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Democratic Diva

That time Jerry Emmett set me straight

27 Jul 2016 03:07 pm
Posted by: Donna

jerry emmett
Photo: Miriam Wasser, Phoenix New Times

Easily one of the coolest moments of Tuesday night was when it was the Arizona delegation’s turn to announce its vote totals. Per The Guardian:

Clinton was formally nominated as the Democratic candidate after a roll call of the states in the Philadelphia arena. And in a tender moment, the centenarian joined her state’s 85-member delegation, which split 51 for Clinton and 34 for her Democratic rival, the Vermont senator Bernie Sanders.

“I’m Ruben Gallego from Arizona, the beautiful state, the natural state. We’re proud to say that we’re the home state of Cesar Chavez, home state of many native tribes, home state of electing some of the first women leaders in this country,” the congressman said. “And I am proud to be joined here by Jerry Emmett, age 102. Madame Secretary, Arizona casts 34 votes for Senator Sanders.”

Gallego handed the microphone to Emmett, who leant forward with a wide grin.

“And 51 votes for the next president of the United States of America, Hillary Rodham Clinton,” she said, as the crowd erupted in cheers.

Emmett, the star of the Arizona delegation and a lifelong Democrat, was six years old when women earned the right to vote in the US and remembers the moment when her mother cast the first vote of her life.

If you are active in Arizona Democratic politics at the state level, you have undoubtedly encountered Geraldine “Jerry” Emmett at a state committee meeting or a Heritage Dinner, usually accompanied by one or several from her coterie of fiercely loyal friends. She’s a delight to be around. She may not remember you but she has no problem regaling anyone in her presence with tales of her eighty some years of Democratic activism. I learned that she and I share a love for Joan Crawford movies at the Fourth of July Parade in Prescott (where Jerry lives) in 2010, while I was there for a campaign I was working on. She was a slip of a 96 year old back then, but she brushed off my suggestion that she be the honorary grand marshal of the parade the next year by grabbing my forearm and exclaiming, “oh, honey, I don’t buy green bananas!”

In February of that year, I accompanied a statewide candidate I was working with to a Democratic women’s luncheon in Prescott. Despite it being on a weekday afternoon, the room was packed with ladies of a certain age, the kind of stalwart women who mostly, and enthusiastically, supported Hillary Clinton in the 2008 primary. Jerry was one of them, and was the keynote speaker. I recall (I’m going off memory since I can’t find my notes) the usual round of several candidates giving pitches and then it was Jerry’s turn to speak.

What followed, from this woman who had supported Hillary Clinton with all her heart before, was a rousing defense of President Obama. It left an indelible impression on me, not just because of who Jerry was, but also because of who I was at the time. I had been a big Obama supporter in 2008, travelling to other states to canvass for him (as I have done for Hillary this year). But by early 2010, though I still loved him personally, I felt deeply betrayed and demoralized by President Obama. Like many other lefties, I thought he had sold us out on the progressive hopes and values that (we believed*) we had propelled him to office with. We felt he wasn’t acting enough like FDR. You heard that a lot back then in Liberal Land.

Well, Jerry Emmett was having none of that. She began by describing what it was like in the American West in the 1930s. They were not only dealing with the Great Depression, but also with the Dust Bowl conditions brought on by mismanagement of farmlands and a horrendous drought. There was dust everywhere, Jerry said. On every surface. It got in your mouth all the time. People were literally starving. That was the situation into which Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected.

Jerry then went on to explain the crucial differences between FDR and Barack Obama, that for one thing Roosevelt (who was white, obvs) was from an established New York patrician family, about as close as you could get to aristocracy in America at the time. That was an advantage in his favor that Obama lacked. FDR also had enormous majorities in Congress. Even so, he had a very difficult time passing his initiatives, and when they did pass they were often compromised and left entire groups of people out (ie Social Security). Jerry admonished us disappointed liberals to consider what President Obama was up against (often opposition from members of his own party in addition to GOP intransigence) and to look to the good he was doing (such as the Affordable Care Act) and to the bigger picture.

I truly believe Jerry’s talk sparked a change in me. I wish I could say I never went on to be angry at President Obama (not always unjustified, as with The Year of Our Deficit Wankery and The Simpson Bowles Granny Starving Attempt of 2011) but I gradually stopped blaming him for things he truly doesn’t control and for falling short of arbitrary standards that are impossible for him to meet. I’ve gradually grown out of seeing politics and voting “as an act of performative virtue” and into seeing it as the way you use the power of democracy and elected office to do the most good for the most people.

And I really believe that talk by Jerry Emmett six years ago is what set me on the path leading me to picking Hillary Clinton as my candidate in 2016, on the basis that a diverse coalition, armed with steely pragmatism, is the key to our progress as a nation and in implementing progressive goals.

May Jerry be able to buy green bananas if she wants for as long as possible.

*We didn’t. See: coalition, diverse

What we’re up against.

26 Jul 2016 01:20 am
Posted by: Donna

Trump

I haven’t been able to post in several days because (IRONICALLY!) Democratic Diva had been hacked. So I haven’t been able to address this DNC email hacking thing until now. It appears to be Russian instigators trying to help Trump get elected to benefit Putin, aided by Wikileaks, (wonderful bunch of guys who like to do things such as defending Milo Yiannopolous (google him if you don’t know), endangering Turkish women needlessly, and allegedly being actual rapists) by stealing DNC emails and releasing them just prior to the start of the Democratic National Convention.

The emails became the dominant story of the first day of the convention and provided more grist for Bernie Sanders’ supporters already convinced that the DNC orchestrated massive election theft, in collusion with multiple state election departments, including ones run by Republicans, on behalf of Hillary Clinton. What they revealed was a bunch of trash talking (as politicos are wont to do I know SHOCKING RIGHT??) by DNC people who clearly disliked Bernie Sanders (SHOCKINGLY!), with one particularly damning email proposing attacking Bernie’s possible atheism (which would be vile and bigoted and did not appear to be acted on). The fact that Russians appear to be trying to manipulate our elections should be the focus of the story (because that’s horrifying) but, no, the MSM desperately wanted a floor fight the first night of the convention.

My friends who are at the convention tell me that pockets of people were booing and acting like jerks but overall things went fine and the evening speech lineup was superb – Al Franken, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Michelle Obama, Bernie Sanders. I anticipate that things will only get better as the week goes on, the party will fully unite, and Hillary will get a bump.

And this has to happen now because this is already happening:

When a woman got the last seat that this man wanted, he starts yelling “Sit down c**t”,” before he continues to call her a “beached whale.” He then turns back to his friend and yells “Donald Trump 2016!”

His friend tries to get the man to stop talking, saying, “stop it, enough,” but it clearly wasn’t for the angry Trump supporter.

The man slams his foot down like a child and points at the woman sitting in the seat, yelling “Put them back in the f*****g fields where they belong.”

‘That’s enough,” his companion repeats.

“You’ve revealed exactly who you are,” says the woman who got the seat.

I’ve had various Trump supporters and Bernie-or-Busters and Jill Stein supporters insist that Trump isn’t really that dangerous, that he doesn’t really mean it, that he won’t be that bad. Maybe it’s true that Trump doesn’t believe the things he says, but other people do. That’s why he says them, because some people are responding very favorably. Trump’s success in the GOP primary has validated their angry bigotry and given some of them permission to act on it. Imagine how emboldened they’d feel if he won the general.

In which once again it is demonstrated that “partisanship” = “a Democrat showing a spine”

14 Jul 2016 01:20 am
Posted by: Donna

stand with ruth

The Notorious RBG laid down some truth about the racist orange buffoon currently running for President as the actual GOP nominee for that office and, of course, the Very Serious wags are Very Upset about it!

Per James Freedland in the NY Daily News:

The bed-wetting, pearl-clutching, hand-wringing very serious thinkers need to relax.

Yes, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made comments this week that were critical of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. And while this may be seen as a departure from the norms of political discourse, who cares?

From the left, right and center, the backlash to Ginsburg has been as hyperbolic as it is ahistorical.

Editorial reactions have ranged from the melodramatic (“RBG just risked her legacy to insult Trump”) to the Country Club scolding (“Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has crossed way, way over the line”) to the both-sides-now provocative (“Donald Trump is right about Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg”).

This is hogwash. Ginsburg’s legacy is solid, no matter what today’s observers say, and what she did ought to be considered perfectly acceptable.

If it wasn’t acceptable, as Freedland points out, then said bed-wetting pundits should have acted just as horrified by SCOTUS justices such as Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas engaging in nakedly blatant partisanship in recent history, but nah.

This is just further proof of what has been obvious to me (and other attentive observers) for a long time: that “partisanship” is only a problem, nay, even a thing really, when Democrats exhibit behavior that distinguishes them from doormats.

To wit:

Healy tweeted this about a speech Clinton made at the site of Lincoln’s “house divided” speech (warning, autoplays). She was making the standard overture that prominent Dems are expected to make (and Republicans almost never are) toward “bipartisanship”, followed by a series of true statements about Trump. But it was so “partisan” of her to say such things about the man who is literally dividing the country with hateful rhetoric right now!

Obviously, Clinton should have been more like Abe Lincoln, who was careful not to criticize the slavery-loving ways of his opponents when arguing for the need to for a whole union. Oh wait, no, he made what was considered a radical speech in Springfield in 1858, demanding of his audience that they make a choice in the direction of the country regarding slavery:

A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.

Either the opponents of slavery, will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.

Such a partisan hack, that guy.

What if Governor Ducey were a Democrat?

13 Jul 2016 01:55 am
Posted by: Donna

Doug DuceyPhoto by Gage Skidmore

Governor Doug Ducey appears to be poised for an easy reelection in 2018 and people who know far more about inside GOP baseball than I do tell me he fully intends to run for President in 2020. He will do so on the strength of what I guess are considered impressive accomplishments over on his side of the aisle – cutting corporate taxes, starving the schools, demolishing safety nets for the poor. You know, the stuff that makes him the Koch Brothers Manager Trainee of the Month for their wholly owned Western Subsidiary.

Recently the Governor used his political capital in a startling way:

With a sweep of the pen, Gov. Doug Ducey canceled all state contracts with lobbyists.

The move comes as part of the administration’s sweeping program to look for more efficiencies in state government…

…The executive order, which takes effect immediately, instructs the Arizona Department of Administration to terminate all existing contracts and revokes the procurement authority of government entities to spend on professional lobbyists. A state entity may ask to enter a contract only if they can prove that doing so is in the best interest of the public health, safety and welfare of the state and the taxpayers – a request that must be submitted in writing and will be heavily scrutinized.

Swooning has ensued:

Political observers say Gov. Doug Ducey has expanded on the authority of the executive branch more than his predecessors in recent months, the Arizona Capitol Times reported.

The former CEO of Cold Stone Creamery has brought the management style of an executive not afraid to make big decisions, such as firing lobbyists.

“That’s what happens when you elect a CEO,” said Sen. Adam Driggs, R-Phoenix. “That’s what I think the electorate wanted when they elected him. He’s a decision-maker.”

Yep, Ducey is definitely acting like a CEO here, which is surely the kind of autocratic leadership that Arizonans crave! And his motivation for issuing this executive order was clearly in the interest of fiscal responsibility and the advancement of democratic principles and not petty vindictiveness or Ducey being power-grabby, oh no never.

The failure of a bill that would have moved 19 health-profession regulatory boards into the Arizona Department of Health Services was among the reasons Ducey issued the executive order last month, terminating all state contracts with professional lobbyists, said Daniel Scarpinato, the governor’s spokesman. The decision means state agencies, regulatory boards and commissions cannot spend public dollars on contract lobbyists.

“He clearly has taken steps to increase the control or the authority of the governor as the head of the executive branch,” said Senate Majority Leader Steve Yarbrough, R-Chandler.

It’s cool how when a Republican Governor blatantly uses executive orders to expand his power and punish opponents that’s just ducky but when a Democratic President uses them (and much more sparingly than his predecessors) to do things like granting legal status to DREAMers (after years of GOP obstruction in Congress), well, he’s a megalomaniacal tyrant! Neat. And do you think Ducey won’t use procurement clause executive orders to go after other people and entities *cough*PlannedParenthood*cough* he opposes in the future?

Governor Ducey and his fan club seem strangely undisturbed by public health and safety concerns when it comes to partnering with health care corporations to write legislation allowing them to treat Arizonans like a cash cow, as they did last year, in what became this year’s Theranos debacle:

Theranos had at one point attained a $9 billion valuation on the strength of an apparent scientific breakthrough—whose details were kept secret even from the company’s investors—by which Theranos claimed it could detect medical conditions from just a pinprick of blood. (It turned out the company stopped using those testing machines entirely last summer and voided all their results.) In the media, Theranos was cast as a quintessential Silicon Valley success story.

If there is a way forward for the much-diminished Theranos now, though, it won’t be in California but in Arizona. By way of Theranos’ partnership with Walgreens, Arizona customers provided the bulk of the startup’s business. Phoenix was the company’s biggest market, and Theranos’ Scottsdale lab performed 90 percent of the company’s bloodwork.

In a statement released on Thursday night, the company said it would stop patient testing at its Newark, California, lab until further notice but would continue to provide service for customers at its Arizona facility.

Theranos has pressed on in Arizona despite bad news. Walgreens closed its Theranos facilities in June, not long after Arizona State University Health Services shut down its Theranos centers in downtown Phoenix and Scottsdale. A $350 million deal between Theranos and Safeway collapsed in November. It was largely Arizona customers who learned in May that they may have received faulty blood reports from the company. But Theranos pushed ahead in the state, launching an effort to open a half-dozen independent testing centers this year. An independent network of Theranos centers in Arizona was always the goal, the company said.

In one very important respect, Arizona was a better fit for Theranos than California. The company’s biggest achievements were in sales, marketing, and deregulation—rather than in medical technology. In the spring of 2015, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey traveled to the Theranos lab in Scottsdale to sign a law, co-authored by the company, allowing Arizonans to request any blood test without a doctor’s note. In this, Holmes liked to say that Arizona was a model for the rest of the nation.

The Theranos business failure was not quite analogous to that of solar company Solyndra but Republicans certainly made a big political stink over the latter for years to demonize President Obama. It doesn’t take much to image them doing their utmost to ruin Governor Janet Napolitano over Theranos here in Arizona had their disaster, with its continued implications for Arizona consumers, happened on her watch.

IOKIYAR is not merely an acronym expressing long-term liberal frustration with sucky hypocrisy. It’s a real obstacle to good governance.

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We white people need to get over ourselves, for the good of the country.

11 Jul 2016 02:01 am
Posted by: Donna

Late on a Saturday night back in 1999 I was at an IHOP in Scottsdale after club-hopping (I was young once!) with a group of friends. Prior to being seated I greeted a couple of coworkers, who happened to be African-American men, as they were leaving the restaurant. During a later conversation at the table with my friends I brought them up (don’t remember the context), describing them as “those black guys we saw earlier” or something similar. One of the guys in our group (we were all white) was a handsome schoolteacher I had a bit of a crush on. He asked me why I felt it necessary to point out that they were black.

Naturally I immediately realized I had erred and…no, of course I didn’t do that! I instead pouted and accused him of being too “politically correct” (not sure if I used that jerkass expression but wouldn’t be surprised if I did). He responded (paraphrasing to the best of my recollection) that he was trying to teach the kids in his classes to be aware of racism and that what I had done was an example how inequality is perpetuated. I remember knowing that he was right but that my pride wouldn’t let me admit it there and then and I don’t recall anyone at the table taking a side either way in the argument.

We didn’t end up dating (surprising, right?) but I do know that since then I have made a conscious effort not to mention a non-white person’s race if it has no relevance to the discussion at hand. Which simply means I try to describe everyone the same way I describe the white people I encounter the vast majority of the time. As people.

But to be clear, I’m not making a case for, as Stephen Colbert famously put it, “not seeing color”. That’s simply not possible and “colorblindness” is conceit designed to maintain the status quo*. I am saying that we white people need to think about the ways in which we put our feelings and self-image ahead of the lived experiences of people of color and to stop doing that.

I swear to god, if I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a white person insist that they couldn’t be racist because their parents taught them better, I could buy up all the IHOPs in Greater Phoenix. As if, just because a white person’s parents didn’t tolerate the use of the N-word in their presence and admonished their kids to treat everyone equally, they didn’t also establish and reinforce the othering of people of color in myriad ways (such as my learning from somewhere to describe people reflexively by their race if they weren’t white). If so many white American parents were doing such an excellent job of instilling anti-racist attitudes in their children, then so many black American parents would not have to be carefully coaching their children in how to act when a police officer approaches them, would they?

A lobbyist in Washington, D.C., Nicholson told ABC News today that ever since his sons were adolescents, he has been educating them about how to deal with law enforcement.

“I tell them, when you’re in the car and a white police officer pulls you over, put your hands on the dashboard or the steering wheel,” he said of his sons, who are biracial.

“Saying, ‘Sir’ helps. Hands visible helps. Even if you’ve got a Ph.D. from Harvard,” he added. “It’s about survival. I describe it as … making him feel at that time he’s in charge.”

I have been pulled over several times in my life while driving. Every time it was deserved. It never once occurred to me that I should address the officer as “sir” so as to increase my chances of surviving the encounter. You can’t colorblind that away.

*The Atlantic article I linked is a much more detailed and scholarly explanation of the problem with “colorblindness” than mine.

Best spokeperson legal pot advocates could hope for!

06 Jul 2016 02:33 am
Posted by: Donna

church lady

Center for Arizona Policy, the state’s foremost organization dedicated to meddling in your personal life, led by its President Cathi Herrod, has suffered some stinging defeats lately. Same-sex marriage is now legal in the entire country, thanks to last year’s Supreme Court decision. Antiabortion laws based on flimsy “women’s health” rationales are being toppled, due to a SCOTUS ruling announced last Monday.

It’s a hard time right now for puritanical busybodies. In perhaps a last grasp at relevance, CAP has inserted itself into the debate over legal recreational marijuana:

Arizonans Are Smarter Than the Marijuana Monopoly

Those Who Stand To Make Millions Off Pot-Laced Candy & Amped-Up Marijuana Underestimate Commonsense

PHOENIX – A couple hundred thousand signatures and the Million-dollar Marijuana Monopoly thinks it’s a done deal. Arizonans will be toking by year’s end and they, themselves, will be rolling in the dough. Not so fast says Center for Arizona Policy President Cathi Herrod, “When voters learn the devastating consequences of legalizing recreational pot they won’t be so easily deceived by those trying to make a buck at society’s expense.”

For example, when gathering the signatures, the collectors probably didn’t tell voters a few things. Such as:

The only ones who will make money are the folks behind the big push. The dispensaries are monopolized.
Half the pot sold in Colorado is in the form of candy – gummy bears and lollipops spiked with ten times the THC as an average joint. Children in Colorado are ending up in the ER for accidentally and innocently overdosing.
Pot shops will pop up all over town. Within two years after legalizing marijuana in Colorado, pot shops now outnumber, Starbucks, liquor stores, and public schools.

Any money the state makes off legalizing pot will be outpaced by added expenses due to increased traffic accidents, workplace accidents, crime, rehab, needed regulation, and huge increases in accidental overdoses when kids mistake pot-laced candy for the real thing.

The marijuana monopoly likes to downplay the drug, stating it’s safer than alcohol and doesn’t hurt anyone. But Herrod calls that a dangerous deception, “This isn’t the kind of pot they smoked at Woodstock. Today’s marijuana is at least five times stronger. Even the DEA lists marijuana in the same category as heroin, LSD, and meth. Are we going to legalize them too?” Herrod continued, “It has been proven, more people use marijuana when it is legal. That’s why Colorado is now the number one state for marijuana use. Arizona shouldn’t compete for that title.”

The marijuana monopoly probably did tell voters a few things when collecting all of those signatures. They tout regulation, revenue, elimination of the drug cartel, and black markets. But the truth is:

Alcohol and tobacco are also regulated and kids still get them both. Prescription drugs are regulated, and also highly abused. If regulation is supposed to also keep pot out of the hands of children, why are they putting it in candy?
The only people who make money off pot for pleasure are the monopolized dispensary owners.
The black market in Colorado thrives, supplying other states where it is illegal. Nebraska and Oklahoma have filed lawsuits against CO because their jails are being overwhelmed by smugglers getting caught crossing the border.

Herrod concluded, “Arizonans are smart. The commonsense conclusion they will reach – once they get the facts – is that amped-up pot and pot-laced candy are dangerous for our kids, detrimental to our society and way of life, and cost a whole lot more than they offer. The best way to keep Arizona’s youth safe is to keep marijuana illegal.”

###

One can go line-by-line in that screed, and rebut or debunk all of it. But what I find to be more pertinent is the pure desperation of CAP and Cathi Herrod. They’re so anxious to win something this year that they’ll put their fussbudget fun-stealing faces on an effort that is not well-served by them doing that. In other words, if the legal MJ initiative on this year’s ballot fails, I’m fairly certain it won’t be because so many voters were motivated to vote against it by Arizona’s preeminent Church Lady clucking her tongue over “pot for pleasure”.

Can you please not, The Left, with this?

05 Jul 2016 02:51 am
Posted by: Donna

I have spent years, YEARS, objecting to this particular “both sides” formulation. There is no “Tea Party of the left”, I have insisted, given how there is an actual Tea Party caucus in the Congress and in state legislatures, which is actually shutting down the government and denying Medicaid to millions of Americans. While I’m not wrong about that, Jennifer who tweeted the above is right. This Presidential election has really brought out an element of the left that behaves disturbingly similarly to the teabaggers.

And I don’t mean in a mirror image way, where they’re being the opposite of them, fiercely pushing for awesome progressive economic/social policies against the regressive ones proffered by Paul Ryan. No, I mean, being like them in a much more fundamental way. Dr. Stein and her followers, which include a whole bunch disgruntled Sanders supporters, have blithely skipped over the entire Bush/Cheney era like it never happened, which is standard practice of Republicans since, oh about Katrina or so. I can understand why the Green Party Presidential candidate is doing this. Don’t want to remind people of the 2000 election, do you, Dr. Stein? I just can’t grok why other lefties are also acting like the Aughts were an uninteresting blur. (more…)