Voter ID pushers are completely full of it

31 Oct 2014 07:07 pm
Posted by: Donna

The Arizona Eagletarian has already dealt with TownHall columnist Mona Charen’s pile of malarkey defending voter ID laws that appeared in Thursday’s Arizona Republican. I would add that the study that right wingers have been passing around like a doobie at a Willie Nelson concert that purportedly “proves” that a significant number of non-US citizens are registered to vote has been fact-checked and found to be lacking in conclusive evidence.

Voter ID laws are clearly a form of voter suppression targeting minorities and others likely to vote Democratic. It’s been described as similar to the poll taxes that were outlawed decades ago but they’re actually worse than that. You could at least pay the $10 poll tax and be able to vote. If you don’t have the required ID, however, you are not just possibly having to pay a fee (though the ID pushers insist that the IDs are always free), you may also be looking at having to take time off work and a long drive or several trips of public transportation to get whatever government agency dispenses the IDs, which may be oh-so-coincidentally located far from where you live. Voter ID laws are essentially a poll test for would-be voters who lack the privileges that make obtaining an ID a simple matter for people like Mona Charen.

If conservatives are truly concerned about ineligible people voting then why don’t they embrace the obvious solution for that? That would be a national ID, issued for free to all US citizens at age 16. It could be distributed through the schools, libraries, and post offices. The purpose of the card would be to determine eligibility to work and, at age 18, to prove US citizenship for voter registration. Local jurisdictions can then require other documents proving the voter’s address but there would be no doubt that the voter was an American citizen. (Please note that my proposal has nothing to do with immigration policy and it would have no impact on a non-citizen child’s ability to be enrolled in public school. Also, don’t annoy me with paranoid black helicopter conspiracy bullshit about a national ID. We already have forms of it, such as military IDs and passports.)

Conservatives pushing for voter ID laws have never embraced the simple solution of a national ID card because their goal is to deny the franchise to anyone who might disagree with them. Period.

No country for austerity-pushing Democrats.

29 Oct 2014 05:47 pm
Posted by: Donna

My biggest problem with centrist establishment Democrats has been their insistence on trying to prove they’re the bigger grown-ups in the room by embracing punitive conservative economic ideas and more successfully implementing them. Welfare reform was a perfect example of this. Democratic support for it, including President Clinton’s, was supposed to neutralize the issue for Democrats forever. Oddly, though, I never noticed the tendency of voters to associate Democrats with “welfare” to diminish. What happened was that the idea of “welfare” simply expanded to include any public assistance whatsoever, whether or not the recipient worked for wages, and then further to mean 47% of the country. People still defend welfare reform to me on the policy merits but no one can reasonably argue that it was a long-term political success for Democrats, unless they want to make the perverse case that Mitt Romney lost because at least half the country was offended that he thought they were on welfare.

President Obama embraced deficit reduction from the beginning of his presidency. And he did succeed in shrinking the deficit. Does he get any credit for it? Nope.

At the same time, the size and trajectory of the U.S. deficit is poorly understood by most Americans, with 62 percent saying it’s getting bigger, 28 percent saying it’s staying about the same this year, and just 6 percent saying it’s shrinking. The Congressional Budget Office reported Feb. 6 that the federal budget deficit is getting smaller, falling to $845 billion this year — the first time in five years that the gap between taxes and spending will be less than $1 trillion.

Even more weirdly, Americans currently trust Republicans more on the economy:

A new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows why the Republicans are doing so well in the polls right now.

“Recovery” Or Not, The Economy Sucks For Most People

Q: Would you describe the state of the nation’s economy these days as excellent, good, not so good or poor?

Positive 27%
Negative 72%
Excellent 1%
Good 26%
Not so good 44%
Poor 28%
People Think The Economy Is Rigged To Favor The Wealthy

Q: Do you think the U.S. economic system (generally favors the wealthy) or (is fair to most Americans)?

Generally favors the wealthy 71%
Is fair to most Americans 24%

People Think Republicans Will Fix This

Other polls show something ironic: People trust Republicans more than Democrats to fix this and make the economy favor regular people again.

An October 13 Gallup poll: “On the No. 1 issue, the economy, Republicans have more than doubled their April lead over Democrats, to 11 percentage points.”

Strange how Democrats are incessantly accused of excessive spending, despite not doing that at all, while Republicans reap the electoral rewards of austerity. If you’re always going to be painted as “spenders” why not just push for more spending in ways that improve everyone’s lives? When you do do it, as with the Affordable Care Act, why not brag about it, with nonstop ads of people who are ecstatic over having health coverage for the first time in years? The vast majority of Americans couldn’t care less about “bending the cost curve”.

Democrats should definitely not ever trash the momentous progressive accomplishments of the New Deal and Great Society. There is no good in that, as evidenced by the pounding upon Democrats who (stupidly) signed on to cuts to safety net programs:

Cutting federal health and retirement spending has long been at the top of the GOP agenda. But with Republicans in striking distance of winning the Senate, they are suddenly blasting the idea of trimming Social Security benefits.

The latest attack came in Georgia, where the National Republican Campaign Committee posted an ad last week accusing Rep. John Barrow (D) of “leaving Georgia seniors behind” by supporting “a plan that would raise the retirement age to 69 while cutting Social Security benefits.”

Crossroads GPS, the conservative nonprofit group founded by GOP strategist Karl Rove, has run similar ads against North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan (D), Arkansas Sen. Mark Pryor (D) and Rep. Scott Peters (D-Calif.). Crossroads accused Hagan of supporting a “controversial plan” that “raises the retirement age.”

Republicans totally want to end Social Security and Medicare but want Democrats to take the blame for it, which is why they’re constantly trying to trick Democrats into these “grand bargains”. I have encountered centrist Dems who seem genuinely shocked that liberals didn’t eagerly embrace Simpson-Bowles. My guess is that they believe (wrongly) that liberals are so enamored of the possibility of tax increases on the wealthy that we’ll gladly trade our own and everyone else’s retirement security for them. We did warn them that Republicans would hang any cuts, actual or proposed, to Social Security and Medicare right around Democrats’ necks, which is exactly what is happening to the Democrats who signaled support for them. There truly is no upside to Democrats pushing austerity. None.

Doug MacEachern is yelling at a cloud again

28 Oct 2014 01:58 pm
Posted by: Donna

Oh my, they let Doug MacEachern go off on a tear again.

One day before the primary elections ended, on Aug. 25, a young fellow wearing a Citizens for a Better Arizona tee shirt walked into Maricopa County elections headquarters carrying a box. It was filled with hundreds of mail-in ballots, which he merrily delivered to county election workers.

A Republican activist who happened to be there filmed the CBA worker delivering the ballots. His video recently went viral on YouTube. Conservative groups and media picked up the story. For conservatives, it was a true “ah HA!” moment. It was, to them, evidence of “ballot stuffing.” Of fraud.

And, a lot of those conservative media noted the fact that all the “fraud” was being perpetrated by “Mexicans.”

Say what you like about leftist machine politics, but they know how to do damage control.

They leaped in with press releases declaring that Citizens for a Better Arizona is nothing but a “civic engagement group” helping out befuddled voters.

The CBA is a union-backed, Alinsky-ite activist group whose aggressive tactics in past elections have infuriated and embarrassed even other union-backed activist groups. To call the CBA a “civic engagement group” is akin to calling Rush Limbaugh a political-issues analyst. True, but, well, just gross.

Befuddled? Hey, Doug must read this blog since that’s how I’ve described him a time or two! And I’m pretty sure as “gross” as well. Anyway, isn’t it neat how conservatives can screech about – oh wait, “note” – that “Mexicans” are committing voter fraud all over the place sans any actual evidence of said fraud but the real race hucksters are the people pointing out that the conservatives are being racist? Also weird how MacEachern has nothing to say about (likely) Republican voters being instructed to bring ballots to a Doug Ducey rally last week. Yeah, of course that’s different.

Here’s MacEachern having further thoughts on the matter:

No different? Again, a thought experiment:

You are a poll watcher on Election Day. A person wearing an “I am a political radical” tee shirt walks up to a voter who is marking her ballot, and instructs her on who and what to vote for.

What do you do? Once upon a time, League of Women Voters poll watchers would call the cops. Now? They cheer lead for “ballot parties.”

Someone over at the Republic should pull Doug aside and explain the concept of consent to him because that passage above was just embarrassing.

Hypothetical scenarios conjured up in Doug MacEachern’s overheated imagination are not a rational basis upon which to ban ballot collection. Sadly for Angry Grandpa, the GOP-led Legislature had to overturn HB2305, which would have stopped those Mexicans from having their wild ballot parties and whatnot so those (perfectly legal and legitimate) efforts continue apace this election. I was recently told by a person involved in field operations in what are normally low turnout parts of Phoenix that canvassers are bringing a healthy number of ballots from low efficacy Dem voters. Whether it will be enough to turn the tide of some statewide races remains to be seen but it’s clearly got at least some conservatives nervous, hence the frantic, paranoid whining about “ballot harvesting”.

UPDATE!! MacEachern continued his pathetic tirade on Tuesday, with a rebuttal to Citizens for a Better Arizona chairman Chad Snow’s response to his column. It’s time for him to retire, Arizona Republic. He’s an embarrassment.

Polarization Schmolarization

24 Oct 2014 12:55 pm
Posted by: Donna

Pew (and others) discover the SHOCKING TRUTH that people who pay attention to politics are polarized! You won’t believe what happens next!

Here’s Vox‘s Ezra Klein on a research paper by Pew analyzing “polarization” in the American electorate:

Perhaps the single most important fact about American politics is this: the people who participate are more ideological and more partisan, as well as angrier and more fearful, than those who don’t.

The finding emerges from Pew’s massive survey of 10,000 Americans, which concluded that “Republicans and Democrats are more divided along ideological lines — and partisan antipathy is deeper and more extensive — than at any point in the last two decades.”

But everyone already knew that. Here’s the real kicker: “these divisions are greatest among those who are the most engaged and active in the political process.”

You don’t say! The Pew report itself finds that Republicans and Democrats have grown quite far apart on the conservative-liberal scale and Klein correctly points out how that’s largely the result of the parties realigning over the decades.

People talk of political polarization as if it’s one thing. It isn’t.

In April 1947, the American Institute of Public Opinion Surveys asked voters a question that sounds very odd to modern ears:

It has been suggested that we give up the present Republican and Democratic parties and have two new parties – one for the Liberals and one for the Conservatives. Would you favor this idea?

“Today, this question might seem absurd,” writes the political scientist Hans Noel inPolitical Ideologies and Political Parties in America. “For most practical purposes, the present Republican and Democratic parties are parties of conservatives and liberals.”

But that wasn’t true in the middle of the 20th Century. The Democratic Party was home to lots of conservatives. The Republican Party had a vast liberal faction. “Ideology and political parties were two separate ways of organizing political conflict,” Noel writes. But not any longer. Even since the 1990s, the shift towards a political system in which party and ideology are one has been stark:

Perhaps if the reactionaries and progressives/liberals were more evenly distributed between the parties we’d see the kind of momentous bipartisan legislation, such as Medicare and the Civil Rights Act, that got passed five decades ago. But the movement to make the GOP the comfortable home for all right wingers began in earnest after Goldwater lost and isn’t going to be undone anytime soon, if ever. The infamous hippie-punching Powell Memo kicked off the Faustian bargain of business leaders with religious zealots angry over desegregation and the sexual revolution to usher in Republican electoral victories. The propagandizing was so smashingly successful that many of today’s “business leaders” and major funders of Republicans are, themselves, rabid reactionaries.

As Klein also correctly observes, “People often assume “polarization” is a synonym for “extremism.” It isn’t.” That is why while most liberals tend to vote Democratic, the party itself as not become the leftist mirror image of the GOP. Many disgruntled lefties attribute this to corporate donor influence but, while they are not wrong about the existence of that, the Democratic electorate is comprised of liberals and people who consider themselves moderate. Furthermore, Pew found a very big difference in news consumption between conservatives and liberals/moderates.

Respondents were asked whether they had heard of each of the 36 outlets listed in the accompanying graphic. For those they had heard of, they were asked about their trust – or distrust – in each source.

Liberals, overall, trust a much larger mix of news outlets than others do. Of the 36 different outlets considered, 28 are more trusted than distrusted by consistent liberals. Just eight earn higher shares of distrust than trust. Still, among those eight, the levels of distrust can be high: fully 81% of consistent liberals distrust Fox News, and 75% distrust the Rush Limbaugh Show.

Among consistent conservatives, by contrast, there are 24 sources that draw more distrust than trust. The same is true for 15 sources among those with mostly conservative views. And, of the eight outlets more trusted than distrusted by consistent conservatives, all but one, on balance, are distrusted by consistent liberals.

This chart shows the trusted news source patterns across the spectrum:

Yes, we liberals have our preferred lefty sites but liberals and moderates really aren’t getting our information from as hermetically sealed an echo chamber as conservatives are. That’s not likely to change any time either, and that’s not even addressing the multitude of foundations and think tanks set up by well-heeled right wingers to make their bullshit look like it’s got intellectual credibility.

So I find all this fretting the political class and mainstream media constantly do over “polarization” to be aggravating and useless. Of course the country is polarized but how is that our biggest problem? Say there were a place where the people who lived in it were roughly comprised of one group of people who thought it was awesome to smash puppies to death with hammers and they were armed with reams of “information” proving that smashing puppies to death regularly ought to be required of every citizen, and another group who were all, “no, we oppose that because we’re not puppy-smashing monsters kthxbai.” Would you say the problem with that place was that is was too polarized? Or would you say the first group needed to take it down several notches and not be let near any puppies? Why isn’t that same basic sense applied to the many, many absurd and awful real policy positions that reactionaries hold and relentlessly try to make into law in this country?

Jeff Sharlet, who has written several books about religious conservatives in the U.S., including his bestseller The Family, wrote a series of tweets criticizing liberals and academics for what he described as “fetishizing dialogue” last year.

The assumption that “dialogue” solves all problems is profoundly paternalistic — & naive.

The fetish for “dialogue” above all — including legit anger & actual inquiry — is a politics of presumption.

Fetish for “dialogue” assumes those you disagree w/ lack only your insight; assumes they want to “compromise.” As if they have no agency.

I hear this from students all time; they forgive bigotries on assumption bigots lack approp “culture.” Cant believe hate can be chosen.

David Creech, a religious studies scholar at Loyola University Chicago, wrote: What alternative to dialog do you propose?

Demand for alternative to “dialogue” assumes solutions always at hand. Sometimes whats needed is diagnosis, nt prescription.

Student fetish for “dialogue” a form of technocratic optimism based on free market myth of “exchange” as end in itself.

Creech wrote: Dialog for me implies also listening, the possibility that I might be changed by your insight and experience.

That’s great when it’s an option. But it assumes a desire for common ground. Which is a form of paternalism.

Creech: Desire for common ground as paternalism… Intriguing suggestion… I will have to chew on that for a bit.

The desire for common ground isn’t paternalim; the assumption that others share it is.

Take the example of Uganda’s “kill-the-gays” activists. Some assumed they needed dialogue. They thought that funny. 1/2

2/2 because they knew the arguments against homophobic genocide. Knew them & rejected them. Not looking for my “insight.”

Defenders of “dialogue” as end in itself see only other option as brutality. They fail to imagine possibility of open-ended problem.

A perfect example of chosen bigotry: Heritage Foundation’s Harvard-powered, race-based, anti-immigration “study.”

Well-intentioned liberals always ask how we can “educate” haters. Elite haters don’t need “education”; they need to be challenged.

Sharlet is exactly right. Just as the Ugandan bigots were aware of the opposing arguments, so too are the American ones. Americans in their Rush and Fox News bubbles are regularly presented with empathetic and egalitarian arguments, but it’s so they scoff at and mock them. Coming from two decades of pro-choice activism and regularly encountering the toxic misogyny to be found on the other side, I am keenly aware that some disputes are just not amenable to dialogue and need to be polarized until the forces of hate and irrationality are defeated.

About that terrible no good Clean Elections board decision on Forese, Little

22 Oct 2014 05:28 pm
Posted by: Donna

I haven’t gotten around to addressing it, what with the marriage equality hoopla and teenage abortion explosions taking place at this very hectic pre-election time, but last week the Clean Elections Commission allowed GOP Corp Comm candidates to walk with an insultingly low fine of $1K each after they admitted to violating Clean Elections law.

Per the AZ Capitol Times:

The commission voted 4-1 to adopt the a settlement, which the candidates proposed just before the commissioners met to discuss commission executive director Tom Collins’ recommendation for a full investigation into the candidates. Tom Collins reported that a staff analysis showed there was reason to believe the two broke campaign finance laws while investigating two complaints filed with the commission by the state Democratic Party.

Here’s the lame explanation Collins gave for the decision:

“The public interest is also served by having these things cleared up,” Collins said Thursday. “Nobody wants campaign finance complaints to be the driving force in elections. Campaigns are about candidates, not campaign-finance law. So when there is an opportunity to reach a reasonable conciliation, our statute expressly calls for that to occur.”

Seriously, dude? Some of us have this weird notion that the public interest is best served by there being consequences for blatantly violating laws governing the use of public funds in an election. Those consequences are spelled out in the Clean Elections statute:

C): Any campaign finance report filed indicating a violation of section 16-941, subsections A or B or section 16-941, subsection C, paragraph 1 involving an amount in excess of ten percent of the sum of the adjusted primary election spending limit and the adjusted general election spending limit for a particular candidate shall result in disqualification of a candidate or forfeiture of office.

That’s some pretty unambiguous language there. I’m not sure why Executive Director Collins that the board members who voted for that paltry fine (paid in monthly installments, no less) are struggling to understand what the whole point of implementing a public campaign financing system in Arizona was. Those rules were put in place so that voters would have confidence that candidates aren’t engaging in fraudulent activity with public money. This sets a really bad precedent since the next candidate who blatantly violates the rules can simply point to the slap on the wrist Forese and Little got and demand the same deal. The Commission has basically declared open season on public campaign funds.

I’m one of the strongest defenders of AZ Clean Elections out there. The reason, as I’ve explained before, is because attacks on our state’s program are intended to end all public campaign financing, everywhere. But the program is not without its flaws, clearly one of which is arbitrary and inconsistent enforcement of violations. Bad call, Clean Elections Commission.

WTF, Laurie Roberts?

21 Oct 2014 08:50 pm
Posted by: Donna

I had long suspected that Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts’ focus on child abuse in her columns is little more than self-serving preening but her latest piece removed all doubt.

Last week, Democrat Fred DuVal told members of a Gilbert church that he believes your 14-year-old daughter should be able to get an abortion without first getting your consent.

DuVal’s comments – to me, at least – were stunning and the most stunning part of the story?

It wasn’t news.

DuVal was appearing at the Redemption Church in Gilbert where Pastor Tom Shrader asked him a series of questions, including this one on the rights of parents when it comes to their teen-age daughters and abortion.

If one were a true champion of abused children, as Roberts claims to be, then it should not be a shock that someone would oppose requiring parental notification and consent for abortion. It should be bleedingly obvious to Laurie Roberts, of all people, why that would be. Yet it isn’t. And Laurie has so many questions!

On Tuesday, I tried to talk with DuVal to clarify. Does he really believe that 14 year olds should be able to get abortions without a parent’s consent?…

…So, DuVal wouldn’t try to change existing law but he doesn’t believe that parents have the right to know that their young daughters are contemplating abortion?…

…On Tuesday, I asked several political editors why. The answers were varied, mostly that they were swamped with the gay-marriage story late last week and that it didn’t seem particularly newsworthy that a pro-choice candidate would oppose parental consent…

…But I wonder if the same editorial decision would have been made had it been Ducey saying that he opposed the state’s opt-out provision – the one that exists for girls who face the very-real threat of a beating if they tell mommy and daddy they want an abortion.

My guess is we’d cover that Ducey story. The fact that we didn’t cover the DuVal story?

I hope I’m wrong, but I’m wondering, does it say more about us than about him?

Man, that’s some weapons-grade pearl clutching there, and not a whole lot of interest in the well-being of the pregnant, scared teens themselves. Maybe Roberts is only interested in babies and small children who are abused. Once they’ve hit puberty and are sexually active, they have it coming I guess? Roberts does finally mention abuse at the end of her piece, using some rather disturbing phrasing – “…girls who face the very-real threat of a beating if they tell mommy and daddy they want an abortion.” Very few teenagers call their parents “mommy and daddy” so I don’t even know what that’s about. Oh, and why might it be covered differently if Ducey publicly opposed allowing girls who fear violence from their families to opt out of the notification/consent requirement? Because that is a monstrous position. I mean, damn, Laurie.

I imagine that it has simply never occurred to Laurie Roberts that the notion of children being the property of parents, which Arizona’s parental consent for abortion law is firmly rooted in, is a major contributing factor to the scourge of child abuse. Incidentally, here is the rationale Americans United for Life, which provides the model anti-choice legislation for the whole country, gives for requiring parental notification for a minor’s abortion:

The [Legislature]’s purposes in enacting this parental notice law are to further the
important and compelling State interests of:
(1) Protecting minors against their own immaturity.
(2) Fostering family unity and preserving the family as a viable social unit.
(3) Protecting the constitutional rights of parents to rear children who are members of
their household.
(4) Reducing teenage pregnancy and abortion.
(5) In light of the foregoing statements of purpose, allowing for judicial bypasses of
parental notification to be made only in exceptional or rare circumstances.

Only no. 1 directly relates to the minors and no. 4 is flat out absurd. Numbers 2, 3, and 5 err heavily on the side of parents and against abused teens.

Cathi Herrod had a very bad day but she’s not going anywhere

17 Oct 2014 04:46 pm
Posted by: Donna

Woe is Cathi Herrod. Behold the President of Center for Arizona Policy’s statement on Friday’s huge marriage equality win for Arizona in all it’s schadenfreude-alicious glory:

Statement from Center for Arizona Policy President Cathi Herrod

Arizona’s marriage amendment which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman has been overturned by the courts.

PHOENIX – “I am heartbroken for a country and a state that has had the redefinition of marriage forced upon them by an out of control federal judiciary.

In what amounts to the de-facto Roe v Wade of marriage, voters throughout the nation have watched their voices be silenced, and their votes voided. Now, Arizona’s marriage amendment and our voters are the latest victims. While the United States Supreme Court may still take up the issue of marriage redefinition, for now the courts have settled the issue in our state.

Today, we grieve. We grieve for the children who now have no chance of growing up with a mom and a dad. We mourn the loss of a culture and its ethical foundation. We mourn a culture that continues to turn its back on timeless principles.

But we do not despair. We do not throw in the towel. We do not give up.

Just as we have worked to build a culture of life, we will focus on rebuilding a culture of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

For more information, contact Aaron Baer, 602.424.2525 or abaer@azpolicy.org

Center for Arizona Policy promotes and defends the foundational values of life, marriage and family, and religious liberty. For more information, visit azpolicy.org.
###

To which I respond.

Do take note of the language in that, specifically the reference to Roe v Wade and “culture of life”. Herrod was not only signalling that CAP is going to double down abortion restrictions*, but she’s also conveying something that I and other pro-choice activists have been trying to get those, like HRC Arizona, who think they can support anti-choicers like Ethan Orr because he’s “good” on LGBT issues to understand: Cathi Herrod does not see abortion and same sex marriage as wholly distinct issues. Her opposition to both stems from the same mission to force people into rigid patriarchal gender roles and she’ll take whatever gets her closer to that goal. This is why I keep saying that CAP will bring SB1062 back under the auspices of women’s reproduction and we need people to get out there and fight the “Hobby Lobby” bill just as hard as with SB1062. Harder, really, since the business community never cares about anti-women laws. We have to make them care. You can’t delude yourself that you can be cafeteria-style on human rights anymore.

*Her success in any of her endeavors depends greatly on who is elected governor in a few weeks.