is hopeless hyperbole) because the Wisconsin unionites aren't risking anything at all! And Ed Schultz is Glenn Beck, also.

I try to watch but end up quitting halfway through the first segment, more often than not. It's distressing and disappointing. Colbert FTW, I guess, but I miss the old Stewart.

Not as Nuts as it Sounds.

What, you thought I was talking about Arizona? No, Arizona is every bit as nuts as it seems, and then some. Action by the state legislature in the last 48 hours that might have escaped your attention includes committee approval of bills that would make it illegal for illegal immigrants to drive motor vehicles or enroll in state universities and community colleges, and require the eviction of everyone living in a rented unit if one of them is discovered to be illegal, and require schools to gather immigration status data on their students and report any illegals they find to ICE, and deny citizenship to babies born in Arizona whose parents can't prove they are citizens, and name the Colt revolver the official state firearm in honor of Arizona's Wild West heritage (a heritage of gunplay dating back to the 1800s and continuing up though at least January 8 of this year, apparently), and abolish AHCCCS (Arizona's program for administering Medicaid, especially fun because it is projected to serve 1.8 million people next year, and the Republicans' proposed replacement program will cover 80,000 people. Yes, 80 thousand.). Oh yeah, and two more people who have gotten kicked off the transplant list for being poor will probably die soon.

What do reasonable people who still want to live in Tucson despite the insanity emanating from Phoenix do? Baja Arizona, that's what.
A political committee made up of attorneys, including the former chairman of the Pima County Democratic Party, has been formed to try to get Southern Arizona to secede from the rest of the state.
My goodness, just imagine. Pima County and Santa Cruz County consolidating into a long, narrow border state, and we could probably recruit Coconino County up north to be our excellent Upper Peninsula, ya hey dere! We do have the population and the acreage to do up a respectable state, but, as much as Frank Antenori would certainly delight in jettisoning Tucson from his consciousness, I'm not sure this will go anywhere. But still. Imagine.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Bang Bang You're... Hang On, Hold Still a Second, Okay? Bang Bang Bang. Crap. Hold On. Bangitty Bang Bang. There. Told You.

You might remember the dust-up we had here in Tucson last month. You know, that thing at the grocery store where six people sorta got killed and 13 others were wounded, including one U.S. Representative shot clear through the head. The Arizona Daily Star ventured, in an editorial printed yesterday, to suggest that people really don't need after-market 30-round magazines for their handguns. One in the chamber and ten in the clip really ought to be sufficient for your self-defendin' needs, the Star said.

You'd think they had called for public castrations. Let the false equivalencies roll.
*What I don't get is anti-gunners think it is not OK for me to have a gun with lots of bullets, but if I call a cop to save my life, it is OK for the cop to bring a gun with lots of bullets.

*Why does a country need more than one newspaper? Why does a country need more than one TV network?

*No person NEEDS health insurance, but it's forced upon us, Why should I have to pay for your health care when my plan is fine for me and my family.. Guess you can say I need a 30 round mag like you need health care....

The other reasons given for absolutely needing a 30-round magazine include target shooting and--seriously--the biathlon. Well, "because I want one" is also at the top of the list.

Master logicians in this state.

The most disingenuous argument, though, is this one. The first comment sets the scenario, and second delivers the cognitive dissonance:
*Question for our progressive friends on the Star Editorial Board: How many people do you think would have been killed/wounded if someone would have pulled out his own Glock and put Loughner down?

*When your system is flooded with adrenalin and your fine motor control is shot to heck in a handbag you'll be wishing you had those extra rounds.
And there you have it. We need people to carry guns so that murderers can be stopped because all of us could've totally shot that guy right away, and we need lots and lots of bullets because we're really not very good shots under pressure. The second comment up there, by the way, is from a guy who stated that, given a clear shot, he could have drawn his weapon and put a round into Loughner in under 2.5 seconds because he "practice[s] a lot." So one of the same guys who have been going on and on for seven weeks now about how things would have been different if more people in the Safeway had been carrying, because someone would have double-tapped the shooter immediately with no collateral damage, the same guy who asserted that he could stop a massacre with a single bullet, is arguing that high-cap magazines are totally necessary because, let's face it, in a situation like that your fine motor control is shot to heck in a handbag and you're going to need those extra rounds because your first 29 shots are going to be wide right, wide left, high, low, miss miss miss miss, repeat, repeat, repeat.

That is why if you're seriously worried about home invasions, you should get a shotgun. And that is also why multiple people carrying handguns are likely to exacerbate a chaotic scene, not curtail it.

Meanwhile, Arizona is still in the process of allowing college students to be armed, and Texas and Florida just jumped on that bandwagon too. Oklahoma's looking at allowing people to carry at sports events, including in large stadiums. Yee-hah, the Red River Rivalry will be extra-exciting next year.

I don't know what the next big shooting spree is going to look like. Except that I don't think it's going to end any quicker or cleaner or less tragically than any of the other ones.

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Mortal sins committed today: gluttony, sloth, lust. Mostly sloth.

Days this weekend on which it was too damn windy to think: two.

Revelation: I could not be less interested in classic car shows if I tried. My Fourth Avenue wanderings this morning were grievously impacted by something called Fords on Fourth and its attendant crowds of guys in Oakleys and their stringy blonde girlfriends.

Delicious egg-based breakfasts consumed this weekend: zero. Step it up, people!

Number of idiotic House bills to be strangled by the Senate: all of them, I hope.

Not much of a weekend in BoltLand, apparently. The wind will do that to a body.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Arizona: It's a Dry Hate

This became inevitable the moment Janet Napolitano took off for Washington, leaving the entire state government apparatus in the hands of the GOP. But still.
Attorneys for the state will ask a federal appeals court today to let Arizona stop providing insurance benefits for the partners of gay workers.

State lawmakers voted to end the benefits to save money.
The domestic partner benefits directive went into effect in 2008 under Napolitano, who expanded the definition of "dependent" for state workers to include all unmarried partners, both gay and straight. One of Jan Brewer's first official acts upon flumping down behind the governor's desk in 2009 was to rescind those benefits. Then a US District judge issued an injunction forbidding the state from backing out of the benefits package, and that brings us to today in suddenly federal lawsuit-happy Arizona.

The comments on the online article are, as usual, a treat.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Just When You Thought Arizona Could Not Be More Shameless, Boom.

Should it be just a little embarrassing when people across the country know your anti-brown-immigrant laws by their bill numbers? Well, since Russell Pearce just can't get through the day without shitting on the Mexicans, SB1070 just got a new putrid baby brother: SB1405. This latest contribution to the steaming sludgebucket that is Arizona politics goes a little like this:

A. Before a hospital admits a person for nonemergency care, a hospital admissions officer must confirm that the person is a citizen of the United States, a legal resident of the United States or lawfully present in the United States. The admissions officer may use any method prescribed in section 1-501 to verify citizenship or legal status.

B. If the admissions officer determines that the person does not meet the requirements of subsection A of this section, the admissions officer must contact the local federal immigration office.

C. If the hospital provides emergency medical care pursuant to federal requirements to a person who does not meet the requirements of subsection A of this section, on successful treatment of the patient the admissions officer must contact the local federal immigration office.

D. A hospital that complies with the requirements of this section is not subject to civil liability.
What could possibly go wrong? Stock up on your tripe, cilantro, and limes now, because I have the feeling that self-medicating with menudo is suddenly going to sound like a safer bet to a lot of people than actually going to the hospital to be harassed. This will be filed in the Great Moments in Public Health textbook right after George W. Bush marveling on the campaign trail at the wonderful US medical system that has led to thousands of people using the emergency room as their primary healthcare provider. Well, it should be a lot less crowded now in Arizona emergency rooms, what with uninsured low-income people, many of whom are Latino, (1) being scared shitless to use their only and last resort for getting treatment and then conveniently (2) dying off at an accelerated clip.

Maybe (1) and (2) above are Russell Pearce's eight-dimensional chess game gambit for solving the funding problem that has left southern Arizona with exactly one Level One trauma center and sorely overworked emergency departments in the hospitals that are still open. Hey, he got his, and you know what that means for everybody else. This just formalizes things.

Whatever will next week bring? I shudder to think.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

History Interlude

I have been reading the excellent Civil War Daily Gazette, which--in honor of the sesquicentennial--has been presenting daily updates on the war as it happened, 150 years after the fact, beginning with the November 1860 presidential election. The reaction to Lincoln's victory played out like this in Savannah:

Click to embiggen, or just take my word for it that the flag of secession they've hoisted up there at the foot of the obelisk has the familiar Don't Tread on Me snake on it, accompanied by the phrases "Southern Rights" and "Equality of States." On the same day, the Charleston, SC newspaper stated “The tea has been thrown overboard, the revolution of 1860 has been initiated.

I probably don't need to point out our own modern-day tea-festooned mobs brandishing snake flags and howling about states' rights, or, say, Arizona's legislature pursuing a Nullification bill, or even more generally the entire right wing of America losing its collective shit after another "black" candidate gained the White House.

Go read the Gazette, starting with the November 2010 archives. It's fascinating, and, after only a few posts, alternately depressing and terrifying.