No, wobbly Democrats, Scott Smith is (still) not your GOP boyfriend

10 Aug 2014 05:16 pm
Posted by: Donna

Former Mesa Mayor and AZ GOP Gubernatorial candidate Scott Smith got an undeniable boost on Thursday. He was not only endorsed by Governor Brewer (which everyone expected would happen, though it’s curious that they waited until after mail-in ballots dropped to do it) but AZ Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill swiftly cancelled a meeting with Smith backers in which he was going to try and get them to switch to Doug Ducey. This is a big deal. Smith’s team reports a big bump in fundraising overnight and, with Christine Jones’ campaign fading fast, Smith has a real chance in that primary. Smith will enjoy strong LDS support now that Ken Bennett is no longer a contender and it looks like he’s going to take business establishment support away from Ducey. (I still consider Ducey the favorite based on his early fundraising advantage, all the name ID he’s gotten with his feud with Jones, the continued dark money support from radical right wing moneybags, and the tendency of GOP primary voters to select the biggest asshole who is also electable in the general.)

Needless to say, this Scott Smith development caused a resurgence in the cooing and swooning that tends to overtake some of the more softhearted liberals/left-of-center types in Arizona where he is concerned. It’s so bad at this point that I’ve seen some Democrats bragging on Facebook how they changed their registration to get Republican ballots to vote for their dreamboat.

I’m sympathetic to the argument that Smith is the least reprehensible Republican running in the primary (which is true) and that because it is difficult for a Democrat to win in Arizona in a midterm Smith is the safest Republican choice. What I object to is the unwarranted fawning over on this guy by non-Republicans. It’s eerily similar to the way Democrats gushed over Jeff Flake for years because he was so nice, while ignoring how rabidly right wing most of his views and voting record as a Congressman were. Flake will be in the Senate for the next 3 million years, thanks in part to years of Democrats obligingly softening his image. Those same Democrats never seem to learn because they’re going down the same path with Scott Smith. Let’s just be clear that we’re talking about this guy:

You want to go canvass for this guy? I don’t. Smith’s Center for Arizona Policy questionnaire answers do reveal him to be more moderate than his GOP opponents on many culture war issues – he’s for some LGBT rights and doesn’t want the government censoring the internet. On abortion rights, he does the same thing that Jeff Flake did in 2012, which is to say the magic words about rape and incest exceptions that will get him through endorsement interviews and allow him to paint himself as “moderate” on the issue to the general electorate. As with Flake, Smith can count on not being asked follow up questions about how, precisely, these rape exceptions would work (spoiler alert: they wouldn’t for the vast majority of victims). He gets to look reasonable and magnanimous while opposing about 99% of abortions, which is actually a radical anti-choice position.

The pundits foresee Smith modeling his administration after Governor Brewer’s, which is a reasonable assumption considering her top adviser, Chuck Coughlin, is running his campaign. Brewer has been a disaster on reproductive rights and Smith will be as well. Did you notice that whenever Brewer did something decent like the Medicaid expansion or vetoing SB1062 she’d often get an abortion bill to sign immediately after? It will likely go the same way with Smith. As I’ve noted before, someone has to take one for the team in the culture wars and poor women make for a very convenient sacrifice.

Another answer of Smith’s that I found disturbing was the one on assisted suicide:

Question 8: I believe God has a plan for each of us for which we must be strong, even when this includes trials to our end.

FYI swooners, that right there is what we call a red flag. I mean, look, I don’t expect him to be pro-euthanasia but he seems to be taking a tad to much joy in the prospect of people suffering. Yikes. Is he against palliative pain relief and do-not-resuscitate orders too?

One of the main arguments non-Republican Scott Smith enthusiasts make in his record as Mayor of Mesa and it is a fair one. But running a city is not the same as running a state, especially one with a legislature as full of wingnuts as ours is. There is also the possibility that the guy running as a jobs-focused centrist mayor will turn into an entirely different creature once elected Governor, as happened in North Carolina, where the “Eisenhower Republican” Mayor of Charlotte morphed into Michele Bachmann approximately one nanosecond after becoming Governor of that state.

Know your anti-choice Democratic candidates in Arizona. Part 4.

06 Aug 2014 05:23 pm
Posted by: Donna

This installment will conclude my series on the anti-choice Dems running in legislative primaries. This last one, Sen. Catherine Miranda (LD27), might prove the most difficult to remove due to her incumbency and the strength of her family name. Luckily, her challenger the hugely impressive and indefatigable campaigner Aaron Marquez. (I’m pretty sure Aaron has gotten more money out of me than any legislative candidate ever has because he’s that good at raising it.) And while it sucks to want a female Democrat to be defeated, Miranda has got to go, and we’ll be getting a staunch ally in the Senate with Aaron Marquez:

On your campaign website, you mention that as part of your service with the United States Army Reserve, you helped to build women’s centers in Afghanistan. Can you tell us more about this: What services did they provide, and what impact have they had?

My favorite project that I worked on was when we put together a wool processing center. I worked on a provincial reconstruction team that brought together coalition forces. My team was led by the Swedish armed forces and also Finland’s armed forces. The wool processing center works with all of those groups in the province of Balkh, outside the city of Mazar-i-Sharif.

About 80 percent of Afghans are subsistence farmers, and most of them have sheep or goats. The processing center allowed farmers to use electronic sheep shears to increase wool production by 20 percent annually. At the wool processing center we employ women to card [the wool], spin it, and turn it into yarn. Then they dye it, and they sell it to Afghan rug makers.

I also worked through the Department of Women’s Affairs. In one province called Samangan, there was a women’s center in a location that was very inaccessible, so they wanted a road. We built them an asphalt road that went from the main section of town instead of what was a very rocky dirt road.

In other parts of Afghanistan, I was working to build women’s bazaars. What they were looking for and expecting was just a place that would provide privacy for women to be exclusively around other women. They could take off their burqas, and work on whatever crafts they were trying to market and sell in a place that allowed them to come together. One of the proposals was for a women’s gym. Any gyms that did exist in Mazar-i-Sharif, women were not allowed to go there.

Meanwhile, what has Senator Miranda been doing for women? This kind of stuff:

Last legislative session, your opponent in the primary election, Catherine Miranda, voted in favor of HB 2284, which now permits the health department to inspect abortion clinics without a warrant. How do your views on reproductive health care differ from those of your opponent?

She has a clear anti-choice record, a clear anti-women’s reproductive health care record. She voted for 2284. She’s also voted for 2800, prohibiting state funding for abortion providers; 2384, prohibiting taxpayer funding for abortion providers; 2416, adding regulations for abortion providers, making it more difficult to get abortions. I think every time she’s had the opportunity on issues of choice, she’s been a clear anti-choice vote and a clear vote with the Republican Party.

Miranda voted for harassment of women through surprise inspections of abortion clinics and to defund family planning centers. Remember, they do a lot more than abortions in them. Again, here’s another Dem who wants to “save babies” but who doesn’t seem to understand that when women have effective birth control, the abortion rate plummets.

Vote for pro-choice Democrat Aaron Marquez for LD27. One final note: the only pro-choice Dem challenging an anti-choicer running under Clean Elections is Angela Cotera. Charlene Fernandez, Lisa Otondo, Martin Quezada, and Aaron are not and need contributions. Help them out!

Know your anti-choice Democratic candidates in Arizona. Part 3.

05 Aug 2014 04:12 pm
Posted by: Donna

My pal Dr. Angela Cotera, who has contributed to this blog, is running in the Democratic primary for the Senate seat in LD19 being vacated by Anna Tovar this year. Her opponent is Rep. Lupe Contreras. Contreras signed a pledge in support of overturning Roe v Wade and of the idea that personhood begins at conception. Cotera, who is a smarty-pants research astrophysicist, explained in very succinct terms why Contreras is dead wrong in an endorsement profile with Planned Parenthood of Arizona:

The “Pro-Life Proclamation” that he signed called for all Arizona legislators to make sure that full citizenship rights begin the moment an egg is fertilized. This basically would mean that women have no more rights than an incubator, which is outrageous. I believe that all women have sovereignty over their own bodies, and no one has a right to tell a woman what she can or cannot do within her own body. I believe that all health care decisions should be private, particularly those which involve the most intensely personal aspect of our lives, reproduction. We must protect the rights in Roe v. Wade because we cannot return to a time when women died due to self-induced abortions.

Preach! Vote for pro-choice Democrat Angela Cotera in LD19.

Know your anti-choice Democratic candidates in Arizona. Part 2.

05 Aug 2014 12:55 pm
Posted by: Donna

Rep. Lydia Hernandez and Rep. Martin Quezada are challenging each other for the Senate seat vacated by Steve Gallardo in LD29. Rep. Quezada has gotten the AZ Planned Parenthood endorsement for reasons that will be readily apparent when you see what Hernandez posted on her Facebook page recently:

I explained in my last post that an anti-abortion Democrat is acceptable so long as s/he gives enthusiastic support to contraception access and comprehensive sex ed, while refusing to join with anti-choice Republicans in their demented crusade to make criminals of women and doctors. It’s clear that none of those ideas appeal to Rep. Hernandez, who is pushing the paranoid and risible conspiracy theory that Planned Parenthood is engaging in both the abuse of women and genocide. Hernandez is obviously unqualified to hold office in general, let alone as a Democrat.

Vote for Martin Quezada in LD29.

Know your anti-choice Democratic candidates in Arizona. Part 1.

04 Aug 2014 11:50 am
Posted by: Donna

Jose Leonardo Suarez (LD4-D) is running for Arizona State House this year. When asked how he differed from the Democratic platform at the Clean Elections primary debate, he said that he opposes marriage equality and abortion in most cases.

Suarez believes life starts at conception and that rape victims should have that baby. He would consider abortion to be acceptable in the case of fetal deformity and, almost as an afterthought, in the case that the defective incubator oops the woman is facing a danger to her life. Nice of him. Suarez does say that rape victims should receive “all kinds of counseling” so that they will either keep the baby or adopt it out. At no point does he consider if giving birth would be the best outcome for her well-being. Rape is simply a way of introducing a pregnancy into a woman’s body and women should always be ready to welcome that, and if they they aren’t, then they just need to have it explained better.

I’ve said this before: I have no problem with Democrats who oppose abortion. I just ask that they support things like universal health care, which includes unfettered access to contraception, and comprehensive sex education. They should certainly support a strong safety net and other policies that make life better for adults and children, while understanding that those things are not a substitute for reproductive rights, since sometimes women don’t want to be pregnant even under the best of circumstances. What they should never do is sign on to disgusting right wing laws that criminalize women and doctors. At the very least, “pro-life” Democrats should never take the side of rapists and rape-apologists over victims.

Vote for pro-choice Democrat Charlene Fernadez if you live in Legislative District 4. UPDATE: There are two seats for the House so please also vote for pro-choice Dem Lisa Otondo!

Court arguments reveal how misogyny is at the heart of opposition to marriage equality

31 Jul 2014 06:09 pm
Posted by: Donna

Arizona and Texas are the latest states to be defending their same sex marriage bans in federal court. Things haven’t gone well for foes of equality lately, as foes of equality lose in state after state, most recently in Virginia. Attorneys in Arizona and Texas obviously see what’s coming and are resorting to desperately hiding behind children and slut-shaming.

Here are anti-equality attorneys in AZ arguing why same sex partners shouldn’t be allowed to marry:

Papers filed in federal court defending the ban say voters, in approving the constitutional amendment in 2008, are entitled to “define marriage for their community.’’ But the lawyers also are arguing to U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick there’s a public purpose in the state getting into the business of regulating private relationships: Ensuring that children are, whenever possible, raised by a biological mother and biological father.

“Only man-woman couples are capable of furthering the state’s interest in linking children to both of their biological parents,’’ argued attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom. And they said the vast majority of such couples produce their own biological children.

Of course this is complete hogwash, since the state allows infertile straight couples and those unwilling to procreate to marry, but Alliance Defending Freedom has no problem letting 92 year old Betty White marry a guy because, well, see for yourself:

“For instance, many man-woman couples who do not plan to have children may experience unintended pregnancies or may simply change their minds,’’ the legal brief says. It also says “modern medical advances’’ might affect otherwise infertile couples.”

Attorney General Greg Abbott, who is running for Governor of Texas, takes the “dear God what about the children?!” gambit one further by strongly implying that gay marriage would lead to more women wantonly procreating sans husband:

Back in court to defend Texas’ ban on gay marriage, Attorney General Greg Abbott is arguing that the restriction is designed to promote responsible procreation, not to demean same-sex couples — a tactic that has already been rejected by two federal appeals courts.

Nonetheless, Abbott relies heavily on the argument as Texas prepares to defend the ban at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is populated by judges that are considered to be far more conservative than most other federal appeals courts.

“By recognizing and encouraging the lifelong commitment between a man and woman — even when they do not produce offspring — the state encourages others who will procreate to enter into the marriage relationship,” Abbott said in the state’s first brief, filed late Monday at the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Promoting opposite-sex marriages “increases the likelihood that children will be born into stable environments where they are raised by their mother and their father,” Abbott argued.

Such family structures are good for the children’s well being and good for the state because they increase the likelihood that parents, not society, “will bear the cost of raising these children,” the brief said.

“Because same-sex relationships do not naturally produce children, recognizing same-sex marriage does not further these goals to the same extent that recognizing opposite-sex marriage does,” Abbott said.

No gay marriage because it’ll lead to more single women popping out kids and going on welfare! This sick thing is there’s a chance it might work, especially in such a conservative court. Wrapping their religious fascism in slut-punishing has been so wildly successful for the Religious Right that why wouldn’t they find a way to weave it into every item on their agenda? Wouldn’t surprise me if they just straight up started calling same sex marriage an “abortifacient”.

What about the ladies with this boycott thing?

23 Jul 2014 02:37 pm
Posted by: Donna

I can’t argue with Markos Moulitsas for keeping his pledge to boycott Arizona until SB1070 is fully overturned and I doubt he’s going to be persuaded out of it, judging from the scathing statement he issued about Phoenix hosting Netroots Nation in 2015.

I made very clear in the wake of Arizona’s passage of SB 1070 that I would not be setting foot in the state, nor spending a dime in it until the law was revoked. The law, however gutted by the courts, remains on the books, as does systemic harassment of Latinos, so my pledge still stands.

In a subsequent post he clarified that his not going was a personal choice and not a statement on what anyone else decides to do.

1. As a Latino, I do not feel safe in Arizona, a state that continues to profile and harrass Latinos because of the way they look. So I’m not going to go, nor am I going to put my family or my staff at risk.

2. I am not leading a boycott. I am personally not attending. I don’t care if you go or don’t go. I won’t think better or worse about you regardless of what decision you make. But organizationally, I won’t spend a dime on a state that has codified overt racism. If you disagree, that’s fine! If you agree, that’s fine! You get to make that call.

What WILL make me think less of you is if you outright disregard the real fears and anger that SB 1070 generates among people of color. I can concede that there are two genuine sides to this issue, that both the arguments for and against attending are valid, and that we can make our own choices on the matter and not be “wrong”. Don’t be a pompous ass to people of color and sympathizers on an issue that cuts so deeply and emotionally, because really, just don’t.

On the other hand, don’t be an asshole to those who want to attend, because there are valid reasons for doing so as well.

Not gonna argue with number 1 and I’m glad Kos isn’t leading a boycott. Because that would be re-starting a boycott that was already ended years ago, as John Loredo explains:

“Thank you for supporting the boycott we called. We called for the boycott to bring economic pressure onto the state and to force Arizona business leaders to get off the bench and into the immigration fight. It worked. The year after Senate Bill 1070 passed, business leaders testified at the State Senate and took the position that Arizona could no longer sustain the economic boycott and the legislature needed to stop passing any more harmful immigration bills. Since that point, not one immigration bill has passed at the Arizona state legislature. We accomplished our goal, and those of us who called for the boycott called it off. We hope those that respected our calling for the boycott will respect our decision to call it off.

As I’ve explained many, many times (and I’ll keep doing it), the business community in Arizona deliberately went silent on SB1070 after then Senate President Russell Pearce stripped out employer enforcement language and in order to ensure a GOP sweep in the 2010 election. After they got spanked hard for that economically, business leaders not only reined in anti-immigration bills but also were swift to react to SB1062 when threatened with boycotts by the LGBT and other progressive communities.

Which leads me to wonder: What about the ladies? At what point do the constant and vicious attacks on women’s basic human rights and ability to access safe and legal reproductive health care by state legislatures become intolerable enough to warrant the boycott of a state? What would be enough to draw organized progressive resistance to an anti-choice bill such that it might cause the business elite of a state, who usually shy away from the “controversy” of reproductive politics, to maybe take notice? Mandatory vaginal wanding? Personhood for fertilized eggs? Michigan has passed some pretty nasty anti-choice legislation in the past few years yet no participant that I’m aware of, including Markos Moulitsas, objected to Detroit hosting Netroots Nations.

I am aware that by even broaching the topic I am inviting accusations of being divisive and of putting my trivial little ladies issue ahead of More Important Things™. To which I respond: too bad. I once had a columnist for the Phoenix New Times defend his support of anti-choice but pro-immigrant rights politicians to me on the basis that “women aren’t being put in jail for having abortions yet”. He was, of course, ignoring the fact that some undocumented immigrants also happen to be women who badly need inexpensive and confidential reproductive health care. Such as the kind provided by Planned Parenthood, from which one of the columnist’s favorite anti-choice legislators voted to cut funding. I guess the dudely columnist never considered how much worse being rounded up by Arpaio’s goons would be if you also had an unplanned pregnancy to contend with on top of it. He was definitely not the first person I’ve encountered who feels there are “human” issues and “women’s” issues and never the twain shall meet.

It could be that part of the reason that reproductive rights are often treated as a secondary issue among progressives – to the extent that boycotts aren’t even considered in the face of some pretty vile laws passed in state legislatures – is that the public face of the pro-choice movement remains very much that of affluent white women, who happen to be the least likely to be harmed by anti-choice laws. However, while I absolutely concede that the pro-choice movement needs to work on inclusiveness and diversity, the same critique has been leveled at the LGBT rights movement, which has long been seen as largely white and urban and male. That didn’t stop the fervor for a boycott over SB1062 and the quick responsiveness of the business community to it. I’m forced to conclude that something deeper and more insidious is at work here. That something is called sexism.

You may be tempted to tell me to go ahead and start a boycott right now if I think it’s so important. My answer to that is that I don’t honestly know if there would be any point to that. Given the near inevitablity that a bad anti-choice bill will introduced in the Arizona legislature next year, would the call for a boycott of a few of us here be joined by significant enough numbers of people and organizations within and outside the state? Would Netroots Nation even consider pulling the conference out of Phoenix? Would Arizona pro-choice activists calling for NN to pull out be supported by fellow progressives, or resented? I’m posing this merely as a thought exercise at this point.

When SB1070 was signed in 2010, a boycott was immediately organized and it succeeded. When SB1062 passed the Legislature earlier this year, the mere threat of boycotts was enough to send in the Chambers of Commerce to kill it. One week after SB1062 went down Governor Brewer signed a bill that allowed surprise inspections of abortion clinics. Apart from a couple small-ish demonstrations at the State Capitol, which I participated in, the overall reaction of the progressive community was “meh”. One of the very valid reasons Markos gives for refusing to set foot in Arizona is that Latinos are routinely targeted and harassed. Well, the same thing is happening to women – and women of color disproportionately – in Arizona and several other states as they seek the reproductive health care that enables them to have some economic security and participate fully in society. I’m seeing a lot of talk on DailyKos about solidarity these past few days but, as much of America is starting to resemble 1965 in terms of women’s reproductive rights, I have to ask where is the solidarity with the ladies? What is it going to take?