Some house-cleaning to get out of the way before we jump into summer:
• I'd like to start by announcing that I will not be seeking the Republican nomination for president in 2012. There, that makes me the 1,000th person to do so ... this week.
Come on, GOP-ers, somebody needs to step up to take that ass-whuppin' and then go home. At the very worst, you'll end up a question to a $2,000 answer on Jeopardy! some day.
• Speaking of Republicans, just because Congressman Paul Ryan's proposed plan to privatize Medicare in exchange for even more tax breaks for the rich got shot down in the Senate and cost the GOP a House seat in a special election, that doesn't mean that it's not a winner. You need to hang on to that one, and maybe even make it the centerpiece of your 2012 campaigns. Please.
• Congratulations to all of my colleagues who won Arizona Press Club awards a couple of weeks ago. Back in the old days, we'd get all happy if we won a few third-place awards. Then we started dominating the midsized-newspaper category while grabbing a few awards in the biggest categories. Nowadays, with far fewer categories in which to compete, the Weekly competes only against the biggest papers in the state and does really well.
Margaret Regan remains a perennial badass. One of the definitions of a badass is someone who does something that almost no other person can do, and does it well—and Margaret Regan can make architecture interesting.
James DiGiovanna is the state's top film critic for the fifth year in a row, even though he hates on Harry Potter movies.
Finally, Renée Downing won the top-columnist award. That makes me jealous. I want to win it next year. I'm going to write a very profound column, one with gravitas and serious aforethought.
This isn't it. (Just in case you were wondering.)
• When the members of the Tucson Unified School District voted unanimously to allow those kids who didn't pass the AIMS test to walk in their respective school's graduation proceedings, they said that it was a one-time-only exemption.
I figure the laughter following that pronouncement should die down sometime around next May, just before the board votes on a we're-serious-this-time-it's-really-the-LAST-exemption-EVER resolution.
• Shame on every last one of you who signed the online petition asking Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords to vacate her seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. I saw a woman on TV who said something to the effect of, "I'm sorry that she got shot and all, but she's not doing the job she was elected to do—representing the people in her district."
If that's the case, why isn't there a petition for John McCain to vacate his seat? At least Giffords has an excuse.
• A recent article in the morning daily told of a high school kid who pitched his team to a win in the state playoffs. Twice in the piece, it was mentioned that the kid had to respond through an interpreter.
Shortly after the piece appeared, I heard from somebody who questioned why the paper felt it necessary to mention (not once, but twice) that the kid didn't speak English. But then I heard from a coaching friend of mine who wondered why a kid who couldn't speak English would even be on a team in the first place. The coach (who is half-Hispanic ... and therefore, Hispanic) said, "Maybe the time spent at practice and playing games could be better spent learning to speak English."
I don't know which of those arguments is more right. If the kid is in good academic standing (whatever that means these days), I guess he's eligible to play. However, as a coach, I'm not going to let a kid play if he's not keeping up with math or science or history. (Of course, nobody's going to accuse me of racism for doing that.)
What do you think?
• President Obama's declaration that Israel should be forced to use the boundaries that existed before 1967 in any peace deal is risky, indeed. Certainly, something needs to be done; God help us, we're coming up on 50 years since the Six-Day War. But asking Israel to give back the territory won in that war (including Jerusalem) seems like a non-starter.
If you ever want to read a book about total domination, I highly recommend Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East, by Michael B. Oren. On the first day of the war, Israeli jets destroyed almost the entire Egyptian Air Force, with the vast majority of the Egyptian planes being destroyed while still on the ground after having returned from routine patrols.
An Israeli fighter pilot could return from a mission, deplane, handle his bathroom business, eat something and rehydrate (while his plane was being given full maintenance and fully refueled), and be back in the air within eight minutes. The time for his Egyptian counterpart? Eight hours!
Here's hoping that someday, Israel can show that it's as good at peace as it is at war.