What about the ladies with this boycott thing?

23 Jul 2014 02:37 pm
Posted by: Donna

I can’t argue with Markos Moulitsas for keeping his pledge to boycott Arizona until SB1070 is fully overturned and I doubt he’s going to be persuaded out of it, judging from the scathing statement he issued about Phoenix hosting Netroots Nation in 2015.

I made very clear in the wake of Arizona’s passage of SB 1070 that I would not be setting foot in the state, nor spending a dime in it until the law was revoked. The law, however gutted by the courts, remains on the books, as does systemic harassment of Latinos, so my pledge still stands.

In a subsequent post he clarified that his not going was a personal choice and not a statement on what anyone else decides to do.

1. As a Latino, I do not feel safe in Arizona, a state that continues to profile and harrass Latinos because of the way they look. So I’m not going to go, nor am I going to put my family or my staff at risk.

2. I am not leading a boycott. I am personally not attending. I don’t care if you go or don’t go. I won’t think better or worse about you regardless of what decision you make. But organizationally, I won’t spend a dime on a state that has codified overt racism. If you disagree, that’s fine! If you agree, that’s fine! You get to make that call.

What WILL make me think less of you is if you outright disregard the real fears and anger that SB 1070 generates among people of color. I can concede that there are two genuine sides to this issue, that both the arguments for and against attending are valid, and that we can make our own choices on the matter and not be “wrong”. Don’t be a pompous ass to people of color and sympathizers on an issue that cuts so deeply and emotionally, because really, just don’t.

On the other hand, don’t be an asshole to those who want to attend, because there are valid reasons for doing so as well.

Not gonna argue with number 1 and I’m glad Kos isn’t leading a boycott. Because that would be re-starting a boycott that was already ended years ago, as John Loredo explains:

“Thank you for supporting the boycott we called. We called for the boycott to bring economic pressure onto the state and to force Arizona business leaders to get off the bench and into the immigration fight. It worked. The year after Senate Bill 1070 passed, business leaders testified at the State Senate and took the position that Arizona could no longer sustain the economic boycott and the legislature needed to stop passing any more harmful immigration bills. Since that point, not one immigration bill has passed at the Arizona state legislature. We accomplished our goal, and those of us who called for the boycott called it off. We hope those that respected our calling for the boycott will respect our decision to call it off.

As I’ve explained many, many times (and I’ll keep doing it), the business community in Arizona deliberately went silent on SB1070 after then Senate President Russell Pearce stripped out employer enforcement language and in order to ensure a GOP sweep in the 2010 election. After they got spanked hard for that economically, business leaders not only reined in anti-immigration bills but also were swift to react to SB1062 when threatened with boycotts by the LGBT and other progressive communities.

Which leads me to wonder: What about the ladies? At what point do the constant and vicious attacks on women’s basic human rights and ability to access safe and legal reproductive health care by state legislatures become intolerable enough to warrant the boycott of a state? What would be enough to draw organized progressive resistance to an anti-choice bill such that it might cause the business elite of a state, who usually shy away from the “controversy” of reproductive politics, to maybe take notice? Mandatory vaginal wanding? Personhood for fertilized eggs? Michigan has passed some pretty nasty anti-choice legislation in the past few years yet no participant that I’m aware of, including Markos Moulitsas, objected to Detroit hosting Netroots Nations.

I am aware that by even broaching the topic I am inviting accusations of being divisive and of putting my trivial little ladies issue ahead of More Important Things™. To which I respond: too bad. I once had a columnist for the Phoenix New Times defend his support of anti-choice but pro-immigrant rights politicians to me on the basis that “women aren’t being put in jail for having abortions yet”. He was, of course, ignoring the fact that some undocumented immigrants also happen to be women who badly need inexpensive and confidential reproductive health care. Such as the kind provided by Planned Parenthood, from which one of the columnist’s favorite anti-choice legislators voted to cut funding. I guess the dudely columnist never considered how much worse being rounded up by Arpaio’s goons would be if you also had an unplanned pregnancy to contend with on top of it. He was definitely not the first person I’ve encountered who feels there are “human” issues and “women’s” issues and never the twain shall meet.

It could be that part of the reason that reproductive rights are often treated as a secondary issue among progressives – to the extent that boycotts aren’t even considered in the face of some pretty vile laws passed in state legislatures – is that the public face of the pro-choice movement remains very much that of affluent white women, who happen to be the least likely to be harmed by anti-choice laws. However, while I absolutely concede that the pro-choice movement needs to work on inclusiveness and diversity, the same critique has been leveled at the LGBT rights movement, which has long been seen as largely white and urban and male. That didn’t stop the fervor for a boycott over SB1062 and the quick responsiveness of the business community to it. I’m forced to conclude that something deeper and more insidious is at work here. That something is called sexism.

You may be tempted to tell me to go ahead and start a boycott right now if I think it’s so important. My answer to that is that I don’t honestly know if there would be any point to that. Given the near inevitablity that a bad anti-choice bill will introduced in the Arizona legislature next year, would the call for a boycott of a few of us here be joined by significant enough numbers of people and organizations within and outside the state? Would Netroots Nation even consider pulling the conference out of Phoenix? Would Arizona pro-choice activists calling for NN to pull out be supported by fellow progressives, or resented? I’m posing this merely as a thought exercise at this point.

When SB1070 was signed in 2010, a boycott was immediately organized and it succeeded. When SB1062 passed the Legislature earlier this year, the mere threat of boycotts was enough to send in the Chambers of Commerce to kill it. One week after SB1062 went down Governor Brewer signed a bill that allowed surprise inspections of abortion clinics. Apart from a couple small-ish demonstrations at the State Capitol, which I participated in, the overall reaction of the progressive community was “meh”. One of the very valid reasons Markos gives for refusing to set foot in Arizona is that Latinos are routinely targeted and harassed. Well, the same thing is happening to women – and women of color disproportionately – in Arizona and several other states as they seek the reproductive health care that enables them to have some economic security and participate fully in society. I’m seeing a lot of talk on DailyKos about solidarity these past few days but, as much of America is starting to resemble 1965 in terms of women’s reproductive rights, I have to ask where is the solidarity with the ladies? What is it going to take?

Cathi Herrod’s law firm spreads lies about birth control in federal suit

21 Jul 2014 10:49 pm
Posted by: Donna

Anti-choicers don’t have the truth or popular opinion on their side where birth control is concerned but that has not stopped the movement in its unrelenting quest to strip women of access to it. So they have devised a three part strategy to fool the public:

1. They have claimed repeatedly that effective forms of hormonal contraception used by women (IUDs, morning after pills, and even regular pills) are really “abortions” due to the slight theoretical possibility that such methods might interfere with a fertilized egg implanting on the wall of the uterus. I have yet to have an anti-choicer explain to me exactly how often they think an IUD or birth control pill snuffs out a fertilized egg* as opposed to working the way that the current scientific consensus holds that they do – by blocking fertilization. But scientific evidence is largely irrelevant to the anti-contraception crusaders.

2. They put the entire anti-contraception effort under the rubric of “religion”, so that any opposition to their attacks on birth control access will be painted as persecution of religious people. Additionally, anti-choicers successfully convinced the Supreme Court to agree that the mere belief on the part of religious employers that certain forms of contraception are “abortifacients” was sufficient to classify them as such in the Hobby Lobby case. Not that it mattered, ultimately, since the actual decision applied to all forms of contraception. Which neatly seques into the third component:

3. They have quietly included all forms of contraception in their legal efforts while loudly repeating the “only 4 kinds!” “abortificients!” canard at every opportunity. It is truly a perfect exemplar of the old saw about a lie getting halfway around the world before the truth gets its pants on. I have lost count of how many times I’ve had to explain, to what I perceive to be well-meaning people, what the facts are. No, there is no such thing as an “abortifacient” form of contraception and, no, we are not merely talking about “four kinds”, even if that were the case.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, the Scottsdale-based legal organization with close ties to Cathi Herrod’s religious lobbying group Center for Arizona Policy, is representing Sara Hellwege, a Florida nurse-midwife who claims she was denied an employment opportunity with Tampa Family Health Centers. Tampa Family is a Title X facility, which means it receives federal funds to provide a number of medical services to patients, including family planning. They decided not to interview Hellwege after she told them in an email exchange that she would not prescribe “non-barrier” contraception due to her religious views.

Per Alliance:

The lawsuit, Hellwege v. Tampa Family Health Centers, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Division, explains that “TFHC’s refusal to consider Ms. Hellwege’s application for employment on the basis of her religious beliefs and association with the pro-life group AAPLOG violates multiple federal laws.”

The lawsuit also explains that “Florida law shall not require ‘any person to participate in the termination of a pregnancy, nor shall…any person be liable for such refusal.’” Moreover, “Ms. Hellwege has the right to refuse to prescribe abortifacient contraceptives where such actions violate her religious beliefs or moral convictions.”

Hellwege wants to refuse to supply a number of contraceptives outside of the IUDs and morning after pills that Hobby Lobby did. Meaning no regular birth control pills of any kind, Depo Provera shot, or patch for you if you are her patient. Very few people outside of the most zealous anti-choicers believe that any of those methods affect a fertilized egg at all. But, again, SCOTUS set the stage for religious belief trumping science and the “abortifacients” lie now has such traction that even a “stridently, vocally pro-choice” prominent blogger Frances Locke sides with Hellwege:

Now, I am as liberal as they come, but the way certain liberal media sources are reporting on this case is reprehensible. Hellwege isn’t some entitled pro-life drama queen insisting on being hired for a job she refuses to do. Hellwege isn’t asking to be hired at all, only considered. And it’s clear to me from this chain of emails that if she wasn’t affiliated with a religious group, she most likely would have been considered. Not only that, but Hellwege seemed more than willing to compromise with this facility to perform the job required. Unlike what many media sources have reported, Hellwege never refused to prescribe ALL forms of birth control, merely anything that may lead to abortion. She is also willing to counsel patients on ALL forms of BC, including abortifacients.

Five will get you ten that Sara Hellwege, member of American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG), did not just innocently and coincidentally apply for that position, but never mind that for now. It’s definitely noteworthy that Tampa Family Health is a private (albeit nonprofit) company and that Hellwege is asserting her right as a potential employee to impose her religion on her boss. I pointed out during the SB1062 debate that one of the lesser-noticed reasons the Arizona business community squelched the bill was out of fear of their own liability with disgruntled religious employees (who happen to hold religious views favored by the likes of John Roberts and Antonin Scalia). Hate to break it to you, my libertarian friends, but this has always been much less about property and business owners’ rights than you think it has.

*There was one women who told me that “one in a hundred is too many!”, referring to thwarted implantations of fertilized eggs, therefore birth control pills and IUDs are “abortion”. Which makes about as much sense as claiming that every time someone goes for a drive they are “getting into a car accident” based on the slight statistical risk of that happening. Ban driving!

Bob Robb scolds “both sides” for “behaving badly” without mentioning the actual bad behavior of certain people

18 Jul 2014 04:29 pm
Posted by: Donna

Quoth Bob Robb:

In the debate over what to do about juvenile illegal immigrants from Central America, both sides are behaving badly.

I agree with some of the policy points in Bob Robb’s column on the Honduran refugee children situation but he’s talking about policy and not behavior. Now, I’m the last person to lecture people on their tone or tell them not to protest something they oppose vigorously. There’s a difference between protesting and being a menacing bully, though, and the latter is what anti-immigrant activists have been doing. And to children, no less. Some right wing pundits and Republican politicians are busily spinning blatant lies about them, such as that they’re “bringing diseases” and are, or will grow up to be, violent gang members. Robb makes no mention of all that but does chide Democrats for not working with the Republicans.

Rather than fighting the law change Republicans are pushing, Democrats should develop and try to attach to it the refugee program they think appropriate.

Yeah, that’ll totally work. You can always trust Republicans to be reasonable when you give them a bunch of stuff that they said they wanted. Both sides!

Sorry Republicans, the Honduran refugees aren’t this year’s “headless bodies”

15 Jul 2014 06:22 pm
Posted by: Donna

On Tuesday morning, some goobers in Arizona thought they were going to repeat what goobers in Murrieta, CA did last week, when they got a bus full of refugees from Honduras to turn around, and border agents to stop sending anymore migrant children through their community, by being screaming assholes. Sadly for the Arizona effort, the bigots were only able to challenge one bus full of American kids going to a YMCA activity, though one Adam Kwasman, candidate for Congress in CD01, did succeed in making himself look like a giant dumbass.

Basically what is happening is that a lot of the conservatives here are engaging in a fumbling attempt to party like it’s 2010, when they rode immigrant bashing all the way to a smashing victory in that midterm election. SB1070 was many things, but one of the main things about it was that it was one of the most well-played scams in political history. It was pure flypaper to get Republicans out to vote, while dampening Democratic turnout, and making a fortune for Republican politicians and consultants. Much of the voter support for it that was not overt racism was justified ginned up hysteria over a murdered rancher, cartels, and “headless bodies in the desert”. Invoking those menacing images repeated enabled Republicans from Jan Brewer on down to claim they were protecting Arizonans from violence with SB1070. This is not so easily done with teenagers and small children fleeing their homelands in terror. Even Kwasman had to pretend he saw “fear on the faces” of the children on the YMCA bus. The screaming meemies protesting the childrens’ arrival are forced to emphasize “diseases”, because it’s obvious to any sentient being they are seeking refuge from violence, not trying to bring it here. Outside of making this about Obama, I’m not sure how much this would help any Republican here in November.

What would make AZ Republicans eager raise their own taxes?

14 Jul 2014 05:13 pm
Posted by: Donna

Terrorizing brown people, of course! HighGround, the firm owned by Chuck Coughlin (Arizona’s true Governor) which represents GOP candidate Scott Smith, released a poll of the upcoming primary. The results for Governor track with other recent polls showing Doug Ducey and Christine Jones vying for the lead but still a lot of undecideds. The focus was on immigration and naturally the mostly conservative respondents favored hardline anti-immigrant enforcement. A wide majority favor such measures so much that they are willing to disregard their objection to taxation for them.

Q9. If the Federal Government refuses to secure the border, would you support the State of Arizona increasing taxes to allocate additional resources to securing the border and increasing immigration enforcement?

24.5% Definitely No
12.3% Probably No
20.5% Probably Yes
37.3% Definitely Yes
5.5% Don’t Know, Refused

Yet more proof that their constant blubbering about “deficits” and “spending” and “debt” is a bunch of marlarkey. The spending they don’t like is that which goes to help poor people. There is endless supply, however, of federal revenue to borrow (or state money to divert) for the purpose of locking up brown and black people or killing them.

But sure, tell me again how “moderate Republicans” are going to save us.

What’s the matter with Arizona fathers?

10 Jul 2014 05:36 pm
Posted by: Donna

I posed a question on social media today about whether Arizonans really care as much about education as they say they do, given how the state keeps electing people who are basically out to dismantle the public education system. My guess was that a lot of people tell pollsters they support the schools and think they are important because they think they are supposed to say that but really don’t give the schools in this state much thought because they don’t have any K-12 or college students in their households. That led me to nerd out on some exit polls, which lead me to discover something quite shocking, though not entirely unexpected. I used the Senate race in 2012 because I think it’s a slightly better proxy for statewide voting patterns than the Presidential.

Married parents voting Republican isn’t surprising since they demographically skew that way (though y’all nice white parents can kindly knock off the whining about the schools you keep voting to defund any minute now). What’s really striking is the next chart over*, where the 35% of voters with children 18 and under were considered. The disparity between mothers and fathers is a staggering 60 points! In other words, the moms get it and the dads are too busy, what, fondling their guns to pay any attention to what is being done to their children in this state? I just don’t even. Get it together, dads. In the meantime, it looks like fathers have a slightly higher participation rate than mothers. I guarantee that is a sign we’re not getting enough single moms to the polls.

*It does appear at first glance that I need to have a talk with my fellow ladies who are not currently engaged in child raising about their voting too but my guess on that is that the “women with no children” sample includes a large number of older white women. Which is, of course, another bright neon sign indicating that Democrats need to get more single women to the polls in general.

The science is in: “Moderate” voters are a myth

10 Jul 2014 12:52 pm
Posted by: Donna

Vox‘s Ezra Klein covered some interesting new research involving ideological stances of average voters.

What happens, explains David Broockman, a political scientist at the University of California at Berkeley, is that surveys mistake people with diverse political opinions for people with moderate political opinions. The way it works is that a pollster will ask people for their position on a wide range of issues: marijuana legalization, the war in Iraq, universal health care, gay marriage, taxes, climate change, and so on. The answers will then be coded as to whether they’re left or right. People who have a mix of answers on the left and the right average out to the middle — and so they’re labeled as moderate.

“”These people look like moderates but they’re actually quite extreme”"

But when you drill down into those individual answers you find a lot of opinions that are well out of the political mainstream. “A lot of people say we should have a universal health-care system run by the state like the British,” says Broockman. “A lot of people say we should deport all undocumented immigrants immediately with no due process. You’ll often see really draconian measures towards gays and lesbians get 16 to 20 percent support. These people look like moderates but they’re actually quite extreme.”

The result is that voters who hold gentle opinions that are all on the left or the right end up looking a lot more extreme than voters who hold intense opinions that fall all over the political spectrum. Broockman offers this table as illustration:

Digging into a 134-issue survey, Broockman and coauthor Doug Ahler find that 70.1 percent of all respondents, and 71.3 percent of self-identified moderates, took at least one position outside the political mainstream. Moderates, in other words, are just as likely as anyone else to hold extreme positions: it’s just that those positions don’t all line up on the left or the right.

“these voters don’t want moderate candidates because these voters aren’t actually moderates”

For Ahler and Broockman, this solves a puzzle. They note that many states have implemented election reforms to wrest the process away from partisans and empower average voters to elect the moderate politicians they really want. These reforms include open primary elections, nonpartisan redistricting, and public funding of elections. But “the bulk of studies on these reforms finds little evidence that they improve moderate candidates’ fortunes.”

The answer, Ahler and Brookman realize, is simple: these voters don’t want moderate candidates because these voters aren’t actually moderates.

The Ahler/Broockman draft is here if you care to read it. Ahler and Broockman are, of course, wrong about public financing. Moderate Dems have actually done quite well using Clean Elections and no moderate Dem has been knocked out in a primary by a more liberal Dem using Clean Elections, at least that I’m aware of. The GOP in Arizona is simply following the national trend of their party. While it can be argued that Clean Elections hasn’t produced overall moderation it can also be argued that the lack of public financing in the vast majority of red states has certainly not quelled the radical right wing’s ascendance in those states either. There’s no evidence to implicate Clean Elections no matter how many times people who hate it repeat that canard. I also disagree that nonpartisan redistricting doesn’t help. Barack Obama got the same percentage of votes in both Arizona and South Carolina but we have 5 of 9 members of Congress who are Democrats (3 of whom are inarguably moderate) while South Carolina has 6 out of 7 Reps who are conservative Republicans. Who does redistricting does matter, very much. But yeah, open primaries is just a big old turd. They got that one right.

Those quibbles aside, the research yields a picture of voters that strongly challenges the ingrained assumption that there exists a large bloc of them who are right down the center on all issues. Nope. Your typical “moderate” voters are as apt to be strongly pro-union but pro-gun and anti-gay marriage as they are to be the other way around. And they are swing voters, but not in the way we typically think of those voters. They “swing” in the sense that they turn out in some elections while sitting out others, particularly in midterms. My hope would be that Democratic strategists and candidates in Arizona would take this fact-based information about voters and adapt their approaches to it – as in, stop chasing the mythical hordes of suburban moms who will vote Democratic if only it is explained to them umpteen million more times that the Dem candidate is “the grownup in the room” – but I’m not holding out for it since, as Broockman reminds us: “When we say moderate what we really mean is what corporations want”. Still, I agree with Klein that the word “moderate” itself needs to be retired.

That’s the problem with using a term that doesn’t describe either an identifiable group of voters or a clearly defined ideology to describe policies. “Moderate” is simultaneously one of the most powerful and least meaningful descriptions in politics — and it’s become little more than a tool the establishment uses to set limits on the range of acceptable debate. It’s time to get rid of it.

Yeah, more accurate words would be “establishment” or “corporatist” and they describe a small number of powerful and connected people. It does not, and never has had, anything to do with what voters want.