Reaction to Pew Survey

Water Cure circa 17th centuryI was disturbed but unfortunately not surprised by the results of a poll of evangelicals that found that 62 percent believed that torture is justified. Given how important word-for-word knowledge of the Gospels is to evangelicals, I wondered, exactly what part of the Gospels were they reading?

(51% of my fellow Catholics agreed. We are only marginally better, maybe worse since it means we’ve learned nothing from some of the worst chapters in the Church’s history.)

What gave me some hope is an article that has been making the rounds by David Gushee, Distinguished Professor of Christian Ethics at Mercer University. The article is written as a letter to Jesus. Money quote:

What is this thing called “Christianity” in this country, Lord Jesus? Does it have anything to do with you? It seems a strangely Americanized thing, a disastrously domesticated faith toward which people can nod their heads in loyalty as long as it doesn’t conflict with their full participation in whatever this country feels like it wants to do.

Here We Go Again?

Janet NapolitanoAs many of you know, Janet Napolitano is being mentioned as a possible nominee to replace David Souter. The crew over at First Read are hinting that she may have an inside track, but whether this is based on insider knowledge or just pundits trying to say something interesting is hard to tell.

Should she get appointed, it end the dreams of many a Democrat that predicted that she would run for the US Senate in 2012, or even 2010.

What is also interesting is that Ken Salazar has been mentioned. If this happens, it has the possibility of shaking up Southern Arizona politics. Should Salazar get appointed, that would open up his spot at Interior for the guy that he barely edged out for the job…Raúl Grijalva. For those of you who remember those heady days of January, everybody with any standing in local politics, from Richard Elías to Nina Trasoff to Jennifer Eckstrom were mentioned as possible candidates in a primary. I have my doubts that Salazar gets the nod, but if he does, let the fun begin.

Dems to Gov: Put Up or Shut Up…Well, At Least Say Something

Jan BrewerHouse democrats complained in yesterday’s media briefing that La Cervecera is not active enough in the budget debate. The governor’s staff, to her credit, has been talking to members of both caucuses, but the complaint is that she hasn’t done much in those meetings except to reiterate her vague outline of a “five point plan,” which is a poor substitute for a real budget that can be debated.

The thought among some is that she is playing the same sort of game that Janet Napolitano used to play: wait until the Republican caucus came to an impasse, then ride in with a plan and a ready made coalition of folks who would vote for it. There is a very important difference here. Napolitano had her own budget that was part of the discussion and ready to go when the smoke cleared. Other than these “five points” (the most specific proposal of which is to end “fund sweeps”), what alternative has she presented when the time comes?

Another important difference is the involvement of the governor’s staff. When she was first appointed, even lefty wags like me were impressed by the firepower she brought to bear on her office, people like Doug Cole and Chuck Coughlin. The complaint is that these two haven’t been around in budget discussions and that the staff handling the budget is, as one railbird put it, “the JV Squad.” I suppose when you don’t have your own solid proposals to discuss, it is hard to go all in.

She’s even allowed what few specific proposals she was pushing to become amporphous slop. For example, the billion dollar sales tax hike she was excited about only a few weeks back has now become something that can only be paraphrased as “let’s raise some money from somewhere, or something…maybe…”

You can’t fight something with nothing, and so far the only alternative proposal is that given by House Democrats. Although parts of their budget have been proposed as amendments to the budget, it isn’t as much part of the legislative discussion (if you can call it that) as an executive budget would be. It’s unfortunate, but true. That is why the governor had an obligation to offer a plan that amounted to more than “wouldn’t it be nice if…?” when this whole thing started.

NB: Jan Brewer drawing by Arnulfo Bermudez.

On the Whole…

Major League Soccer announced yesterday that the new team in Philadelphia would be known as Philadelphia Union.

Here’s what I want to know: AFL-CIO or Change to Win? Will new players be allowed to simply sign up, or will business lobbyists demand that there be a secret ballot?

I Call Bull…

John EdwardsThe tale of John Edwards staffers looking to “sabotage” his campaign if it looked like he would win would make a good plot for a Richard Condon novel, but it smacks of operatives trying to make themselves look better, especially after Elizabeth Edwards’s revelations last week.

Think about the plausibility of this: these operatives were so disgusted by the behavior of Edwards that they continued to campaign for him. Then, over a year later, they tell a reporter their tale of being creeped out by this and their “secret plan” to scuttle the campaign should he look like he would be the nominee. This was supposed to be for the sake of the party. How a probable nominee’s campaign colapsing later in the year would be good for the party is unaddressed.

This is all said anonymously, so no one can ask, why not just quit the campaign? Having several staffers quit may have scuttled the campaign back then. There were plenty of political jobs available at the time too; few competent operatives would have been unemployed for long.

Since the source of these tales is anonymous, it is impossible for the rest of us to evaluate whether or not the folks spinning this yarn were higher ups, staff or the volunteer that emptied the headquarters trash on alternate Thursdays. If this turns out to not be true, what does it say about the folks that peddled the story? Heck, for that matter, it doesn’t say much for the folks involved in the unlikely event that it turns out to be true either.

Irony Watch

I heard about a kerfuffle between National Rifle Association lobbyist Todd Rathner and Jim Norton of the Chamber of Commerce outside of the House chamber. According to the Arizona Guardian and witnesses I talked to, they had a dispute over an amendment to a bill and shouting became shoving and Bill Konopnicki tried to break it up. When Rathner returned the next day, he was told he was no longer welcome in the building.

One witness I talked to said that at some point, one told the other to “take this outside.” The irony: the bill that started the argument was the so-called “guns in parking lots” bill.


Wow…the state party meeting went over three hours and not one speaker made a joke about Brett Mecum?

Y’all are slipping.

Live Blogging Today?

There may be a little controversy at the state party meeting today, but I don’t think I will be live blogging. Sorry folks.

In a bit of other news: earlier this week, Don Bivens announced that he would be unable to attend the meeting due to a court case he was involved in. As it turns out, he will be there to preside over the meeting. Also, he stated that there will be no announcement about the new executive director. Some of the karmazyny were trying to entice the executive director of the Ohio Democratic Party here, but that effort failed and delayed the selection process.

Diamondbacks Fire Melvin

Wow, they can do that? Can they fire Jack Harper and Russell Pearce too?

A Penny for Your Schools

Penny KottermanI find it amazing that with the current round of budget cuts, any one would want to run the public school system in this state. But, the Democrats now have two candidates for that office with former AEA Vice President Penny Kotterman joining 2006 candidate Jason Williams in the contest:

Dear fellow Democrats,

Recently, I filed my campaign for Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2010. This is an exciting prospect for me, and one I have considered for a number of years. As a long time teacher, mentor and public education advocate, I know that having someone who really understands public education, from the classroom to the policy decisions that impact our kids, our teachers and our schools, is critically important to the success of public education in our state.

These are turbulent times for all of us in public education and in Arizona. This has been a year of uncertainty and unprecedented cuts to public education. That battle still rages. But I believe strong, thoughtful and committed leadership at all levels of government can craft solutions-that together we can be innovative and take the risks necessary to secure the bright future all Arizona children deserve. We CAN change the conversation about PUBLIC education and focus our efforts on supporting our children and our communities. We CAN have high standards and high expectations for our children and our schools, and WE can define accountability in a manner that is based on common sense approaches that honor the uniqueness of each and every child.

I will meet many of you this weekend at the State Committee meeting, and I look forward to travelling throughout the state and meeting the rest of you in the coming months. I have the experience and the qualifications to be Superintendent of Public Instruction, and I know I can run a successful and credible campaign. I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you and hearing yours. I hope you will visit our preliminary website at to find out more and volunteer, as well as visit our as well as visit our Facebook forum to contribute your thoughts about what you believe is important about education in Arizona.

I look forward to this challenge!

Penny A. Kotterman