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December 01, 2011

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Excellent piece, JON

Yeah, like it or not, I keep reading you, Jon. You have the heart that beats despite despair; as a Chicagoan, I know you.

In my darker moods I'm glad Arizona has failed so spectacularly. I was stammering my incoherent outrage 20 years ago to people who clearly wanted to be somewhere out of earshot. And that's when the going was still relatively good. I already had a reputation for melancholy and anger. I still do, needless to say.

My anger was and remains a shadow to the relentless smugness of this place. There were the unassailable bromides about wealth and growth. Yet anyone who had traveled knew how mediocre Phoenix was. Unless your idea of a great city was Applebee's and golf, Phoenix was not competing in any worthwhile category. The bigger the metroplex became, the more loveless it seemed. Even the nicest places like Scottsdale's greenbelts, exude a monetized sadness. We built a character-free city because that was what our dreams became. Our suntanned and smiling faces masked nothing in particular except vacuous plenty.

The American right took the paradigm that governs Phoenix and exalted it. At its core, it's not rooted in anything worth preserving, be it natural or civic. There are winners, of course, in this arrangement who tend to be bullies and hostile to values they can't quantify. They claim to love Jesus, Ayn Rand, and Ronald Reagan, but those are just the decorative motifs on free-floating nihilism. Beneath and behind it is the broiling rage of empty souls. They know it, too. It's why anyone who senses the truth becomes an enemy who must be ridiculed and dehumanized. It's how they manage the debacle, this late-stage empire that America has become.


"Late Stage Empire" they come and go and those gods that many bow down to roll around the galaxy in laughter at the folly's of "manunkind".

I really liked this planet but my past brings to me the words, "I hear there is a hell of a planet next door, lets go."
From "Pity this busy monster, manunkind by ee cummings

Now, Cal, did Cummings really capitolize the word pity?

you got me PBM

'pity this busy monster, manunkind'

pity this busy monster, manunkind,

not. Progress is a comfortable disease:
your victim (death and life safely beyond)

plays with the bigness of his littleness
--- electrons deify one razorblade
into a mountainrange; lenses extend
unwish through curving wherewhen till unwish
returns on its unself.
A world of made
is not a world of born --- pity poor flesh

and trees, poor stars and stones, but never this
fine specimen of hypermagical

ultraomnipotence. We doctors know

a hopeless case if --- listen: there's a hell
of a good universe next door; let's go

E. E. Cummings

I have a small collection of Jon's more prescient columns, written during his many years at the Rep. One deals with our having arrived at a tipping point on water resources, where the sprawl-barons and the booster club thought he was a doomsayer because he was raining on their parade. Now that he's turned out to be a prophet, they're probably glad he's in Seattle . . . where he can't remind them of their folly. Surprise . . this thing called "social media" tends to level the playing field, no matter where we are! Seems like it worked during the Arab Spring. Now, perhaps this will become the "winter of Grady Gammage's discontent" as he flogs his "Sun Corridor" pipe-dream!

Jon,

I wonder if Father Coughlin would endorse me for editor of the Arizona Republic.

It would be nice to fire up a dormant newsroom and actually tackle major state issues with neither fear nor favor.

Let's go to battle with the Real Estate Industrial Complex. It was their game plan the has left the state's economy in the tank for the next decade. The REIC doesn't advertise in the paper that much anymore, so what's Gannett have to lose?

Perhaps the paper could return to Reporting 101 by unleashing a barrage of public records requests across every state agency. But that would require work and, lord forbid, possible confrontation with powerful people (shudder).

And of course, an in-depth profile of Father Coughlin would be most appropriate. A front page, Sunday feature with Chuck's smiling face beaming up from every 20th doorstep.

"From Fife to Jan, How Father Coughlin runs Arizona (into the ground)"

The only way the Republic is going to save itself from its steady slide to oblivion, is to attack.

How about it Chuck? Wanna play ball?


"John Dougherty, Executive Editor of the Arizona Republic."

That's got a ring to it! I might even come home.

Jon, I love when you use words like "homey" and "playerz." I imagine that your condo in Seattle is littered with Boyz II Men and Bell Biv DeVoe cassettes.

"Even Father Coughlin's screed starts out talking about 'his' Michigan Wolverines. So one can assume 1) He's not from Arizona"

Not necessarily. Greg Stanton went to Michigan for law school, and he's certainly an Arizona native. You went to school in Ohio. Even I left my home state for college. I couldn't stand going to a school where frat boys reigned supreme, all the while being bombarded with boosterish claims about its greatness ["one of top 100 universities in the world"].

John Dougherty is the one man who could get me to subscribe to The Arizona Republic.

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/2011/11/30/20111130lovely1201-bar-raised-comments-azcentral.html

On a related note, The Republic will be making strides to outlaw anonymous comments on azcentral.com, which means that I'll hate humanity just a little bit less. I will miss some comments, such as:

BarackalypseNow:
"... The good people of Arizona welcome this notion. Most educated and intelligent folks clearly understand that AZCENTRAL is largely infested by Leftist commentators hiding behind their keyboards from the law and bar-soap. Our guess is that most these Leftists will slither on back to New Times (the true local Liberal rag), and this place will move up a notch in civility."

Just a note: new replies to Mr. Talton (re Occupy) and azrebel (re term-limits) added to the preceding thread.

Jacob Hughes: is there a problem condensing your (stream of consciousness) thoughts into one post?

I'm not sure "brain drain" applies nowadays, when some really smart young people are stationary because competition for those out of state jobs is fierce and some kids can't begin to afford college right now anyway. Or they can go to school but can't work with their degree (Dream Act). The young people leaving may be smart but they also have the means to leave. Doesn't necessarily make them smarter or more agile than those left behind. I get what Koreyel is saying in the near term but please don't write off Arizona's future so hastily. There are some bad-ass ninja sharp kids staying here.

And can I just tell you that Father Coughlin/Chuck Coughlin (the coinkydink didn't register until you pointed it out) ranks now as the greatest thing to happen today? And today was a particularly excellent day for me, in many ways. Thank you, sir.

Korevel's comment is sadly spot on. The erosion of Arizona's image began with Evan Mechum.

Coughlin's statement brings to mind how often people with opinions contrary to boosterism have been purged from both public and private institutions in Maricopa County. A two decade purge of independent thinkers, and now a never ending, ultra-right political freak show to keep a new generation of thinkers away.

The purpose of a free press in a democratic society is what?

Evan Mecham was governor before I moved here and before everyone under 22 years old here was born. He's a nonentity to all but those still dissecting what happened in 1990. If you think the young people in AZ are a "never ending political right freak show" I'm afraid you don't know them at all. You must have them confused with their parents.

@morecleanair: I take it that you're not a fan of Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, or Lester Bangs.

Awinter said some really good stuff under the Stanton column in response to Jon. A must read except for the last sentence. "Also, I have difficulties imagining cal Lash as a mall walker (?!)." Well Awinter sometimes you have to walk a mile with the enemy. I am a republican that reads Adbusters magazine.

I was emotionally disappointed in the remark posted by the great positronic brain in what was an otherwise excellent piece of information. The quote is "Mr. Talton, like many in the media, simply doesn't understand the function of groups like Occupy: agitation."

The three steps of successful protest are well documented but In the US there are only a few examples of long running protests and there is cause to believe the Occupy protest will fizzle. Particularly considering the Senate just passed a bill to send PETA type protesters to Guantanamo forever with no legal recourse.

I am worried about the Arizona brain drain since Mecham. Daily in the east valley there is a continuing pattern of white supremacy even among the very young. I continue to hope that the diversity of Hispanic culture and American strengths will provide a more reasonable community.

cal,
my attempt at humor meant no offense, and no judgment.

Awinter no problema. I thought it was a laugher. After all George Carlin is one of my heros.

Note: a new comment re Occupy in the previous thread. I've tried multiple times to post a comment to the current thread, but without being able to.

Is it a coincidence that I had a dream about politicians living in scorpion infested houses and New Times has a piece on Brewer with a photo of a scorpion body with Brewer's head??

Word around the capital is that Brewer is a zombie. She does have the look.

"I want to eat your brains."

Hey, that's what Faux news does.

***********************************

Mall Security: Paging Cal Lash, paging Cal Lash. We know you think that we think that you are exercising, but tail-gating women in the mall is the same as tail-gating in a car. Cut it out!!!

AZREBEL, Well even at 72 I still got that thing in my wallet that was there when I was 13. Right next to a hit of viagra.

Reading guys like Montini since 1950 in the Republic has always been a habit of mine. I miss Paul Dean and Don Dedera and of course Al Sitter and Don Bolles.
And Jon too.
My thoughts about Montini are that he is more talented than his writings suggest. Occasionally over the years he has broke out an produced some strong stuff but my feeling is that he normally stays on the safe side of caution.
Well here's to agitation may it bring a great new year.


I read the Arizona Republic daily, and I haven't noticed an excess of negativity.

What I have noticed is that Betty Beard, a business reporter for the newspaper, whose well researched, detailed, sophisticated and realistic articles were exemplary, has been relegated largely to the production of back-page tidbits; her previous work replaced by the considerably more boosterish output of Jahna Berry.

I've also noticed that a talented, insightful, and promising journalist named Ginger Rough, who had several hard-hitting pieces examining the social consequences of misplaced legislative priorities (though never labeled as such) published under a solo byline, now appears chiefly in connection with Political Insider, a gossipy feature limited to a few paragraphs and credited to multiple contributors. Very occasionally she appears as a junior contributor to a news story whose chief writer's primary virtue seems to be fidelity to the newspaper's "spirit" (i.e., its editorial goals). It's as if she had been banished to Siberia but is allowed the occasional supervised furlough in St. Petersburg to see if she has been rehabilitated to the extent of developing the right attitude. ("Your deviationist tendencies have been noted, Ms. Rough.")

As for Randy Lovely, the one conclusion that I've drawn from his occasional forays into bylined editorial comment, is that he's an able but not very admirable propagandist.

A case in point: Lovely's latest sally, "Bar Raised for Comments on AZ Central", sub-headed "Anonymous gutter talk led to change".

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/opinions/articles/2011/11/30/20111130lovely1201-bar-raised-comments-azcentral.html

Lovely's op-ed announces that all online commenters on Arizona Republic articles will soon be required to do so through the use of a personal Facebook account.

Supposedly, the management has been very concerned for months -- not with falling revenues and squeezed profits -- but with "meaningless, mean-spirited rhetoric" posted under anonymous online aliases. (No word on the meaningless, mean-spirited rhetoric posted under actual names, of which there is no shortage on azcentral.)

No plausible explanation is given of how this policy will "bring greater accountability and responsibility" -- simply because there is none.

Facebook accounts do not require users to share personal information with anyone. While it's true that Facebook administrators require an address and a mobile telephone number, and other (ostensibly) real personal information such as date of birth in order to start an account, Facebook has a confidentiality agreement not to release this information to others without permission, except in the case of law enforcement requests or attorneys empowered by subpoena. The address is not verified and the telephone number is only verified to be a working number which the applicant has access to; the identity of the owner is not verified. There is nothing to stop someone from supplying a false address or an accomodation email box address. And should someone wish to (though there really is no need given the inability of Facebook to verify identity via a cellphone number) there is nothing to stop them from purchasing a no-contract, throw-away cellphone from Walgreens, Walmart or Target, which cannot be traced to any particular individual.

There is nothing criminal or legally actionable about the comments selected by Lovely to justify his position: these are not threats of physical violence or instances of actionable libel; they are in poor taste, they are obdurate, and they are uninformed, but they are clearly fully protected by the First Amendment. Furthermore, azcentral already has a policy of censoring obscene or threatening comments -- I've also occasionally seen comments that are simply gratuitously abusive and without substantive content disappear.

Lovely writes: "Research shows that 81 percent of adults in Phoenix have Facebook accounts."

Finally, we may be getting to the bottom of the new policy. This is a marketing statistic, probably provided by Facebook itself (and probably based on dubious premises or analytic methods).

I have a strong but unverified suspicion that either Facebook has been approaching newspapers and other electronic media around the country, with a proposal couched in terms of "civility and accountability" -- in which case we should expect to see this policy replicated elsewhere -- or else that the Arizona Republic or its parent company Gannett, or some related spin-off like azcentral, has approached Facebook with such a proposition.

The substance of such a proposal (should it exist) would doubtless be along the following lines: in exchange for funneling online newspaper readers/commenters into Facebook, the latter will kickback either a percentage of the increased revenues from referred users who click on pass-through ads; or else a flat compensation. Either way, Facebook gets a lot more users viewing its ads a lot more often, not just to use Facebook but now also to post comments to newspapers; and the newspaper(s) get much needed additional revenue.

Even if this isn't the case, requiring posts through Facebook would likely reduce accountability, by adding yet another layer of computer networking, bureaucracy, and confidentiality agreements, between the commenter and azcentral.

It is safe to say that if J. Edgar Hoover were alive during the internet and FaceBook era, he would wake in the morning, look in the mirror and pee in his PJ's with joy at the thought of the dastardly deeds he would do using the medium to track down communists, gays and radical leftists.

Then again, I bet there are a bunch of little Hoovers at FBI, CIA, DIA and NSA doing that very thing right now.

AZREBEL, I just finished watching a DVD of the 1977 film
The Private files of J Edgar Hoover
with Broderick Crawford. Now I am going to go watch the new release.

The Republic has picked up a little as of late but it's sporadic. Betty Beard has been around forever but for what ever reasons the paper for years has relegated her to the back pages. Benson is always my bright spot in the Republic.I dont see much changing with the paper except figuring out how the paper will survive. Wonder how Kevin Wiley is doing in Dallas. She quit responding to my E-mails on stories in her Dallas newspaper.

Today the best investigative reporting in Phoenix comes in the New Times. But I do miss John Dougherty and Terry Greene Sterling.

Emil, didn't Facebook go public and allow Goldman Sachs to sell some of its shares to their preferred clients, or something along those lines(I'm a financial illiterate)? Maybe Gannett is a preferred client.

Yes, pbm, as someone replying on azcentral to my comment noted:

"Good, reasoned comment. The FTC just imposed a 20-year settlement agreement on FB becasue of privacy violations. If FB violates the agreement, it's $16K per violation per day. Now, why would the Republic/ Gannett do a deal with a company that has been rebuked by the FTC for privacy violations? Rhetorical question because we know the answer. $$$$ and more $$$$."

Incidentally, comment was closed down even though the thread was very active: after four days and more than 600 comments, with new comments and replies still being posted today -- the vast majority of which seem to be against the new policy (though I admit that I haven't read them all).

Meanwhile, the Arizona Republic published a small correction in today's edition on page A2:

"Data from Internet research firm ComScore show 81 percent of adults in the Phoenix area who are Internet users have used Facebook. The column [Lovely's op-ed] inaccurately characterized how many people in the area use the site."

No statistics on how many Phoenix area adults are Internet users. No definition given of "have used Facebook", which could conceivably include anyone who has ever clicked on or through the website or visited someone else's page there.

Cal, the Occupy movement may or may not "fizzle". Most things do, after all, sooner or later. Meanwhile, as I pointed out in the other thread:

"Occupy is another tool in the struggle and I don't see the point of disparaging it when it embodies a very real and very justified angst. You don't have to fund it, you don't have to camp out or even carry a sign: just use your considerable talents to harness it as you see fit; otherwise you're falling into the "circular firing squad" trap."

"Occupy is another tool in the struggle"
That might be true depending on which struggle?
I have no problem with agitation, it’s a prime mover.
How might Occupy fit into Degrowth? As in “while contraction will have to happen, we must focus on shaping the process of contraction in a positive fashion” by Brian Dailey from The Beyond Growth Congress.

Cal, if you don't know "which struggle" Occupy belongs to, you haven't been reading the newspaper.

I don't know what "Degrowth" is. Presumably you mean an extended recession.

Whether the economy is growing or contracting, there are winners and losers. The question is whether the distribution of income and wealth is, first of all, fair; and second, whether it is conducive to economic health.

The country's present economic doldrums stem in large part from an inequitable distribution of income and wealth, the end result of a process in which the lion's share of economic growth went to a small group at the top of the income ladder, with the income and wealth of the rest either stagnating or declining.

The result is a lack of disposable income among consumers (though investors have plenty, they do not use it for consumption); that in turn results in lack of consumer demand.

When there is insufficient consumer demand, businesses layoff workers or are slow to hire, because business profits determine whether existing workforces are adequate or too large, and whether expansion is needed or not; the level of consumer demand also determines whether entrepreneurs and new businesses have a better or worse chance of succeeding.

This inequality of income and wealth was temporarily disguised by an orgy of easy credit and a housing market which allowed equity to be turned into credit or permitted homeowners to realize capital gains every few years by selling into a market where housing prices were inflating a bubble, Now the bubble has popped, credit is expensive and lending standards are considerably tighter, both for credit cards and mortgages.

Shaping an economic process "in a positive manner", whether one of contraction or expansion, means insuring that workers receive a fair share of the economic fruits of their labor; it also means treating fairly those who, through external circumstance, lose their jobs and their incomes. It means making sure that instead of funding a casino economy of financial speculation, we fund living wages (as opposed to exploitation wages), healthcare, education, and unemployment insurance. Living wages are the best incentive for anyone to find work. They are also the best guarantor of economic health, since households with disposable income used for consumption of goods and services are the drivers of business and hiring.

P.S. Some businesses have been quite profitable but are not hiring much.

In part these are corporations whose profitability has depended upon foreign rather than domestic markets. They are not going to hire U.S. workers to serve a domestic market where demand is weak and domestic profits are diminished or non-existent, though they might hire U.S. workers to some limited degree to assist in servicing foreign markets.

Financial companies like hedge funds (accounting for many of the most profitable "small businesses") also hire very little if at all.

It was Rhetorical!
I read a lot of newspapers including "The Newspaper" And a bunch of Magazines and a lotta on line chit. But what else I gotta do at 72. I even read the about Scorpion lady today in the New Times
I kinda felt bad for the GED Lady as I graduated last in my class. Like her, on this blog I am way in over my head but I am counting on getting one of them thar new positronic brains real soon.

Hey Hal!
Yea Cal!
Whattcha readin Hal.
Everything Cal.
And you Cal.
Gone with the wind gunga din.

You know Cal I replaced Joe Turner.

In order to throw off the FBI, I may be going with a new screen name in the near future. I will give you advance warning. A couple of possibilities are:

Warren Peace
Helen Highwater

Keep it under your hat for now.

Degrowth? Find a copy of the latest issue of Adbusters it's a good read and has great pictures. Including two lovers completely nude, not even any skin.
You can also google "Degrowth in the Americas" for info on Degrowth.

Sorry,@morecleanair: But I am a fan of Jack Kerouac, Hunter S. Thompson, or Lester Bangs.

The post by Emil at 3:26 Pm reminded me there is a new book out on Karl Marx.

I am out of here. Going for a glass of Russian Kung Fu Girl Riesling with John Galt.

ALEC was one of the topics on Sunday Squareoff on Channel 12 Sunday Morning. The disloyal opposition sees nothing wrong.

@cal lash - Thanks for the Adbusters tip.

Because of "Degrowth."

Honest.

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