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The Skinny

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NUKE BOX

Sen. Jon Kyl is coming under fire for his opposition to the New START Treaty between the United States and Russia.

President Barack Obama has asked the U.S. Senate to ratify the treaty, calling it a "national-security imperative."

Administration officials say the treaty, among other things, will allow U.S. inspectors back into Russia to keep an eye on the many nukes that could possibly fall into the hands of people who don't like America very much.

Call us crazy, but that strikes us as a good idea.

They also make the point that future negotiations with other countries will be undermined if there's little faith that treaties will eventually be approved by the U.S. Senate.

But Kyl, who has become a point man for the GOP on the treaty, says he doesn't believe there's enough time to consider the agreement until new senators take office in January, "given the combination of other work Congress must do and the complex and unresolved issues related to START and modernization."

The Skinny does not have great sources in the nuclear-intelligence community, but we would point out that the treaty is supported by a number of folks who we would consider to have considerable expertise in matters of foreign affairs, including Henry Kissinger, former Bush I administration fixer James Baker, former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft and former defense secretaries William Perry and William Cohen. That hardly adds up to a gang of leftists who want to see our nation weakened.

Kyl's opposition smells very much of politics, especially given that the Obama administration seems willing to spend the billions of dollars that Kyl has demanded to modernize our nuclear arsenal.

If this is about preventing the Obama administration from any kind of win, then the Republican Party has gone from principled opposition to a disgraceful enemy of America.


AL MELVIN DOESN'T WANT YOU TO READ THIS

It appears that state Sen. Al Melvin doesn't much like the Tucson Weekly. And he doesn't want you to have a chance to read about his activities up at the Arizona Legislature in this fine publication.

The Republican lawmaker, who was just re-elected to a second term representing Legislative District 26, tried to bully an Oro Valley restaurant into getting rid of a Tucson Weekly rack that makes the paper available to patrons.

We're told that Melvin entered the diner last week, ordered a cup of coffee and asked to speak with the owner. When she came over to find out what was on his mind, he began complaining that the Weekly was a leftist paper that was too critical of Republicans, and that he wanted the rack gone.

The owner of the restaurant politely declined to get rid of the paper, so Melvin paid for his coffee, skipped his breakfast and said he wouldn't be coming back.

One patron who witnessed Melvin's tantrum said he was shocked to see an elected official with such little understanding of the concept of a free press in the United States of America.

"I was nearly falling over in laughter at this idiot," says John Faux, who had never seen Melvin in action before. "I have never encountered such arrogance in my life."

Melvin did not return a phone call from The Skinny.


PARTY POOP

Randy Pullen, the state chairman of the Arizona Republican Party, was knocked out of contention for a third term last week.

It's no secret that Pullen didn't play well with U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl. There's been so much friction that the senators declined to raise money for the Arizona Republican Party. We imagine the problems between them are driven more by personality than by policy, given that both McCain and Kyl have completely fallen in line with Pullen's hard-core conservative position on immigration, health care and other issues.

Last week, the McCain forces struck back against Pullen, finding enough supporters to block his election as a state committeeman at the Legislative District 11 meeting.

That left Pullen ineligible to run for another term as state party chairman, which dashed any dreams he might have had of challenging Michael Steele for the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee.

Speaking of party leadership: Bob Westerman is stepping down as chairman of the Pima County Republican Party after one term. Westerman is well-spoken and well-liked, but didn't do wonders for party fundraising.

Three candidates have expressed interest in replacing him: Brian Miller, the Air Force veteran who dropped out of the GOP race to replace Gabrielle Giffords a few weeks before the primary election; Pat Kilburn, who has made a few runs for the Legislature in District 29; and Parralee Schneider, who unsuccessfully ran for a House seat in District 30.


R.I.P.

Tucson resident David Nolan, a co-founder of the Libertarian Party, died last Sunday, Nov. 21, just two days shy of his 67th birthday. The cause of death was unknown as of press time.

The Skinny first met Nolan when he ran for the Congressional District 8 seat held by Democrat Gabrielle Giffords in 2006. We caught up with him just last month to discuss his campaign this year against U.S. Sen. John McCain. (See TQ&A, Oct. 21.)

We always enjoyed our conversations with Nolan, who was a smart and charming man with a great love of politics.

Nolan told us he formed the Libertarian Party after watching Richard Nixon call for wage and price controls.

"We thought, naïve kids that we were, that the Republican Party was all about the ideals of Barry Goldwater," Nolan said. "Well, we learned it was more about Richard Nixon and his cronies, and we looked at each other and decided we needed a new party."

While the Libertarian Party has had limited success at the ballot box, it has stuck around for the last four decades. Nolan said in our final conversation that the party was "way better off than we were a few years ago, although we're still not as strong as we were in 2000."

But he said the Libertarian Party still wasn't catching on, despite the voters' dissatisfaction with the Democratic and Republican parties, because "unless you have a big name or a lot of money, or both, it's very hard to get people to get involved in a third-party or independent movement. We don't have any national well-known figures who are willing to put their prestige and their reputation on the line and step forward and become that charismatic and dynamic leader that a new party—or even an old party—needs to break through into public acceptance."

Our condolences to his wife, Elizabeth, and his many friends.

Condolences, also, to the family and friends of attorney Art Chapa, the former member for the Arizona Board of Regents and longtime lobbyist who died last Friday, Nov. 19, at 69, less than two weeks after being diagnosed with cancer.

Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords eulogized Chapa in a statement: "Art was a genuinely nice person who was respected by everyone he touched on both sides of the political aisle. He was a man of unquestioned integrity who was always careful to look out for all, regardless of their position in the community.

"Art had a strong moral compass and always was good to his word," Giffords continued. "He was a powerful advocate for Pima County and knew the community so well that when he spoke, people knew he was speaking from personal knowledge and affection."


Follow the Skinny scribe on Twitter: @nintzel

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