Oh boy, Bob Robb is explaining race relations again.

08 Sep 2014 02:34 pm
Posted by: Donna

This is not an actual picture of AZ Republic columnist Bob Robb but I found it when I was searching his name and it’s hilarious.

I meant to weight in on AZ Republic’s Bob Robb’s vomit-inducing column from last Wednesday but I see that Cynthia Zwick has responded beautifully to Robb’s outrageously offensive claim that poor black people shouldn’t be politically active and should instead quietly get jobs and stop having so many welfare babies and abusing drugs and alcohol.

Robb’s conclusion is truly disturbing. “Obviously children living in poverty aren’t there because they failed to check the right boxes,” he wrote. “But what serves their interests best: Telling them that poverty is a political issue to be addressed through activism? Or that poverty is a condition that can be escaped or avoided through education, hard work and not engaging in destructive behavior?”

Those questions are subtle directives towards those who are poor and, by association, those who are of color. His message is: go to school, work hard, and keep your head down and don’t bother wasting your time protesting and engaging in politics, protests and activism.

In truth, the exact opposite is needed.

Poor communities and communities of color must engage in activism. They must vote, hold their leaders accountable and demand systemic change through peaceful protest.

Robb has a history of defending voter suppression so it’s no surprise that he would lecture a majority black community reeling from the senseless death of an unarmed young man to avoid politics. They should instead listen to the Bob Robb as he patiently mansplains how poor minorities getting all activist makes affluent white guys with whom Bob Robb is friends have Teh Sadz.

Richard Nixon popularized the phrase, “the silent majority.” Although Nixon used it initially in relation to his plan for the Vietnam War, it quickly took on a larger context.

It came to describe people who didn’t buy the radical critique of the United States prevalent at the time, but didn’t participate in the political debates and discussions about it. Whether such people constituted a true majority is open to debate. But opting out of the freighted political dialogue of the times was a widespread phenomenon…

…Life in poor, minority neighborhoods is tough. Most Americans empathize and support policies to provide a helping hand. But I suspect many Americans are bewildered about how what happened in the streets of Ferguson is supposed to make things better. That, however, is not a point of view you hear much.

I have a friend who keeps up on current events but isn’t particularly politically active beyond voting. He’s generally conservative, but not deeply ideological.

He once told me that he had gotten tired of hearing his political views described as racist, uncaring and uncompassionate. So, he had just quit listening to it.

In his personal life, my friend is tolerant and generous. But the prevailing political discussion characterizes him in a way he knows to be false. Rather than fight against it, he’s opted to ignore it.

I suspect he is far from alone.

Oh brother, “silent majority” my ass. My entire life I’ve heard nonstop caterwauling from dumb privileged white people over imaginary threats, which has only gotten amplified by the election of a black man to the Presidency. Speaking of which, has Bob Robb – who thinks that black people’s problems would disappear through virtue, hard work, and education – really not noticed that “getting elected President of the United States” isn’t even a sure path to respect for a black person from a lot of white people? I mean, man, has Barack Obama being President made that so-called silent majority get even chattier than they’ve ever been!

As for Bob’s friend, here is yet another “moderate Republican” who is more offended by having it pointed out that his party is overrun by bigots and is promoting horrible racist policies than by the actual facts of those things. If Bob Robb’s friend such a mensch in his personal life, then he is more than welcome to start being one in his voting life too. He can go on sticking his fingers in his ears if he wants but people aren’t going to stop speaking the truth he doesn’t want to hear about the people he is helping elect.

And Bob might want to check his assumptions about behavior causing poverty. Seems like some people can engage in bad habits and still get ahead.

Houser’s story reflects another facet of the Johns Hopkins study. The researchers found that more affluent white men in the study reported the highest frequency of drug abuse and binge drinking, yet they still had the most upward mobility.

“The extent of what we refer to as problem behavior is greatest among whites and less so among African-Americans,” Alexander says. “Whites of advantaged background had the highest percentages who did all three of those things — that was binge drinking, any drug use and heavy drug use.”

The Sinema vet ad is wonderful so step off, haters

05 Sep 2014 07:11 pm
Posted by: Donna

It’s well known that prominent politicians, due to having to raise funds constantly (which means having to avoid pissing off donors) and being under a 24/7 microscope, aren’t able to be open and candid much of the time. On the other hand, politicians are far from the only people whose jobs and social lives require a high level of insincerity. I’d say very few (lucky) people get to be their true, unedited selves most of the time. It’s just that politicians, particularly when trying to be reelected, are “on the job” more often than most people. So while it’s tempting to assume that every public move a politician makes is 100% calculated and manipulative, I think that’s a mistake. Politicians are human and, like everyone else, they have things that they feel strongly about. An example of that is President Obama and health care reform. Whether or not you agree with how he handled the issue, it’s hard to doubt his sincerity about it when he relates memories of his cancer-stricken mother having to deal with insurance companies.

Another case in point is this new ad for Rep. Kyrsten Sinema:

I happen to think this is one of the best political ads I’ve ever seen. The reason for that is, quite simply, that I believe Sinema. There’s no reason outside of sheer cynicism to assume that the Congresswoman is “exploiting a veteran’s suicide”, as her Republican opponent harrumphed into a press release. It’s quite honestly repugnant to think that the parents of the PTSD ravaged veteran who took his own life are exploiting their own son or are being duped by a wily politician. The parents seem genuinely interested in sharing their son’s story to bring attention to veterans issues and genuinely impressed with Rep. Sinema’s resolve to make things better. Sinema also talks about her brothers, both of whom are serving in the military, to further emphasize how important this is to her personally. “That could be my little brother. That could be my big brother.” Is anyone really going to suggest Kyrsten Sinema doesn’t care about her own brothers?

The faux-outraged reaction to the ad reminds me of how right wingers attacked Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly for starting a PAC to address gun violence. I remember a pair of Republican consultants I was on a TV panel with pulling the “well, some people are saying that Gabby and Mark are pandering!” on me. Really? It couldn’t have been because Gabby Giffords got shot, along with several other people, by a deranged gunman with a lot of ammo? The kneejerk assumption that politicians are never sincere is almost as dumb as believing every word a politician says. I suggest examining the context and using your judgment to determine that.

Tea Party candidate for AZ House Jill Norgaard’s position on abortion is more radical than Cathi Herrod’s

04 Sep 2014 12:30 pm
Posted by: Donna

Arizona LD18, which encompasses Ahwatukee and parts of Chandler and Tempe, is where I used to live for over a decade and is believed to be a somewhat competitive district. Democrat Rae Waters got elected to the House there in 2008 and Democrats continue to express optimism that they’ll be able to turn the district in the near future. The Republicans who get elected there have tended to be very right wing but smart enough to avoid “legitimate rape” gaffes and occasionally vote against their caucus on something high profile, such as this year’s Medicaid vote. Guys like Bob Robson and Jeff Dial are not actual centrists (as their total voting records amply demonstrate) but they feign it well enough to pass muster since pleasantness is so often mistaken for moderation here.

LD18 has an open House seat due to John McComish retiring from the Senate and Rep. Dial running for his seat. Rep. Robson will be running for reelection along with a new candidate named Jill Norgaard. Norgaard is a proud Tea Party patriot who shared her radical (and often incoherent) views with a thing called Liberty Storm Radio for nearly an hour this past June. Lot of crackpottery in there about school vouchers and taking health care away from a large percentage of Arizona’s residents. Give it a listen for yourself.

And then there’s her Center for Arizona Policy Questionnaire, in which she responded to this question:

4.Prohibiting abortion except when it is necessary to prevent the death of the mother.

with this:

Question 4: Prohibit abortion, no exceptions

Let’s be clear here, the CAP survey doesn’t even require candidates to elaborate on their support or opposition to their positions with a comment. Norgaard chose to make that additional statement. If she is asked about this at a forum or endorsement interview there’s a good chance that she will backtrack on it but her Democratic opponent Mitzi Epstein and allies should not let Norgaard get away with it. This isn’t a gaffe. She didn’t “misspeak”.

A good rule of thumb with anti-choicers is to assume that the most extreme thing they’ve said or done with regard to the issue is their true position. For example, when Jeff Flake was running for Senate he told the AZ Republic ed board that he was for rape and incest exceptions and they bought it without looking at his voting record in Congress, where he voted for no exceptions on abortion bills right along with Todd Akin. With Norgaard, you have her saying “no exceptions”, not even for the woman’s life, to a written survey where she had plenty of time to consider her answer. I have a feeling if someone got her talking about the subject we would hear some pretty disturbing opinions about her fellow women from Jill.

Garden variety anti-choice is bad enough, but it’s not even possible to emphasize how dangerous anti-choicers, like Jill Norgaard, who don’t even believe in exceptions for women’s lives are. There are a lot of them out there and they are keen on getting into elected and other positions of authority so they can play God with women’s lives and health. Begone, Jill Norgaard.

NRCC’s open appeal to misogynists in CD01 reveals the bind the Right is in with women

03 Sep 2014 05:08 pm
Posted by: Donna

By now you’ve probably seen the RCCC attack ad against Ann Kirkpatrick in which she is portrayed as a pair of legs in high heels dragging a roll-around suitcase. Because she has “baggage”, get it? Just like your crazy ex, amirite fellas?

The sexist cheap shots at Ann Kirkpatrick (of which this ad is not the first), like many of the recent jibes at Hillary Clinton (such as Rand Paul blaming her for her husband’s affair with Monica Lewinsky), seem stupidly counterproductive. Older white women are one of the last groups of women consistently supporting Republicans so why do they appear to be actively trying to alienate those women? My guess is they just can’t help themselves, since rank misogyny is an integral part of the GOP ethos, like racism, fetishizing guns, and worshiping rich people. But the constant stream of misogynistic vitriol from their angry mob, coupled with GOP leadership repeatedly making it clear that they will never respect women under any circumstances is not terribly conducive to that whole outreach effort we keep hearing so much about.

That Shawnna Bolick sure seems to have her priorities in order

02 Sep 2014 02:53 pm
Posted by: Donna

I met Shawnna Bolick two years ago when we were on a Channel 12 panel to discuss Ann Romney’s upcoming speech to the the 2012 RNC Convention. The topic was, naturally, how women perceived the Romney campaign. At one point during the segment, Bolick looked me right in the eye and pointedly informed me, anchor Mark Curtis, and the entire viewing audience how she had always paid for her own birth control, thank you very much. The obvious implication of that was that Shawnna Bolick was responsible, unlike those slutty-sluts such as Sandra Fluke who rely on the government to hand them birth control. It’s a safe assumption that what Bolick meant was that her private health insurance covered her birth control, which was the exact thing Fluke, who was required by Georgetown University to purchase their private insurance plan (which did not cover contraception) wanted to argue for before Congress. It never had anything to do with the government paying for it, not that it mattered to Bolick, who was determined to push the “pay for your own birth control, floozies” canard.

Bolick happens to be a former staffer for Rick “License To Do Things In The Sexual Realm” Santorum. Her time working for the Heritage Foundation and the zealously anti-contraception Santorum as a grad student was where Shawnna Bolick (who paid for her own birth control, dammit!) says her “Republican and pro-life values became cemented for life.” Bolick ran unsuccessfully in the 2010 GOP primary for the Arizona House in what is now District 28 (my own district). This year she succeeded in winning a nomination slot and will face Democratic incumbent Dr. Eric Meyer in the general elections.

Bolick’s Center for Arizona Policy questionnaire reveal her to be a standard culture war conservative. She’s anti-choice, anti-LGBT rights, opposes Common Core, and wants to make it easier to nominate conservative judges. But she does lay a figleaf of libertarianism over it in the form of supporting gambling off of reservations and not fully opposing marijuana legalization. Oh, and here’s her answer on restricting X rated websites:

I am not familiar with this issue or technology. I don’t want to give government any more control over the web or a list.

Guys, your porn is safe with Shawnna! Bolick is married to Clint Bolick of the Goldwater Institute and has received a lot of her campaign donations from conservative business interests so it’s no surprise that she’s all about protecting and expanding the freedoms of affluent white dudes while doing the exact opposite for everyone else.

I think I figured it out

29 Aug 2014 02:12 pm
Posted by: Donna

So there I was, with my insomnia, watching Craig Ferguson Wednesday night, when what did I see but this ri-donk-ulous ad from the Republican Governor’s Association. It claimed that Fred DuVal personally and single-handedly raised college tuition rates in Arizona an astronomical amount while serving on the Board of Regents. My first thought was that this is a brazen Swiftboating of DuVal, one that not only attacks one of his biggest strengths as a candidate (education), but will also get by the fact-checkers with an “inconclusive” rating because it’s technically true that tuition went up while DuVal served as a Regent. Conveniently omitted is the fact that the Legislature, not the Regents, were the ones who cut funding per college student by one third since 2007. What a bunch of lying scumwads, thought I.

But Jon Thompson, the communications director of the RGA, disagrees.

Thompson, however, was not backing down, insisting the hikes weren’t necessary.

“He had a clear choice,” Thompson said. “DuVal chose to raise costs, making college more unaffordable for middle class families.”

Thompson, a North Carolina native currently residing in DC who has spent his entire career being a Republican ad guy and publicist, is clearly the foremost expert on Arizona college funding so if he says Fred DuVal unilaterally commanded that college tuition was going up, for no reason, by gum that what must have happened! Obviously I need to rethink my assumptions.

Here’s the entirely plausible scenario I came up with for how Fred DuVal gets the entire blame for the tuition hikes:

DuVal arrived at his first Board of Regents meeting in 2007 hopped up on speed and possibly a marijuana cigarette. After the minutes were read, Fred whipped out his gold plated cigar cutter custom engraved by Bill and Hillary Clinton and proceeded to slaughter the entire rest of the board members. DuVal then scrawled LOBBYING IS GROOVY on the wall with their blood. Then he was the only Regent ever again and spent his days maniacally raising tuition and giving all the money to ACORN, La Raza, and Planned Parenthood.

And now you know the rest of the story. Thanks, Obama.

Hey, AZ “business leaders”, we need to talk about Doug Ducey.

27 Aug 2014 06:47 pm
Posted by: Donna

One of the (many) problems in a red state as economically polarized as Arizona is that the wealthier people are, the more insulated they are from the terrible right wing laws and policies that get passed. They have no fear of being stopped on the street by law enforcement because of how they look. Their children attend private schools or what good public schools remain. The indignities and deprivations visited upon vulnerable members of the population due to cuts to safety net programs are abstractions to them. They live mostly segregated lives in exclusive communities where they only interact with poor people when they’re being served by them. And these affluent Arizonans wield nearly all the political clout because they are the people who fund lobbyists and campaigns, including those of some of the most noxious right wingers.

With that in mind, I need to have a word with some of our esteemed business leaders, CEOs, and titans of industry in Arizona. In particular I want to talk to the ones who constantly bemoan our political climate here and the cuts to education, public safety, and health care* (while turning right around and lobbying for tax cuts for themselves but let’s leave that aside for now):

What are you going to do about Doug Ducey? He’s radically anti-choice and anti-gay rights, and militantly anti-immigrant. He also wants to repeal the Medicaid law and abolish the state income tax. He has a close relationship Cathi Herrod, who promises to be even more of a fixture at the legislature with no Chuck Coughlin in the Governor’s office to keep her somewhat at bay. Ducey is kicking off the general campaign with an event starring Sarah Palin and Dinesh D’Souza, who is one of the most terrible people in the world. If you aren’t lining up to give Fred DuVal enthusiastic support and piles of money right now, then I don’t want to hear you whine about how lousy things are under Governor Ducey. I’m looking straight at you, Craig Barrett, when I say this. I’m looking at you, various and sundry Chambers of Commerce. You too, lobbyists.

You guys stood idly by when SB1070 bitterly divided the state and sparked boycotts in 2010. You were nearly a day late and a dollar short with SB1062 this past year. Ducey has promised to bring that back. Is that what you want? Do you really want to go through that again? How much time and money would you like to see the Legislature devote to debating Cathi Herrod** bills and defending them in court?

Oh, and this is a general election now, and a statewide one, so you don’t get to blame partisan primaries if Ducey gets elected because he is able to overwhelm DuVal with dark money and dirty smears. You sure as shit don’t get to blame Clean Elections. And it’s not like DuVal is some raging left wing hippie either. I mean, geez.

*There is a considerable segment of this group who hold very right wing views and think the Legislature is doing just fine. They are already lined up behind Ducey.

**I don’t think Herrod had much to do with Ducey winning the primary. She’s not that influential in the public, despite her prodigious ability to bully lawmakers. It was the aforementioned right wing business people pouring money into Ducey that put him over.