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A theological question

If it is true, as the Bible tells us, that it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven and if there is no such thing as limbo, does it not logically follow that Donald J. Trump’s destiny in the hereafter is as an eternally burning resident of Hell? If it does, then why would Americans of any faith vote for a Hell-bound Republican whom the Pope has declared un-Christian?

Of moguls and mongols

EJ Montini writing in his March 19 column in the Arizona Republic referred to Guv Doogie Ducey as “a former ice-cream mogul.”

Seems odd, que no? Moguls are powerful guys. They spit nails, say words like “youse” and “dumbass,” and even worse words that rhyme with duck, luck and muck. Moguls also are tough guys. They run movie studios with iron fists and loud and long farts. Moguls indulge language more colorfully because they have limited vocabularies and find this no handicap (Sam Goldwyn: “Include me out”).

Moguls are closely related — word wise and genetically — to mongols. Mongols are serious, bad-ass coves of another era. My favorite mongol was Ghengis Khan. He and his is army traveled light. When they got hungry, they sucked blood from their horses. The horses didn’t mind. They were just as mean bloodless.

It is too strange to apply the word “mogul” to a man like Guv Doogie who really ought to driving a truck with a lot of tinkle music, wearing white pants, a white shirt and a white hat and dispensing chocolate vanilla bars to third and fourth graders. He is filled with good humors fed by a screw-all policy.

It may be that Montini and others simply are trying to apply respectful and like to use flattering nouns and adjectives to describe a new governor who spent his life successfully hustling ice cream in a land of 110-degree summer days. Not exactly a challenge along the lines of a clash involving a mogul horde, clashing swords, slitting throats, lopping off heads and then pausing for a bit of refreshment in the form of Jamoca almond fudge cones washed down with horse blood.

So far Guv. Doogie D. traveling around the state, sort of a 21st Century with a good humor guys, making life tough for students, but better for rich people.

The premise here is to reject the notion the ice cream governor should be described as a mogul. Doogie is no mogul. He is the Good Humor Man (tinkle, tinkle) selling fibs, folly and falderal coated with chocolate and nuts on a stick. That will be $99 million, please.



I notice that this piece is 459 words. There were times when one had to adhere to particular lengths in a newspaper piece, particularly editorials. The lengths once in a while were dictated by editors who had developed serious shorts in their feedback loops.

To wit: Not long before I bailed from the Star, I was required to write editorials of an exact length. These editorials had to be 585 words. It mattered not a whit if the subject did not require such length. The editor was persuaded that the look of the page created reader appeal. There were times when I could get away with 587 words and others when 583 would fit. Any more or fewer words would break the line, which dictated the space and therefore the design of the page.


One editorial I remember in particular because it I had to dig deep to feed the monster and arrive at 585 words. The subject was the economic balloon and how Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan was noting the excessive exuberance of investors. I wrote in support of Greenspan, an obvious point as share prices were climbing relentlessly fired by the glowing optimism of investors. It was an affirmative editorial and did not call for much argument as we were happily aligned with the stars. But this part took but less than 300 words to present. I was light 50 percent more copy to fill the idiotically allocated space. I dug a long way back in history to make up for the shortfall. I described the tulip bubble, 1634-1637. At its high, one tulip was worth an estate. I tramped this ground for a while, picking up shards and other detritus of history until I reached the magic number 585.

It was arbitrary, stupid, wholly indefensible and nonsensical, Did I mention it was stupid?

My other job was to reduce columns written by George F. Will and Molly Ivins to 505 words. This sounds somewhat reasonable until you understand that Will consistently wrote 750 words. This amounted to eliminating a third of his column and still trying to preserve the point of his argument. Ivins wrote 750 words twice a week, but a third column normally ran about 900 words. Cutting this woman’s work was heartbreaking, beyond stupid. It was a travesty, a mortal sin, an inexcusable transgression.

This all was done in the name of design, the look of the newspaper. It was thought to be THE selling point and would gather readers at the waters where they would become devoted readers. But readers are not stupid, contrary to the view from corporate headquarters.

The subscriptions began to dwindle. And in 2007 they troubles came and the revenue slipped away to places like Google.

I left the paper in 2005 because I could. I happened to among the first to get out voluntarily. Many more followed as reductions in force and with much less generous terms.


If you needed any proof that the Republican majority of the Arizona Legislature hasn’t the least idea what it is doing, look no further than its budgetary shell game with charter schools.

The Ledge under its august gubernatorial leadership sought to screw the smaller schools by lopping of $6.3 million in yearly funding. The department of education says that figure is more than double. They will be screwed double under the department’s reading of the law — the cut amounts to $15 million.

Here is Rep. Paul Boyer, Phoenix Republican, quoted in the Arizona Republic: “I was told by the governor that it would be $6 million the first year,” he said. “That was the agreement. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have voted for it. It was a tough pill to swallow as it was.”

Alas, poor Boyer. Didn’t know the gun was loaded.

There are many tough pills to swallow in the Great Desert Ledge. If there is a lesson there, Boyer should think twice before taking an Arizona governor’s word. Insofar as Republican governors are concerned, Whoppers aren’t just about hamburgers.

If Democrats were mean, nasty and vindictive, they might revel or delight in a few Republicans being hoist upon their arrogant petards after being summarily screwed by their governor. I, however, would never entertain such thoughts.

It would be so wrong.


Roberto Valenzuela today

For this who want to know what Roberto Valenzuela is doing today. Here is an e-mail I received today from his lawyer Gloria Goldman:

It is nice to hear from you, Steve.

Roberto is married and a U.S. citizen.  He is remarkable.  He taught himself photography is now world-renown.  He has written two books on photography.  He and his wife live in Beverly Hills CA.  

Here are some interesting links.



How do we describe him??  Incredible!!  

His youngest sister will marry in November and I will finally file for her green card status based on the marriage.  That is how I began to unravel Roberto’s status-after he married Kim.  Their mother is also a US citizen.  There is one remaining oldest brother who receives work permission every year.  



There are so few moments these days when you can stand up and applaud a decision by government. The decision yesterday by the Arizona Board of Regents to permit Dreamers — the children of illegal immigrants — to pay in-state tuition in the Arizona university system is one of them.

The thing about Dreamers is that they are a group of individuals. Each one has his or her story. I wrote about one such individual for the Star in December of 2003. The story had a happy ending. Tucson immigration attorney Gloria Goldman succeeded in getting Roberto the right to remain in this country.

Roberto Valenzuela is in his mid 20s. He has lived in Tucson since he was 11. At Rincon High School, he attended Boys State. He did so well there he was selected as one of two Arizona boys to attend Boys Nation, where he spent about five minutes speaking with then President Bill Clinton. He did so as an an illegal immigrant.

 Since 1995, his attorney has been trying to win legal residency status for Valenzuela. Last year, one judge on the Board of Immigration Appeals denied the appeal by Valenzuela, his brother, a sister and his mother for legal residency. Valenzuela’s lawyer, Gloria Goldman, appealed to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. She expects the appeal will sit there for a long while. There’s a great backlog of immigration cases pending in the 9th Circuit Court, Goldman said.

 Valenzuela‘s case clearly illustrates why Congress should pass the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. For whatever reason, numerous minors illegally entered the United States, often without having any say in the decision to do so. This bill grants residency to illegal immigrants who entered the United States before they were 16 and have lived here for at least five years. To qualify, immigrants would have to graduate from high school and complete two years of college or military service.

 Valenzuela clearly would qualify. He has graduated from the University of Arizona with a degree in international business and is teaching at a local high school, said Goldman.

 The DREAM bill passed the Senate Judiciary Committee last October by a 16-to-3 margin. It is supported by both Arizona senators, Jon Kyl and John McCain. A similar bill, the Student Adjustment Act, was introduced in the House.

 Another indication that a consensus in favor of this bill is growing is that late last month Phoenix immigration Judge John W. Richardson postponed deportation hearings for four illegal immigrants who happen to be high academic achievers. Richardson said by this time next year, “the tea leaves should be pretty clear” as to whether Congress will pass the bill. It was a clear indication that Richardson considered the students as worthy residents, if not citizens. He postponed the hearings 10 months – until September of next year – as a government immigration attorney strongly protested, arguing that the four should be deported. If the DREAM bill does not pass by September, the four students certainly will be deported. Valenzuela also could share a similar fate.

 The Phoenix students have graduated from high school and are attending college. Along with Valenzuela, they are as American as anyone who was born in this country. They are productive contributors to society. As such, they should be allowed to remain here.

Arpaio: Slipping through the cracks

There’s a serious epidemic of schadenfreude that has put a smile on some of Maricopa County. I refer to Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s contempt of court hearing, which made its federal court debut last week. It has greatly embarrassed Sheriff Joe, makes him out to be a lawless lawman and certainly has him by the short tonsils.

Arpaio stands accused of violating federal Judge G. Murray Snow’s 2012 order to cease the sheriff’s standard practice of racial profiling. Arpaio and his henchmen already have admitted to violating the judge’s order. Now the issue is whether the sheriff’ intended to violate the order.

Arpaio has been elected sheriff in Maricopa County six times. He has humiliated prisoners, fed them nearly inedible food and housed them in tents under the Arizona sun. He has sucked every ounce of publicity in so doing. His hubris is unequaled in law enforcement past or present.

So the reason that he broke the law, defied a federal court order? Here is his statement as it appeared in the Arizona Republic:

“I’ve been a top federal official for 22 years. I have a deep respect for the courts, federal courts and federal judges. I didn’t know all the facts of this court order, and it really hurts me that after 55 years … to be in this position. So I want to apologize to the judge that I should have known more … This court order slipped through the cracks.”

Do not doubt that some will believe Arpaio did not know the gun was loaded. But they ought to be in the minority, particularly when Arpaio admitted hiring a private dick to investigate comments by Judge Snow’s wife. Arpaio reign has been an exercise in constant arrogance. Wonder if Maricopa County voters can figure that out, or instead Arpaio will be reelected in two years to a 7th term. Arpaio’s hubris knows no boundaries, but apparently neither does his voter appeal.

So however much you might enjoy watching Sheriff Jo squirm and the how the warmth of schadenfreude envelopes you, never underestimate the appeal of pink underwear.


A Conversation with Father Bob Fuller

Just finished this video with two people I admire greatly. My first effort at an interview video. Warning: This is 19 minutes long. The standard apology — “I’m sorry, I did not have time to write short,” also applies to video.

Looking for attribution

“Nightcrawler” is a newly released movie written and directed by Dan Gilroy. At the moment, it is receiving mostly positive reviews from film critics such as Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times, Anthony Lane of The New Yorker, Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal and A. O. Scott of The New York Times. The first three reviews quote a line the movie, which evolves around the tabloid TV. The line is spoken by a TV news producer played by Renee Russo. This is from Turan’s review:

“I want something people can’t turn away from,” she says. The key word is not bloody but “graphic,” the victims should be well-off and white. “Think of our newscast,” she concludes, “as a screaming woman running down the street with her throat cut.”

Here is a passage from Ben Hecht’s autobiography, “A Child of the Century” published published 60 years ago (page 144, Simon & Schuster, 1954, first edition): Hecht writes of Sherman Duffy, a Chicago newspaperman whom he idolized. Hecht is writing about the time between 1910 and 1917.

“Great wits crossed swords with my champion (Duffy). There was Arthur James Pegler, the salty and verbally crackling father of Westbrook, the mighty columnist-to-be. Pegler, père, was the inventor of the blood-and-thunder rhetoric which became known as the Hearst newswriting style. He wrote once, in a magazine tale, a description of the thing he had helped create:

” ‘A Hearst newspaper is like a screaming woman running down the street with her throat cut.’ ”

Hecht was a Chicago reporter during the golden days newspapering. He famously co-wrote the play “The Front Page,” which was made into three movies,* all of which are well worth watching.*

He later became novelist, playwright and most of all a Hollywood script writer and dubbed the Shakespeare of Hollywood.

Gilroy, the writer of “Nightcrawler,” would have done well to attribute the slit throat quote to Pegler, if not by name then to at least indicate it did not originate with him via the Russo character.

* Adolphe Menjou and Pat O’Brien played in the first version(1931), Matheau and Lemmon in the remake (1974) and Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell gave it a twist (1940) and was titled, “His Girl Friday.”


A proud primary

I am — how you say? — a registered Independent voter. I am delighted that I annoyed the GOP state leaders because I asked for a Republican ballot in the primary. I did so to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted and poke a stick up the arses of a couple predatory plutocrats.

The Arizona Republican Party is a lamentable organization notable for its absence of ideas and disdain for helping others. I asked for its ballot to do it damage. I belong to a disappearing tribe of Americans who believe government’s function should be to help people, not screw them. Increasingly, the hallmark of the ’Zona GOP is the latter.

It is a happy happenstance that two of the state’s biggest and best people screwers will no longer endure in their respective offices. I believe Independents decided to handout brass pineapples to Tom Horne and John Huppenthal and force them to sit and spin on them. Horne is the lame duck attorney general and Huppenthal the lame duck superintendent of public instruction. We Independents voted against them and for whomever was running against them. At least I take credit.

So today they are limp ducks.

I’m very proud.


Murder with impunity

At first I started to write a letter to the editor of the Star. I wanted to ask whether the paper would follow up on an article in today’s edition on page A2 written by Kimberly Matas about the murder last May of  31 year-old Jose Luis Arambula. Arambula was killed by Border Patrol agent Daniel Marquez. The agent was cleared of  wrong doing in a letter written by the chief criminal attorney for Pima County Kelli Johnson and released this week.

I realized a letter would be a waste of time. Nobody cares if Border Patrol agents murder Mexicans or other Hispanics. It’s done with impunity.

According to Matas’ report, Arambula was fleeing from his Jeep, which contained marijuana. He was in a pecan grove down in Green Valley.  Arambula had no weapon, but twice turned toward the BP agent, formed a shape of a gun with his hand. You know, they way kids do.

According to Johnson the county attorney’s mouthpiece, Arambula’s mime act, shooting his hand, would persuade a jury that the BP agent was justified in killing Arambula. The jury would, as Johnson was quoted in the Star, “conclude that Agent Marquez reasonably believed that deadly force was immediately necessary to protect himself from Mr. Arambula’s apparent attempt to use deadly physical force.” (Love that phrase “deadly physical force.” It’s so bureaucratically redundant, as though there might be such a thing as “deadly nonphysical force,” maybe “maybe “deadly mental force”?)

BP agent Marquez fired his weapon nine times at the hand jive deadly force exhibited by the fleeing Arambula. For heaven sake, nine times? At somebody’s back? One of the nine shots landed behind Arambula’s ear. Nine shots? For a guy who has no weapon? And a jury will conclude, according to the county attorney, that it’s just fine and dandy — shoot him dead, blow him away, he aimed his hand at you.

None of this makes sense. Wave your gun hand, and you die. The Star story didn’t say whether Arambula was a U.S. citizen or where he was from.

Doesn’t matter. He had dark skin. Nobody gives a shit.

It’s what this country has come to. Just forget about it, and keep your hands to yourself.

Or they will kill you.