Man, when I’m right, I am right!

27 Mar 2015 07:04 am
Posted by: Donna

Governor Mike Pence of Indiana

The Indiana Assembly passed, and Governor Mike Pence signed, a “Religious Freedom Restoration Act” similar to Arizona’s SB1062 from last year, which was vetoed by then-Governor Jan Brewer under the threat of more boycotts of a state still reeling from boycotts sparked by anti-immigrant SB1070 in 2010. I mostly agree with WaPo’s Hunter Schwarz’ analysis on how it is playing out differently in Indiana.

While Indiana has begun to feel the heat from businesses (and the NCAA, which is hosting the Final Four in Indianapolis next week), it doesn’t face two particular pressures Arizona did: (1) hosting a Super Bowl the following year and (2) a pre-existing narrative that it’s an intolerant state. Arizona already lost Super Bowl hosting duties once before, in 1993, because it didn’t recognize Martin Luther King, Jr., Day as a state holiday. And coupled with the furor over SB 1070, the controversial immigration enforcement law Brewer signed in 2010, the state was on the verge of becoming known for intolerance, not a good thing for business and tourism. Brewer said she vetoed the bill because it would have created more problems than it solved, but it didn’t hurt that the state’s economy also could have suffered.

Schwarz did miss one crucial thing, though. Indiana’s bill is exactly like Arizona’s except that it has one additional important provision (emphasis mine).

Specifies that the religious freedom law applies to the implementation or application of a law regardless of whether the state or any other governmental entity or official is a party to a proceeding implementing or applying the law. Prohibits an applicant, employee, or former employee from pursuing certain causes of action against a private employer.

Last year when the Chamber of Commerce types put the kibosh on SB1062, I pointed out a couple of times that one of the less-noticed reasons for doing so was that the bill gave any individual standing to pursue a legal remedy if s/he felt forced to violate deeply-held religious beliefs. That class of individuals would include employees, say, of hotels or restaurants refusing to serve gay couples or anyone else who were fired for that. Looks like the business lobby got that little problem taken care of. (This is similar to – and I’m just going to mention this for the 629,473rd time – how the AZ Chamber cut a deal with Russell Pearce in 2010 to strip employer enforcement out of SB1070 in exchange for their “neutrality” on it and a sure path to GOP victories in that year’s midterm elections.)

I also predicted that when SB1062 came back that the proponents would shrewdly stay away from attacking LGBT rights, which people are becoming increasingly comfortable with, and would instead emphasize the pressing need to let nosy nellies deny women reproductive health care in their own damn insurance plans. A new iteration of SB1062 hasn’t emerged in Arizona (yet) but here’s a snippet of Governor Pence’s statement on his signing of Indiana’s bill (again, emphasis mine).

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action.

“One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.

Pence is too decorous to say it but he means the slut pills. The God-botherers have clearly learned their lesson from the SB1062 debacle and (with the Hobby Lobby wind at their back) are putting slut-punishing at the forefront of all their efforts in the hopes of making the public forget wedding cakes and think instead of irresponsible floozies attempting to get out of their childbearing duties. It just might work.

AZ House approves the “Lady Money Is Not Real Money” bill.

24 Mar 2015 06:30 am
Posted by: Donna


Arizona bill SB1318, which requires doctors to pass on medically dubious information about “abortion reversal”, also bans coverage of abortion in private insurance plans, even if a policy holder has purchased an entirely separate rider with her own money which does not sully the pristine money of “taxpayers” – a group that (again) apparently does not include women who use any reproductive health care not directly related to having babies.

The bill went for third read on the House floor, the last step before before being transmitted to Governor Ducey, who is certain to sign it, and was passed on a 33/24 party line vote. I listened to the testimony at work and heard the Democrats valiantly (as always) trying to explain why it was a bad idea on several levels Republican Rep. Steve Montenegro waxed lugubriously about the need to “do everything possible to ensure a child has every opportunity to have it’s first breath!” and Rep. JD Mesnard anti-choicesplained, “We all know how accounting gimmicks work!” (He clearly doesn’t.)

Rep. Kelly Townsend, the prime sponsor of the bill, repeatedly reminded the floor that majorities of Americans polled disapprove of taxpayer funding for abortion, which happens to be the exact opposite of what a separate rider purchased by a woman with her own damn after-tax money is. Townsend counts on mainstream America’s discomfort with letting women they perceive to be “slutty” get away with it and how most people don’t have the bandwidth to investigate a constant barrage of anti-choice bullshit claims carefully.

Thus, a woman’s own money magically becomes “taxpayer dollars”. If she does need an abortion, despite having insurance that she pays for herself via premiums and despite being a taxpayer herself, she must scrape together the entire cost of the procedure. That could run anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars, depending upon how early in the pregnancy term it was and what, if any, complications in the pregnancy there were. If the pregnancy threatens her health in a substantial way, but not her life or a major organ (and no, her mental health won’t count since lady brains aren’t major organs, according to every anti-choicer ever), no coverage for her. If the fetus is severely deformed, even if the deformity is incompatible with life outside the womb, no coverage. There is lip service in the bill to coverage in the case of rape or incest but no explanation of how, exactly, a patient might obtain such an exception. Good luck, traumatized rape victim, in enlisting your insurance adjuster to sign off on your claim. This was something that Rep. Victoria Steele (D) tried to make clear to her colleagues when she shared her own harrowing ordeal with sexual abuse as a child. A “rape exception” is worth absolutely nothing if you have no meaningful way to access it.

As I’ve explained before, anti-abortion legislators are aiming to attack access by erasing the very idea that women work and contribute to the common good. You are meant to see the women they are targeting as these lazy, yet incredibly calculating and grasping creatures, gobbling up your hard-earned tax dollars. And their own money is merely pin money. It should come as no surprise that they think they control women’s money, since anti-choicers already think they own our bodies.

In case you didn’t already know, you peons and your petty “getting on the airplane” troubles are an afterthought to Governor Ducey

23 Mar 2015 03:42 pm
Posted by: Donna


Arizona drivers licenses aren’t compliant with new federal Real ID requirements to board airplanes and a change to a state law (passed a few years ago to assuage the fears of the black helicopter crowd) is necessary to correct that. Our conservative-led legislature, naturally, is a averse to this so the AZ Republic ed board was recently reduced to begging readers to contact Speaker of the House David Gowan to relent.

It shouldn’t have come to this. A Legislature that puts Arizonans first would have passed this bill weeks ago. Residents wouldn’t have to cross their fingers that an answer will be found.

So don’t leave it to chance. Call Speaker Gowan at 602-926-3312. Send him an e-mail at Tell him to put the people’s interests first and pass SB 1273.

A speaker who won’t raise taxes shouldn’t be forcing you to pay an extra $120 to get through airport security.

And this morning I learned, via 12 News anchor Brahm Resnik, that despite all the coverage it has gotten, Governor Ducey was not aware of this drivers license issue until this past Sunday. Ducey promised at a press conference that he would fix the problem. How he does this without the Legislature is beyond me but the Governor has already demonstrated how he takes a very expansive view of his executive authority so maybe he thinks he can just set up his own drivers license agency to circumvent state law and issue federally compliant licenses. Who knows, but what is obvious is how little he cares about the day-to-day concerns of Arizona residents who are not big donors to him. In other words, practically all of us. This is what happens when you elect a rich guy who basically thinks of this state as his vacation home to be Governor.

Why would uber-social conservative Sylvia Allen push a bill to protect her (alleged) sex abuser son-in-law?

19 Mar 2015 03:43 am
Posted by: Donna

AZ Republic‘s Laurie Roberts notes the irony of Senator Sylvia Allen (R-Birtherstan) sponsoring a pro-union bill.

Turns out Sen. Sylvia Allen is a champion of unions. Who knew?

The “constitutional conservative” best known for her efforts to create state militias and close public meetings is hoping this year to boost protections for detention officers who find themselves in hot water.

Like, say, her son-in-law.

Last year, then-Navajo County Supervisor Allen tried to interfere with an internal investigation into her son-in-law’s conduct with female inmates in the Navajo County jail.

This year, Allen has moved on to the state Senate where she sponsored a bill aimed at ensuring that others don’t have to endure what she sees as a witch hunt against her son-in-law.

Son-in-law Timothy Hunt lost his corrections officer job and faces possible criminal charges over some gross things he did to captive women in the county jail. I do find the police union (a major one supports Allen’s amendment) angle interesting, as well as Roberts’ questions about Arizona Police Association’s legal support for Hunt and Allen’s attempt to draft Richard Mack to run for Navajo County Sheriff.

But I want to address the really egregious thing about this, namely the utter hypocrisy of Allen enthusiastically supporting legislation to punish people for their private consensual behavior (anti-choice, anti-LGBT laws) for years and then working feverishly to protect her son-in-law from consequences for his alleged (predatory) indiscretions. It goes to show something that writers like Matt Bruenig have been pointing out about moral scolds and their lack of empathy for people they don’t know.

I say this is a sight to behold because there has been a quiet story percolating that David Brooks is in the process of divorcing right now…

…According to Brooks’ own lesson, he and his ex-wife should be judged extremely harshly for this. And it’s not just him who said we should do this sort of thing. Reihan Salam and Ross Douthat shared similar recommendations in their book Grand New Party about the importance of cruelly shunning people who deviate from traditional family forms.

Yet, despite all of this, not a single shunning word about Brooks has yet to be uttered from anyone in this camp. In fact, when I fired shots at Brooks on Twitter last year for his divorce, shunning advocate Salam said it lacked civility and grace.

This sort of behavior presents an obvious question: why aren’t conservatives practicing what they preach regarding David Brooks? As a public figure, he would seem to be an especially important person to bully and demoralize as part of the norm-setting process. If people close to him just savaged him, that would get the point across that this isn’t something you can do without suffering serious social repercussions.

The reason they don’t shame him, I submit, is because they know David Brooks, they care about David Brooks, they think it would be rude and offensive to kick a hurt and down David Brooks. Moreover, they don’t know and can’t know what happened inside the marriage to cause its dissolution, and therefore probably aren’t in the right place to make sweeping pronouncements about its legitimacy. In short, they have humane concerns about their friend whom they respect as a fully formed human being. They aren’t willing to hang him in the public square to dissuade off others because that would be cruel and they feel that.

Allen obviously has the same humane concerns, possibly more about her daughter than her daughter’s icky husband (since this is about something much worse than a divorce), but she’s still deviating, with the herculean efforts she has made to shield Timothy Hunt, from the harsh, puritanical life script she wants to impose upon people she doesn’t know. Equally important to note is that Allen was really eager to find anything that would smear the women who alleged impropriety by Hunt, according to the investigators she was trying to interfere with.

Oftentimes people think dishonesty is the problem with hypocrisy but the real problem is lack of empathy. Moral scold hypocrites like David Brooks and Sylvia Allen arbitrarily project their “morality” onto others, whom they don’t see as human, while reserving kindness and understanding for themselves, and very often trying to codify that disparity into law. And that’s just immoral as hell.

I probably shouldn’t even be giving them the idea

16 Mar 2015 06:01 pm
Posted by: Donna


Sen. Debbie Lesko (R) has a striker bill that would expand private vouchers and as I perused the list of students who already qualify for them I was struck by the absence of one category of student.

Arizona Revised Statutes § 15-2401 defines an ESA qualified student as an Arizona resident who is any of the following:

· Identified as having a disability,
· Attends or is eligible to attend kindergarten at a D or F school or school district,
· A previous scholarship recipient of the ESA program or the Arizona Scholarships for Pupils with Disabilities Program,
· A child whose parent or guardian is a member of the armed forces and on active duty or was killed in the line of duty (these students are exempt from any further requirements for qualification),
· A child who is a ward of the juvenile court, or
· A child who is a sibling of a current or previous ESA recipient.
The qualifying student must also meet at least one of the following requirements:
· Attended a governmental primary or secondary school as a full-time student for at least 100 days of the prior fiscal year and who transferred under a contract to participate in an ESA,
· Previously participated in the ESA program,
· Received a scholarship from a School Tuition Organization and continues to attend a qualified school,
· Was eligible for an Arizona Scholarship for Pupils with Disabilities, or
· Has not previously attended a governmental primary or secondary school but is currently eligible to enroll in a kindergarten or preschool children with disabilities program.

Where are the “gifted children”?* I ask this because, as everyone knows and as Stuff White People Like cheekily put it, an astounding 100% of white children are gifted. We’re totes kidding about the 100% part, since white kids in working class and poor families are excluded. But boy howdy do they breed geniuses on the regular in places like Fountain Hills and Arcadia! The current voucher – excuse me, “empowerment scholarship” categories do apply to the majority of Arizona students but are effectively useless for most since their families are unable to afford private school even with the few thousand dollars ESAs provide. Opening them to “gifted” children would blow the roof off of any pretense of income caps and allow affluent parents to feel virtuous about tax dollars subsidizing Chad and Bitsy at Brophy and Xavier.

I’m honestly surprised they haven’t made this happen yet. Seriously, watch how many white kids from rich families would instantly get a “gifted” evaluation the second vouchers – excuse me, “empowerment scholarships” were opened up for that.

*Yes, I know, some children really are gifted and need programs to accommodate them. It reminds me of gluten allergies, which some people have and consuming gluten makes them miserable. But there are also a lot of people running around being giant pains in the ass demanding gluten-free everything with no medical basis for it.

Ducey didn’t run on his budget? Oh geez, Bob Robb.

16 Mar 2015 03:04 am
Posted by: Donna

Not AZ Republic columnist Bob Robb, but a funny photo of a Bob Robb

Arizona Republic columnist Robert Robb is very peeved by the budget that our new snowbird Governor has signed:

Ducey did not run on the specifics of this or any other budget. During the campaign, he avoided specifics as though they were a form of leprosy.

Nowhere on the campaign trail did Ducey say that he would cut university funding by $75 million to $104 million. Or that he would cut Medicaid payments to hospitals and docs by 5 percent. Or that he would have state taxpayers guarantee the loans of private companies that operate charter schools.

On the campaign trail, Ducey limited himself to the following specifics about the state’s fiscal policy: (1) he would offer a tax cut every year; (2) he would balance the budget without a net increase in taxes; and (3) he would spare K-12 education from any budget cuts.

Far from being a budget on which he ran, the budget he signed actually violates his pledge not to cut K-12 education.

You don’t say! Very strange how a GOP candidate whose general election strategy was to step aside and act as blandly inoffensive as possible, while millions of dollars in dark money ads trashed Fred DuVal, turns out to be the exact Governor who is now cutting millions from K-12 and colleges. Who could have seen that coming? Oh yeah, Democrats, who had been paying attention to Scott Walker, Rick Scott Pat McCrory, and Sam Brownback.

We have been screaming about this for years. Bob Robb, on the other hand, has a long and sordid history of sidling along with the very people he is now denouncing for going too far with the education cuts. How the hell did he not know that was coming? I’m really unconvinced he did not know that.

This is where I get very impatient with Republican voters of all stripes, but especially the more “informed” ones. Right wing activists tell you exactly what they intend to do. They want to wreck the social safety net and start wars everywhere. Thus I submit that the average Republican voter knows exactly what s/he is doing. They’re voting to stick it to non-white people and sometimes that blows back on them.

Victoria Steele’s courageous testimony showed why “rape exceptions” are a sham

13 Mar 2015 03:06 am
Posted by: Donna

Edited to correct the name of the committee chair to Kelly Townsend from Kelli Ward.

Alas, due to our stupidly slow “high speed internet” connection at the house, I’ve been unable to view the two and a half hour Arizona House Federalism and States’ Rights (seriously?) Committee hearing from Wednesday. But there was one part that made the news, and for good reason. It was when Democratic Rep. Victoria Steele of Tucson, who was testifying against SB1318 (which denies insurance coverage for abortion, among other things), was overcome by the whole thing and shared how she had been a repeated victim of sexual assault by a family member as a young girl.

Sorry for the screen shot instead of embedded video but Channel 12 insists upon them opening immediately

Permit me a brief sidetrack to note that the news clip showing the torsos of several heavily pregnant women is a good illustration of why abortion politics are so messed up in this country. The vast majority of abortions occur in the first trimester, several weeks or months before a “baby bump” is apparent so this imagery is shockingly and irresponsibly misleading. Do better, news people.

So anyway, Rep. Steele went up to the podium with every intention, as she says, of being the “calm voice” about the bill. But when she was asked by Committee Chair Kelly Townsend (R) to defend the proposition that abortion is health care she remembered what happened to her, which had happened to other girls in her family. One of those girls was impregnated and, because it was pre-Roe, had to get an illegal abortion.

Townsend responded to Steele’s heart-wrenching account by insisting that there are exceptions in the bill for rape and incest victims. I tweeted Townsend earlier today to ask what the exact process for a rape victim to get one of those coverage exemptions was. I haven’t heard back from her yet and don’t expect I will. There is no language in the bill (because there never is) specifying what, precisely, a woman seeking an abortion has to do to qualify for one. Does whomever she presents herself to for that exceptional abortion merely take her word for it, or does she need a notarized affidavit? Is a police report required? Does there have to be a conviction or, in the absence of a captured suspect, a preponderance of evidence that the girl or woman was brutally raped such that would comport with the fantasies of this infamous South Dakota state senator?

“A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.”

It’s not hard to understand why so few rape and incest victims report, considering how they must wade through whatever they’ve internalized (Was it my fault? Did I lead him on? What will it do to our family if I tell anyone?) and knowing or intuiting that they will face authority figures (like our friend from South Dakota) who are deeply invested in disturbing narratives about rape that require victims to be religious virgins brutalized within an inch of their lives for it to be “legitimate rape”. It’s not hard to understand, then, that rape and incest victims would decide that trying to get coverage for the abortion was not worth the hassle and the constant reliving of the trauma. Thus, rape exceptions on a purely practical level are essentially worthless.

So when someone like Rep.Townsend claims that rape and incest exceptions will be in an anti-choice law, she is engaging (whether she realizes it or not) in craven and lazy posturing. She gets to look reasonable without doing any heavy lifting on explaining how rape exceptions would work. (They don’t.) Luckily for her and other anti-choicers, journalists rarely bother to ask that obvious question.

Cathi Herrod, who is about the most glib and disciplined anti-choicer you will ever find, didn’t bother engaging directly with Channel 12′s request for a comment on Rep. Steele’s testimony:

“No matter what you think about abortion, we should all be able to agree that taxpayers should not be forced to pay for abortion, and women should be presented with the facts before making a life-altering decision. SB 1318 accomplishes both of these goals. Arizona’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, makes SB 1318 critically necessary. Not only does Planned Parenthood continue to advocate for taxpayer money to subsidize their abortion business, but recently, Planned Parenthood’s Glendale clinic wrongfully informed a woman that there was nothing they could do to reverse her medication abortion. Thankfully, the woman got connected with a local board-certified OB/GYN who was able to start her on a medication regiment to reverse the pill’s effect. She now has a healthy-growing pregnancy.”

Herrod, who does not give a rip about rape victims and does not have to pretend to care about them since she’s not in the Arizona Legislature, stayed on her own message about “taxpayers” (a group that apparently does not include pro-choice people or women who have abortions) and a ridiculous and discredited theory about “abortion reversal”. That speaks volumes about how the anti-choice movement, despite the lip service sometimes paid to “rape exceptions” by their politicians, has no intention of honoring them in any meaningful way. Which is no surprise since anti-choice activists oppose rape exceptions anyway.