Arizona Capitol

Ed Ableser, Arizona Lawmaker, Dwells on 1973 Chile Coup as State Marches Toward Bankruptcy

Where's Ed Ableser's head at?

As the state marches toward bankruptcy, the Democratic lawmaker from Tempe has focused some of his attention on an event that happened before he was born: He wants the naughty United States to take responsibility for its role in the 1973 coup in Chile that brought a vicious dictator to power.

He's pressing for a formal letter to be sent from the Arizona Legislature to Congress, urging an official apology.

You can read his proposed resolution here. The coup is a fascinating subject, worthy of an Oliver Stone movie.

But honestly, we're slightly more worried about what's happening in Arizona in 2010. As in, a state that can't meet basic needs and is relying on a fickle public to pass a new sales tax.

Ableser's proposal is like asking crew-members on the Titanic to take their eyes off the icebergs for a chat about weather conditions in the Caribbean.

We gave Ableser a call yesterday to find out why this issue needs to be addressed now.

Although Gerald Ford admitted CIA involvement in the coup in 1974, Ableser claims that the issue is timely: After the disclosure of more once-classified documents over the summer, the Chilean ambassador to the United Nations, Heraldo Munoz, opined in a newspaper column that "perhaps a formal apology is due to the Chilean people."

On the other hand, the U.S. State Department believes that, "Relations between the United States and Chile are better now than at any other time in history."

In fact, Chile just elected a conservative president, Sebastian Pinera, who likely will be far more interested in cozying up to American business interests than demanding that the United States apologize for a decades-old offense.

So why is the representative from Tempe so concerned about 1973?

Well, it turns out that it's part of his schoolwork.
He's going for a PhD in Justice and Social Inquiry at Arizona State University, and plans to write a dissertation on radical political ideologies. There'll be a section on the 1973 Chile coup and how the radical ideas of Richard Nixon and his Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, led to the thwarting of a democratic election, he says.

He says the proposal was his idea alone, and that he wrote the resolution himself. At least this isn't costing the public much.

Ableser's working on many different bills, some quite substantive. He notes that he can "walk and chew gum at the same time." But besides the Chile resolution, he also wants the Legislature to suggest to Congress tha it encourage the NCAA to adopt a playoff system for college basketball and football. His ideas were given top billing in a recent Arizona Capitol Times article about resolutions "that often amount to little more than postcards or press releases."

The Chile proposal's not going anywhere, having been shoved into multiple committees by Republican leaders -- the purgatory for many proposals and bills by Democrats.

Of course, if Democrats are going to put forward frivolous crap like this, it's no wonder the party isn't taken very seriously in Arizona.