Hero Dem candidate in AZ05 responds to anti-choicers in the most delightful way

21 Aug 2014 05:43 pm
Posted by: Donna

Arizona Congressional District 5 is currently represented by Matt Salmon (who, when he ran for Governor in 2002, was considered to be firmly in the GOP establishment but is now a member of the Tea Party Caucus in Congress) and is viewed as an unwinnable district for Democrats. Nonetheless, James Woods has mounted a serious challenge and I don’t think I’ve ever found myself in more agreement with a candidate before.

I have a vision for an America in which we approach governance with the best evidence we have available–not ideology, revelation or religion. Public policy decisions should be made rationally through an unbiased examination of facts, efficacy and outcomes. This gives us the best possible chance of steering the country toward the advancement of prosperity for all. We must thoughtfully avoid the unverified opinions and irrational prejudices in our lawmaking process that thwart our common pursuit of happiness.

All that should just be a given but, sadly, we all know it’s not. And nowhere does ideology and wishful thinking trump reality and sense as it does in the anti-choice movement, where the adherents believe that legalized abortion has led to the slaughter of millions of babies but, at the same time, fervently oppose anything (such as sex ed and birth control access) that has been proven to actually reduce the abortion rate. The great thing about Woods running in such a terrible district for Dems is that he’s freer to push the envelope on the issue, as he did here:

In response to a letter-writing campaign promoted by an anti-abortion organization, Democratic congressional candidate James Woods is mailing back condoms — campaign condoms.

The form-letters sent to Woods, who’s running for the Congressional District 5 seat currently occupied by Republican Congressman Matt Salmon, asked him to sign a pledge to fully support the “sanctity of life” in a candidate survey from the National Pro-Life Alliance.

“Woods did return the survey, but stood in opposition to the entire platform of the Alliance,” Woods’ spokeswoman Seráh Blain tells New Times.

The people who mailed this letter to Woods will also be getting some protection in the mail from the Woods campaign headquarters. Woods’ campaign also included a letter explaining why he’s not going to support the platform of the National Pro-Life Alliance.

Brilliant! Really, anti-choicers should be handed condoms every time they open their mouths to spout errant nonsense but, sadly, Democrats running in competitive races cannot do that. The great thing about Woods’ move is that it’s cheeky while also making a serious point about unplanned pregnancy prevention, which he reinforces in the letter he sent to the National Pro-Life Alliance (along with condoms):

In addition to his forthright pro-choice stance, Woods is openly atheist. He’s basically my favorite candidate in the world right now and I applaud him for running.

Sorry, Martha McSally, “feminist Republican” IS an oxymoron

19 Aug 2014 05:37 pm
Posted by: Donna

Roll Call‘s Shira T. Center is covering Arizona’s tight CD2 race and sees a formidable candidate in Martha McSally:

Operatives couldn’t make up a better candidate résumé if they tried: retired Air Force Colonel, first in her class at the U.S. Air War College, the first female fighter pilot in combat who flies the very plane — an A-10 Warthog — that’s economically essential to the 2nd District.

At a time when Republicans wrangle with messaging to female voters, this 48-year-old’s spunk and articulate bite is made for television — and unlike anything the House GOP Conference has seen in a while…

…McSally doesn’t talk like the average congressional candidate, instead dropping phrases like “awesome,” “dorked up,” and “bad-ass airplane” before crowds and in conversations. During a live appearance on Fox News Channel in February 2012, she said she wanted to kick former Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., “in the jimmy” for his position on women serving in combat…

…“I consider myself a feminist Republican, and that’s not an oxymoron,” McSally tells CQ Roll Call in an interview over a vegetarian burrito slightly smaller than a bowling pin.

McSally is definitely impressive on paper. When pressed for policy details on the campaign trail, however, that “articulate bite” is not evident. McSally seems to struggle to express clear positions on a variety of issues, including reproductive rights, often taking different stances depending upon whom she’s talking to:

When Cathi Herrod of the right-wing Center for Arizona Policy asked Martha McSally her position in 2012, McSally was pro-life in all cases with one exception: when abortion is “necessary to prevent the death of the mother.” [Center for Arizona Policy, 3/25/12]

Fast forward to 2013, when McSally told Tucson radio journalist John C. Scott (and former moderate Republican lawmaker) that she supports three legal exceptions for abortion: cases of rape, incest, and to protect the life of the mother. Further, she stated that the most important aspect of the issue, in her view, just concerned the federal funding of abortion, which she opposed. [John C. Scott Show, KVOI, 7/12/13]

And now, in 2014, Martha McSally told reporter Ashley Parker of the liberal New York Times that she supports FOUR exceptions to her proposed ban on a woman’s right to choose–not the three exceptions she laid out in 2013. McSally’s newest answer is that she would allow a woman to choose an abortion if not doing so would negatively impact the health of the mother–an exception she never mentioned to the Center for Arizona Policy or John C. Scott. [New York Times, 2/25/14]

Under the charitable assumption that McSally’s opinion on abortion access has evolved over the years, it still leaves her with terrible views on reproductive rights. (And Republican politicians have a way of claiming to be for certain exceptions during interviews, and then turning around and voting for abortion restrictions without those exceptions once in office.) McSally’s praise of the Hobby Lobby decision* is instructive in understanding her (very narrowly tailored) brand of feminism:

I agree with the majority of the court that the Obamacare mandate and penalties are not the least restrictive means of providing women access to contraception. Health and Human Services already identified a work-around for religious non-profits and I agree with the court that this work-around can apply in these narrow circumstances as well. But now we need to be focused on how we ensure more women have access to health care. The fact that we’re in this position shows exactly what’s wrong with Obamacare. It tries to force individuals and business owners into compliance through mandates and penalties, and, as we’ve seen, has actually hurt women’s access to health care through cancelled policies and reduced choice. I support patient-centered reform that ensures all women have access to affordable health care.

In case it isn’t obvious by now, “health care choice” is a right wing buzzword designed to appeal to white people who really resent the idea of sharing the waiting room with “Obamacare” recipients. McSally is for repealing the Affordable Care Act, which means that she is not for all women having access to health care by any stretch. If she had her way, millions of women would be stripped of their health coverage and given a meaningless “choice” in its place.

If McSally is elected, she will caucus with the GOP and vote to harm women in myriad ways. She may not vote with them every time, so as to keep up that “moderate” image for the gullible pundits, but enough of the time such that she should never be considered a champion of women. She is to be commended for her military career, during which she helped to break the glass ceiling for military fighter pilots, but a feminism that mainly concerns itself with empowering privileged women with resources to be “awesome” is no feminism I care to be associated with. I’d say McSally’s feminism has much less to do with lifting women up than it has with reminding certain voters how tough and strong she is, unlike all those other bimbos who depend on the government for everything**.

*Does McSally really think that Justices Ginsburg, Kagan, and Sotomayor didn’t read the Hobby Lobby majority opinion?

**Really tired of Dems not calling them out on this bullshit. Women work and pay taxes too! It’s not a “handout” for us to get the health care and other public services we pay for.

New report debunks the “Clean Elections done it” bunk

14 Aug 2014 11:31 am
Posted by: Donna

Andrew Prokop of Vox interviewed Michael G. Miller of Barnard college about his research on public campaign financing in the states that have enacted it. Conventional wisdom in Arizona’s elite circles holds that Arizona’s Clean Election system is largely to blame for the election of radical right wing legislators and laws such as SB1070. Miller tried to find the connection and couldn’t:

Andrew Prokop: Arizona’s legislature last made national news for adopting a tough anti-illegal immigration law in 2010. Would you say that the public financing system made that more likely to pass? Support for loosening immigration laws is more widespread among business interests, and under public financing, the support of business may be less important to candidates.

Michael G. Miller: I think that theory’s plausible, but I just don’t see it in the data, and I always follow the data. So what I have found in my work is that there’s no relationship between accepting public funding and taking more extreme positions. As I said, the narrative has always seemed plausible to me, and I actually was a little surprised when we found no relationship. But I just don’t see it in the data. You’ve got to bear in mind, Arizona’s still a really unique place politically, they have a strong strain of libertarianism running through the right side of their politics. It’s a very perceptible tinge of American conservatism. Barry Goldwater’s alive and well in his home state.

I think there’s a temptation to look for these explanations when we see extreme politics happening in a place, but I think it really is as simple as — if you look at the dynamics of the state, it is kinda a microcosm of America in many ways and you see same kinds of things happening there as you do in the United States Congress. And there’s no public funding in the United States Congress. So I think, we tend to go on these hunts for explanations, when it just ends up being the way things are due to political history, culture, or larger dynamics.

The reason there’s a temptation to look for those explanations is that it is always convenient, for the cocktail party class, to blame the working class for everything wrong, even when it is abundantly clear that rich people were always behind all of it:

Businessmen of the World, Unite!

The organizational counterattack of business in the 1970s was swift and sweeping — a domestic version of Shock and Awe. The number of corporations with public affairs offices in Washington grew from 100 in 1968 to over 500 in 1978. In 1971, only 175 firms had registered lobbyists in Washington, but by 1982, nearly 2,500 did. The number of corporate PACs increased from under 300 in 1976 to over 1,200 by the middle of 1980.[5] On every dimension of corporate political activity, the numbers reveal a dramatic, rapid mobilization of business resources in the mid-1970s.

What the numbers alone cannot show is something of potentially even greater significance: Employers learned how to work together to achieve shared political goals. As members of coalitions, firms could mobilize more proactively and on a much broader front. Corporate leaders became advocates not just for the narrow interests of their firms but also for the shared interests of business as a whole.

And they expanded their tentacles into states with the formation of ALEC in 1973. You built that, Business LeadersTM.

No, wobbly Democrats, Scott Smith is (still) not your GOP boyfriend

10 Aug 2014 05:16 pm
Posted by: Donna

Former Mesa Mayor and AZ GOP Gubernatorial candidate Scott Smith got an undeniable boost on Thursday. He was not only endorsed by Governor Brewer (which everyone expected would happen, though it’s curious that they waited until after mail-in ballots dropped to do it) but AZ Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill swiftly cancelled a meeting with Smith backers in which he was going to try and get them to switch to Doug Ducey. This is a big deal. Smith’s team reports a big bump in fundraising overnight and, with Christine Jones’ campaign fading fast, Smith has a real chance in that primary. Smith will enjoy strong LDS support now that Ken Bennett is no longer a contender and it looks like he’s going to take business establishment support away from Ducey. (I still consider Ducey the favorite based on his early fundraising advantage, all the name ID he’s gotten with his feud with Jones, the continued dark money support from radical right wing moneybags, and the tendency of GOP primary voters to select the biggest asshole who is also electable in the general.)

Needless to say, this Scott Smith development caused a resurgence in the cooing and swooning that tends to overtake some of the more softhearted liberals/left-of-center types in Arizona where he is concerned. It’s so bad at this point that I’ve seen some Democrats bragging on Facebook how they changed their registration to get Republican ballots to vote for their dreamboat.

I’m sympathetic to the argument that Smith is the least reprehensible Republican running in the primary (which is true) and that because it is difficult for a Democrat to win in Arizona in a midterm Smith is the safest Republican choice. What I object to is the unwarranted fawning over on this guy by non-Republicans. It’s eerily similar to the way Democrats gushed over Jeff Flake for years because he was so nice, while ignoring how rabidly right wing most of his views and voting record as a Congressman were. Flake will be in the Senate for the next 3 million years, thanks in part to years of Democrats obligingly softening his image. Those same Democrats never seem to learn because they’re going down the same path with Scott Smith. Let’s just be clear that we’re talking about this guy:

You want to go canvass for this guy? I don’t. Smith’s Center for Arizona Policy questionnaire answers do reveal him to be more moderate than his GOP opponents on many culture war issues – he’s for some LGBT rights and doesn’t want the government censoring the internet. On abortion rights, he does the same thing that Jeff Flake did in 2012, which is to say the magic words about rape and incest exceptions that will get him through endorsement interviews and allow him to paint himself as “moderate” on the issue to the general electorate. As with Flake, Smith can count on not being asked follow up questions about how, precisely, these rape exceptions would work (spoiler alert: they wouldn’t for the vast majority of victims). He gets to look reasonable and magnanimous while opposing about 99% of abortions, which is actually a radical anti-choice position.

The pundits foresee Smith modeling his administration after Governor Brewer’s, which is a reasonable assumption considering her top adviser, Chuck Coughlin, is running his campaign. Brewer has been a disaster on reproductive rights and Smith will be as well. Did you notice that whenever Brewer did something decent like the Medicaid expansion or vetoing SB1062 she’d often get an abortion bill to sign immediately after? It will likely go the same way with Smith. As I’ve noted before, someone has to take one for the team in the culture wars and poor women make for a very convenient sacrifice.

Another answer of Smith’s that I found disturbing was the one on assisted suicide:

Question 8: I believe God has a plan for each of us for which we must be strong, even when this includes trials to our end.

FYI swooners, that right there is what we call a red flag. I mean, look, I don’t expect him to be pro-euthanasia but he seems to be taking a tad to much joy in the prospect of people suffering. Yikes. Is he against palliative pain relief and do-not-resuscitate orders too?

One of the main arguments non-Republican Scott Smith enthusiasts make in his record as Mayor of Mesa and it is a fair one. But running a city is not the same as running a state, especially one with a legislature as full of wingnuts as ours is. There is also the possibility that the guy running as a jobs-focused centrist mayor will turn into an entirely different creature once elected Governor, as happened in North Carolina, where the “Eisenhower Republican” Mayor of Charlotte morphed into Michele Bachmann approximately one nanosecond after becoming Governor of that state.

Know your anti-choice Democratic candidates in Arizona. Part 4.

06 Aug 2014 05:23 pm
Posted by: Donna

This installment will conclude my series on the anti-choice Dems running in legislative primaries. This last one, Sen. Catherine Miranda (LD27), might prove the most difficult to remove due to her incumbency and the strength of her family name. Luckily, her challenger the hugely impressive and indefatigable campaigner Aaron Marquez. (I’m pretty sure Aaron has gotten more money out of me than any legislative candidate ever has because he’s that good at raising it.) And while it sucks to want a female Democrat to be defeated, Miranda has got to go, and we’ll be getting a staunch ally in the Senate with Aaron Marquez:

On your campaign website, you mention that as part of your service with the United States Army Reserve, you helped to build women’s centers in Afghanistan. Can you tell us more about this: What services did they provide, and what impact have they had?

My favorite project that I worked on was when we put together a wool processing center. I worked on a provincial reconstruction team that brought together coalition forces. My team was led by the Swedish armed forces and also Finland’s armed forces. The wool processing center works with all of those groups in the province of Balkh, outside the city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

About 80 percent of Afghans are subsistence farmers, and most of them have sheep or goats. The processing center allowed farmers to use electronic sheep shears to increase wool production by 20 percent annually. At the wool processing center we employ women to card [the wool], spin it, and turn it into yarn. Then they dye it, and they sell it to Afghan rug makers.

I also worked through the Department of Women’s Affairs. In one province called Samangan, there was a women’s center in a location that was very inaccessible, so they wanted a road. We built them an asphalt road that went from the main section of town instead of what was a very rocky dirt road.

In other parts of Afghanistan, I was working to build women’s bazaars. What they were looking for and expecting was just a place that would provide privacy for women to be exclusively around other women. They could take off their burqas, and work on whatever crafts they were trying to market and sell in a place that allowed them to come together. One of the proposals was for a women’s gym. Any gyms that did exist in Mazar-i-Sharif, women were not allowed to go there.

Meanwhile, what has Senator Miranda been doing for women? This kind of stuff:

Last legislative session, your opponent in the primary election, Catherine Miranda, voted in favor of HB 2284, which now permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. How do your views on reproductive health care differ from those of your opponent?

She has a clear anti-choice record, a clear anti-women’s reproductive health care record. She voted for 2284. She’s also voted for 2800, prohibiting state funding for abortion providers; 2384, prohibiting taxpayer funding for abortion providers; 2416, adding regulations for abortion providers, making it more difficult to get abortions. I think every time she’s had the opportunity on issues of choice, she’s been a clear anti-choice vote and a clear vote with the Republican Party.

Miranda voted for harassment of women through surprise inspections of abortion clinics and to defund family planning centers. Remember, they do a lot more than abortions in them. Again, here’s another Dem who wants to “save babies” but who doesn’t seem to understand that when women have effective birth control, the abortion rate plummets.

Vote for pro-choice Democrat Aaron Marquez for LD27. One final note: the only pro-choice Dem challenging an anti-choicer running under Clean Elections is Angela Cotera. Charlene Fernandez, Lisa Otondo, Martin Quezada, and Aaron are not and need contributions. Help them out!

Know your anti-choice Democratic candidates in Arizona. Part 3.

05 Aug 2014 04:12 pm
Posted by: Donna

My pal Dr. Angela Cotera, who has contributed to this blog, is running in the Democratic primary for the Senate seat in LD19 being vacated by Anna Tovar this year. Her opponent is Rep. Lupe Contreras. Contreras signed a pledge in support of overturning Roe v Wade and of the idea that personhood begins at conception. Cotera, who is a smarty-pants research astrophysicist, explained in very succinct terms why Contreras is dead wrong in an endorsement profile with Planned Parenthood of Arizona:

The “Pro-Life Proclamation” that he signed called for all Arizona legislators to make sure that full citizenship rights begin the moment an egg is fertilized. This basically would mean that women have no more rights than an incubator, which is outrageous. I believe that all women have sovereignty over their own bodies, and no one has a right to tell a woman what she can or cannot do within her own body. I believe that all health care decisions should be private, particularly those which involve the most intensely personal aspect of our lives, reproduction. We must protect the rights in Roe v. Wade because we cannot return to a time when women died due to self-induced abortions.

Preach! Vote for pro-choice Democrat Angela Cotera in LD19.

Know your anti-choice Democratic candidates in Arizona. Part 2.

05 Aug 2014 12:55 pm
Posted by: Donna

Rep. Lydia Hernandez and Rep. Martin Quezada are challenging each other for the Senate seat vacated by Steve Gallardo in LD29. Rep. Quezada has gotten the AZ Planned Parenthood endorsement for reasons that will be readily apparent when you see what Hernandez posted on her Facebook page recently:

I explained in my last post that an anti-abortion Democrat is acceptable so long as s/he gives enthusiastic support to contraception access and comprehensive sex ed, while refusing to join with anti-choice Republicans in their demented crusade to make criminals of women and doctors. It’s clear that none of those ideas appeal to Rep. Hernandez, who is pushing the paranoid and risible conspiracy theory that Planned Parenthood is engaging in both the abuse of women and genocide. Hernandez is obviously unqualified to hold office in general, let alone as a Democrat.

Vote for Martin Quezada in LD29.