Clean Elections could not possibly have caused SB1062

19 Mar 2014 03:08 pm
Posted by: Donna

This FiveThrirtyEight piece has been getting passed around by both opponents of Clean Elections operating in bad faith and by well-meaning people who think it’s legitimate because it’s on Nate Silver’s site.

In 2010, Arizona enacted an immigration law so stringent that the U.S. Supreme Court was forced to intervene. Four years later, the governor had to veto a nearly successful effort to allow businesses to deny service to, among others, LGBT people. After that measure failed, the Arizona House of Representatives last month passed a bill meant to increase scrutiny of abortion clinics.

These bills are coming from lawmakers who’ve assembled the most conservative state legislature in the country. That’s according to Princeton University’s Nolan McCarty and University of Chicago’s Boris Shor, who tracked the ideology of state legislatures over the past 20 years and found that Arizona’s lawmakers are more conservative than those in Georgia, Mississippi and Texas. Modern, tea-party Republicanism has found no more accommodating home than the Arizona statehouse…

…Given all that, why do these hyper-conservative state legislators keep getting elected? Because the Arizona electoral system allows for extreme candidates to compete on an equal playing field with their more moderate competitors.2

Arizona has one of the most advanced clean election laws in the country. As long as a candidate for the state legislature reaches a minimum fundraising level ($1,250), the state essentially funds her campaign.3 (Only Connecticut and Maine have similar laws on public financing for state legislature candidates.) That allows candidates to stay viable even if they don’t have connections to the state party or local business leaders.

This is the perfect formula for the tea party to take on the GOP establishment. Imagine a tea partyer who doesn’t owe anything to established business interests in her district — that’s the kind of state legislator who might support a “religious freedom” law even if businesses are hurt by it. Indeed, a study by Harvard University’s Andrew Hall and a separate study by the University of Denver’s Seth Masket and the University of Illinois’s Michael Miller both show that clean election laws lead to more extreme candidates.

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The “Managerial Republican” is mostly a fantasy

17 Mar 2014 05:00 pm
Posted by: Donna

I will say that Ronald Brownstein’s recent column in the National Journal is a bit better than what we’ve been getting lately from the hordes of DC pundits attempting to analyze Arizona. In particular, I liked this bit at the end:

After Arizona’s tax revenues plummeted with the housing market collapse, Brewer backed a temporary 1-cent sales-tax increase to limit spending cuts. But even so, since 2008, the GOP majority’s commitment to squeezing government has produced the nation’s third-largest reduction in per-student K-12 spending; the largest percentage reduction in per-student support for public higher education; and the biggest public tuition hikes. No other choices capture as starkly the contrasting priorities of a ruling GOP coalition that still receives almost all of its votes from whites (many older, rural, and exurban) and a minority population that now represents the clear majority of students in Arizona’s public schools.

It’s refreshing to see a conservative admit outright that Arizona Republicans have slashed public education funding (instead of doing the Goldwater Institute song and dance about how the schools are really funded quite generously if you look at all these charts and squint) and that the cuts are ideological and not fiscal in purpose.

Brownstein’s main thesis is that Arizona’s politics operate along fault lines of age and race, with the older whites voting overwhelmingly GOP and the Democratic base being younger and browner. I take no issue with that assessment. What I do dispute is this: (more…)

AZ Speaker of the House doesn’t know the difference between emergency contraception and the abortion pill

16 Mar 2014 05:17 pm
Posted by: Donna

ICYMI, the March 10 Legislative Update on Horizon featured Speaker of the House Andy Tobin (R) and Senate Majority Whip John McComish (R) pontificating on a number of timely topics, one of which was recent abortion legislation. The whole episode is below and at about 7:30 in you can listen to two men – well, three if you include host Ted Simons – opine on the proper restraining of the female chattel as we audaciously insist on making reproductive decisions for ourselves. Watch Senator McComish defend surprise abortion clinic inspections because he and his barber discussed the matter and his barber’s shop is subject to surprise inspections and, by gum, that’s good enough for abortion clinics and their patients too!

Shortly before the 11 minute mark the subject turns to abortion by medication (RU-486), at which time things get really stupid. Rep. Tobin claims that restrictions on prescribing RU-486 are necessary because “some gentleman could get that drug for an underage person as well!” My take on this is that Tobin isn’t deliberately conflating emergency contraception, which can be sold over the counter to anyone, including a man, with the abortion pill, which is a completely different medication that cannot be prescribed to anyone but the patient. I think he’s genuinely confused about it because he’s an ignorant old man who hasn’t bothered to learn a damn thing about how contraception works and that it’s just an ordinary medication and not some dark mysterious witchcraft practiced by women. Plus, learning some facts might interfere with the hours he must spend imagining nubile young girls being seduced by older men. Blecch.

Then McComish weighs in with an insightful comment about how restrictions on abortion drugs don’t burden women because abortion is “a major step” requiring laws that force ladies to “slow down” and “maybe think about it a little bit”.

Ted Simons did push back on Tobin and McComish a bit throughout the segment but did not correct Tobin’s misstatement about RU-486. I’m not of the opinion that men shouldn’t be allowed to say anything about abortion but is it too much to ask that an all-male panel have at least one dudebro on it willing to fact-check?

What part of “illegal” doesn’t Doug MacEachern understand??

13 Mar 2014 04:36 pm
Posted by: Donna

John Junker, the former head of the Fiesta Bowl, was sentenced to 8 months in prison for his role in illegal campaign contributions to Arizona politicians. Which has got to hurt elderly AZ Republic columnist Doug MacEachern, who feels that Junker has suffered enough. Obviously, MacEachern is painfully aware how rich white guys simply cannot catch a break in our criminal justice system. Also, too, Soros.

Not to make small what Junker did, but it needs to be kept in perspective. He directed a big organization and spent some money lavishly. And by most of our tastes, inappropriately sometimes. But big parties and trips to strip clubs have nothing to do with the illegality Junker has acknowledged. And, on the day a guy gets sentenced in court, that should be all that matters. What he did that was illegal. But he never took money for himself.

What he did may have been bad, but he’s not George Soros. He’s not David Koch. And he has been punished already. A lot. There is no point in this man going to prison, and I for one pray he does not.

Yeah, let’s definitely keep some perspective here. If John Junker were Jorge Jimenez from Mesa who got caught with a bag of weed, I’m rather doubtful that MacEachern would be calling for leniency on the basis that Jorge had been “punished enough” after spending time in Arpaio’s gulag.

Conservative women sure get away with being bossy

12 Mar 2014 07:17 pm
Posted by: Donna

Sheryl Sandberg has sparked a healthy debate with the campaign she started aimed at getting people to stop using the word “bossy’ to describe girls. While it may not seem like a big deal at first, when you think about it and look at the evidence, it’s clear that “bossy” is applied to assertive girls far more often than similarly outgoing boys and is really a euphemism for something else. As Amanda Marcotte puts it:

Indeed, “bossy” is a synonym for “bitch”, I’d say. I’m not here to rehash the tired Sandberg debates (nor do I care to debate the bossy nature of the “Ban Bossy” campaign), but I think it’s actually quite brilliant the way she and her people figured out that “bossy” is the training bra version of the word “bitch” or “bitchy”. It’s a way to call someone a “bitch” when she’s still a little kid and using the harsher word seems unseemly.

This #banbossy campaign also reminds me of how some women who are quite aggressive and domineering manage to do very well. I’m speaking, of course, of the many women who have become prominent in the conservative movement, such as Sarah Palin, Ann Coulter, and the godmother of them all, Phyllis Schlafly. These women find lucrative employment with right wing think tanks and publishing houses, as well as the speaking circuit. They preach traditional gender roles for everyone else while personally enjoying the careers and independence that are the fruits of the feminist movement they constantly deride. It’s unbelievably hypocritical but they get away with it – indeed, they’re rewarded for it – because they’re bossing other women (and low status men) around.

Here’s Ann Coulter in action, providing us a perfect example of what I’m talking about, as she extols the virtues of both slut-shaming and bashing poor people:

“The one thing that has really changed besides, I mean you have the government often subsidizing bad behavior, you have Hollywood rewarding bad behavior, but there’s also an overwhelming cultural sense, I think it is a political correctness, to end shaming,” she said Saturday at the Conservative Political Action Conference. “No, shaming is good. It’s almost a cruel and insensitive thing for the upper classes, the educated, the college graduates, to refuse to tell poor people ‘keep your knees together before you get married.’”

I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that the never-married 52 year old Coulter, who grew up affluent and has inhabited cosmopolitan urban environs her whole life, is probably not saving it for marriage. But the gall with which she demands sexual purity from poor people is pretty impressive. I do want to point out that women like Coulter do not escape being targets of misogyny, as you can clearly see from the comments section at the link, which is a cesspool of misogynistic vitriol directed at her (guys, you’re not helping the cause with this). But Coulter will pay no professional penalty for this kind of “bossiness”, since she’s simply reinforcing and perpetuating the will of the powerful men who pay her, and will continue to enjoy a substantial following of right wingers for whom she’s a plucky heroine. (It’s also important to note that Coulter et al, aren’t any nastier than their male counterparts – Limbaugh or O’Reilly for example – in the things they say. It’s just that the usual rules of demure feminine conduct are somewhat suspended for them.)

A similar dynamic is at work with Arizona’s own Cathi Herrod, President of Center for AZ Policy, who has wielded tremendous power over the GOP caucus in the legislature for years, earning the nickname “31st Senator”. Again, here’s a woman who is proudly confident, assertive, and relentless in her pursuit of her agenda. Is she well-liked? No, but she’s certainly been effective. And she wasn’t just tolerated for years by powerful men in Arizona because she directed her efforts mainly at non-powerful people, she was encouraged by them. Who do you think has been funding CAP all these years?

Herrod wasn’t really doing anything out of her norm with SB1062. It was just a little ol’ CAP bill that would allow upstanding, respectable Christians to discriminate against “undesirables”. No biggie! But SB1062 was quashed by the Important People in AZ because they realized that they, personally, might have suffered some consequences. Herrod, a self-described “former liberal feminist”, seems genuinely stunned by what happened. My guess is that at least one of the reasons she started batting for the anti-feminist team was to gain access to power.

They’re none of our Business

11 Mar 2014 12:03 am
Posted by: Donna

The AZ Republic’s Sunday oped was exultant over the business community possibly “getting its mojo back” due to things like the SB1062 veto and the large contributions that Republicans who went with the Medicaid expansion are getting.

Needless to say, they’d have you believe none of what is wrong with Arizona can ever be laid at the feet of business leaders even when the ed board has to admit (grudgingly) that it really is their fault, as in here:

All of which led to the Mother of All Image Nightmares, Senate Bill 1070 and the cascade of international scorn directed our way over the state’s anti-illegal immigrant policies. Business sat on the sidelines, reacting only after it was much too late.

Actually the AZ Chamber cut a deal with then-Senate President Russell Pearce to strip out employer enforcement language and then went silent so the Republicans could use it to win in 2010. That’s not really sitting on the sidelines.

And, then, in February, came the (again, international) uproar over Senate Bill 1062. This time, business energized just in time.

What brought this about? Lots of things. But the waning ability of the business community to ride herd on the ideologues has been a contributing factor.

Business influence waned partly because of campaign-finance laws that brought wagonloads of unexpected, unpleasant consequences.

Arizona’s system of publicly financing campaigns was enacted with the best of intentions: to free candidates from debts to “special interests.” In practice, however, it also freed many of them to indulge their deepest, darkest ideological fantasies. We are bearing witness to what happens when people who make laws act as though they answer to no one.

Oh man, they will not give this up, will they? Not for nothing, though, but how does Cathi Herrod of Center For Arizona Policy, who seems to make a lot of laws in AZ, get her funding? Not from Clean Elections. How about the Goldwater Institute or ALEC? Not exactly private funding all the way, since both groups feed off the public trough to at least some extent, but neither of them get a cent from Clean Elections. Truly amazing how AZ Republic editorials continue to insist that unwashed yokels collecting $5 contributions are ruining everything in Arizona.

In years past, a practical, influential and, yes, self-interested cohort of Arizona business leaders brought a stabilizing influence to the Legislature. For a time, especially after voters approved publicly funded campaign financing in 1998, that leadership went silent. Now, it seems to be returning.

Many of them, including Arizona Chamber of Commerce Glenn Hamer, lobbied the governor to veto SB 1062. Now, Hamer and Greater Phoenix Chamber President Todd Sanders are among the prominent voices at the Capitol fighting ideological purists out to defeat the Common Core education standards.

The courts have helped. The Arizona Supreme Court recently gave the green light to increase allowable campaign contributions. As a result, the Republican lawmakers who bravely broke ranks last year to support Medicaid expansion — which business interests advocated — are dramatically outraising almost all other incumbents at the Legislature.

And business interests are looking more closely at candidates’ records, paying more attention to votes than rhetoric. They’re recruiting challengers.

Business leaders say they have had enough. They are “riled up,” as one put it, and are determined to halt the self-defeating, economic death march toward perceived ideological purity.

Right, they were timid little bunnies until last year. Why, they were practically nonexistent at the State Capitol until the US Supreme Court told them the coast was clear! Now that they can finally(!) show up with their bundles of self-interested-yet-totally-altruistic dollars, everything will be fine now, won’t it? I wouldn’t know. I’m just one of the unwashed yokels.

Ancient Arizona Republic columnist befuddled by diversity

06 Mar 2014 01:51 pm
Posted by: Donna

We can’t bust heads like we used to. But we have our ways. One trick is to tell stories that don’t go anywhere. Like the time I caught the ferry to Shelbyville. I needed a new heel for m’shoe. So I decided to go to Morganville, which is what they called Shelbyville in those days. So I tied an onion to my belt. Which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on ‘em. Gimme five bees for a quarter, you’d say. Now where was I… oh yeah. The important thing was that I had an onion tied to my belt, which was the style at the time. You couldn’t get white onions, because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones…

Grandpa MacEachern is projecting again.

Tea party activists oppose many GOP candidates who fail to match up identically with their priorities on taxes and the growth of federal influence, even if it means losing elections. Democrats are enduring similar schisms between their own party’s self-defined communities.

In terms of those communities, these are sensitive times for state Democrats. State Sen. Leah Landrum Taylor, who is African-American, was ousted as minority leader, prompting accusations of racism. Kate Gallego, who is White, endured much criticism during her successful campaign for the Phoenix City Council District 8 seat, which historically had been held by an African-American.

Obviously, such communities of interest can overlap. Intentionally or not, state Sen. Gallardo expanded his own potential range of support communities when he announced on Wednesday that he is gay.

Gallardo insists his declaration was not politically motivated, but it could strengthen his prospects among District 7’s substantial LGBT community, which has been viewed as a stronghold of Sinema, who is bisexual.

Yes, the rivalries can make your head spin. Such divisions certainly can place notions about the pursuit of the greater good into a finer light.

Doug MacEachern was blunter in his Insiders post on Wednesday:

Racial-gender-sexuality politics are delicate matters by definition. But Arizona Democrats are in turmoil right now and there simply is no avoiding the fact that Democrats, who are fundamentally organized according to racial-gender-sexual identity interest groups, are in serious conflict, if not open political war.

Yeah, speaking of fundamentally organized along race and gender lines:

It is adorable to see a conservative columnist straining to equate what’s going on in CD7, which is nothing more than a typical primary in a Dem-dominated district attracting (shockingly!) a lot of Democrats to run in it, to the Tea Party. Sorry Doug, but the Democratic base has not been astroturfed and radicalized into a hysterical froth over imaginary threats. Liberals and Democrats, by and large, are not white supremacist climate change denying Birthers who fetishize guns and think the UN is plotting against them and that there’s such a thing as “legitimate rape”. That’s your side’s problem.