web analytics


The Tucson Chamber of Commerce should hype the city as a haven for bandits. We love them. The town celebrates the John Dillinger story with enormous reference. So much you’d think he was homegrown.

We are especially fond of Mexican bandits. Like Pancho Villa, arguably the best and grandest public statue in the city. His gang shot and killed gringos in New Mexico, which really pissed off the American government, which couldn’t catch a cold much less a Mexican bandit turned general.. Then out on Silverbell, there’s Joaquin Murrieta Park. Murrieta was a California bandit, a Robin Hood allegedly. It is also alleged that he was the inspiration for Zorro, the greatest of bandits.

Alas, the only true Arizona bandits are today’s Republicans of the Arizona Legislature, which in their collectively infinite stupidity gave us Proposition 123, on which we are to vote in May. This is a plan to finance the state’s education needs for the next 10 years by robbing Peter to pay Paul. Peter in this case is the state land trust and Paul, the state’s under-funded schools. Arizona education is under-financed because the Republicans refuse to abide by the mandate of the Arizona Constitution. So this gaggle of intellectual pygmies banded with the governor to propose that billions be sucked from the trust  over 10 years for schools. At the end of 10 years, the billions apparently disappear. This is a replay of the Ant and the Grasshopper, only the timeframe is different.

It’s nuts. We in Tucson should erect a monument to this robbery caper by the Legislature. I suggest a modest bronze of a pile of horse pucky, maybe next to Pancho Villa’s horse with a suitable plaque.

Meanwhile, we should think about naming a nice park after Richard Nixon. Or George W. Bush. Hard to figure which of the two committed the greater crime.

Why does Ted Cruz want to be president? He hates public lands, national parks, Medicare, Social Security, Obamacare and taxes. If he is elected, one might wonder, would he eliminate all those hateful programs? Or maybe he just wants a few years riding Air Force One? Blind ambition is something to behold.

If you have Amazon Prime, you should watch the fourth episode of Mozart in the Jungle in which Bernadette Peters sings Come On A My House. It is, above all, memorable. The same episode also features Emanuel Ax, Joshua Bell and Lang Lang.

Got this doggie chew toy as a spiff for ordering some doggie meds. Here is what the tag sez:

!Warning: This product contains chemicals known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm.

Hey that’s just the thing — carcinogenic chew toys. What will they think of next?


We Arizonans have one of the most remarkable legislatures in the country. In 2000, the voters of Arizona approved the creation of an independent commission to draw legislative district lines, thereby removing the power to do this from the Arizona Legislature. The Legislature has drawn these lines since statehood. Since it has become a Republican-dominated Legislature, these Republicans have drawn legislative districts in such as way as to make certain that its dominance and power are maintained.

These Republicans considered the will of the people in passing the independent redistricting referendum an unacceptable breach of its powers and rights. Thus Republican lawmakers voted to bring a lawsuit against the commission, in effect challenging the will of the people.

The Supreme Court decided this question about a month ago against the challenge wrought by the Republican Legislature, upholding the creation of the bipartisan commission.

It is gratifying that the court upheld the people’s will. But any joy in Mudville is tarnished by the fact that we taxpayers paid the legal costs of the Republican challenge. And we picked up the tab for the defense of the commission’s creation.

Now some may argue that the Legislature demonstrated great hubris in fighting the people and using the people’s money to do so. But upon further reflection, one must admit that the Legislature in principle also reflects the will of the people. So it was just one of those things, like “garbage in, garbage out,” and “people get the government they deserve.” Moreover, after the Legislature’s virtual destruction of public education, its neglect of the environment and its love and dedication of and to prisons, the voting taxpayers have no reason to expect any less arrogance from its Republican lawmakers.

This and that

The New York Times obit on Merl Reagle pointed out that one of his better cross-word moments was this clue: Most unpopular cookbook. The answer: “To Grill a Mockingbird.”


It’s a thrill to see the Tucson city primary results. The incumbents shall return to the general. The mayor will be reelected.

And of course nothing will change, save for the potholes that will get wider and deeper and the future will yet hold more Being and Nothingness.


Can anyone imagine a more arrogant, contemptible and execrable group of lawmakers than the Republicans of the Arizona Legislature? Consider this: The people vote by way of referendum to establish a nonpartisan group to draw legislative district boundaries. The Republicans of the Legislature decide to challenge the will of the people and pursue the case until it reaches the highest court in the land. A majority of the Supreme Court tells the AZ Republicans to go spit. Meanwhile, taxpayers pay for the legal representation on both sides.

Then these same Republicans refuse to abide by the vote of the people in 2000 to state financing of education include additional money to allow for inflation. The Republicans did not comply and now that aid is $1.3 billion in arrears. The AZ Republicans ignored the mandate.

This is reprehensible, an unconscionable breech of public trust. Still the voters return the AZ Republicans to office.



This is from a book review written by Rachel Cusk that appears in the August 30 issue of the NYT Book Review:

“Elena Ferrante has written her story twice: once in a group of intense, highly modeled short novels whose action unfolds over a brief time span; and again in the four sprawling, rambunctious, decades-spanning works that compose her Neapolitan saga. That these two modes of storytelling — the compact and the commodious; the modern and the historical; the distilling of life into metaphor and its picaresque, riotous expansion — are so obviously the obverse of each other constitutes yet another narrative, the story of how an individual (more specifically, a woman) arrives, after the ­vicissitudes of living, at a definition of self. “Do you want the long answer or the short?” is the customary divide between explanations versus outcomes in the retelling of events. Ferrante gives us both the long answer and the short, and in doing so adumbrates the mysterious beauty and brutality of personal experience.”



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.


The bad smell

There is a great deal of criticism of the Republican leadership of the Arizona House over the multi-million dollar renovations of its digs, particularly the showers.

But let’s be charitable. After all the filthy, vile and putrid work of cutting university budgets and sticking it to the counties, the House Republicans certainly NEED showers.


The burst of Palo Verde blossoms is absolutely stunning along River Road between Swan and Craycroft. It is an amazing year — like no other in my memory. After a couple weeks, they’re beginning to fade.



An alleged state park in Oracle

A couple weeks ago Zoe and I decided we should take a hike. We settled on a trail we had read about that begins in Oracle State Park. We went. The park was closed.

It is closed every weekday. It’s an ARIZONA state park so it’s closed 5 days a week.

We called the number on the sign because we had a question. The recording said to leave a message, and a ranger would call us back. We left a message. It has been a couple weeks, and no one has called. I suspect there are no rangers to return calls.

We left the alleged state park and found a short hike down the road off the Mount Lemmon road. We got pictures of prickly pear blossoms and other desert flora. So we made something of a botched plan.

The wise and august members of the Legislature, who have cast the image of Arizona as an amalgamation of xenophobic racist morons, do not, on the whole, believe in parks. Hence, they unpay to keep them closed for all to unenjoy. These sagacious solons do not believe in public or state-financed higher education. Hence they also unpay to destroy our unfuture as well.

(The slideshow music is Paul Desmond playing Embarcadero.)