Anti-choicers in AZ Legislature reach a sick new low

23 Feb 2017 05:31 pm
Posted by: Donna


“Sentimentality is the superstructure erected upon brutality.” Carl Jung

Opinions differ on how that Jung quote should be interpreted but I do think a fitting one is how brutal people swathe their intentions in maudlin sentimentality, perhaps as much to fool themselves as others.

Watch it work with Sen. Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria), as she defends a “born alive fetus” bill, one that cruelly overrides the interests of patients, who may be in utterly gut-wrenching pregnancy dilemmas, and supplants the expertise of doctors with anti-choice hokum. (Warning: video autoplays)

Sen. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, in tears, told Saunders she didn’t understand her argument.

“If a baby is lying there and is alive…,” she said. “No matter if you are pro life or not pro life, letting a baby die just doesn’t seem acceptable to me.”

Lesko was joined by her colleague Sen. Steve Smith (R-Pinal Co.), himself an abortion-obsessive type, in characterizing the bill as compassionate and somehow an area of compromise for the opposing sides on abortion:

“It’s unfortunate that you need a law like this,” Smith, R-Maricopa, said. “But if ever there is common ground somewhere, I would sure hope this is it. We’re not talking about the legality of abortion. We’re talking about if the baby survives and is moving and breathing on its own.”…

…”My only intent is to save any baby that might be dying,”

Like I said, Smith is a big time anti-choicer so, no, that’s really not his only intent. But you knew that.

Meanwhile, Dr. Paul Liu, a pediatrician who supports the bill, sadly suggests patients refusing heroic measures to save premature infants might be child abusers.

“Kids at 22 to 26 weeks, a remarkable percentage of them do very well,” he said.

And just because a baby may be unwanted is not a reason not to try to save its life, he said.

“We work very, very hard in trying to keep children alive,” he said. “Some children aren’t wanted, maybe they’ve been abused. But just because they aren’t wanted doesn’t mean we stop trying.”

Not to be left out, here’s Sen. Nancy Barto (R-N.Phoenix), also a well-known anti-choice zealot, weighing in:

“I think of the mom who maybe has chosen to terminate and her baby is born alive and she sees there’s a heartbeat and there’s a change in her heart to want to see that baby live,” she said. “I think there are many circumstances where that might happen. Why should we stand in the way?”

Lo, the true tragedy is how poor Barto’s hand has been forced by all these heartless women out there who wait until 25 weeks to abort for no good reason.

Center for Arizona Policy’s Cathi Herrod, who initially claimed the bill was only directed at abortion procedures and not planned pregnancies gone awry, changed her tune on that because babies:

“It still goes to the point where they are delivered alive. You call in the neonatologist and you give appropriate care.

“Let’s give them every appropriate means to give them a chance of life,”

Note that none of the people quoted in support of this bill express any sympathy toward the women involved. There’s simply no penetrating the thick shell of contrived sentimentality for the “unborn” and no possibility of a frank discussion of what a measure such as this could mean for the women on whom it is proposed.

Many of their supporters, on the other hand, don’t bother acting maudlin about it, as demonstrated by this comment to the AZ Republic piece:

I freely admit that I support any legal measure that will help to limit and someday abolish abortion in Arizona. Go get em Center for AZ Policy and Steve Smith! Killing babies is NOT the solution to any social problem.

Well, AZ Senate sure got us on the map this morning.

23 Feb 2017 02:55 am
Posted by: Donna

It’s 2:45 Thursday morning and I noticed “Arizona Senate” trending on Twitter. Turns out a whole lot of people noticed Scottsdale Republican Sen. John Kavanagh’s bill that would make (certain) planned protest a Thoughtcrime punishable with prosecution under Arizona’s racketeering laws.

Tweets like the one above coming in from around the world.

Wow, this anti-choice lady seems nice.

22 Feb 2017 03:05 pm
Posted by: Donna

This item is from a couple weeks ago but I just became aware of it today.

Bridget Van Means of Thrive Express Women’s Healthcare reflected on the recent presidential election in her speech.

“We know he’s a little naughty,” Van Means said of President Donald Trump, “but he loves the babies. God’s people came out (this election). It was awesome. Catholics, Protestants, the Ku Klux Klan — everyone came out for the babies.”

I already knew the Religious Right had decided to give President Pussgrab (thanks, Wonkette!) a pass for being a gross rapey pig but now we have so-called “pro-life” leaders now openly giving shout outs to the Klan? This is fine.

Extreme vetting

21 Feb 2017 02:18 pm
Posted by: Donna

I can’t find the archived video of it but back in the early ’80s Phil Donahue had Reverend Jerry Falwell on his daily morning show to discuss religion, which I watched because I was home sick or ditching high school. Falwell (of course) argued that his particular brand of evangelical Christianity was the true faith and that any person who had not accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior by about the age of 12 was automatically condemned to Hell. Always the quick-witted and provocative interviewer, Donahue responded to Falwell with the following question:

“Is Anne Frank in Hell?”

I remember gasping at the question along with the TV audience. Again, I wish I could find the footage but I distinctly remember Falwell smirking, though not his exact answer. I do recall him indicating Anne Frank was probably in Hell, based on his understanding of Scripture. (That’s a 35 year old memory, and may be faulty, but it’s consistent with other statements Falwell, who died in 2007, made over the years. And I’ll add that I have encountered many, many right wing Christians in the meantime who have made it abundantly clear anyone who doesn’t believe exactly as they do is going to be roasting for all eternity.)

A couple of things today brought up Anne Frank and that memory of the Donahue/Falwell exchange: First was The Anne Frank Center’s withering response to President Trump’s statement (that came only after a lot of public pressure) condemning an explosion of Antisemitic attacks on Jewish organizations in the wake of his election.

“The President’s sudden acknowledgement is a Band-Aid on the cancer of Antisemitism that has infected his own Administration,” the statement read.

“His statement today is a pathetic asterisk of condescension after weeks in which he and his staff have committed grotesque acts and omissions reflecting Antisemitism, yet day after day have refused to apologize and correct the record. Make no mistake: The Antisemitism coming out of this Administration is the worst we have ever seen from any Administration.”

The other was this, from the CPAC schedule for this week:


I’m not saying everyone who attends CPAC is a proponent of the idea someone like Anne Frank isn’t in Heaven but it’s a safe bet there’s a plurality at least there with those views. And there are millions of people in this country who feel Heaven is only for people who believe as they do. So when conservatives frame the United States as Heaven and speak of “extreme vetting” of whom they allow to enter or be here, the rest of us need to be alarmed.

Oh, and if you’re in any of the districts represented by the Congressmen listed on that event, including Arizona’s Rep. Andy Biggs, you might want to contact their office and ask WTF they mean by this.

Kansas is realizing its yooooge budget mistake. Will Arizona follow suit?

17 Feb 2017 01:27 pm
Posted by: Donna

laffer napkinPhoto: Bloomberg

From the Kansas City Star comes this big development:

The Kansas Senate passed a bill to increase taxes Friday that could mark the end of many of the policies long championed by Gov. Sam Brownback.

Because no amendments were made to the bill first passed by the House, it does not need to go back to the House for revision and can head to the governor’s desk.

Brownback has three options:

▪ He could sign the bill, a move he ruled out earlier this week.

▪ He could veto the bill and send it back to the Legislature.

▪ Or he could choose to not sign the bill, but let it become law.

The governor’s office confirmed Friday that if Brownback does not take action on it after 10 days, it passes into law. That clock starts ticking as soon as his office gets the passed bill.

The legislation would bring the state more than $1 billion over a two-year span. It does that by raising a second income tax rate, bringing in a third bracket and ending a tax exemption for roughly 330,000 business owners.

Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas is a true believer in Tax Cut Magic™ and a follower of the wisdom of one Arthur Laffer, famous for dazzling audiences with a (literally) back-of-the-napkin theory of an optimal tax rate (very low, natch) that would usher in glorious economic growth and swelling state coffers.

To punctuate his point, he grabbed a pen and a cloth cocktail napkin and drew a chart showing that when tax rates get too high, they penalize work and investment and can actually lead to revenue losses for the government. Four years later, that napkin became immortalized as “the Laffer Curve” in an article Wanniski wrote for the Public Interest magazine. (Wanniski would later grouse only half-jokingly that he should have called it the Wanniski Curve.)

This was the first real post-World War II intellectual challenge to the reigning orthodoxy of Keynesian economics, which preached that when the economy is growing too slowly, the government should stimulate demand for products with surges in spending. The Laffer model countered that the primary problem is rarely demand — after all, poor nations have plenty of demand — but rather the impediments, in the form of heavy taxes and regulatory burdens, to producing goods and services.

Agree with the Laffer (and, okay, Wanniski) Curve hypothesis or not, it is at least an internally consistent argument. The main problem with it actually arises when you consider it in the context of the overarching conservative worldview – or at least the stated one. Why would they ever want more revenue going to the government, as promised by Laffer/Wanniski? You’d think, if they really believed in the Curve, that they’d propose increasing taxes until the glorious day of the bathtub drowning of the nanny state arrived, but whatevs.

Brownback (elected in the 2010 Tea Party wave) unleashed the Tax Cut Magic™ upon his state with a vigor considered remarkable even among Republican governors, and the results have been, shall we say, not-so-Laffer Curvaceous.

The Congressional Joint Economic Committee reported earlier this year that Kansas had just 9,400 new private-sector jobs in 2015 (out of 2.6 million nationwide). U.S. Department of Commerce data show that, prior to Brownback’s tax cuts, Kansas ranked 12th in the nation in personal income growth; after the tax cuts it fell to 41st.

A handful of school districts in the state had to close early last year for lack of funds, and the state Supreme Court has had to issue orders requiring Kansas to cough up enough money to pay for K-12 education.

In March, Brownback cut $17 million in funding, 3 percent, from the state’s six public universities in response to revenue shortfalls. In April, he announced that he was going to have to delay a $93 million contribution to the state pension fund, prompting Moody’s Investors Services to downgrade Kansas’ outlook from stable to negative.


Arizona Governor Doug Ducey clearly shares the same faith in Tax Cut Magic™ as his colleague Brownback and our state is headed down the same hole. Brownback was reelected in 2014 by 4 points, which sucks for a Republican running in a midterm year, and consistently polls as one of the least popular governors in the country. Ducey’s a slicker cat than Brownback, I’ll give him that, but he can only throw out so many shiny baubles to distract from his disastrous fiscal approach.

Town Hall Double Standards

10 Feb 2017 02:02 pm
Posted by: Donna

Remember back in the summer of 2009, when members of Congress of both parties held town hall meetings with constituents about health care reform, and there were loud protesters at all them, but especially at the ones held by Democrats?

And remember how that same summer Ann Kirkpatrick, who was serving her first term in Congress held a small event at a Safeway in Holbrook, AZ, that was not supposed to be a town hall but a lot of people turned up anyway and were angry and shouting at her and she and others feared for her safety so she walked out? Footage of that walking out was used in attack ads against Kirkpatrick in 2010 and every subsequent time she ran for election or reelection, including in her 2016 Senate race seven years later.

Think about that when you see this quote from a New York Magazine piece on a “rowdy” town hall led by Rep. Jason Chaffetz spotted by Salon‘s Amanda Marcotte.

Can you imagine the uproar from the Right, plus the heavy dose of tone policing by the MSM, that would have ensued had Ann Kirkpatrick (or Harry Mitchell or any other Dem) not only refused to hold meetings with constituents, but also described those who opposed them ideologically as “extremists, kooks, and radicals”? I know you can. And as Marcotte notes, the people Rep. Duncan are describing this way (and you can verify this for yourself watching video) are people scared of losing health care.

I went to some of those town halls in 2009, and several Tea Party gatherings that year and in 2010 as an observer for blog or campaign purposes. Despite it being during the depth of the recession most of the participants appeared to be well-nourished and comfortable. Outside of the comically ironic “keep your government hands off my Medicare” signs you’d often see, most of the protest was incoherent anger over “taxes” and “spending”. And, you know, some signs with President Obama with a bone through his nose and asking where his birth certificate was. The kind of stuff some of us liberals ruefully joke about as Economic Anxiety™. And, oh man, did I meet some people at them with extremely kooky and radical views!

The people going to town halls now and yelling at people like Jason Chaffetz (and I can think of few people more deserving of being yelled at) are being characterized as the “Tea Party of the Left” and I suppose that’s inevitable since there’s yelling involved, even though the moral difference the two groups is huge (former wanted to deny people health care and the latter wants them to have it).

If we’re the Tea Party of the Left so be it but that means we deserve to be heard by our representatives on health care as much as our counterparts did back in 2009. If they’re too chickenshit to meet with us (oh hi Martha McSally) we should hold public meetings without them and get reporters to cover those meetings (as they did in article I just linked about McSally).

My Democratic district meeting was packed!

07 Feb 2017 10:59 pm
Posted by: Donna

I was told the total number of attendees was about 160, so maybe not quite a triplefold increase but more than twice our usual number.

I’ve lived in Arizona Legislative District 28 since 2010 and have attended many, if not most of, the monthly meetings, which are the first Tuesday of the month the whole year except for December when we have our holiday potluck. Pulling up to the police substation where we hold our meetings in the conference room Tuesday night, expecting a district meeting no different than the many I’ve been to in the past, I saw there were a lot of cars, filling the parking lot and along both sides of the street. I figured there must be some other kind of community event going on.

After finally getting a spot on the street, I got to the meeting just as it was starting and it quickly became clear to me our meeting was the main event drawing all the traffic. I could not get into the largish conference room. There were so many people at the meeting (more than half newcomers according to the sign-in sheet) many of us had to stand in the station’s foyer area, where we strained to hear the speakers.

Was it the DeVos confirmation? A culmination of Trump outrages? Probably both, and several people raised their hands when asked if they found out about our meeting from the Indivisible project.

Whatever is spurring it, LD28 was not the only district to see an influx of new faces. LD17 is in the GOP-dominated East Valley region of metro Phoenix.

It begins.