Sit down, GOP men of Arizona

22 Mar 2017 01:27 am
Posted by: Donna

Well, Trump’s Electoral College victory sure has given some of our local male GOP reps a turgid sense of urgency in showing the uppity bitches what’s what. They should still refrain from that, for they look quite foolish and dickish in its pursuit.

Beware anti-choicers’ calls for “common ground”

21 Mar 2017 12:05 am
Posted by: Donna

handmaids tale
A Handmaid’s Tale is not a dystopic novel to them, it’s a how-to manual

AZ Republic‘s Alia Rau reported last Thursday on SB1367, the lastest “born alive” anti-choice bill:

Maureen Williams testified that the bill would have changed the final minutes she had with her daughter, Zoe. At 23 weeks pregnant, she said, she learned her daughter had tumors on her liver, half a vertebrae and water on the brain.

“The doctors told me she barely had a chance of living,” Williams said, sobbing. “I wanted Zoe. She was mine. I remember her every day. I made the choice of taking on her physical pain and having this abortion. I would have wanted her on my chest to let her pass away in peace. We need to leave this decision to the parents and the doctors.”…

…AnMarie Stone said a mid-pregnancy ultrasound showed she and her husband were having a healthy baby boy…

…”He had a heartbeat. He was breathing. He was a child outside his mother,” she said. “The nurses gently wrapped him in a blanket and gave him to us. My husband and I held him until he was gone. Legislation forcing the doctors to resuscitate him would have been not only unethical, but cruel.”

The women testifying before the House committee were describing their own complicated tragic personal experiences, which are precisely the kind of situations that make anti-choice meddling in health care decisions dangerous public policy. And to help understand why anti-choice legislators never seem to be moved by these stories, take a gander at how the main sponsor of the bill reacted to them:

Sen. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, said he was surprised by the opposition to the bill and thought it was a position everyone could support.

“The baby is no longer in the mom. The baby is no longer ‘a blob of tissue’ so obviously we want our doctors to provide medical care,” he said. “If there’s any common ground ever on this issue, it would be this.”

Anti-choicers see themselves in a Manichaean contest between good (female chastity and embrace of motherhood) and evil (female promiscuity and rejection of motherhood) at all times. So when they speak of “common ground”, know they mean concessions that push the dialog and public policy toward their end. Since abortion rights tend to be debated on theoretical grounds, it’s easy for the anti-choicer to extract “reasonable” compromises, in this case agreement that efforts should be made to save a very premature infant showing signs of life!

And in this abstract good vs evil battleground, it is necessary to invent evildoers: women who wait until late into a pregnancy for no good reason to abort, doctors who prey on highly malleable girls and women to get them to get abortions at any stage of pregnancy, evil mercenaries who run “abortion mills” and sell baby parts harvested from unnecessary late-term abortions for profit, etc. Anti-choicers are easily able to convince a depressingly large number of regular people such monsters exist by tapping into existing cultural angst over female sexuality and independence. As I’ve said before, slut-shaming is about as close to a national religion as we have in this country and is basically the only thing keeping anti-choicers from being fully recognized as the lunatics (every bit as batty as Birthers or anti-vaxxers) that they are.

Grieving parents of wanted babies refusing heroic medical interventions so as to not further traumatize the infants or themselves are inconvenient to the anti-choice “common ground” strategy being pursued here, the goal of which is a law making it yet more expensive and risky to be an abortion provider. So the existence of the grieving parents is simply ignored. Hence, Senator Smith’s surprise – feigned or real – at the opposition to his bill. But this is exactly why we should resist calls to find common ground with anti-choicers, wherever they’re from. You can’t find common ground with fantasists. Plus, leaving fraught and highly personal medical decisions to people and their doctors, AKA the pro-choice stance, is the compassionate and, yes, moderate position on Smith’s bill.

Howie Fischer is not here for your bullshit

16 Mar 2017 03:18 pm
Posted by: Donna

howard fischer
Not here for it.

Howard Fischer is a journalistic institution in Arizona. He’s the Chief Correspondent for Capitol Media Services, which is basically one Howard Fischer not being here for your bullshit.

I’ve run into Howie in his irascible corporeal form time or two, including when we were on a TV panel together back in 2010, in which I sparred with him and the other dude (don’t remember which dude but I’m generally on with two dudes when appearing on TV) over private prisons. Post-taping, as we undid our microphones, we panelists chatted about political happenings of the time which I don’t remember. I do recall Howie walking away from the Channel 12 studio observing how Terry Goddard needed to “grow a pair of balls!” I wrote him off for a while after that, feeling he was the usual Arizona media crank who thinks Democrats here are irrelevant yet still scorns Democrats for not saving the state from Republicans.

In the years since, I’ve grown to respect the guy and find myself relying on his reporting more than any other to keep up with what is happening at the state government. And in two recent instances, Fischer has demonstrated how to construct a proper lede. Lede is a fancy inside baseball press term meaning the statement, usually at the beginning of a story, that tells you what it’s about and (ideally) makes you want to read the whole thing. Ledes often accompany headlines (which we now know are very important), particularly on social media posts linking articles (oftentimes a tweet or Facebook blurb promoting an article is a lede). In many cases headlines and ledes are the only things busy readers scan before moving on to something else. So it’s important to be concise and correct with your lede.

Watch and learn from Howie Fischer how a lede should be done:

PHOENIX — Rejecting concerns of doctors, a House panel voted 6-3 along party lines to require them to do everything possible to keep severely premature babies alive no matter the chances of survival.

I do have issues with the AZ Daily Star‘s headline of the piece, which puts an undeserved positive spin on motivations of AZ House Republicans, but it’s likely the headline wasn’t chosen by Fischer*. Look at that lede, though. He is not here for Cathi Herrod’s pie-eyed bullshit and there’s none of the usual “abortion opponents and lawmakers say this about the bill but doctors and pro-choice advocates say that” you see so often in coverage of anti-choice bills.

Nope. Howie Fischer is not an opinion writer but he doesn’t buy that opinions of the shape of the earth differ either. His article opens with a straightforward statement that tells the reader three important things: doctors are being overridden, the vote was party line (Republicans), and health care providers will be forced to perform drastic medical interventions on infants who cannot survive. So whatever percentage of readers (and you better believe it is high) who don’t read beyond that come away with a basic grasp of this legislation. Well done!

Here’s the second instance of high quality lede writing by Fischer:

PHOENIX — Saying it would send the wrong message, Republican lawmakers voted Wednesday to kill legislation that would simply require them to review the $12 billion a year the state could potentially collect in sales taxes if all exemptions and exclusions were eliminated.

Here’s what you know if you don’t read beyond the headline (good this time) and the lede: Republicans don’t want to review tax breaks that cost the state $12B annually and Republicans are cowardly liars. Fischer adeptly flips the Republicans’ own framing (“send the wrong message”) against them and allows the word “simply” to do a lot of lifting. And he’s not editorializing on the merits of those tax breaks. He’s letting the reader know he’s not here for Republicans’ bullshit on why they killed that bill.

Read both the articles fully for the further details Fischer provides but do take the time to appreciate good lede construction and a reporter placing not being here for bullshit over a futile quest to appear “balanced”.

You should follow him on Twitter too.

*Arizona Capitol Times went with a better headline but it might be behind a paywall for some.

Stunning election result in Phoenix

14 Mar 2017 11:12 pm
Posted by: Donna

phx 3

God, I hope this is a harbinger of the future.

Apparently there is no problem caused by Republicans that cannot be solved by adding more Republicans

14 Mar 2017 12:22 am
Posted by: Donna

margaret sullivan
Margaret Sullivan

I like Margaret Sullivan and think she did a solid and thoughtful job as NYT’s Public Editor when she was in the position. Now she’s at the Washington Post as a media columnist and her latest on fake news and Trump supporters makes a decent observation about how the false info spreads and morphs into voter perceptions that are often completely bonkers but understandable at the same time:

As right-wing sites concentrated during the campaign on immigration stories — often with exaggerated or false claims about the dangers of refugees and immigrants — they also endlessly attacked Hillary Clinton over Benghazi and her use of a private email server.

These sites often traffic in “decontextualized truths, repeated falsehoods, and leaps of logic to create a fundamentally misleading view of the world,” the report said.

This brings to mind a Trump voter I met in northeast Pennsylvania who took right-wing talking points and put them in a blender. She told me she couldn’t trust Clinton because “I didn’t like how she stole those emails and it got people killed in Benghazi.”

This tainted media sphere not only set the conservative media agenda, “but also strongly influenced the broader media agenda, in particular coverage of Hillary Clinton.”

Oh true that, Margaret! Mainstream media ran with those right wing attacks as well, but were careful not to go to far. Pundits like Chris Cillizza and Andrea Mitchell knew they’d look like doofuses going full Benghazi but other bogus allegations against Hillary Clinton were blandly vague enough for them to Very Seriously furrow their brows and make frowny faces over them a lot. Hence “emails” being in heavy rotation and since most media people didn’t understand the technical details of what they were reporting and couldn’t explain it properly, voters filled in their own blanks.

It was, with noteworthy exceptions (like David Farenthold of WaPo) an election of stunning journalistic malpractice, as everyone from lowly bloggers like myself to media experts have pointed out. It was gratifying to see someone like Margaret Sullivan grasp it.

Sadly, instead of coming to the logically obvious solution of “never listen to Republicans ever again”, Sullivan prefers a different course:

There’s another way that the traditional press has allowed right-wing media to flourish — by moving too far to the left itself.

Mainstream newsrooms were once much more ideologically diverse, said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute.

“The best data out there shows that there are fewer Republicans working in traditional newsrooms and news generally than there used to be,” he told me.

Many people have been criticizing the lack of diversity in newsrooms, but they mean gender, race, and other identities typically excluded from high profile positions in print and broadcast media. But nope, Sullivan is more concerned with ideological diversity, which presumably means a newsroom predominately white, male, urban, and Ivy League educated would be fine so long as there were balance in political affiliations.

And I can’t fathom how Sullivan (and I’ve seen others in prominent media positions make this argument) can look at the problem of bad, fake, misleading information flooding the internet and airwaves and say, “this clearly calls for more Republicans!” The Arizona Republic and local news stations here in Phoenix are chock full of Republican or right leaning reporters and I haven’t noticed it doing much to tamp down the fake news, conspiracy theories, and downright goofy beliefs that proliferate around here. This appears to be another iteration of the impossible-to-kill Magical Moderate Republican Unicorn myth.

Sullivan also cites some flimsy evidence for her claim newsrooms were biased toward the Democrat in the 2016 election:

Pope puts it more bluntly, referring to the “unarguable partisanship” he saw from some mainstream journalists as Nov. 8 neared, evident especially on social media. Favoring Clinton, they not only mocked Trump but also were unable to fathom that he might win.

Most people thought Clinton would win and reporters acting as such, and mocking Trump as the self-evident buffoon he is, in no way means they were remotely pro-Clinton in their coverage at any point up to the election. It was quite the opposite!

Pope now sees “a huge corrective” underway, as journalists dig in, providing meaty accountability coverage of Trump and spending more time listening to Trump’s core of voters.

Oh, as opposed to before the election when the MSM was laser-focused on Clinton vot….ha ha, no. It was pretty much all Trump voters all the time then too. Nevertheless, “more Republicans” is the go-to solution here.

AZ Rep. David Stringer thinks teachers have it too easy

09 Mar 2017 02:14 pm
Posted by: Donna

David-Stringer-About-300x300Photo: Springer campaign website

I saw a text message this afternoon by someone who was at the monthly Arizona Business and Education Coalition luncheon at the State Capitol. According to the attendee, Rep. David Stringer (R-Yavapai County) addressed the group (which includes many educators) and told them that it doesn’t take a certain skill set to be a teacher and that teaching itself is an easy part-time job with two months off per year. (That is from the text so obviously a paraphrase.)

UPDATE: Here is the redacted text.

redacted abec

This is not an uncommon view among conservatives pursuing their quest to “reform” public education. Some have even attempted scientific justifications for underpaying teachers, claiming people (read:women) who choose the profession do so because they are less intelligent.

While it’s certain much of the right wing war on public education is driven by money and the desire to push their ideology on impressionable young minds, a large factor is still plain old sexism. They, and frankly too many people who are not so right wing, view teaching as care work done primarily by women on behalf of children, therefore work that women should just be doing free or for as close to it as possible.

At any rate, Rep. Stringer can be reached at (602) 926-4838 if you’d like some clarification on that remark.

Arizona Republicans have always been at war with Eastasia and have always loved full-day Kindergarten

06 Mar 2017 03:23 pm
Posted by: Donna

More than a decade ago I challenged then Arizona Senator John Huppenthal (R) in what is now District 18 (Ahwatukee/Chandler) for his seat. One of the hotly contested issues of the 2006 midterm was then-Governor Napolitano’s proposal to fund full-day Kindergarten for all public schools. Proponents of full-day K had a wealth of research backing them while their foremost opposition came in the form of one John Huppenthal, who repeatedly, and erroneously, cited a longitudinal study to bolster his view.

Former Senator and Superintendent of Public Instruction Huppenthal wasn’t alone among Republicans in opposing full-day K back then and he isn’t now. Here’s current Senator Steve Smith (R-Pinal County) a mere month ago suggesting parents (read: mothers) use it to shirk their child-rearing duties on the taxpayers’ dime:

Because there are no learning standards past the required 2 1/2 hours, not all schools set high academic expectations, said state Sen. Steve Smith, a Republican from Pima County. He said some constituents who paid for full-day kindergarten were unhappy.

“They played games. It was effectively babysitting time,” Smith said. “They did not have the same teacher as they did the first half of the day.”

“For me as a parent, to want to put my child in all-day K, there had to be some sort of actual achievement and learning going on the second half of the day,” Smith said.

But these attitudes have, for the time being at least, been flushed down the AZ Republican Caucus memory hole. Behold this email sent by Republican Representative Regina Hobb (Kingman) to her colleagues:

Dear Colleagues,

Last week in the Arizona Capitol Times I read a great article written by Julia Meyerson, the founder and principal of Vista College Prep, a high-performing K-5 elementary school located just south of downtown Phoenix. Vista College Prep was recently highlighted by “A for Arizona,” a project of the Arizona Chamber Foundation in partnership with the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, as a “fantastic model closing the achievement gap and dedicated to serving more students each year through growth and replication.”

Below is a link to the entire guest editorial from the Arizona Capitol Times in support of Governor Ducey’s efforts:

http://azcapitoltimes.com/ news/2017/03/02/full-day- kindergarten-expansion- essential-to-arizonas- educational-success/

In her piece Julia shares, “the foundation for our success begins in kindergarten. We have committed to operating a full-day kindergarten program because the data tells us that a full day of kindergarten, especially in low-income communities, is essential. This commitment has only been made possible through substantial grant funding and generous donations. Without an increase in funding for full-day kindergarten, not only does sustainability and the ability to replicate continue to be a challenging proposition for us, but it gives schools the option to opt out of making kindergarten a designated, and fully funded grade.”

Julia’s comments are spot on, as is Governor Ducey’s commitment to early childhood literacy, and I look forward to working with you and supporting his efforts!

Gina Cobb

District 5

Don’t believe your lying eyes, ears, and memory. They’ve always loved full-day K.