Center for Arizona Policy is poll dancing!

02 Mar 2015 03:25 am
Posted by: Donna

news.stlpublicradio.org

The militant God-botherers at the Center for Arizona Policy are positively giddy over a poll they conducted that they claim shows the country is on their side on same sex marriage.

Impressive! But, oh wait, here’s what another poll says when people are asked specifically about same sex marriage:

And let’s poll dance on over on to this other set of polls about another type of marriage that was oh-so-controversial not a few years ago:

It took an entire twenty four years after the Loving v Virginia decision for Americans to get used to the idea of interracial marriage enough to give it a bare majority in public opinion. But they got used to it. Enough to elect a President who was the product of such a marriage in 1961, back when maybe 10% of the country supported such a thing. Settle down, Cathi Herrod, and stop wasting your time with the push polls.

Patricia Arquette was not malicious in her backstage comments, but she was mistaken

26 Feb 2015 01:22 am
Posted by: Donna

I cheered right along with Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez when Patricia Arquette made an impassioned demand for women’s rights and, specifically, pay equity in her acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress last Sunday. And then she was interviewed backstage and said some other things:

“So the truth is, even though we sort of feel like we have equal rights in America, right under the surface, there are huge issues that are applied that really do affect women. And it’s time for all the women in America and all the men that love women, and all the gay people, and all the people of color that we’ve all fought for to fight for us now.”

The part in bold is what several people took to social media to express their offense over at what they perceived as the erasure of women from “gay people” and “people of color”. Others immediately came to Arquette’s defense, claiming that the hysterical PC police were bashing her unfairly over words perhaps poorly chosen in the midst of an exhilarating and emotional moment. I agree that it was most likely not Arquette’s intention to exclude non-cis/straight and non-white women in her comments but the women in those groups have a lot of experience having their identities and concerns ignored, even by well-intentioned white women. And when they point out that you’re doing that, it’s rude (to say the least) to become defensive and double-down on the denials, as Arquette and her defenders have done since Sunday.

But set that aside for a minute and examine the problem, on its merits, with her “call to action”, as more than one of the people defending her to me described it to me. And that is that her claim was wrong. Factually wrong. Gobsmackingly so. It reflected an all-too-common lack of historical knowledge of how feminism has played out in this country since the 19th century. More on that from Imani Gandy:

Furthermore, I need to disabuse everyone of the notion that white women have spent centuries fighting for the rights of everyone. That’s simply not the case. The truth is far more complicated than that. Yes, there are white women who were staunch abolitionists. And then those same white women turned and found common cause with white supremacists in order to advance their own interests.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, for example, fought long and hard against slavery only to about-face and join forces with George Frances Train to campaign for women’s suffrage under the slogan “Woman first and negro last.” It was Stanton and Anthony who sought the aid of unabashed white supremacists in their struggle for (white) women’s suffrage. And as Ta-Nehisi Coates pointed out, “some of the most ardent suffrage activists were outright racists like Rebecca Felton, who fervently supported lynching, and Kate Gordon who eventually abandoned the suffrage movement because a national amendment would threaten white supremacy.”

Does that mean that Stanton and Anthony were bad people? Maybe, maybe not. The history of feminism, women’s suffrage, and Black women’s place within those movements is long and complicated, and a discussion far outside the scope of this blog post.

What about the situation today? Let’s ponder this image, shall we?

CNN House Exit poll 2014

“But Donna, that’s so unfair!! I’m a white feminist who never votes Republican! I volunteer on Dem campaigns! #NOTALLWHITEVOTERS!!!” Okay, but can you also now understand how any white person, even a well-intentioned white feminist, looks like kind of an ass lecturing people of color on how they need to do more to fight for women’s rights? CNN doesn’t poll for LGBT status but other polling shows strong Dem – 70% and higher – support from them.

And if you think that voting doesn’t have the utmost relevance on an issue like equal pay for women, think again. Pay equity will only be achieved through legislation and court action. It will not be crowdsourced, occupied, or leaned into. There is no magical lofty solution to this outside the bounds of icky partisan politics. Therefore, voting is everything. The same is true of many other issues and it seems that every other group of voters besides white voters gets that. Lord knows no one has leaned into voting more than African American voters have. I promise you that Mitch McConnell will not be persuaded to take up the cause of pay equity for women, instead of consistently voting against it, because a bunch of PoC and LGBT activists show up at his office to demand it. He’ll have them arrested.

We white people pretty much own the gender wage gap (as well as the race one), due to our own demo’s shitty voting habits that keep the status quo in place. As white feminists, confronting our white counterparts who undermine women’s rights by voting for Republicans can be a scary proposition. I have explained to white male Republican voters – in person, and online and politely, and not so politely – that, no, that fact that they have daughters they love does not absolve them of supporting institutionalized misogyny via voting for anti-choice politicians. I have similarly pointed out to conservative white anti-feminist women how they benefit, perhaps the most, from the gains of feminism while actively working to yank them from other women. And that this not only makes them hypocrites, but freeloaders. Needless to say, these exchanges have not gone well, despite my speaking the truth as I know it. It tends to be viewed as the height of “incivility” and gets me unfriended on Facebook and shunned in my real social life. It has caused me to throw up my hands and declaim, “fuck it, whatever, I am NOT the Wingnut Whisperer.”

That’s not the bravest way to deal with all of that, admittedly, but I honestly don’t know what to do about the problem of the majority of my fellow white people voting like assholes. It feels like a damned-if-I-do-damned-if-I-don’t conundrum. If I get in their faces, they get the vapors. If I’m decorous and deferential they pat me on the head and do whatever they were going to do anyway. Which is a bummer and all but I’m still not getting teargassed because of it. What I won’t do is point fingers at marginalized people who are voting the right way, often against immeasurable odds, and who often face murderous violence merely for asking to be able to breathe.

Patricia Arquette should just apologize and vow to do better. It’s the least she can do. And trust me, most of us white feminists are doing the same, at best, sadly.

Riddle me this, gun fetishists, why do you need silencers?

25 Feb 2015 04:27 am
Posted by: Donna

Photo: www.atf.gov

Alas, because the annual AZ Legislature session coincides with the busiest time of year for my place of business I cannot keep up with all the bills as the wonderful Craig McDermott does. But I still try to keep up and things going through the lege tend to catch my eye.

One was Sen. Kelli Ward(R) putting forth a floor amendment to SB1460, which originally restored gun rights to people convicted of crimes whose civil rights have been restored. Ward’s amendment expands the bill to allow for nunchucks – excuse me nunchaku – as well as sawed-shotguns and silencers.

I found this development with the bill a tad alarming but AZ Republic editor Joanna Allhands talked me down from the ledge on that:

Let’s all calm down about Senate Bill 1460.

A lot of folks seem to think that this bill would allow any Tom, Dick and Harry to go out and buy a silencer or sawed-off shotgun. Like, you can just go pick ‘em up off any gun store shelf and it’s fine.

But that’s not the case.

Actually, it’s already legal to own silencers and sawed-off shotguns in Arizona. But first, you must go through a slew of federal paperwork to register the item and pay the federal tax to get it. It can take months to get everything approved and in order.

That wouldn’t change.

The only thing this bill seems to do is legalize nunchucks, which has received far less arm-waving than the silencers and sawed-off shotguns. Oh, and it specifically says that people whose rights have been restored to possess and purchase firearms can own these things.

Whew! So Arizona isn’t proposing a new law authorizing those things, it is simply reinforcing existing federal law that allows for…WAIT, WHAT??

Okay, so I suppose a sawed-off shotgun might have some personal security utility that a non-altered shotgun doesn’t. And there’s the possibility of having some serious fun at the firing range with one. And as for nunchaku well, you do you with them!

But the silencer? What’s up with that? Who besides Tony Soprano (or his real-life counterpart) needs one? Assuming that the average gun enthusiast who was enthusiastic enough to approach Sen. Ward to ask her to include silencers in her amendment isn’t planning on a gangland murder spree, then what do they want silencers for? I can’t see why silencers would enhance a shooting range experience, since (having shot at ranges many times myself) the loud noise of the gun going off is part of the enjoyment.

Thus, I’m forced to conclude that gun fetishists who think it’s super important to have silencers available to them must have concocted some hilariously elaborate fantasies involving themselves as patriots somehow bringing down President Obama’s communist takeover by silently plugging his jackbooted agents of tyranny full of lead. (Not likely, as they have tanks and drones.) Or maybe they imagine themselves as Liam Neesons avenging, stealthily, the constant abductions of their loved ones by swarthy villains. (Either scenario practically requires the hero to do the Unnecessary Combat Roll.)

The very fact that silencers are at all legal is an indulgence of the fantasies of gun fetishists that also makes silencers available to all kinds of truly bad people who aren’t necessarily concerned with your well-regulated militia.

“School Choice” is a giant honking scam

24 Feb 2015 03:28 am
Posted by: Donna

As Arizona continues to show up at the bottom of rankings in education funding, defenders of the current policies continue to insist that we’re doing super duper well in School Choice!TM

School Choice!TM is predicated on the supposition that all parents – all of them! – have an endless abundance of time and resources to devote to picking the best possible school for each of their children, from a plethora of options including their local public, magnet public, brick-and-mortar charters, online charters, private schools, and homeschooling. This is not to mention all the money your family needs to pay for tuition, transportation, uniforms, whatever is required to get your child into that best school. If you don’t have that money, then School Choice!TM hasn’t failed you, you have failed it, obvs.

If that sounds like a full-time job and a half, and totally ridiculous, congratulations on being a normal person! But alas, our state is not run by normal people. Arizona is instead run by a rabid band of School Choice!TM zealots, as this Arizona Daily Sun editorial explains:

Does mainstream public education in Arizona have a viable future under the current governor and the Republican majority at the State House?

And if the answer is “No” – as some are beginning to believe – does education in general and even Arizona as a state have much of a future?…

…So far, though, there has been little debate because Republicans have rigged the school finance and accountability game so much that the outcome in favor of choice – that is, charter and private schools — is nearly predetermined. From classroom spending quotas to hiring only certified teachers, providing buses and making room for any local child who walks through the door, the exclusive mandates on mainstream public schools make it nearly certain they will have higher costs and more varied outcomes than charters and privates…

…The game is rigged not only by blind allegiance to individual choice over community but to a tax-cutting, trickle-down theory of economics that by definition means public disinvestment when revenues fail to keep up with rising costs. Even shifting state spending, such as from prisons to schools, is off the table, so wedded are Republicans to a choice mantra that is a code word for dismantling the mainstream public schools and their communitarian ethos.

…And where does all this lead public education and Arizona itself? The trend is already clear: Parental choice means academic tracking as early as the fifth grade. That might be justified in a mainstream public school, where the gifted and talented rub shoulders at lunchtime, recess and band practice with those students less well-off academically and financially. But at the charters and privates, which can cap enrollment and, at the latter, pick and choose among applicants, choice has meant a socio-demographic segregation that utterly frustrates the ideals of a democratically educated society.

I’m fairly certain that socio-demographic segregation is the whole point. And they want to do it with your and my tax dollars.

Anti-choice AZ GOP legislators continue to promote idea that women don’t really ever pay for anything, refuse to protect doctors’ personal info

20 Feb 2015 02:41 am
Posted by: Donna

Sen. Barto was gloating about SB1318 passing the Senate on Thursday afternoon. Here’s Sen. Kelli Ward (R) echoing the “pay for it yourselves, floozies” canard:

What neither Senator cares to acknowledge is that taxpayers had nothing to do with the provision in 1318 that disallows coverage of abortion in any health care exchange plan offered in the state, even if a woman opts to purchase a separate rider with her own damn floozy money. Of course, as I’ve explained before, the idea of women earning money in jobs and paying insurance premiums appears to be incomprehensible to anti-choicers.

The other part of SB1318 requires abortion doctors to submit documentation that they have admitting privileges at a local hospital.

We all know doctors being harassed and threatened is a feature, not a bug, of this program. Let’s not forget how the director of AZ NARAL got threatened with a surprise inspection of her home recently, thanks to a law passed last year. In case there’s any doubt of their intentions:

Oh, and it took a floor amendment to exclude women whose lives or health are endangered by the pregnancy, or who have been raped, from the ban on coverage:

Anti-choicers were really going to deny a woman with life threatening pregnancy complications insurance coverage for the termination, which could run into several thousands of dollars depending upon how difficult the operation might be. Chew on that. And again, this was even if she had paid entirely for all her insurance premiums out of her own pocket.

Oh wait, no, she could not possibly have done that since women are utterly dependent upon “taxpayers” (a group that does not include women of childbearing age, apparently) for all our reproductive health care needs, according to anti-choicers. Our money is just play money.

More poor bashing than usual in AZ legislative session

19 Feb 2015 03:13 am
Posted by: Donna

It definitely seems as if this is the Year of Going After the Poor with a Vengeance for Republicans in the Arizona Legislature. Which is saying something, since these are people who have shown an abundance of enthusiasm for punishing low income residents for their (real or imagined) transgressions for several years now. Bills going through committees this session target poor people’s public assistance and voting rights, perpetuating narratives about their being shiftless and untrustworthy. (And the usurious lenders that Arizona voters drop-kicked out of the state in 2008 are back.)

The complete takeover of our state by Americans For Prosperity (funded by the Koch brothers) types in the 2014 election has created the perfect conditions for a total war on low income people. There’s not likely to be much push-back on it from the public as we non-poor Americans are a bunch of judgmental pricks about poor people’s life choices, as Bryce Covert of Mother Jones notes:

Food stamp resentment, as Arthur Delaney has coined it, is a year-round phenomenon. It’s when a random shopper decides that he or she has the authority to dictate what poor people buy with the food stamps that come to a tiny bit over $4 a day, on average. The reason: that this food is being bought with “our” tax dollars, so we should have a say in what it can buy.

It’s an old complaint, as Delaney documents. A 1993 Columbus Dispatch letter to the editor decried a recipient who bought “two bottles of wine, steak and a large bag of king crab legs” with food stamps. Beyond candy, steaks and crab legs come up a lot. Texas Representative Louie Gohmert told a story on the floor of the House about a supposed constituent who was buying king crab legs in line ahead of him with an EBT card. “Because he does pay income tax…he is actually helping pay for the king crab legs when he can’t pay for them for himself,” Gohmert claimed. Wisconsin State Representative Dean Kaufert told a similar story, but the person in line watched a food stamp recipient buy “the tenderloin, the porterhouse” with the benefits.

What is up with the crab legs constantly appearing in these urban legends?

The conviction that poor people are scamming the system dovetails nicely with the “just world” hypothesis, which is the belief that any bad predicaments people are in are the direct result of their own foolish or immoral choices. This “just world” view assumes that poor people are abdicating their responsibilities while not taking into account their lack of power.

But if the world were truly just, then these people would never get away with their actions.

When the housing market tanked a few years ago, the government rescued every bank and business (even a damned insurance company), while ignoring everyone else. I realized that the game was fatally lopsided, so I didn’t just walk away in middle-class shame, but rather I employed all my (extremely limited) cunning and deviousness to get a similar home before ditching the old one. I was able to cash in on low housing prices from a couple of years ago, coupled with low interest rates, to come out on top. The biggest barrier to getting a great deal was an almost overpowering need to behave like a middle-class sucker.

I was taught growing up to “keep my word” and that your handshake “meant something.” Yet businessmen and individual wealthy people make decisions that are far less moral than a short sale. People “incorporate” so they can avoid legal responsibility for individual actions. It works great. You can stiff creditors, declare bankruptcy, pollute daily and raid pensions to enrich individual executives. If it all goes wrong, like it has so often for Donald Trump, you can keep your mansions and individual fortunes. It is no accident that the best-paid CEO in America has never made a dime for the company. If regular Americans acted like corporations and the moneyed class, our country would collapse in a week from systemic theft, corruption and greed.

I always knew business was getting over on me, but I had no idea the extent until I started looking to short-sell. I first learned all I could about private home financing. I called up some shady investment groups around town and questioned them at length. I didn’t end up using them, but they were frank, informative and unashamed.

“Who would pay 11 percent on a home loan?” I asked.

“Rich people,” said “Bill” from the legal loan-sharking company. “The rich have terrible credit.”

Rich people = bad credit: Just let that sink in.

Bill told me in roundabout ways that rich people never pay a bill if there is any way around it. If something goes wrong in an investment or a business, they always preserve their own assets first. We’ve all heard the generalization that they’re lousy tippers.

I’m guessing they consume more crab legs per capita than the average food stamp recipient. In Arizona, such people are promised a boon in taxpayer funding for their progeny to attend private schools. It would come, of course, with no threat of a Gladys Kravitz poking through their grocery baskets looking for those crab legs.

AZ Lege poor bashes with Clean Elections bill

17 Feb 2015 03:18 am
Posted by: Donna

It looks like the GOP majority in the AZ Legislature has figured out what the real “dark money” problem in our state is. Apparently, it’s with the $5 qualifying contributions to Clean Elections candidates made in cash. Lord only knows where that money has been!

16-946. Qualifying contributions
A. During the qualifying period, a participating candidate may collect qualifying contributions, which shall be paid to the fund.
B. To qualify as a qualifying contribution, a contribution must be:
1. Made by a qualified elector as defined in section 16‑121, who at the time of the contribution is registered in the electoral district of the office the candidate is seeking and who has not given another qualifying contribution to that candidate during that election cycle.
2. Made by a person who is not given anything of value in exchange for the qualifying contribution.
3. In the sum of five dollars, exactly.
4. Received unsolicited during the qualifying period or solicited during the qualifying period by a person who is not employed or retained by the candidate and who is not compensated to collect contributions by the candidate or on behalf of the candidate.
5. If Made by check or money order, ONLY AND made payable to the candidate’s campaign committee, or if in cash, deposited in the candidate’s campaign committee’s account. A PARTICIPATING CANDIDATE AND THE CANDIDATE’S CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE MAY NOT ACCEPT CASH CONTRIBUTIONS.

Disallowing qualifying $5 contributions to candidates in cash is an ingenious way to make it more difficult for Democrats to use Clean Elections. Low income and young people are not likely to have a checkbook in their immediate possession and probably don’t have the time and energy to wait in line at a convenience or grocery store to buy a money order.

The committee ultimately submitted an amendment that appears to have stripped out the ban on $5 contributions made in cash (which doesn’t mean it won’t come back later) but instead makes it clear that you Democratic candidates and voters had better have your shit totally together:

F. THE COMMISSION SHALL ESTABLISH A RANDOM AUDITING PROCESS FOR REPORTING SLIPS THAT PROVIDES FOR A REVIEW OF A SAMPLE OF QUALIFYING CONTRIBUTIONS TO DETERMINE WHETHER THE CONTRIBUTIONS WERE MADE BY THE PERSON WHO SIGNED THE REPORTING SLIP. THE SECRETARY OF STATE SHALL PROVIDE TO THE COMMISSION THE INFORMATION THE COMMISSION DEEMS NECESSARY TO IMPLEMENT THE PROCESS.

Well, of course Secretary of State Reagan will provide the “information” deemed necessary to determine if a Clean Elections contribution is legitimate or not. My guess is that you had better have some excellent handwriting and precise skills at filling out forms, Democratic voters. It’s like the poll test of yore, except fresher!