In the summer of 2004, my kids bought me an espresso machine for my birthday. Not a fancy machine mind you; this one cost $30 at Target, but it made great espresso and I was soon hooked. I've been drinking coffee since I was a kid, and the espresso was a nice change. Many people claim that caffeine has no effect on them...that's not the case for me. Caffeine makes me crazy. I meet people for coffee quite often and there are scores of people who will tell you that by the end of the meeting I'm a completely different person. I talk really fast; I'm passionate about issues and I get really animated. I'm actually very careful to limit my coffee consumption, especially around clients.
You will recall that 2004 was an election year; Bush v. Kerry was in full swing--and I was gradually going crazy. I found myself calling my friends a few times a day and I wouldn't even say hi. When they answered the phone I would say JOHN KERRY WAS NEVER IN CAMBODIA!
It wasn't long before my friends weren't taking my calls so I finally decided to limit myself to 3 espressos a day and to write my comments down and send them to my friends via email.
I eventually figured out two things: First, email wasn't a good format, and writing a personal journal was even worse. I needed a format that allowed me to write something, publish it and forget it. The second thing I discovered was that my espresso machine defaulted to doubles. I had been drinking 6 espressos a day--in addition to my regular coffee consumption--and talking politics for months. I was running out of friends, getting really irate and couldn't get my resting pulse rate below 100. I was also cussing a lot.
I remember walking into Stan Barnes'office and announcing that there was "no F***%ing way that John Kerry could have earned 3 purple hearts in 6 months and that I was starting a blog." He asked what the heck a "blog" was and then asked me what I was going to call it. I explained that a blog was short for "Web Log" and that people used them to write down their thoughts. He rolled his eyes and asked what I was going to call it...I thought for a second and blurted out that I was going to be the Espresso Pundit. He thought that the entire concept--especially the name--was the dumbest thing he had ever heard.
I procrastinated for a while and then the Arizona Republic wrote a fawning article about "Mainstream Arizona". That was a group that was going to raise a bunch of corporate money to help moderates win their elections. The group was going to accomplish this by "educating voters about the stances of politicians." I thought about it for a second...since the group was formed to help moderates win their elections...wouldn't they be advocating on behalf of candidates? Isn't that illegal?
Sure enough, Mainstream Arizona's candidates got crushed and the AG started an investigation into the group's use of corporate money to advocate for candidates. The Republic completely ignored the story. Mainstream Arizona ultimately paid a large fine and had to return the money that it received from corporations--many of which were non-profits whose non-profit status had been jeopardized by the electioneering. Again, the Republic--which gave fawning before the debacle--ignored the story. The scandal involved some of the biggest names in Arizona Politics and the Republic literally never wrote another word about Mainstream Arizona.
I was about to explode. I went to Office Max, bought a copy of Microsoft Front Page and put together a primitive website.
Today marks the seventh anniversary of that first post.
Writing Espresso Pundit has been one of most enriching experiences of my life. Every time I get upset about an issue, I just have a big cup of coffee--I long ago gave up pure espresso--and just write my thoughts down, post them...and then forget about them and move on with my day. I don't listen to talk radio, watch Fox New, read other local blogs or talk politics. I just post my thoughts and move on. The fact that other people read them is just gravy. I would write espresso pundit if Stan Barnes, Marc Spitzer and David Schweikert were the only ones who read it...just like the old days.
There have been a lot of changes in seven years. Most of the Republic's political team is gone--and the folks that replaced them are gone too. The Tribune and Citizen are gone. The Star is down to 19 reporters (and 17 editors). Most of the moderates are gone...John Kerry and John Edwards are laughingstocks. Pete Rios still doesn't live in that trailor. I went to law school, but still don't know how to spell or capitalize properly.
The Republic never held Mainstream Arizona accountable...it was chaired by a guy named "Grant Woods". I seem to recall that his name recently showed up in the paper. And if his name hadn't showed up in the paper it would have shown up in the blogs...which these days is just as good.
Thank you for being part of my life for the last seven years.