So many people with much disposable income want to spend it on behalf of white supremacists

07 Jan 2015 06:00 am
Posted by: Donna

Remember how we’ve been told, lo these many years, that the reason for all the “extremism” in Congress and in state governments is that unwashed yokels wrested democracy from the capable hands of Serious Business People™ and were somehow able to put their petty culture war concerns ahead of The Very Important Things That Serious Business People™ Care About. Thus we are told we must eliminate public campaign financing (at least from states, e.g. Arizona, whose benighted voters are deemed unable to handle it by NYT columnists). We are told that primary elections must be changed because the conventional wisdom (which is never wrong) holds that yokels voting in closed primaries are ruining everything. Above all, we simply must impress upon these truculent yokels the need for civility in our public discourse! These things, surely, will lead to a glorious era of temperance where country club Republicans politely sip tea with centrist Democrats!

Sure they will.

Interestingly, there is a state that has no public financing of campaigns whatsoever and a jungle primary that has been in place since 1976. That state is Louisiana, which has been the locus of a bit of a kerfluffle lately.

Yes, Louisiana is home to David Duke, the KKK leader who won one of two spots in the 1991 primary election that year (Jungle Primary FTW!). But Duke continues to be important this year, due to Rep. Steve Scalise (R-Obvs) having to explain why he spoke at a Duke white supremacist event in 2002. Duke has threatened to expose other politician who he says have ties to him if Scalise is ousted from leadership. Even more disturbing is the revelation that donors to Duke’s organization have also donated to dozens of politicians from the major parties (vast majority Republican, natch).

The obvious conclusion to draw from Louisiana’s failure to become a centrist utopia despite having the primary system preferred by Serious People and no public campaign financing is that they must be home to a powerful breed of uber-yokels (with extra-strength racism!) who are able to overcome those hurdles. How else to explain why a KKK Grand Wizard could arise to such political prominence there? It’s a mystery!

Reporter Andrea Dubé drilled down into the actual money that David Duke has been able to raise and give to (mostly) Republican candidates.

At least two politicians have paid big money for David Duke’s list of supporters: two-term Louisiana Governor Murphy J. “Mike” Foster, Jr. paid $150,000, and former Louisiana state legislator (and current president of the Family Research Council) Tony Perkins paid $82,500. Both Foster and Perkins were caught trying to cover up their purchases. Other politicians have most certainly used Duke’s lists – they have just gotten better at hiding it.

Reviewing the finance reports from Duke’s last campaign for federal office in 2000, I found at least 58 politicians who have received money from donors who also gave to David Duke. This list is by no means exhaustive, in fact it only includes the data from 17 of Duke’s contributors. Duke has raised millions of dollars from national political donors, and most of this money isn’t accounted for in public records.

So what does it mean? It certainly doesn’t mean that these politicians are all white supremacists. It does mean, however, that they’ve accepted money from supporters who have financially backed a very prominent white supremacist.

It is tempting to shrug off David Duke as a radical figure who is out of touch with mainstream values. Most of these politicians probably will. Duke’s overt racism makes even the most conservative politicians nervous, and they will bend over backwards in their attempts to distance themselves from him. But the ugly secret? They are benefiting – directly and in the form of large sums of money – from Duke’s sinister world.

Below is the list of politicians who have accepted money from David Duke supporters. As you’ll see, it includes John McCain, Rand Paul, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Steve King and David Vitter among many others.

Not unwashed Clean Elections primary candidates getting $5 contributions from yokels. These are frequent contributors giving sums ranging from the hundreds to the thousands of dollars to both David Duke and several (mostly) Republican politicians, many of whom are now considered to epitomize the so-called GOP establishment.

And Steve Scalise remains the GOP Majority Whip of the US House of Representatives as of this writing because “David Duke without the baggage” is the new moderate Republican. Very Serious People™, you might want to sit down for this, but it’s looking increasingly improbable that the genteel tea sipping is going to ensue anytime soon and your face-saving narratives for our current political dysfunction (Clean Elections! The closed primaries! Uncivil rhetoric on both sides!) are dissolving.

AZ right wingers want possibly the nuttiest guy in Congress to be Speaker

05 Jan 2015 06:00 am
Posted by: Donna

From the denizens of Sonoran Alliance* comes this plea:

In an exclusive interview on Fox News this morning, Texas Republican Louis Gohmert announced that he is joining Florida Republican Ted Yoho in challenging John Boehner for the Speakership.

Both candidates echo the sentiment of the grassroots that Speaker Boehner has nothing but a track record of failed leadership and missed opportunities since taking the gavel in 2011. His unwillingness to use the power of the purse to reign in Obama in addition to his broken promises that he gave in 2012 to use of ‘Regular Order’ and the Hastert Rule are primary reasons that leave him vulnerable to a challenge…

…Will the Arizona Republican Delegation join Rep. Thomas Massie and Oklahoma Republican Jim Bridenstine and side with the Conservative base? Or will they side with the ineffective, inept, and complicit GOP leadership? Arizona voters will find out Tuesday when Congress votes — until then, give them a call or a tweet and make your voice heard.

Rep. Gosar Contact info – (928) 445-1683/(202) 225-2315 | Gosar’s Twitter Account
Rep. Franks Contact info – (623) 776-7911/(202) 225-4576 | Franks’ Twitter Account
Rep. Schweikert Contact info – (480) 946-2411/(202) 225-2190 | Schweikert’s Twitter Account
Rep. Salmon Contact info – (202) 225-2635/(480) 699-8239 |Salmon’s Twitter Account

Note: the primary Hashtag on Twitter is #FireBoehner

I’m fairly confident that Speaker Boehner will retain his current position. Which, as much as I dislike him is a good thing, considering:

To help launch Tea Party Unity, Scarborough had a conference call with Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), who said he opposed gun control laws because it would be like limiting marriage partners, gay marriage or sex with animals (audio below), reports RightWingWatch.org.

“In fact, I had this discussion with some wonderful, caring Democrats earlier this week on the issue of, well, they said ‘Surely you could agree to limit the number of rounds in a magazine, couldn’t you? How would that be problematic,’” said Rep. Gohmert.

“And I pointed out, well, once you make it ten, then why would you draw the line at ten? What’s wrong with nine? Or eleven? And the problem is once you draw that limit, it’s kind of like marriage when you say it’s not a man and a woman any more, then why not have three men and one woman, or four women and one man, or why not somebody has a love for an animal?”

“There is no clear place to draw the line once you eliminate the traditional marriage and it’s the same once you start putting limits on what guns can be used, then it’s just really easy to have laws that make them all illegal,” concluded Rep. Gohmert.

I’m kind of in awe of the infinite levels of stupidity in that. But do call your Reps, AZ right wingers. If Gohmert should manage to pull it off, I and other liberal scribes will have an abundance of material for the next two years. Do it!

*This post is not from SA per se, but from an outfit called ArizonaInfomer.com, whose

…focus is to call out bias and activism by the local media, monitor Arizona’s institutional left, hold Republicans accountable, and reclaim our rightful place in pop culture. It’s our primary mission to inform Arizonans with the Truth and amplify the voice of Arizona Citizen Journalists — all with a heavy dose of snark. We are factually correct and politically incorrect. #War

I’m just going to say that if you announce your intention to “monitor” anyone and also to “reclaim our rightful place in pop culture”, the likelihood that your “snark” lands the zingy punch you intend is not high. And I am not even someone who finds every conservative I meet to be a crashing, ass-clenching bore with frightening tendencies. Lighten up, guys!

I guess you could say Jeffrey Epstein was being a Job Creator™

03 Jan 2015 09:00 am
Posted by: Donna

Photo: Telegraph UK

Our betters in action:

Britain’s Prince Andrew allegedly lobbied the U.S. government to go easy on an American billionaire the FBI was investigating for holding sex slaves he allegedly shared with the prince and “many other powerful men,” according to claims in a court document obtained by RadarOnline.com.

Four women who allege they were Jeffrey Epstein’s sex slaves are suing the federal prosecutors for not conferring with them before reaching “a secret non-prosecution agreement” with the Wall Street money manager.

Instead of possible life sentences over human trafficking allegations, which included claims he shared teen sex slaves with his rich and powerful friends, Epstein was allowed to plead guilty to a far lesser state sex charge that sent him to a Florida prison for just 13 months.

Here is the line that most stands out for me among the explosive allegations that have emerged:

But the uproar over “The Prince and The Perv”—as the British headlines screamed—mysteriously drowned in the Mid-Atlantic. New Yorkers barely batted an eye about the scandal-mongering across the pond. “A jail sentence doesn’t matter anymore,” says David Patrick Columbia, founder of New York Social Diary. “The only thing that gets you shunned in New York society is poverty.”

Remarkable that this was taken more seriously in a country with a monarchy than in the ostensibly “classless” United States but there you have it.

Let me stipulate to some things here: Scumbags who sexually prey on underage people are found at all socio-economic levels. From the age of eleven or so throughout my teens I was approached and propositioned by a diverse array of grown-ass men who either knew exactly how old I was or who could easily guess. And I am not an outlier in that. Many, if not most, women can recount similar experiences. So it’s not just rich men who are guilty of this. But it is incredibly odious how rich men are protected and encouraged in their sense of entitlement* to the bodies of young people (or anyone else, really), whether or not it is morally and legally acceptable for them to have that.

I further stipulate that women are sometimes sexual predators too, though I’m not aware of any getting away with it to the extent that so many powerful men have. Finally, I acknowledge that Epstein was a good friend of Bill Clinton’s (before the former President quietly withdrew that). It is no surprise to me that rapist scumbags can have liberal leanings, either genuine or strategic.

I joked on Twitter that Jeffrey Epstein personifies why we should start confiscating obscene wealth. I was really only half kidding and if you’ve been reading my friend Bob Lord’s many posts on income inequality and how it threatens democracy, then you should understand what that means for real people. Income inequality isn’t merely line graphs and Piketty citations. It is a crushing force that exacerbates human trafficking and sexual exploitation. It leads to more dehumanization and enslavement of people considered disposable (because they are poor) while rich shitbags like Jeffrey Epstein become more and more untouchable. Unfettered, unregulated capitalism is far from the realization of the bold dreams of Randian** heroes. It is far more often a refuge and cultivating environment for the worst kind of people in the world.

*Seriously, your typical seventeen year old has no personal desire to give “sensual massages” to men in their fifties. Ew.

**Well, actually, things did often get rape-y in Ayn Rand novels.

Don’t mistake McCain getting revenge for moderation of the AZ GOP

31 Dec 2014 04:55 pm
Posted by: Donna

Politico reported that Sen. John McCain is purging the Arizona Republican Party of his ardent detractors.

Nearly a year ago, tea party agitators in Arizona managed to get John McCain censured by his own state party. Now, he’s getting his revenge.

As the longtime Republican senator lays the groundwork for a likely 2016 reelection bid, his political team is engaging in an aggressive and systematic campaign to reshape the state GOP apparatus by ridding it of conservative firebrands and replacing them with steadfast allies.

The ambitious effort — detailed to POLITICO by nearly a dozen McCain operatives, donors, and friends — has stretched from office buildings in Alexandria, Virginia, where strategists plotted and fundraisers collected cash for a super PAC, to Vietnamese-American communities across Arizona, where recruiters sought out supporters eager to help the incumbent defeat the tea party.

Team McCain’s goal? Unseat conservative activists who hold obscure, but influential, local party offices.

The reaction I’m seeing to this news ranges from delighted anticipation (on the part of AZ lefties) to misplaced optimism that a new era of moderate Republican unicorns and rainbows is upon us. I’m sorry to break it to everyone but this move on McCain’s part, which cost an eye-popping $300K to pull off, is nothing more than John McCain (who is known for being vindictive) punishing the activists who censured him and staving off a potential primary challenge in 2016.

Even the fact that 50 Vietnamese-Americans won precinct committee spots is not a reason to expect a saner Arizona Republican Party. If most of those new PCs are non-radicals they will quickly become uncomfortable in the cesspool of super-charged racism that is the AZ GOP. On the other hand, it’s as likely as not that a lot of those Vietnamese-American Republican activists are radical right wingers themselves. Reactionary authoritarians exist in every group.

My characterization of the 21st century GOP as primarily a white supremacist party often makes Republicans I know angry but, too bad, it’s true. And if my pointing that out makes you more upset than, for example, the Speaker of the House and GOP Majority leader supporting Steve Scalise does, then I don’t really know what to tell you. That’s a level of denial that I cannot fathom. As is the delusion that this John McCain ego avenging exercise is aimed at moderating the AZ GOP.

Also, too, post-Citizens United elections are a completely different animal than before, with massive amounts of national money flowing into states to support favored candidates. This is particularly on the GOP side in Arizona. Both major parties have seen their power wane but this is especially true with the GOP. John McCain does not need the party infrastructure to win and neither do most of the other Republican pols here.

Oh, and that candidate for MCRC Chair that McCain is supporting? She listed her Tea Party credentials right on her CV when she ran for the spot in 2012 so I wouldn’t expect too much moderation if she is elected.

Why we can’t have legal weed right now. Because they’re anti-choicers.

30 Dec 2014 06:00 am
Posted by: Donna

Per Howie Fischer:

He admits the plan is a political longshot.

But Rep. Mark Cardenas, D-Phoenix, hopes to convince colleagues to approve legalizing marijuana for recreational use by adults, if for no other reason than the alternative is having voters adopt their own plan. And if that happens, that locks lawmakers out of the process entirely.

His legislation, HB 2007, would make it legal for those 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of the drug…

…What might fare better is Cardenas’ backup plan: HB 2006 would decriminalize possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, imposing a civil penalty of no more than $100.

Now, possession of any amount is a felony, meaning more than a year in state prison.

But these are usually handled as misdemeanors. And a 1996 voter-approved law generally precludes incarceration for first and second offenses.

“I’m willing to look at that,” Farnsworth said. But he said any decision whether to even grant that a hearing depends on whether police and prosecutors believe such a change will impair their anti-drug efforts.

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, a big anti-pot crusader, told Fischer that he opposed any effort to loosen the ban on MJ and waved away the possibility of criminal penalties under existing state law.

“Given that no one faces a felony sanction unless or until their criminal history calls for it, this is another solution looking for a problem,” Montgomery said.

That’s actually not true, as Ray Stern of the Phoenix New Times noted on Facebook: “In fact, Bill’s prosecuting an 18 y.o. college student for felony marijuana possession of one-third of a gram of marijuana, and he should know it because I’ve asked him about that case. The student has no criminal history that causes him to face this felony sanction — the student simply did not take the deferred prosecution terms that Bill’s office offered him in order to forego felony prosecution. He didn’t take the deferred prosecution because he believe he shouldn’t be prosecuted at all, and Bill’s answer to that is to continue to press felony charges. So, Bill, do you know what you said here isn’t true?”

Montgomery’s double-speak on the criminality of pot possession in Arizona is simply another illustration of how the anti-pot crusade is basically an anti-choice movement. When Montgomery is on TV arguing against legal marijuana, medicinal or recreational, he reminds me very much of Rick Santorum railing against the evils of birth control. In both cases, someone (and we’re talking the wrong kind of someone) might be having a good time and, of course, authoritarians of all stripes (many of which overlap) become unglued at that prospect. Their imaginations are sent into this big, hot, teeming swirl of sluts and hippies and minorities doing very bad things to bring about the downfall of virtue and order!

Montgomery is behaving exactly the way that anti-abortion/contraception activists do when he insists that “no one” faces a felony under Arizona’s pot ban. He is pitching his rhetoric straight at the kind of people, i.e. white and affluent, who truly don’t have a fear in the world of being railroaded into a felony charge for having a joint or two in their possession. But the reality is that marijuana criminalization often leads to stiff charges and long sentences for people who don’t possess the privileges and resources to avoid them. Similarly, anti-abortion/contraception activists pretend that their favored policies will “save babies” and “protect women” but get very testy and evasive when asked about how they might lead to prosecutions of women.

Yet anti-choice activism has inevitably led to prosecutions of women for bad pregnancy outcomes and to never-ending attempts to restrict contraception. Again, none of which is likely to discomfort rich white people in any meaningful way. That’s the key thing about these right wing authoritarian incursions on people’s rights and *gasp* possibility of having fun. Pleasure is strictly for Our Betters™. It leaves me amazed that Prohibition was ever ended. Booze must have some pull upon rich white men that nothing else, including sex, does.

Ducey’s “incremental” pursuit of Brownback’s policy is still a load of hooey

29 Dec 2014 07:00 am
Posted by: Donna

Kimber Lanning, founder and executive director of Local First Arizona, delivered a fairly thorough smackdown to Robert Robb’s AZ Republic column whining that the Buy Local movement is a bunch of hooey.

Republic columnist Robert Robb is tired of hearing about the “buy local” movement and would like Arizonans to turn a blind eye to the economy and simply shop wherever they feel most satisfied. (“Shop where you want, guilt-free,” Dec. 19)

He claims the local movement is “hooey,” yet unabashedly has no statistics to back this. He just wants you, dear citizens, to throw the concept out the window.

In his article, Robb questions the countless economic studies released since 2002 but does not offer any substantive reasons for the questioning. Instead of following Robb’s simplistic calculations, let’s turn to the professional economists who back these studies, which have all concluded that an average of $30 more out of every $100 spent will stay in the local economy when money is spent with a local company versus a non-local corporate entity.

A Civic Economics study from 2007 showed the state of Arizona’s then-$5 million contract with OfficeMax was causing the state to lose $500,000 per year in economic leakage.

Definitely read the whole op-ed, since Lanning makes a solid case, bolstered with plenty of stats, for choosing local merchants over national chains whenever possible. I especially appreciated her calling out Robb for tossing out a context-free bit of frippery – “economies of scale” – to make himself look so very chin-stroking and serious.

Economies of scale only work in a free-market society, which we are not. Our food is subsidized — consider 80 percent of all farm-bill dollars since 1995 went to the largest 10 percent of America’s farms for commodity crops, which is why processed fast food is so cheap.

Our oil is subsidized, our biggest banks are subsidized, and even chain stores are subsidized — all using taxpayer money. To believe in free markets in the U.S. today is like believing in the tooth fairy. Americans actually have forgotten how the economy works and have no tools to measure the true costs — human, social or environmental — of doing business. To suggest that we shouldn’t care about these costs is shortsighted and reckless.

Boom. If anyone is spewing hooey, it is certainly not the Local First people.

Lanning’s piece put me in mind of this recent Politico one about certain Republican governors and their fraught association with Kansas Governor Sam Brownback.

“It’s a major turnaround from two years ago, when Brownback was considered a Republican trailblazer for conservatives around the nation who dreamed of phasing out their state income tax.

Now, Republicans are rethinking how aggressive they can be on taxes in light of the projected $279 million revenue gap that’s plaguing Kansas this year — shortfalls that resulted in the state’s credit rating being downgraded and nearly booted the Republican from office in a state that bleeds red.

Of course, Republicans aren’t ditching supply-side economic theory or tax cuts. But they’re considering ways to avoid Kansas’ troubles. Their takeaways include smaller cuts over extended periods of time, stopgaps to protect revenues — and avoiding overpromising.

It’s making for an odd dynamic in which some Republicans now proudly say their tax plans will be “incremental” or “evolutionary” instead of “revolutionary.”

Of course they’re not going to ditch their beloved religion, any more than Bob Robb is going to stop worshiping Walmart (or supply-side economics, since he loves that too). What they are going to do is continue to press for their favored policies in such a way that the older white people whose votes they need won’t notice them too much. They’ll do it incrementally, and with lots of dazzling and smart-sounding bullshit like “economies of scale”.

An Arizona Republican close to GOP Gov.-elect Doug Ducey, who wants to make serious changes to the state’s Tax Code, said they’ll communicate more realistically than Brownback: Though they think tax cuts grow the economy, “we have never said decreasing taxes would increase state revenue.”

That’s a neat formulation that ignores the middle part that the supply siders have touted for decades – that tax cuts lead to wondrous growth, which in turn leads to increased state revenues – which has not actually happened. (The whole thing is a farce since, if tax increases really led to decreased government revenue, then wouldn’t Grover Norquist et al be demanding non-stop tax increases so as to hasten the day of the glorious drowning of the government in the bathtub? Hmm?)

That which will propel Doug Ducey’s administration toward their incremental pursuit of Sam Brownback’s temporarily thwarted utopia will undoubtedly include notions of “job creators” and “personal responsibility” and “accountability”, plus some really fancy-seeming things like “Laffer’s Curve” (it’s like Robb’s “economies of scale”, except it has some guy’s name on it. Fancier!). Arizona conservatives have a lot of chin stroking and seriousness to catch up on, now that Governor 17 Seconds is leaving. None of which, I promise you, will be anything but hooey. None of them bothering to show their work.

A Phoenix woman hands her baby to a stranger. You won’t believe what happens next!

22 Dec 2014 06:00 am
Posted by: Donna

This story leads off with the anchor being shocked (!) and the reporter, on location in the Sunnyslope area of Phoenix, holding up a flyer for a missing dog. He acts incredulous that people would be looking for a dog, when a woman apparently abandoned her baby to a stranger in the same neighborhood. The woman, Jennifer Argo, who had the baby handed off to her is indignant about it. “She makes me sick. Uh, I mean, I’m a mother of three! You know, I just could never imagine handing my child off to somebody and saying, ‘here’.”

I’m not about to disparage Jennifer Argo, who called emergency responders and cared for the baby, and I’m not going to take too much time chastising the anchor and reporter, both of whom said some frankly inane things, either. I do want to point out that motherhood is not always the most sublime and perfect experience for all women, one that instantaneously transforms all women who do it into heroic, altruistic saints possessed of the exact knowledge necessary to deal with whatever life is throwing their and their children’s way, no matter how horrible. Of all the myths in all of humanity, the one about the Valiant Mother Who Rises Above All Travails is perhaps the most pernicious and wrong. The father of the baby says he was treating their home for insects when the mother ran off. You, if you are lucky enough to not be living in a home infested with them, can only imagine how awful that might be, particularly if you are dealing with a mental illness and a newborn baby.

I do want to express appreciation for the police officers who, upon finding the family of the abandoned baby, recognized that the woman was in mental distress. Rather than arresting her, which is what is (sadly) what I’ve grown to expect to happen in these cases, they took her to have a mental health evaluation. My hope is that it will lead to a meaningful plan to address this family’s problems. Of course, it would be nice to have a state legislature in Arizona where the majority of its members were at least as committed to ensuring that families would be able to raise babies in some semblance of stability and comfort as the current GOP majority is committed to forcing poor women to give birth to babies, come hell or high water.