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Wild Bunch Commentaries I

Can Dems Win AZ 2018?


Arizona is going to be a hotbed of political chicanery this year. The southwest state has always been a place where elections are fraught with ... you name it: trickery, deception, deceit, duplicity, dishonesty, subterfuge, fraud, skullduggery and other evil synonyms. The Valentine State is also a place were strange things have happened because of politics.

The main street in Show Low today is called the
Deuce of Clubs (the lowest card in a standard card deck). Show Low was named by settler Corydon E. Cooley the winner of his neighbor Marion Clark's land when they played Seven-up to determine who would move away to keep the peace. The two played the game and as the last hand was coming to an end, Clark said "You show low, you win." Cooley turned over the deuce of clubs. These days, whenever there is a runoff for mayor of Show Low, instead of a runoff election the issue is settled by the two opponents drawing from a deck of cards until one draws the deuce of clubs. That person becomes the mayor for the next term.

Then there were the politicians indicted in February of 1991 on charges of bribery, money laundering and filing false election statements. The AZScam scandal felled three Republican and two Democrat Representatives, and two Democrat Senators. Representative Sue Laybe, accused of taking more than $10,000 in cash, said, "
This is a political indictment hatched for political reasons." That wasn't all of it though ... also indicted were George Stragalas III, one-time executive director of the Arizona Democratic Party; Shiree Foster, a staff assistant at the Arizona Chamber of Commerce; Ernie Hoffman and Rich Scheffel, independent lobbyists; David Horwitz, a lobbyist for the American  Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees; and David Manley, chairman of the Maricopa County Democratic Party.

During that time, it was common knowledge that Arizona Legislators were carrying paper bags full of cash around with them. Many, whose homes were elsewhere in the state, rather than rent, would stay with friends or relatives in the Phoenix metro area during the week and go home on the weekends. The per diem food, lodging and mileage paid them by the state was laundered into cash which was easy to carry in small paper bags. A little of that cash would go to supplement the food budget of the people with which they stayed. Arizona State Legislators received a $15,000 salary plus $35 a day per diem. If they lived out of Maricopa county they received $60 per diem per day for regular and special sessions and $10 a day after that. The total received in per diem for food, lodging and mileage by the end of a Legislative Session was always a tidy sum. Before 1981 Legislators receive a $6,000 salary. Their pay was raised to $24,000 by voter approval in 1998. The custom of carrying bagged cash pretty much stopped after the AZScam debacle.

Evan Mecham was elected Arizona's governor in November 1986 in a fractured, three-way race. On taking office, one of his first acts was to rescind the state's Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, a move that inflamed racial tensions and prompted public protests. Within six months, a recall drive was under way to give Meacham the boot. In January 1988, a grand jury indicted him and his brother on charges stemming from an investigation into campaign-finance violations and fraud. The Arizona Legislature, however, made the recall effort moot by impeaching him.

Governor J. Fife Symington III was forced to resign two years after a federal jury convicted him on bank- and wire-fraud charges. During his first term, which began in 1991 he was investigated and cleared of any involvement with the failed Southwest Savings & Loan scandal, and he went on to win re-election in 1994. However, on September 4, 1997, he was indicted on 21 federal counts ranging from fraud to extortion to perjury. His conviction was overturned on appeal in 1999, and President Bill Clinton pardoned him in 2001.

Rick Renzi, a Republican member of the US House of Representatives, from Arizona's 1st Congressional District, was convicted on Federal criminal charges of fraud, racketeering and public corruption for his involvement in a questionable land-swap deal. Renzi was accused of embezzling insurance premiums to fund his political campaigns and using his power as a lawmaker to force changes in a proposed federal land swap to benefit a business associate. He was sentenced to three years in prison in June of 2013. The sentence was upheld by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. His legal team filed with the U S Supreme Court. But, the SCOTUS declined Monday a week ago to hear Renzi's appeal that sought to question the process of how he was prosecuted. He served a three year sentence and was released from prison in January of 2017.

More recently, according to the New Times: Sheriff Joe Arpaio, had been involved in more than two dozen controversies involving everything from bad jail conditions to abuse of power, improper clearance of cases, failure to investigate rape cases, feuds with judges, misuse of funds, racial profiling, and even staging a failed assassination attempt. In July, United States District Judge Susan R. Bolton found the 85-year-old Arpaio guilty of criminal contempt of court, a misdemeanor punishable by six months in jail. Arpaio was convicted of violating a court order to stop racially profiling Latinos, but President Donald Trump pardoned him before the scheduled sentencing. Arpaio, who billed himself as "The Toughest Sheriff in America", served as Maricopa County's top Law Enforcement Officer for the 24 years between 1993 and 2016, when he was voted out of office.

U.S. Representative Martha McSally (R), former Air Force combat pilot, said Friday she will run against Arpaio, who threw his hat in the ring last week for the US Senate seat being abandoned by Jeff Flake (R). Contenders also include Representative Kyrsten Sinema, a centrist Democrat, and Kelli Ward, a conservative Republican and former Arizona state senator. Polls have McSally favored over second choice Arpaio. One thing's for sure: Odds are 3:1 (75/25) that Flake's Senate seat will go to a woman.

So, here are how the numbers worked out as of October 1st: There are 3,665,316 registered voters in Arizona, comprised of 1,289,893 Independents & "Others", 1,268,748 Republicans and 1,106,675 Democrats. Historically, voter turnout in Arizona for mid-term elections has run around 30% over the last two decades. What has changed nation-wide, as well as in Arizona, is the number of Independent voters, which has grown to exceed the registration in either of the other two parties.

Democrat organizers from all over the country are gearing up to change Arizona from Red to Blue. They will do whatever it takes to put Democrat Kyrsten Sinema in Flake's Senate seat. While national Democrat (DNC) fund-raising efforts have collected less than half that of the RNC this year, the Dems have been working on grass-roots organizing at the state and local levels, registering armies of new Democrats across the country. If you do the math you'll see that to catch the GOP in Arizona, Democrats will need to register 48,622 new voters - that's just to pull even with the Republicans - 54,966 to match the number of Independents. And then they'll have to turn out more than 30%. That, my friends, is one heck of a tall order!

Improvise - Adapt - Overcome.  Semper Fi.


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Monday, November 27, 2017
Culinary Experimentation

I was just wondering how many people have been the victims of culinary experimentation at the hands of their mothers? Mine was a doozie! She had a subscription to Sunset magazine!

My wife had a perpetual subscription to Sunset - a Christmas gift from my mom. I couldn't get away from it! Oh, and let's not forget
Better Homes and Gardens!

There was one time Claudette whomped up what was billed as a really tasty dinner in her latest magazine. She labored over it for what seemed like hours! When time came to sit down to this fine repast, I took a fork-full, yummed it up, looked at her across the table and said, "Would you like me to go get a few McDonald's hamburgers?" She replied, " Great idea. I don't like it either."

Claudette and I will have been married 56 years next January 13th. She's a wonderful cook and prides herself with her culinary prowess after many years of learning from the
Betty Crocker and Boston Cooking School Cookbooks. She's suffering some of the elderly's vicissitudes of late so I've taken on the mantle of Chef du jour. Meanwhile, she has become versed at directing the assembly of the assorted materials that go into a proper meal. Being the dutiful husband that I have learned to be over the last 50-some-odd years, I follow her directives with appropriate gusto. With her at the helm, I make some pretty good chow!

I can make
Lipton Chicken-Noodle soup with toasted cheese sandwiches without burning the toast! And I make bang-up Indian Fry-Bread (using a tortilla instead) with refried beans, chorizo, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, shredded cheddar and salsa. Lose the lettuce and tomatoes, throw a couple of fried eggs on top and you've got Huevos Rancheros. I have also taken the skill of fetching to some kind of high art: Guayo's and The Burger House are not so far that I can't launch a culinary expedition for grub. (It's the hunter-gatherer in me!)

Claudette's mom used to make stuffed bell-peppers when she was a kid during the war years. It was a very inexpensive meal because you could grow the peppers, rice was cheap and Bob (the man of the family) was a hunter and could hunt for elk, deer or whatever back in the day. And the family raised chickens, ducks and rabbits, so there was always meat.

What I'm leading up to here is the story about my sister-in-law's dad, Morton Glueck. Mort was a principal employee of
Matson Lines. Matson's role in the economic development of Hawaii was significant. Its famed passenger liners and Waikiki Hotels were instrumental in the development of tourism in the beginning of the last century. In the '50s, Matson revolutionized shipping services to Hawaii when it introduced containerization in the Pacific. My brother Bill and MaryEllen met in Hawaii. He was a DJ at KPOI. They married and ended up in Tucson, where he was a radio personality.

Mort and his wife Rita loved to splurge on their vacations. They would fly in to Phoenix, rent a car and enjoy the drive to Tucson to visit with Bill and MaryEllen. (You need to understand what a drive though the desert was like to people who spent most of their time near the ocean and in places that had lots of water and green stuff!)

So, for no particular reason other than Mort and Rita were in town, Claudette invited MaryEllen, Bill, Rita and Mort to come over and have dinner with us of a Saturday evening. They were all delighted and accepted the invite. Claudette decided to do stuffed bell-peppers because it was something she knew how to make. Hey, all it takes is a bell-pepper, some fluffy rice, ground beef, some spices and stuff, some cheese and a little tomato sauce. (Ok, so I'm just a husband ... what do I know?)

Well, my bride put out a fantastic spread of chipables, dipables and hors d'oeuvres for the preliminaries. There were mixed drinks, beer and sodas for those who wanted them. After a while she brought out the big deal - stuffed bell-peppers. Well, mister Glueck just went bananas about them. He gobbled his up and when Claudette asked if anybody would like another one he replied in the affirmative. There were plenty because Claudette always made enough to freeze for later. All three of us men went for the offer of seconds. When had he finished his second serving, Mort asked if there were any more, allowing as how they were so delicious. Rita, being the very proper lady, glared at him, jabbed him in the ribs with her elbow and huffed "Mort" under her breath! Claudette replied, "Of course ..." and got him another one. Later, on their way out, Mort was like a puppy, gushing what a wonderful meal Claudette had presented. We made small talk on the porch for a while, watching the stars in the Tucson skies. Both he and Rita were gracious guests and it was a memorable evening.

I cannot cook anything like those bell-peppers as well as Claudette ... so I've settled on Stouffer's brand frozen stuffed bell-peppers. Just pop 'em in the microwave. Oh! Yummy!


Improvise - Adapt - Overcome. Semper Fi.

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Thursday, November 9, 2017
The Importance of Thank You

A dear friend of mine posted a note on Facebook - an important observation:

"So I just have to say something that has been an issue with me for years. A friend bought up how she received a thank you card recently. People underestimate how much thank you cards mean. If a person has gone out of their way for you, a quick thank you note goes a long way. I have made tons of baby quilts. Out of the joy of my heart. However, if I don't receive a thank you note/card I won't make a second baby quilt. People give hours, love and their own hard earned money to make a gift, saying thank you is such a little thing that goes a long way. I ALWAYS remember those that do and those that don't. No offense meant. Just another thing this generation seems to have lost."


Whatever you give freely will be returned ten-fold.  So, thank you.


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