They’re shocked! Shocked, I tell you!

15 Sep 2014 02:57 pm
Posted by: Donna

Let’s say you are Sean Noble, a Koch-ed up dark money operative who has been the focus of some negative attention for your activities. You’d probably prefer to be known for something else in the midst of a heated general election cycle in Arizona, where you are the manager of the GOP candidate for Attorney General. Then it comes to your attention that former AZ Senate President Russell Pearce has said some vile things in public, as he is wont to do. And as right wingers are wont to do so often, Pearce focused his wrath on poor women. In this case Pearce says that poor women on public assistance should be forcibly sterilized.

Forcible sterilization of poor women is not part of the GOP platform (yet) so you, Sean Noble, are provided with a perfect opportunity to change your own public image and help your candidate. You make a statement denouncing Pearce in the strongest possible terms and demanding that he resign as Vice Chair of the AZ GOP. Luckily for you, there are several columnists and pundits around these parts who are such suckers for the faint possibility of “moderate Republicans” taking over the state that you should easily find at least one to get your statement out there and obligingly portray you as the hero of the whole thing. If you are successful in this endeavor you can count on having any description of Sean Noble as “that Koch brothers dark money guy” countered with, “but he also went after Russell Pearce for saying that thing!”, for at least the duration of the election season, as if the latter cancels out the former.

More importantly, because not many people outside of insider baseball care about a consultant, your AZAG NOT Tom Horne candidate will also benefit by releasing his own statement condemning Pearce and calling for his resignation from that volunteer symbolic position with the AZ GOP (which Pearce did late Sunday night). Brnovich, a little known Tea Party protest candidate, is not exactly stellar competition to Democrat Felecia Rotellini in the general. He needs any help he can get to look like a mainstream guy, and especially one who isn’t hostile to women.

Noble and Brnovich were followed by GOP Governor candidate Doug Ducey and Secretary of State candidate Michele Reagan in denouncing Pearce, though only Reagan asked him to step down as chair. Pearce was quick, and you could even say good-sported, about resigning his unpaid party position, which makes it worth noting that, thus far, no Republican (including Noble and Brnovich) has demanded that Pearce resign or be fired from his highly paid cushy job with the Maricopa County Treasurer. I’m just saying this looks a bit contrived at this point. Never forget how Pearce was the hero of the Republicans only four short years ago for SB1070, which ensured a GOP statewide sweep in that midterm election, and he had already established a long track record of bigoted statements, like this one from 2007:

“Tough, nasty illegals and their advocates grow in such numbers that law and order will not subdue them. They run us out of our cities and states. They conquer our language and our schools. They render havoc and chaos in our schools. I’m stunned at the speed of this invasion. I’m further stunned that most American don’t see it or deny it or ignore it. We are much like the Titanic as we inbreed millions of Mexico’s poor, the world’s poor and we watch our country sink.”

EDIT: It’s also worth noting that Pearce has a history of problems with women that pre-date 2010, including divorce documents indicating that he abused his own spouse and opposition to expanded protections to women from domestic violence.

So now they’re really going to channel Claude Rains and act like, why heavens no, they had no idea Russell Pearce was so toxic! Give me a break. It is interesting to note how Pearce remains quite useful to them now, but just in a different way than he was in 2010. Could it be that we’re seeing the modern emergence of a Republican version of hippie punching?

Oh look, another nonexistent attack on reproductive rights by a Republican!

12 Sep 2014 05:21 pm
Posted by: Donna

I crosspost what I post at Democratic Diva over at Blog for Arizona, and a lot (not all by any means but a lot) of what I blog about is reproductive rights. I do so because I pay close attention to the issue as it’s something I care deeply about and consider hugely important but also because I assume that anyone who pays only a modicum of attention to US and Arizona politics has noticed how intent anti-choice activists and their allies in the Republican party have been on ruthlessly attacking women’s reproductive rights. These attacks take a variety of legal forms – arbitrary late term bans, waiting periods, TRAP laws, attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, so-called “conscience clauses”, the Hobby Lobby SCOTUS decision, women actually being prosecuted for stillbirth and miscarriages, etc. – and I don’t expect the average person to be up on all of them. I would expect, however, expect the average person who is motivated to comment on a liberal political blog to be aware of at least some of them. But apparently this is too much to expect, as I have Blog for AZ commenters informing me that Roe v Wade settled everything in perpetuity and that abortion and contraception will always be available. Okay.

Another way women are being attacked relentlessly, and publicly, is through the rhetoric of prominent and influential figures such as Rush Limbaugh – who spent the better part of a week screaming how a college student was a slut because she wanted to testify before Congress about the need for birth control coverage – and Congressman Todd Akin, who claimed, and continues to claim, that victims of “legitimate rape” couldn’t get pregnant. There have been other outbursts from conservative pundits and politicians too numerous to account. Misogyny? What misogyny? (I have helpfully provided those links for the benefit of commenters who are perhaps as unaware of prominent right wingers saying awful things about women and our reproductive rights in the past few years as they are of the legislative attacks on our rights.)

With that said, and all due respect and humble apologies (not really) to those who may be annoyed that I’m blogging about my pet cause yet again, I bring you today’s edition of my overheated lady imagination conjuring up…oh wait, no…this really happened (read the whole thing):

“You put me in charge of Medicaid, the first thing I’d do is get Norplant, birth-control implants, or tubal ligations,” he said.

Russell Pearce – you all know who he is, right? – is currently the Vice Chair of the Arizona GOP and holds a cushy sinecure with Maricopa County while collecting generous pensions from positions he retired from. He was a big fetus-fetishist while in the AZ Senate, voting 100% with the AZ Right to Life crowd, so it may seem odd that he’d advocate for forced sterilization. Well, kittens, I’m here to tell you that anti-choice authoritarians are hellbent on getting their grabby tentacles in all aspects of people’s private lives and reproduction. For the subset of them who are racially motivated – no, not all anti-choicers want only more white babies born but some do and Pearce is most definitely in that category – that means that “certain people” will be forcibly prevented from procreating if they have their way. This has happened, in this country, so it’s no minor thing for someone like Russell Pearce to say that on the radio.

Attacks on women’s reproductive rights are no joke and, in all seriousness, I am damn tired of having to explain to people that, yes, this shit is actually happening. Consider this your last Pro-Choice 101 post. Any and all comments denying or minimizing this issue get deleted, henceforth.

Of course they ignored repro rights at the Channel 12 debate.

11 Sep 2014 04:14 pm
Posted by: Donna

In Wednesday night’s gubernatorial debate hosted by KPNX Channel 12 candidates Fred DuVal (D) and Doug Ducey (R) were asked about topics ranging from the economy to taxation to Common Core school standards to the border and immigration policy. My assessment of it was that Ducey would have gotten away with his recitation of talking points with no specifics to every question were it not for moderator Brahm Resnik, who does not care for that and pressed him for details, causing Ducey to flail. DuVal was definitely better prepared to answer the actual questions.

Noticeably absent, to me and other reproductive rights advocates, were any questions about women’s health and family planning. This deliberate elision is far too common here and not something seen in other red states North Carolina and Texas, where candidates are debating things like abortion and contraception vigorously, as they should since anti-choice laws are being passed like crazy in them. But, for some reason, the mainstream news people in Arizona tend to be squeamish about the topic. You may see the question come up, briefly, in one or two major debates but not in most of them. On the rare occasion moderators do ask it’s typically to allow the GOP candidate to express his support for “exceptions for rape and incest” with no follow-up questions.

This reluctance to draw candidates out on their reproductive rights stances has frustrated and puzzled me for years. My guess is it stems from the obsession with “moderation” in some powerful circles here and the unwavering faith that this can somehow be achieved through “civility” (meaning not calling the Republicans out forcefully on their bad behavior). The only journalist who seems to give the constant stream of anti-choice legislation coming out of the Arizona Legislature the coverage it merits is Howie Fischer of Capitol Media Services. The rest mostly ignore it, as if treating the subject as too controversial and polarizing to cover will somehow make it go away. But it won’t. Anti-choice activists and legislators are not at all squeamish about pushing for creepy, misogynistic, unconstitutional bills that the state then spends millions of dollars defending in court. The bills that do succeed in being implemented as laws brutalize poor women and end up costing the state through unplanned pregnancies and the child abuse and neglect that can sometimes ensue from them.

These attacks on women’s rights come up every year and are sent to the Governor’s desk, therefore it matters who that Governor is and how he or she handles them. At its heart this is a debate over women’s autonomy and ability to participate fully in society, which also happens to have a profound impact on the well-being of children. It’s at least as important as Common Core so it’s not too much to ask for hosts of debates and endorsement boards to devote five minutes to the subject, is it?

The NOT Tom Horne candidate appears to be worse than Tom Horne

09 Sep 2014 05:04 pm
Posted by: Donna

This is a photo I took off NOT Tom Horne’s campaign website a few months ago. Not sure why they chopped off the top off his head.

Mark Brnovich, AKA the NOT Tom Horne Republican candidate for AZ Attorney General is a Goldwater Institute and Tea Party guy who filed to run against Tom Horne over a year ago as a protest candidate back when no one thought Horne, with all his money, was vulnerable in a primary. Republicans knew that Horne would have a lot of baggage going up against Felecia Rotellini again but didn’t bother to recruit a less ragingly right wing back-up candidate just in case, you know, more damning revelations came out about Horne. Oops. Now, NOT Tom Horne’s supporters are working furiously to portray him as a mainstream guy who is totally not Tea Party. On a recent TV appearance I had with right wing activist Shane Wikfors, himself and early and proud adopter of the Tea Party label, Wikfors was careful to downplay Brnovich’s Tea Party endorsements.

So obviously NOT Tom Horne needs a lot of help with this emergency makeover project. Luckily for him, he happens to be the recipient of a healthy $1,084,000 ad buy by the so-called “independent” Republican Attorneys General Association, or RAGA. (There is a RAGA Arizona IE PAC that recently filed with Secretary of State.) They seem like a nice bunch of people:

RAGA was formed because an inadequate number of state attorneys general were committed to defending federalism, adhering to the law during the course of multi-state litigation and applying a common-sense, free market approach to governing. In its first election year, RAGA made its mark on American politics by emerging as the only Republican organization to gain seats during the hard-fought 2000 elections. Since then, the impact of RAGA has been significant as the number of Republican attorneys general has increased in five of the past ten elections, growing from fourteen to twenty five nationwide.

Facts

Republican attorneys general hold 24 seats across the country. Attorney General Alan Wilson (SC) is the Chairman of RAGA.
Republican attorneys general’s fight against Obamacare scored a major victory allowing states to choose whether or not to participate in Medicaid expansion.
Republican attorneys general are currently challenging the constitutionality of Dodd-Frank.
In 2012, Republican attorneys general were successful in fights against the EPA.
In 2012, Republican attorneys general defeated the Cross State Air Pollution rule, which would have forced several power plants to shut down production, causing utility rates to skyrocket.
Arizona won a successful challenge against the National Labor Relations Board which challenged the state’s constitutional amendment guaranteeing workers’ rights to vote by secret ballot on whether to join a union. This case set valuable precedent which will allow these issues to be resolved at the state, and not federal, level.
Attorney General Alan Wilson (SC), with the help of other state Republican AGs, played a pivotal role in defeating the NLRB’s politically-motivated attempt to disallow Boeing’s business expansion in South Carolina.

The RAGA dark money ads will undoubtedly attack Democratic candidate Felecia Rotellini, who is running a very strong campaign. I predict they will be bunch of lies about Rotellini, wrapped in some charming sexism. Another thing you should know about this RAGA outfit is that none other than Sean Noble, the Dark Money kingpin, has provided substantial funding to it via his American Future Fund. Sean Noble so happens to be none other than Mark Brnovich’s campaign manager. Isn’t that cozy?

Remind me again what the point of ousting Tom Horne was if he’s simply going to be replaced by another joker who flouts the law as the state’s top law enforcer? Although frankly, I’ll take Horne’s hit and run and campaign violations, as egregious as they were, over Brnovich’s baggage. The NOT Tom Horne guy is actually worse than Tom Horne, both ethically and in terms of how utterly controlled he will be by Noble’s crew and other radical right wing interests. He would not act in a remotely independent manner as Arizona AG.

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.