Oh shut up, Glenn Hamer

03 Feb 2017 04:43 pm
Posted by: Donna

SomehowGlenn Hamer, who heads the AZ Chamber of Commerce and Industry, manages to keep his high-paying job despite being possibly the worst advocate for Arizona businesses ever and having a compulsive tendency to open his mouth and insert his foot.

Per the AZ Capitol Times Yellow Sheet Thursday:

hamer yellow sheet

Hamer and his Chamber are pushing for “reforms” to the state’s initiative process that will (duh) make it harder for citizens to pass them. That’s what’s behind his derisive comments about Prop 206. But Glenn can’t leave it at that, oh no. He then proceeds to pit teachers against other types of school workers, as if the latter are unworthy of decent pay. Of course, Hamer undoubtedly subscribes to the right wing ethos that public schools shouldn’t exist and that care work done primarily by women on behalf of children should be done for free or as close to it as possible.

Blast from the (recent) past: Stop thinking theocracy can’t happen here

01 Feb 2017 12:26 pm
Posted by: Donna

devos and trumpPhoto: abcnews.com

The nomination of Betsy DeVos, creepy Christian Dominionist lady with the Amway fortune behind her, for Secretary of Education, has me thinking of a thing I wrote two years ago on Blog for Arizona expressing skepticism that we in America are shielded from a theocratic takeover by our Enlightenment-infused religious traditions, modernity, or American exceptionalism.

From January, 2015:

This started out as a comment on someone’s Facebook post on the relationship between Islam and terrorism in the aftermath of the Paris attacks on Wednesday, but it got so long I decided to make it into a blog post.

A common argument that Islam is “different” from the other Abrahamic faiths is due to it being hundreds, if not thousands of years younger than most Jewish and Christian sects. The claim is that Muslims are going though the growing pains that Jews and Christians went through much earlier, and this explains why there is more more violence from radical Muslims today.

Obviously the chronology is right but I’m skeptical on the growing pains theory nonetheless. The reason is that several of the countries experiencing the worst religious repression and violence under Islam were, until very recently, thriving, progressive, secular countries. What changed? A variety of things, including wars and meddling into their affairs by powerful countries (ie US), which created the perfect storm for the reactionary authoritarians that exist in every group to seize the opportunity to force their rules on everyone else. It never takes the majority of the public to support a theocratic takeover, though that’s certainly helpful. It only takes a small band of committed zealots to strike fear into people through chaos and violence, or to promise them stability, or both.

This is why people who think it can’t happen here in US are deluding themselves. I can promise you, from nearly three decades of pro-choice activism, that there is a not insignificant number of Americans who are itching to impose a Christian version of Sharia law on America. They have a strong case of Jihad Envy, as is often joked wryly on the internet. And no, sorry, these authoritarians are not generally amenable to liberal arguments about how Jesus preached love and tolerance. They have their own Christ – a muscular, supply-side, neo-con Jesus. Author Jeff Sharlet, who wrote the book The Family, among other pertinent things about the American Religious Right, really opened my eyes to this.

A good model for what America could feasibly resemble under a radical theocracy is Saudi Arabia. It was never what you would call a liberal country from its inception, but in the mid-20th century Saudi Arabia was a arguably more secular than it is now and women had more freedom. A confluence of geopolitical and domestic forces converged to make it into the very strict theocracy that it is now.

This has not prevented the resource-rich country from amassing wealth and enjoying many of the advances of technology (the people at the top, at least). They are not mired in the 6th century, as they are so often described*. Saudis are ruled by 21st century theocrats. The internet and robotics and the most cutting edge extraction equipment and weaponry can co-exist with total female subjugation and public beheadings, as well as fatwas and similar forms of not necessarily state-sanctioned religious-based terrorism. On that last point I assert that “stateless” terrorism does not form in a vacuum. I believe that states succumbing, by varying degrees, to religious governance can be, and often is, a precondition to it**. It’s no accident that several of the 9-11 hijackers were Saudis.

My point is that there is nothing so exceptional about America, or Judeo-Christianity, that protects this country from becoming a theocracy. It’s not about the age of the religions or special triggering phrases in the Koran that aren’t in the Old or New Testaments. If you don’t realize that there are some powerful people in the United States doing their utmost to make this country into a theocracy – the kind that will spawn legions of angry young people willing to commit violence and give up their own lives in the name of The One True Faith – then you haven’t been paying attention. Start with Jeff Sharlet. I’m not suggesting it is inevitable by any means but it can happen here. We are not special and need to get out of denial about that.

*Which makes Islam a mere few centuries younger than Christianity, throwing more doubt on the “young religion” theory.

**It’s not like that kind of thing never happens in America as it is, thanks in part to laws legitimizing hatred toward abortion providers and patients. Same goes for anti-LGBT violence.

The AZ Dem Party got Clinton Foundation-ed

30 Jan 2017 06:15 pm
Posted by: Donna

My eternal struggle

Remember last summer when the Associated Press broke this bombshell story about the Clinton Foundation and teased it with a tweet about how half the people who met with Secretary of State Clinton had been donors to the Foundation and oh my lord what a scandal it was? Of course, it turned out to be a totally bogus smear job, thanks to AP being snookered by a right wing pressure group, Judicial Watch. The story was a big old nothingburger but it did lasting damage to the Clinton Foundation, which has done a lot of good in the world, and AP’s irresponsible reporting probably contributed to Clinton’s Electoral College loss in November.

A similar thing has happened to the Arizona Democratic Party, due to allegations made by former Executive Director Sheila Healy, who was terminated by the party after the election, in a lawsuit she filed against the party over a bonus. Healy claims she was fired for her opposition to “self-dealing” by State Party Chair Alexis Tameron. The Party claims Healy was fired for poor performance.

Evan Wyloge of the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting wrote an article about the lawsuit, which appeared in the Arizona Republic on Wednesday, January 25th, three days before the Arizona Democrats’ Reorganization Meeting the following Saturday.

Healy said she objected to awarding a “large direct-mail contract to a close friend of Ms. Tameron,” and “expressed concerns about the cost of a sizable digital contract awarded to Ms. Tameron’s husband.”

Tameron’s husband, Adam Kinsey, is a partner at Saguaro Strategies. Campaign finance records showed the Arizona Democratic Party paid $124,000 to Saguaro Strategies from its federal campaign account.

Whoa! That looks really, really bad, doesn’t it?

As you might imagine, this was a hot topic at the reorg meeting, with a lot of the Democrats in attendance highly upset over the allegations and questioning whether they should have confidence in Chairwoman Tameron.

Tameron and party Treasurer Rick McGuire addressed the issue prior to conducting the election of new officers. They explained how the deal with Saguaro Strategies for a program to increase small donor contributions was negotiated through its principal Andy Barr, not Adam Kinsey, and that the contract was approved by multiple parties, including Treasurer McGuire. McGuire explained, using Power Points, how the Saguaro small donor program exceeded expectations, raising nearly $1 million for the party from that source alone, nearly 10 times the amount of the prior year. Oh gee, not looking quite so sinister now, is it?

Not everyone was assuaged by their explanation, judging from some of the conversations I had later, but Tameron won reelection for Chair easily. But damage was done to both the image and fundraising ability of all the Democratic Party organizations, just as happened to the Clinton Foundation. Except this time it’s one of our own (Healy) feeding it.

As for Evan Wyloge, I don’t have a beef with him reporting on the lawsuit. That’s his job. But, journalists, you have to finish the job. Wyloge has not done any follow-up to his story (that I could find online) and did not even attend the Democratic meeting where he could have heard the explanation about Saguaro (he did go to the Republican one held the same day). The technical term I have devised for this type of reporting is “dropping a dookie”.

Wyloge basically dropped a big ol’ dook on the lawn of the Democratic Party and left us to deal with it. This is an ongoing pattern at the national and local level with the media where charges against Republicans (such as, oh say, Donald Trump being in cahoots with Vlad Putin in interfering with the election) must be carefully vetted and precise forensic evidence presented before the public can even know of them but all that’s ever needed to drop dookies by the planeload on Democrats is a whiff or appearance of impropriety, however bogus (Clinton Foundation, Comey letter, this AZ Dem lawsuit, Planned Parenthood “sting” videos, et cetera and ad nauseum).

As it is, this shit has gotten old, but now that Orange Hitler is in charge of the country and the Republicans in charge of Arizona are busy stripping the copper wires out of the joint, it’s simply unconscionable.

CLICKBAIT: This take on both David Brooks and “identity politics” is everything!

24 Jan 2017 06:53 pm
Posted by: Donna


From Timothy Burke, Professor of History at Swarthmore College, comes a magnificent rebuttal to David Brooks’ latest pile of festering sanctimonious hooey in the New York Times.

Swarthmore thoroughly pastes Brooks for his tedious habits of hypocrisy and useless moralizing, but he also takes down the “identity politics” canard peddled by guys like Mark Lilla (who was cited favorably by Brooks in his column, of course). Behold (emphasis mine):

You’re the guy with the ball, you’re the columnist with a valuable soapbox. There’s the goalpost: call the play, in detail. Be predictive for once, and stick to it when people do, in detail, something of what you want. Don’t wave more than half your players off the field and tell them to come back when they’ve diagrammed a play that will move the ball all the way to the endzone in a single down. What’s the call right now, David, that uses all the players on the field with their talents and inclinations? What’s the rallying cry that calls a sixty-year old conservative woman from Niles, Michigan and a lesbian Latina millennial in New York City home to an America that can stand against “brutalistic nationalism”? If you answer, “Whatever makes the woman from Niles happy, no matter what that is”, you’re not in the game with us. If you answer, “Well, actually, I guess it’s brutalistic nationalism only slightly less Trumpy”, you’re not in the game with us. You’re a drunk asshole sitting outside the stadium at a tailgate, watching on a bad-reception TV, yelling loudly after every play about how it was the wrong thing to do…

And it’s not just Brooks shirking his obligation. People who rail against “identity politics” from the left will often insist they support racial and gender and other types of equality not directly related to economic class. That’s great, but if they’re going to make that claim, the onus is on them to show us how they plan to win over white voters who went for Trump, while also keeping core Democratic constituencies comprised of the very people many of those white voters loathe engaged. I haven’t seen that play yet. What I’ve seen so far does not inspire confidence in the left economic populism emerging out of this election.

Brief recap of DNC meeting in Phoenix

19 Jan 2017 01:23 pm
Posted by: Donna

dnc press pass

For a thorough accounting of the DNC Meeting last Saturday in Phoenix, (or at least the most important part, the DNC Chair Forum) Elizabeth Rogers at Crooks and Liars has you covered. I helped a little with it and suggest you read it to provide context for these follow-up takeaways of mine.

I had every intention doing a full-blown article about the meeting, and even got press credentials for it (my first!) but I learned I can either take notes or live tweet, and guess which one I did?

And so on.

I did have a chance to chat at length after the Chair forum with the delightful Jehmu Greene, who resigned as a contributor to Fox News to run for Chair, and was doubly impressed with her background in organizing and emphasis on the importance of media. We both agreed media is hostile to Democrats and it’s not just Fox, but all of them.

This is a needed discussion, as some of the other DNC Chair candidates, having backgrounds in campaigns, insisted neighbor-to-neighbor contact was key and were dismissive of “media” as consultants justifying big ad buys. I’m not so sure about that. Jaime Harrison, Chair candidate who chairs the South Carolina Democratic Party, got off a great line at the forum with, “Rhetoric is defeated by relationships!”

Okay, but anyone who has Republicans in their lives knows this isn’t true. You can work and break bread with people all the time, but if they’re going right back to media sources that mislead them, then all your efforts are eradicated. Field is important, but so is media. Including ads. Ask 2014 Arizona Governor candidate Fred DuVal about that. We are being crushed in the media war and no amount of door knocking (important as that is!) is going to overcome it.

I was encouraged by many things I heard at the meeting, including both Tom Perez and Keith Ellison (candidates for Chair who are viewed as the proxy war between Obama/Clinton and Sanders) advocating strongly for measures to combat voter suppression. Perez wants the DNC to have teams in place on the ground to address suppression. Ellison wants to go after felon disenfranchisement and agreed with Jehmu Greene on ending voter registration entirely.

Both Perez and Ellison are stand-up guys as far as I’m concerned.

What appears to be the main Perez/Ellison rift emerged when Christine Pelosi, DNC Member from California, asked about corporate donations. Pelosi was clear that she believed they should be banned. Ellison and some of the other Chair candidates agreed with her. Perez warned against the “unintended consequences” of doing such a thing, followed by Jaime Harrison more fully inveighing against the idea by warning how such a ban would starve state parties of funds. I agree with Harrison here. I understand the concerns with corporate donations but most politicos are not iconic figures like Barack Obama or Bernie Sanders who can raise large sums of money through small individual donations. We shouldn’t be tying the hands of state and local Dem organizations like that.

My main takeaway is agreement with Elizabeth Rogers that Democrats are not as divided as we seem (but we’re still divided over some things!) and that DNC members will elect capable leaders next month.

Area Woman Discovers Trump Will Not Create Jobs In Her Uterus

17 Jan 2017 08:31 pm
Posted by: Donna

Nope, no jobs in here!

I need to get to the piece about the DNC meeting in Phoenix I intend to do but holy shit do I need to address this right now.

He should get the economy moving, not defund health services for people struggling to get by.

I voted for Donald Trump because I wanted to see change in our country. One change I didn’t want to see was access to health care at Planned Parenthood blocked.

But Republican congressional leaders have already promised to do just that, with a provision to stop reimbursements for the health care Planned Parenthood provides.

Just like one in 5 women across the country, I went to Planned Parenthood here in Arizona in my 20s for health care. I was newly divorced, unemployed and uninsured, and I needed health services I could not otherwise afford.

The author, Melody Forbes, a Phoenix human resource professional, seems well-educated and is obviously pro-choice and well-versed in defending reproductive rights in a broad framework of universal health care access. I imagine she voted for some of the Democrats on her ballot as well as Trump for that reason. She voted for Trump to, as she put it:

…based on the issues he campaigned on: creating jobs, making health care more affordable, and making our country great again. I voted for him because I trust him to get our economy moving again.

Hmm…I’d be interested to know what she means by “making our country great again” but…okay. She claims her vote was not against Planned Parenthood, and even more amazingly:

I knew he would have to make promises to appease the anti-abortion wing of the Republican Party. I’m hopeful that Trump will see that defunding Planned Parenthood is the kind of campaign promise he shouldn’t keep.

I find it difficult to believe Forbes was unaware of Trump’s statement that women should be punished for abortion in an interview (which he swiftly walked back under intense pressure), or his ludicrous claim at the third debate that women hire doctors to “rip the baby out of the womb in the ninth month, on the final day”. Those statements were more than insincere pandering to the anti-choice crowd. They fit a lifetime pattern of Trump being a vile misogynist.

Trump has a history of wildly inconsistent positions on practically everything, and his views on reproductive rights are no exception. He has expressed support for legal abortion and Planned Parenthood in the past, and his personal history as a sexual libertine could lull people into believing he’s really pro-choice and will act in the best interest of women on this issue.

That assumption is a mistake. Again, Mr. Grab ‘Em By The Pussy is a woman-hating shitlord with no regard for women’s personal boundaries or agency. And while he probably doesn’t have a moral objection to abortion, he is probably also not pro-choice. My read of him is he views the decision of whether or not a woman continues a pregnancy to be not hers to make. If she’s the partner of a rich man, he decides. If she’s poor, the government does. There is no evidence, based on whom Trump is surrounding himself in his administration, he favors a government that is amenable to women making their own health care decisions.

Oh, and honorable mention of course goes to the MSM, who contributed to voter confusion over what women faced under Trump by assisting him with the walk-back and soft-pedaling. After the “punish women” incident media people went right back to describing him as “pro-choice” regularly.

MSM struggles to cover Trump because IOKIYAR

12 Jan 2017 12:40 am
Posted by: Donna

Here’s a tale of two tweets:

For the record, I like and agree with both of these journalists. Both statements are correct: The MSM is flummoxed by trump and the same MSM would be instantly un-flummoxed by a Democrat one tenth as corrupt and disgusting as he is.

As a refresher or for the uninitiated, IOKIYAR stands for “It’s okay if you are Republican”. It’s a close cousin to Both Siderism and, like it, is a dominant driver of how the media cover partisan politics. It’s such a prevalent ethos in the industry that even many good reporters become defensive and deny they’re doing it when you point it out to them.

And while this past election should have made it blindingly obvious to anyone – after two years of Trump being treated as an amusing curiosity and Clinton as a criminal who simply hadn’t been caught red handed yet – I still regularly encounter media people who refuse to acknowledge how their industry treats GOP politicians with utmost solicitude while scorching Democrats for minor or imaginary mistakes, often magnifying into enormous “scandals”, as we saw with Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

You can argue that the Clinton-Trump contest was singular because both candidates are highly controversial public figures but I can point to many, many examples involving other Democrats and Republicans to refute that. One that comes immediately to mind is the Vice Presidential debate where Mike Pence, who is (what is now) a standard-issue conservative Republican, lied glibly through the entire thing and was declared the winner by pundits over Democrat Tim Kaine for being so calm and skillful at the lying. IOKIYAR!

One jaw-dropping irony of IOKIYAR coverage is that when there are allegations of wrongdoing by a Republican, as with the shocking trove of compromising information intelligence agents believe Russia has about the incoming President, is that rigorous norms of scrutiny and evidence come roaring back with alacrity. “Clouds of suspicion” are no longer an acceptable excuse to run with a story, as they were with the Clinton Foundation or the infamous email server.

In a brief interview in the Times newsroom on Tuesday evening, Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, said the paper would not publish the document because the allegations were “totally unsubstantiated.”

“We, like others, investigated the allegations and haven’t corroborated them, and we felt we’re not in the business of publishing things we can’t stand by,” Mr. Baquet said.

Recall that the Times had no problem using the execrable “Clinton Cash” as source material for negative, misleading coverage of Hillary Clinton.

I don’t believe this disparity in coverage is driven by malice and I can sympathize with the media being fearful of Republicans, who can be some nasty and vindictive people. But this trepidation toward the GOP is too often accompanied by a needless and ferocious level of hostility toward Democrats, I guess in the interest of appearing fair or maybe to get on the bully’s good side? I don’t know.

It’s rare that answers lie somewhere in the middle but, in this rare case, I’d say a decent one does exist between the poles of how Republicans and Democrats are covered. Until the glorious day wherein that happy middle is determined, I humbly suggest the following to reporters and pundits at a loss for how to cover Trump: Pretend he’s a Democrat and act accordingly. Seriously, treat him the way you treated Jimmy Carter, both Clintons, Al Gore, and Barack Obama. With Trump, the contempt will actually be warranted.