Posted by: Donna
You may remember (I do since I blogged about it) back in late 2011, when ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, held a big conference right here in the Valley of the Sun. Some folks from the Occupy movement wanted to welcome them with signs and In These Times reporter Beau Hodai tried to talk to some of the attendees of the event. The ALEC organizers did not take kindly to that. They enlisted the hotel and local police to eject Mr. Hodai from the premises.
Making my way to the door, Lowe in tow, I was approached by two women with resort security.
“Hi … you’re the one on the motorcycle, right? You’re with ALEC? You’re a guest at the resort? Just so you know, this is a private function, so we just ask that all our regular guests stay in the main area… Okay?”
No problem. I left.
So, when Black accosted me at the bar the following night and claimed I had been asked to leave numerous ALEC events at the hotel, I explained that this was the extent of my one and only ‘incident’ and nodded to Sgt. Lowe over my left shoulder. “Ask him,” I said.
“Nevertheless,” said Black. “The ALEC people don’t want you here … and we understand that your reservations were made under false pretenses.”
I asked Black why–given the fact that I had not been accused of any crime–I was surrounded by armed, uniformed cops. Were Phoenix police usually engaged in evicting hotel guests who were suspected of having made hotel reservations under supposedly “false pretenses?” Must be a slow night…
And, how could a person even make a hotel reservation under false pretenses, I asked. I had given the front desk my valid photo driver’s license and my credit card for incidental expenses. I was planning to stay in the resort for two days and those two days had been paid for by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) … “False pretenses?”
Black would not elaborate further, limiting his conversation only to statements emphasizing the resort’s urgent need for me to vacate the premises immediately.
Black said that he would–with the help of these nice police officers–escort me up to my room and help me pack.
I was, as Sgt. Lowe explained, being “trespassed”–which meant that I was being formally advised that I was not welcome on Kierland property. If I returned, or refused to leave following this advisory, I would be arrested and charged with criminal trespassing.
It turns out that the Occupy folks in Phoenix got a good bit more than the stink-eye of hotel security and local cops. Beau Hodai is back with a report for the Center for Media and Democracy about how ALEC coordinated with federal, state, and local authorities to monitor and infiltrate Occupy protest groups at the behest of corporations. The title of the report – Dissent or Terror: How the Nation’s ‘Counter Terrorism’ Apparatus, in Partnership with Corporate America, Turned on Occupy Wall Street – illustrates the difference in how political activism is treated, depending upon whom and what the activism is directed toward.
On May 20, 2013, DBA Press and the Center for Media and Democracy released the results of a year-long investigation: “Dissent or Terror: How the Nation’s Counter Terrorism Apparatus, In Partnership With Corporate America, Turned on Occupy Wall Street.” The report, a distillation of thousands of pages of records obtained from counter terrorism/law enforcement agencies, details how state/regional “fusion center” personnel monitored the Occupy Wall Street movement over the course of 2011 and 2012.
The report also examines how fusion centers and other counter terrorism entities that have emerged since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 have worked to benefit numerous corporations engaged in public-private intelligence sharing partnerships. While the report examines many instances of fusion center monitoring of Occupy activists nationwide, the bulk of the report details how counter terrorism personnel engaged in the Arizona Counter Terrorism Information Center (ACTIC, commonly known as the “Arizona fusion center”) monitored and otherwise surveilled citizens active in Occupy Phoenix, and how this surveillance benefited a number of corporations and banks that were subjects of Occupy Phoenix protest activity.
While small glimpses into the governmental monitoring of the Occupy Wall Street movement have emerged in the past, there has not been any reporting — until now — that details the breadth and depth with which the nation’s post-September 11, 2001 counter terrorism apparatus has been applied to politically engaged citizens exercising their Constitutionally-protected First Amendment rights.
At this time much of the mainstream media’s attention is focused on a “scandal” involving IRS agents inconveniencing Tea Party groups trying to attain nonprofit status by scrutinizing their applications, which delayed their tax-exemptitude for some of them. We are supposed to understand this as a hideous attack upon the civil rights of Tea Party groups, which we are supposed to believe were totally not involved in electioneering!
Here are the not-so-known facts of a few of those cases:
• The First Coast Tea Party Inc. of Jacksonville, Florida, for example, which applied for 501(c)(4) status in 2009 and received it in 2011. Commenting about the recent IRS controversy on Facebook, the group declared “We file a tax return, account for every penny.. We do not endorse candidates that is a no no.” Yet the group’s activities included public bragging about directly helping Republican campaigns. In an August 30, 2012 Facebook post, for instance, the group advertised a Jacksonville rally for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, adding, “bring your chairs and your signs, make sure they know that the First Coast Tea Party is and has been helping their campaign.”
It must be noted here that three weeks after receiving 501(C)(4) status the group declared a “state of emergency” on their Facebook page, pleading with supporters to campaign for Romney.
THIS is just one example of why the IRS wanted all their Facebook postings.
“FLORIDA FRIENDS, IF YOU LIVE IN ANY OF THESE 3 COUNTIES GET OFF THE COUCH NOW, GET YOUR FRIENDS OFF THE COUCH. GET TO THE REPUBLICAN HEADQUARTERS AND OFFER AND THEN DO SOME WORK. PHONES, (YOU CAN EVEN DO THESE CALLS FROM HOME) AND WALK AND KNOCK. NOW. WE CANNOT LOSE FLORIDA TO OBAMA.. NOW. THIS IS MOST CRITICAL.”
[Emphasis in Original]
That plea came from the official Face book account of the organization as opposed to coming from random supporters.
• Similarly, the Louisville Tea Party was granted 501(c)(4) status in 2009. Nevertheless, it published a list of “officially tea party endorsed candidates for the 2011 Kentucky primary.” They also published an article “The Rationale for Romney-Ryan,” arguing for Tea Partiers to vote for the Republican candidate.
Okay, for all the pundits and establishment-types out there wringing their hands over “polarization” and “extremism on both sides!” – let me explain the crucial difference: One side fights for the interests of people with money and power. Those would be right wing groups. Therefore they get members of Congress demanding inquiries and even talk of impeachment of the President because the tax exempt status of their “grassroots” bullcrap outfits were delayed.
Left wing groups represent people without money and power. So they get destroyed. Or they get people trying like hell to discredit them with lies. Or they get the government colluding with corporations to silence them. See the disparity? It’s why the “both sides!” canard is simply absurd.
Posted by: Donna
So budget bills got through the Arizona Senate Thursday, which were surprisingly decent, and the Medicaid expansion won a decisive majority vote. Political strategist and former legislator John Loredo said it best on his Facebook page:
Tonight Senate Democrats along with a handful of courageous Republicans passed a reasonable, responsible budget. Dems learned that when you have serious leverage, you can hold out for some pretty amazing victories – if you don’t throw in the towel too early. Dems held their votes on Medicaid until they Rs agreed to remove permanent cuts to public education, stop the voter suppression BRB, removed a sweetheart deal for Arpaio and passed several other amendments. If you want to win big you have be willing to risk it all. Tonight we all won big.
I guess we have to shower those Republicans who did the right thing with praise in the hope it will serve as positive reinforcement for future good decisions. So yes, I’m very appreciative of their votes. I have contacted my Senator, Adam Driggs, to thank him for his yes vote on the expansion. But what I’m really grateful for is the fact that Democrats took away the GOP supermajority in both chambers, which is making a less austere budget and the restoration of Medicaid to the working poor even possible. Anyone think this could have happened last year when there were only 9 Dem Senators? Anyone?
While we’re at it, imagine how much sooner the Medicaid expansion would have been a done deal had Democrats won majorities in both chambers.
Posted by: Donna
Craig McDermott captured an interesting thing Rep. Steve Smith said Tuesday about a ridonkulous bill before the Arizona Legislature, that prevents the evil Federal Government from sapping our Stately essences. Or something.
The text of his “explanation” (emphasis added) -
Mr. Speaker, I think just since we’re talking a little bit about history, I think it would be fair to point out that history of virtually every nation on the earth has come about from one people taking from another. Going back to biblical times. If we stand on this argument, then God’s people never should have occupied God’s land. ‘Cause they took it from people, too. I guess I wanted to say that some people look at the United States as a taking nation. I look at it as the most benevolent and the most giving nation, certainly in our time and frankly, ever. I vote yes.
The scariest part isn’t that he said what he said. It was in how he said it, with the same matter-of-fact tone that former legislator Sylvia Allen proclaimed that strip mining uranium was OK because the Earth was 6000 years old and doing just fine.
Of course he was matter-of-fact about it! Wingnuts are fully armed with their own revisionist history and the deep conviction that their crusade is just and right. Commandeering land, resources, and bodies toward that end is what they’re supposed to do. And they truly, honestly believe they are acting out of benevolence and that God is on their side. Newsflash to everyone who thinks we can reason and engage in civil dialog with these poor benighted rubes: that’s impossible. They need to be resisted.
Posted by: Donna
My friend Bob Lord has been taking flack from Phoenix City Council candidate Warren Stewart’s campaign over his posts about a disparaging comment that Maricopa County Supervisor and Stewart supporter Mary Rose Wilcox made about Kate Gallego, who is also running in that race.
I missed this last month, not sure how. Because this is a shining example of how voters lose respect for politicians.
According to The Phoenix New Times, Pastor Warren Stewart, held a telephone town hall last month, moderated by his buds and campaign supporters, Mary Rose Wilcox and Danny Ortega. Apparently, Wilcox couldn’t help herself and resorted to full on ludicrous to disparage Stewart’s opponents. It just doesn’t get any more pathetic than this:
“The other candidate recently started using her married name from Widland to Gallego. I’m going to be frank with you, there are all kinds of political tricks to confuse the Latino and African-American communities, but in this election, those tricks are not going to work. Let me echo what Danny Ortega said: There are no Latinos or Latinas running for City Council, period.”
WTF? She’s actually accusing Kate Widland Gallego of taking her husband’s last name to play a “political trick” on the voters and “confuse” them about her status as a Latina. Really, Mary Rose? Why, then, is it that Kate still includes her maiden name “Widland” in her name? But, while we’re on the subject of playing tricks on voters, isn’t it a tad deceptive to state that Kate “recently started” using her husband’s last name, without mentioning that her use of the name Gallego is “recent” only to the extent that her marriage was recent? And does anyone really doubt that if Kate didn’t take her husband’s Latino surname the Mary Rose Wilcox’s of the world would be maligning her for not doing so?
There’s no substance here. This was just a baseless, unprovoked attack on another candidate’s honesty and character.
But this election isn’t about Mary Rose Wilcox, no matter how much she’s willing to embarass herself.
What do Wilcox’s remarks say about Pastor Stewart? More specifically, what does Pastor Stewart’s failure to disown Wilcox’s scurrilous remarks say about his character? In the 2012 Presidential campaign, we witnessed repeated failures on Mitt Romney’s part to call out various Republican cranks for their craziness. Those failures told us all we needed to know about Mitt’s character.
Bob says that Stewart has not denounced Wilcox’s baseless accusation. He did get (something of a) response from Stewart’s campaign consultant Mario Diaz.
Let me disclose that I support Gallego in the race and consider her a friend. And you know what? I have no earthly idea why Kate took Ruben’s surname. The reason being that I have never asked Kate why. Because that would be an incredibly rude and invasive question! It is not my business whether or when any woman changes her name after she marries, and neither is it of anyone else who is not that woman or her spouse. Look, I understand that the custom of women taking their husbands’ names is (rightly) the subject of feminist criticism but the vast majority of women are still doing it today. Are all those women doing so to “trick” their communities, or only the ones Wilcox opposes politically? Does Wilcox, who took her husband’s Anglo surname, think that women with Anglo surnames should not take their husbands’ Hispanic surnames? If so, that’s a puzzling double standard.
As for Pastor Stewart, he is known for having a very traditional view of marriage, judging from statements he made condemning same-sex marriage in the strongest possible terms last fall (they’ve been scrubbed from his church’s website but can still be found elsewhere). A woman in a straight marriage taking her husband’s last name is about as traditional as it gets. I should think Stewart, of all people, would approve of that.
At any rate, Stewart cannot claim ignorance of Wilcox’s inflammatory remarks since he was present at the telephone town hall when she said them and his consultant then doubled down on supporting both him and Wilcox in response to Lord’s posts. I get that tempers flare in campaigns and sometimes people involved in them blurt out inappropriate things. The thing for Stewart, Wilcox, and Diaz to do right now is to apologize to Kate Gallego for that defamatory accusation against her. The longer they remain silent on it the more it looks like a deliberate tactic, once shouted at a town hall and now muted to a whisper campaign.
Posted by: Donna
AZ Eagletarian has a concise run-down of a rumored deal by AZ Senate President Andy Biggs (which I hinted at on my Sunday Square Off appearance) to ram a budget through the Senate by tacking a Medicaid expansion amendment on it and dangling some district pork in front of a few Dem Senators to get their votes.
Here’s the scenario as it was set forth to me earlier this evening:
Senate President Andy Biggs, who has been declaring all along that he is dead set against the Medicaid expansion, will tomorrow (or Wednesday) have a budget bill (or bills) for members to vote on. The budget will likely look very much like a Tea Party austerity budget with notable exceptions.
There are apparently five Republican state senators not playing ball with Mr. Biggs. People watching the state legislature this year know those names to be Rich Crandall, Adam Driggs, John McComish, Steve Pierce and Bob Worsley.
Without those five votes, Biggs has to come up with Democrats to support his budget bill(s).
Scuttlebutt has it that Biggs has been meeting with Senate Minority Leader Leah Landrum Taylor (D-South Phoenix) and Assistant Minority Leader Linda Lopez (D-Tucson) and a handful of other Democrats to do some wheeling and dealing to peel off enough of the opposition to get his bills passed…
…Oh, and as to Medicaid expansion, everyone outside the legislature expects Biggs to oppose it. He has said so on several occasions. However, the scenario described to me had Biggs including Medicaid expansion in his budget bill(s) with the very strong expectation that it would be stripped out in the House.
Despite Andy Tobin reportedly being open to passing the expansion, my source says that’s not a lock and there are several ways he can justify withdrawing any support people might expect him to be ready to offer at this stage.
In a field as unequal as ours in Arizona is, where Republicans and Democrats are concerned, Democratic lawmakers should not make side deals with Republicans on major issues like the budget or the Medicaid expansion. There is so little to be gained from it, and so much to lose. This is no time to be “bipartisan”. Republicans are intent on imposing austerity on us – crushing education, healthcare, sustainability, and basically everything nice we could ever hope for here. No Democratic legislator was elected to go along with that. Democrats in the Senate should stand strong, as a bloc, and say NO to it and demand something better. It’s why you got elected.
Posted by: Donna
Christine Bauserman, whose Facebook page proudly boasts all her conservative and Republican affiliations, believes that poor people getting health care in Arizona is a Marxist plot. She wrote a hilarious LTTE to the AZ Capitol Times about it.
Just how desperate are Gov. Jan Brewer and political wizard Chuck Coughlin to force Obamacare on an unwilling Arizona? Dwindling resources, loss of votes, and lackluster public support seem to be a reason for the fraught Republicans to enlist the support of a Saul Alinsky based organization. What exactly do Brewer and Coughlin want the Occupy Wall Street types to do?
Brewer graces the Industrial Areas Foundation website (under IAF in Action), attending an event at the Valley Interfaith Project. With the Republican governor are Senate Majority Leader John McComish and Rep. Heather Carter.
IAF, established in 1940 by Alinsky, “trains community organizers in the tactics of revolutionary social change.” It is a Chicago-based community-organizing network consisting of 59 affiliate groups, and Valley Interfaith Project is one of those groups. IAF is not a grassroots network; its local affiliates are created as the result of careful planning by its national leadership.
So was this meeting with the governor who signed SB1070 a result of careful planning by its national leadership? What are they planning — the implementation of Obamacare in Arizona, which is second only to Texas as a leader in states’ rights, or the defeat of the Republican majority in the 2014 elections?
Valley Interfaith Project proudly proclaims a Marxist mission defining itself as “a nonpartisan organization of dues-paying member congregations, schools, unions and nonprofits committed to building relational power through organizing people for sustainable social and economic improvement.”
At the meeting, McComish states, “If you don’t have these kinds of gatherings, organizations lose momentum.” This is Republican leadership in our state Senate? The majority leader, a Republican, is publicly spurning his party and the legislative district he is supposed to represent, which happens to poll as the highest legislative district in Arizona at 78 percent as being “less likely to re-elect a legislator who votes for a hospital tax to fund the expansion of Medicaid.”
Christine is, of course, strongly “pro-life”. Which, as we know, means “Those babies are gonna get born dammit!” – but then – “Health care? You want health care? What are you, some kind of commie?” Christine also appears to lack basic reading comprehension, since she ends her letter with this:
While governors of states like Florida, with legislators rejecting Obamacare, are facing the fact there is a system of checks and balances and branches of government are indeed separate, Brewer refuses to accept the fact that the public, including Democrats, overwhelmingly reject Obamacare and any new taxes.
Sorry Christine, that poll was of GOP primary voters only. But thanks for that letter, it was a riot!
Posted by: Donna
Taped Sunday Square Off this morning. I was on the panel with David Leibowitz and Chip Scutari and the topics were Tom Horne’s legal troubles, Jeff Flake’s unpopularity, and the proposed Glendale casino (they always throw in one thing I’ve paid absolutely no attention to so thank you, Google, for helping me have something to say about it). I’ll put a link up when it’s available (update: link here) but one highlight includes Leibowitz and I sort of getting into it about Gabby Giffords. Dave did the “some people are saying” thing about her, repeating the right wing claim that Giffords is perhaps pandering and being self-promoting with her gun safety activism. Needless to say, I got a bit testy about that. People can disagree with Giffords’ and her husband Mark Kelly’s policy proposals but there’s simply no basis on which to impugn their motives. I have a hard time imagining either deciding that a gunshot wound to the head is a tremendous pandering opportunity. It’s really far more likely that their commitment to the issue is genuine.
There was also little bit about the immigration reform package before Congress in the panel discussion, with Leibowitz predicting the deal would fall apart. Speaking of which, you may have followed the news of a recent Heritage Foundation study on the potential cost of immigration that was OMG so f*&king racist! Turns out one of the people who worked on the study, the appropriately named Jason Richwine, did his Harvard dissertation on the intellectual inferiority of non-white people.
“[n]o one knows whether Hispanics will ever reach IQ parity with whites, but the prediction that new Hispanic immigrants will have low-IQ children and grandchildren is difficult to argue against. From the perspective of Americans alive today, the low average IQ of Hispanics is effectively permanent.”
Really, Harvard? Heritage tried to front like Richwine didn’t work for them but the guy was a senior policy analyst (until he resigned from the Foundation today). And the Heritage Foundation has long history of racism:
Scandalous links between the racist far right and allegedly respectable conservative institutions date back to Heritage’s earliest days in the 1970s, when the editorial board of Policy Review, its monthly publication, featured the notorious racial theorist Roger Pearson. Shortly after the Post reported Pearson’s role at Heritage, the think tank dumped him. But in the decades that followed, Heritage still lionized racially divisive politicians like Jesse Helms, the late Republican senator from North Carolina, awarding him its “highest honor” in 2002 and depicting him as an “indispensable patriot” when he died in 2008.
You know what else those mensches over at the Heritage Foundation do? They rank members of Congress according to how they vote on the Foundation’s preferred conservative policies. You can see how the AZ delegation fares here. (Spoiler alert: Republicans are much more Heritage Foundation-friendly than the Democrats.)