AZ Republic’s historic endorsement of Clinton is great. Hope they build upon it.

28 Sep 2016 02:02 pm
Posted by: Donna

Some people are not taking the endorsement well.

I was truly expecting the Arizona Republic to do their usual thing on a Presidential endorsement, where they ignore the gaping flaws of the Republican candidate and endorse him, on the basis of some horsepucky about national security or, as they did in 2012, because troubled economic times called for the “animal spirits” of the Republican candidate.

But they didn’t. For the first time in history, the Arizona Republic gave the nod to the Democrat, in what a Slate headline called a “mic drop” of an endorsement.

Since The Arizona Republic began publication in 1890, we have never endorsed a Democrat over a Republican for president. Never. This reflects a deep philosophical appreciation for conservative ideals and Republican principles.

This year is different.

The 2016 Republican candidate is not conservative and he is not qualified.

That’s why, for the first time in our history, The Arizona Republic will support a Democrat for president.

Thankfully they gave the job of writing it to Linda Valdez, so it is a genuinely good endorsement, not merely a perfunctory CYA-anyone-but-Trump deal. It makes a positive case for Clinton as well as laying out the problems with Trump sharply. But the best part of it is that it brings up SB1070, which is where many of us believe that the Trump phenomenon was germinated. The editorial warns the country not to make the same grievous mistake Arizona did in 2010, for which we’re still paying.

What’s more, Arizona went down the hardline immigration road Trump travels. It led our state to SB 1070, the 2010 “show me your papers” law that earned Arizona international condemnation and did nothing to resolve real problems with undocumented immigration.

Arizona understands that we don’t need a repeat of that divisive, unproductive fiasco on the national level. A recent poll shows Arizonans oppose both more walls and the mass deportations Trump endorses.

We need a president who can broker solutions.

I wish we could say the electorate of Arizona has absorbed the lesson fully enough to stop electing the Republicans who caused the mess to run the state but we’re not there yet. I do hope the Republic ed board is wise enough to built upon what they began with this Clinton endorsement and makes a choice in the US Senate race that is consonant with it. That would require endorsing Ann Kirkpatrick.

Let’s not forget how John McCain, who was headed for an easy reelection in 2010, enthusiastically embraced SB1070, the Tea Party, and ran ads promising to “build the dang fence!” Furthermore, he has done nothing to counter the massive GOP obstruction to President Obama, including their current obstinate refusal to give Merrick Garland’s nomination a hearing. For all the respect as a maverick he still (mysteriously) enjoys, in recent years McCain has shown little to no interest in anything but getting on TV to carp about President Obama. And he supports Trump, despite everything.

I make no prediction on how they’re going to go with the Senate race. The rapturous write-up they gave McCain for the primary race would seem to portend favorably for him, but he was running against whackadoodle Kelli Ward then. We’ll see.

Voting third party is worse than throwing your vote away

22 Sep 2016 01:59 am
Posted by: Donna

johnson gary
Don’t blow your vote on this cheeseball! Photo: Gary Johnson’s website

On the way down to do phonebanking early Wednesday evening I was half-listening to “All The Fresh American Things Considered” or whatever on NPR when they began a segment about young, disaffected voters considering voting third party. They spoke to two former Sanders primary voters, the first of whom was a 24 year old law student(!) who said he’d be voting for Green candidate Jill Stein because (paraphrasing) Hillary Clinton’s entire platform was hot neoliberal garbage from which he could not find a single position of hers he found acceptable (despite it having many similarities with Sanders’ platform and her and Sanders voting alike 93% of the time in the Senate together). Then they interviewed a young woman who said she knew Trump was awful but also felt that Hillary Clinton was “dishonest and inauthentic”. She was torn between Clinton and Gary Johnson, despite knowing that voting third party might help Trump.

We often deem these protest votes, in a system designed for two major parties, to be an act of throwing one’s vote away. But it’s worse than that, albeit admittedly not as bad as voting for Trump. The reason is that Stein and Johnson are real candidates, both of whom are running on policy preferences they apparently believe in.

As Jordan Weissmann of Slate explains, Stein’s platform is a mishmash of unworkable unicorn economic schemes laced with a heaping dose of unscientific woo.

Tucked into this long, starry-eyed list of progressive causes are a few lines that remind you of the far left’s fraught relationship with biological science. There’s a call not just to label genetically modified foods but to “put a moratorium on GMOs and pesticides until they are proven safe.” Never mind that scientists have studied GMOs extensively and found no signs of danger to human health—Stein would like medical researchers to prove a negative. She would also “Ban neonicotinoids and other pesticides that threaten the survival of bees, butterflies, and other pollinators.” This is a nod to the discredited theory that some pesticides are driving the collapse of honeybee populations (which, by the way, are not actually collapsing). Again, this is somewhat standard stuff on the far left these days, but coming from a physician, it’s discouraging. It is also in keeping with the last official Green Party platform, from 2014, which supports the “teaching, funding, and practice” of “alternative therapies” such as naturopathy and homeopathy, i.e. funneling money into quack medicine. (Stein first ran for president as a green in 2012).

And Kevin Drum at Mother Jones can’t fathom why any liberal would find Johnson’s platform appealing, outside of legalized pot and a few civil liberties issues:

On the other hand, Johnson is a libertarian. Here’s a smattering of what else he believes:

He supports TPP.
He supports fracking.
He opposes any federal policies that would make college more affordable or reduce student debt. In fact, he wants to abolish student loans entirely.
He thinks Citizens United is great.
He doesn’t want to raise the minimum wage. At all.
He favors a balanced-budget amendment and has previously suggested that he would slash federal spending 43 percent in order to balance the budget. This would require massive cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and social welfare programs of all kinds.
He opposes net neutrality.
He wants to increase the Social Security retirement age to 75 and he’s open to privatization.
He opposes any kind of national health care and wants to repeal Obamacare.
He opposes practically all forms of gun control.
He opposes any kind of paid maternity or medical leave.
He supported the Keystone XL pipeline.
He opposes any government action to address climate change.
He wants to cut the corporate tax rate to zero.
He appears to believe that we should reduce financial regulation. All we need to do is allow big banks to fail and everything will be OK.
He wants to remove the Fed’s mandate to maximize employment and has spoken favorably of returning to the gold standard.
He wants to block-grant Medicare and turn it over to the states.
He wants to repeal the 16th Amendment and eliminate the income tax, the payroll tax, and the estate tax. He would replace it with a 28 percent FairTax that exempts the poor. This is equivalent to a 39 percent sales tax, and it would almost certainly represent a large tax cut for the rich.

Simply sitting out the election, or voting a pure protest vote by writing your own name or Mickey Mouse in, is throwing one’s vote away. A liberal voting for Stein or Johnson is infecting their protest vote with Ebola, especially if either or both receive enough votes to tip the Electoral College to Donald Trump. Like that unrepentant narcissistic fuckwit Ralph Nader before them, neither Stein nor Johnson will have the self-awareness or sense of shame to assume any blame for the horror a Trump presidency would unleash upon the U.S. and the world. Instead, they will convince themselves they have a mandate to double-down on their goofy, dangerous ideas and infect more elections.

Religious Right continues to be desperate for a “win” on pot

20 Sep 2016 03:21 am
Posted by: Donna

America’s Holy Warriors have suffered recent setbacks to their ongoing projects of oppressing LGBTQ citizens and depriving women of bodily autonomy due to recent court decisions, public outcry over bigoted laws, and even some progressive legislation Democrats have managed to pass.

Desperate for anything they can call a victory, and keep the donations flowing to their lucrative “educational organizations”, the God-botherers are focused like lasers on five states where marijuana legalization for recreational use will be on the ballot. I’ve noted in a previous post that I’m skeptical that having Cathi Herrod, Arizona’s preeminent purse-lipped fun sponge, at the forefront of the opposition to Prop 205 (AZ’s ballot measure to legalize pot) is going to move a lot of voters against it. I suspect Herrod, et al., are counting on the voices of those considered more mainstream who have come out against legalization to prevail come November, after which they will claim credit for the defeat.

But CAP did enlist William Bennett, former Education Secretary under Reagan, who made a career since then as a conservative demagogue known for inspiring the nation’s youth by having a huge gambling problem and claiming that if all African-American women aborted their pregnancies, the crime rate would go down. In an op-ed published Monday in the AZ Republic, Bennett regurgitated a Gish Gallop of anti-MJ talking points that have either been debunked or found to be difficult to prove.

One claim Bennett made was misleading and possibly dangerous:

Prop. 205 is sponsored by an organization calling itself the Marijuana Policy Project, which has a “Consume Responsibility” website. It instructs: “Edible marijuana products and some other infused products remain in your system several hours longer (than smoked marijuana), so you should not operate a vehicle for the rest of the day after consuming them.”

Nobody has ever had to advise anything like that with a glass of wine or beer. Today’s high-potency marijuana and pot edibles simply cannot be compared to alcohol as it is regularly consumed.

The implication in that statement is that driving after drinking is safer, that consumption of alcohol greater than “a glass of wine or beer” is atypical(!) and could not lead to a driving-while-impaired charge (untrue), and that pot use in general is more impairing than alcohol. To appreciate how badly Bennett is misleading readers, here is the full statement on driving from the MPP website:

Don’t consume and drive.

Never use marijuana while driving, and do not drive immediately after using it. Not only is it potentially dangerous, it is illegal and can result in serious penalties.

Similar to a 0.08 blood-alcohol limit, Colorado and Washington have established a legal limit of 5 ng/ml of THC in whole blood. Most consumers’ THC levels dissipate about one to two hours after smoking or vaporizing marijuana flowers, and it might take a little longer when consuming concentrates. Since it varies from person to person, you should wait at least three to four hours before driving a vehicle.

Edible marijuana products and some other infused products remain in your system several hours longer, so you should not operate a vehicle for the rest of the day after consuming them.

If you are not sure whether you are impaired or above the legal limit, do not drive!

The MPP people are telling you to err on the side of extreme caution in all cases of MJ use (as you should with alcohol!), but especially when you’ve used an edible with the potential of byproducts being in your system for up to a day. This is not because you are likely to be actually impaired for that long, but because you could be charged for it. It’s not the slightest bit surprising that the people behind legalizing marijuana are more invested in making it as safe as possible for all concerned than are the people equally invested in opposing legality, even if that means minimizing the danger of alcohol.

As people like Bill Bennett continue to object to legal weed on grounds that increasingly resemble nothing but puritanism, I continue to be reminded of their equally unhinged crusade against contraception and factual sex-ed. None of it is about the health or safety of the population. It’s about controlling us and denying us pleasure.

Had it happened on Al Gore’s watch.

13 Sep 2016 03:21 pm
Posted by: Donna


Imagine it, Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001. Two planes crash into the World Trade Center. Another crashes into the Pentagon. Still another crashes into a field in Pennsylvania.

Imagine if Al Gore had been President that day.

Do you believe Gore would enjoy a 90% approval rating on September 24, 2001?

I don’t.

I feel it in my bones, this reflexive bias toward Republicans being in charge, leading inexorably to them being held harmless for the most abysmal failures and even incontrovertible evidence of moral depravity when they are in office. I’ve felt it since I was a kid in the late 70s when Jimmy Carter was President, when he and his family were constantly portrayed as hapless goobers with straw in their teeth and everything he did was viewed as a failure, with no consideration for the challenges he faced. When Reagan defeated Carter, the prevailing sentiment (at least from what was apparent to me from TV and print media) was that rightness was restored to the White House. No matter how many people in the Reagan administration were indicted. No matter how bad his economic policies actually were. All was right with the world because the party that best represented the interests of men and white people was in charge.

When I was in boot camp in Orlando, Florida in 1987, Company Commander Hermann told us that Oliver North was a hero. I disagreed but didn’t dare venture that opinion, for I had fully absorbed by then that Republicans were viewed as the correct people to be ruling the country. (I also wisely surmised boot camp was not the place for me to challenge that view.)

Basically, since I was 10 years old I have grokked that the party of men and white people is the party that is assumed to be the rightful owners of the White House. Again, I never agreed with it, but I got it. It meant that I have accepted media people and other opinion shapers being reflexively deferential to Republican candidates, while subjecting Democratic ones to intense and harshly critical scrutiny, as the normal order of things in the election.

The sexism of it was quite glaring to me, as in the 2000 election when Al Gore was “feminized” and lampooned in the media for wearing beige and seeking stylistic advice from the likes of Naomi Wolf. Gore’s minor foibles and mistakes were amplified, while his opponent’s shocking ignorance of foreign affairs and history of incompetence in business and as Texas Governor was minimized (sound familiar?), in favor of a portrayal of George Bush as a hail-fellow-well-met manly man whom it was much cooler to be seen with. But none of it surprised me. I had long been used to Democrats, even white male ones, being regarded as inferior (but somehow expected to meet higher standards) candidates due to being seen as representing people of color and women (also deemed inferior but expected to meet higher standards always).

Naturally, dignity and honor were once again restored to the White House upon a Republican assuming the Presidency.

The attacks on 9/11/2001 happened seven months into Bush’s Presidency, after he had been fully apprised by outgoing President Bill Clinton about the Al Qaeda menace and warned repeatedly about potential attacks by terrorism experts. Bush ignored the warnings due to having other priorities (Iraq and a missile defense program).

Do you really think if Al Gore had been elected 2000, then proceeded to focus on nebulous pet projects over the threat of Al Qaeda and snorted “All right, you’ve covered your ass” to the guy delivering a memo entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in the US” on August 6, 2001, that he would have been treated like a hero a little more than a month later when the US was, in fact, struck? I know you don’t think that.

The nation wouldn’t have been given a minute to absorb the enormity and the trauma before the recriminations began. Why did Gore ignore those warnings?! Had President Gore sat there with an a children’s book in his lap and a dumbstruck look on his face upon hearing the news, would not that image been run on a continuous loop on news coverage beginning on September 12th at the latest? And that’s just the MSM. Limbaugh, Fox, Drudge, et al, would have been apoplectic with theatrical outrage over the failure of this Democratic President to prevent a terrorist attack. You can imagine the insinuations and outright accusations of Gore being in league with the terrorists.

But Bush was a rightful owner of the White House, buoyed on rich white male Republican entitlement, thus not subjected to an ounce of the scrutiny he ought to have gotten (after a decent interval) for his performance in the months prior to the attacks. He was instantly valorized (it continues to this day) and was able to graft the good faith he was automatically granted onto a case for pursuing his pet project, invading Iraq. Bush went on to receive fawning coverage for it:

{Chris] MATTHEWS: We’re proud of our president. Americans love having a guy as president, a guy who has a little swagger, who’s physical, who’s not a complicated guy like [former President Bill] Clinton or even like [former Democratic presidential candidates Michael] Dukakis or [Walter] Mondale, all those guys, [George] McGovern. They want a guy who’s president. Women like a guy who’s president. Check it out. The women like this war. I think we like having a hero as our president. It’s simple. We’re not like the Brits. We don’t want an indoor prime minister type, or the Danes or the Dutch or the Italians, or a [Russian Federation President Vladimir] Putin. Can you imagine Putin getting elected here? We want a guy as president.

Such a guy, that George Bush. (That whole comment by Matthews, especially the bit about Putin, reads pretty incredible in 2016, doesn’t it?)

MATTHEWS: What do you make of this broadside against the USS Abraham Lincoln and its chief visitor last week?

LIDDY: Well, I — in the first place, I think it’s envy. I mean, after all, Al Gore had to go get some woman to tell him how to be a man. And here comes George Bush. You know, he’s in his flight suit, he’s striding across the deck, and he’s wearing his parachute harness, you know — and I’ve worn those because I parachute — and it makes the best of his manly characteristic. You go run those — run that stuff again of him walking across there with the parachute. He has just won every woman’s vote in the United States of America. You know, all those women who say size doesn’t count — they’re all liars. Check that out. I hope the Democrats keep ratting on him and all of this stuff so that they keep showing that tape.

MATTHEWS: You know, it’s funny. I shouldn’t talk about ratings. I don’t always pay attention to them, but last night was a riot because, at the very time [U.S. Rep.] Henry Waxman [D-CA] was on — and I do respect him on legislative issues — he was on blasting away, and these pictures were showing last night, and everybody’s tuning in to see these pictures again.

Leaving the grab-the-brain-bleach ickiness of these exchanges aside, try to imagine, in your wildest dreams, President Al Gore strutting across the deck of an aircraft carrier like that, and cable news commentators swooning over the, uh, turgidity of it. You can’t because it would be the ridiculous spectacle it should have been deemed when Bush did it.

George W. Bush was always an absurd, dangerous fool. But he got a free ride all the way to the White House due to snobbery, sexism, and racism. Which are also clearly at work in the 2016 election, where the female candidate has been excoriated for an entire year over some nonsense about emails while her male opponent, who is bonkers, is treated with far more deference than he should be. As I saw a Twitter wag put it recently, the election coverage feels like the rich kid school bully has enlisted the whole class in bringing down the studious, nerdy girl.

And these are people who still can’t believe President Obama got elected to the White House he has no business being in for two terms. They are, as this “DC political reporter” in this article, under cover of anonymity and pretending to be undecided makes abundantly clear, determined to swing the Presidency back to the GOP, even if it means “it’s going to be a dumpster fire”.

The good news is people are calling it out this time, more than I’ve ever seen. We’re not going to let them help install a dumber and more dangerous lunatic than George W. Bush in the White House, because their own kind not being in charge hurts their fee fees. It must end now.

GUEST POST: A Slightly Annoyed Defense of Hillary Clinton

11 Sep 2016 11:24 pm
Posted by: Donna

Guest post from Elizabeth from

I saw that tweet the other day. And I got a little annoyed.
Why? Because I actually don’t think it sounds like Clinton. At all. I didn’t think that a year ago. And I don’t think it now. There is a reason for that.

Clinton Has Been Very Open

Clinton has always released her taxes, her emails, her family’s foundation records, her fundraising records, her donation records, and her life’s story when asked by appropriate parties. Appropriate parties are: the American people, the government, the press, and the editors of her books.
Not once do you have a record of her refusing to release something that she felt she had a legal or ethical obligation to release.

When you have someone who is that willing to release information, you have someone not trying to hide anything. Are there times she fails to release? Yes — because we are talking about multiple tons of documents. Is there a pattern of her hiding anything? No.trump frankly curious

Now on to the bribing. Because she has released all of this information, we can go through and see if she has any record of using sketchy ways of handling business. And guess what? She doesn’t have that record. She complies with the rules even when she gets suggestions to not do so. (I’m looking at you Colin Powell.) Even when she probably should have used an Official Government Email Account™, she followed the rules for not using one.

Having been in government, I know why she used the single device. It is a decision most people in leadership have to make. And most of them hate using two or three devices. Clinton’s having it set up with her husband’s server was probably better than using gmail. But I digress.

Clinton’s Clean Donation Record

The fact is that you can trace her giving to whomever via her taxes, her family’s direct foundation, and the Clinton Foundation. You can look to see what they did with every dollar they received. You can spend months on this — just like most of the charity watchers do. And nothing — Absolutely nothing! — shows it was not above board. There was no using donation funds to buy things, no using funds to make political donations, nothing. Nada. Nichts.

Yet where does Justin Green, Political Editor for Independent Journal Review, start? Saying that Hillary Clinton is who first comes to mind when reading, “Rich person laundering political donation (bribe) through his foundation and hiding it on IRS filings”? And he is surprised that it is Trump?! Clinton has zero record of doing anything so unbelievably illegal and Trump is, well, Trump.

Clinton’s Track Record

Clinton does have a track record: not lying whenever she wants; not using her money to get out of scrapes; admitting fault; apologizing when she screws up; not breaking the law; not bribing public officials; not creating investment or university scams; and on and on.

So why the hell would anyone — especially a professional political editor — even conceive of writing such a statement?

Clinton has screwed up before — the Iraq war vote, using a private server that the State Department hadn’t authorized[1], most of the 2008 campaign, pushing for the use of American power when a wait-and-see approach would probably have been better. But these are policy decisions. When it comes to behavior? She doesn’t do anything wrong.

[1] This always struck me as weird, since she was in charge of it and Obama clearly knew she had the server and didn’t care.

You’re over two weeks late and a dollar short, AP

08 Sep 2016 02:38 pm
Posted by: Donna

On the evening after the “damning” AP story broke about a supposed pay-to-play scandal with the Clinton Foundation (which has since proven to be bullshit), that had been teased by a fallacious tweet claiming that half of all the people who met with then-Secretary Clinton at State were Foundation donors, I happened to catch the reporting of our local CBS affiliate in Phoenix on it on the 10pm news. Local newscasts typically devote about one minute of coverage to Presidential campaigns and on this night the news anchor basically read AP’s tweet, with the chyron below repeating the same thing. I expect it was the same on the other local newscasts.

So that’s what went out to the 12th largest media market (out of the 100 ranked) and now AP has (finally) issued a correction, after the damage has been done to Secretary Clinton’s “optics” and to a top-rated charitable organization that saves poor people with HIV/AIDS and other devastating diseases.

I got chided the other day by a local print reporter for complaining about the media all the time. I’m not doing it for my health.

Ignorance isn’t independence, or an excuse

06 Sep 2016 11:30 pm
Posted by: Donna

degrasse tyson quote

WaPo‘s David Weigel makes a humorous, though endlessly frustrating (for us politico types), observation about American voters:

It’s not the most original thought experiment, but it’s useful: Imagine a conversation with your past self, or some confused passerby, in 1991. Tell him that in the future, basically everyone will carry a tiny supercomputer at all times. People will wake up with it, run with it, map their destinations with it, order food with it, find hook-up partners with it, blow off partners after the hook-up didn’t go so well. At any moment, wirelessly, they can look up any information by typing in a few words.

Now, imagine explaining to this person that candidates for office put most of their speeches online, along with their entire party platforms. Some candidates would even allow their speeches to be watched live, or saved and watched later, from the tiny supercomputer. Your future self – or whoever – would probably assume that the problem of political ignorance had been cured.

I think about this more and more, because I keep meeting voters who insist, with a sort of hopeless helplessness, that they don’t know “what the candidates stand for.” This past weekend, at the Minnesota State Fair, I kept hearing people campaign that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were “mudslinging,” and that this was bad, because they (voters) wanted to hear about the issues…

…Whose fault is that, and whose fault is it swing voters are unsure where Donald Trump stands? Not the media’s — piles and piles of money are spent to get reporters and cameras to the places where candidates deliver policy speeches. Not the candidates’s, though in this particular election Clinton has given exponentially more detail than Trump. (Literally, exponentially. CNN’s Brian Stelter points out that there are 9,000 words about policy on Trump’s campaign site, and more than 100,000 words on Clinton’s.) It’s true that “candidate gives policy speech” is not a story that gets a front page (unless it’s in response to a crisis), and “candidates trade barbs” is. But it is easier than ever for a candidate to shoot his or her message past the media.

No, I’m sorry, but this one falls on the voters. It is generally as easy to learn where the candidates stand on all but the most obscure issues as it is to find, say, a recipe for low-calorie overnight oats. It’s also easy to ignore the negative, “mudslinging” aspects of a campaign, for the same reason so many people find it easy to cut their TV plans and watch streaming services…

I agree with Weigel up to a point that voters need to own this but I don’t find the media to be blameless in the problem. The political press pushes certain narratives about candidates, often arrived at via groupthink rather than evidence (Al Gore was bland, George W. Bush was folksy, Hillary Clinton is “untrustworthy”, Trump “speaks his mind”, etc.), that tend to be seized on as shortcuts to the learning about policy stances that Weigel (and I) feel voters should be doing. And some journalists, along with some politicians and others seen as authorities on electoral politics, have spent decades relentlessly disparaging partisanship, with an almost religious fervor, hailing the rise in the number of “independent” voters as if it were God personally sending a sign vindicating them.

But no, it’s not. When you tell people for years that parties suck and are corrupt and are for mindless sheep a lot of people start to believe it. Unfortunately, those same people don’t seem to be finding sources aside from the hated parties to get their information. Ironically, suggestions that they get their information about the issues from the candidates themselves are bound to be ignored because those candidates are – wait for it – partisans! They’re assumed to be lying because everyone knows that partisans and politicians and especially partisan politicians are liars, even when they’re simply stating their policy goals.

There are certainly undecided voters who do want to know where candidates are on the issues but they want that information filtered through trusted sources. That is not going to be the candidates’ websites, for the reasons I just explained and it’s not going to be the MSM if they persist in prioritizing the he said/she said horse race over asking Clinton and Trump about their policy proposals. Perhaps Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye the Science Guy could be enlisted to be our National Election Explainers. Still, Weigel’s point, that voters should at least try to learn what candidates stand for via those amazing space age information machines they have at their fingertips before throwing up their hands about “mudslinging”, is well taken.