About that terrible no good Clean Elections board decision on Forese, Little

22 Oct 2014 05:28 pm
Posted by: Donna

I haven’t gotten around to addressing it, what with the marriage equality hoopla and teenage abortion explosions taking place at this very hectic pre-election time, but last week the Clean Elections Commission allowed GOP Corp Comm candidates to walk with an insultingly low fine of $1K each after they admitted to violating Clean Elections law.

Per the AZ Capitol Times:

The commission voted 4-1 to adopt the a settlement, which the candidates proposed just before the commissioners met to discuss commission executive director Tom Collins’ recommendation for a full investigation into the candidates. Tom Collins reported that a staff analysis showed there was reason to believe the two broke campaign finance laws while investigating two complaints filed with the commission by the state Democratic Party.

Here’s the lame explanation Collins gave for the decision:

“The public interest is also served by having these things cleared up,” Collins said Thursday. “Nobody wants campaign finance complaints to be the driving force in elections. Campaigns are about candidates, not campaign-finance law. So when there is an opportunity to reach a reasonable conciliation, our statute expressly calls for that to occur.”

Seriously, dude? Some of us have this weird notion that the public interest is best served by there being consequences for blatantly violating laws governing the use of public funds in an election. Those consequences are spelled out in the Clean Elections statute:

C): Any campaign finance report filed indicating a violation of section 16-941, subsections A or B or section 16-941, subsection C, paragraph 1 involving an amount in excess of ten percent of the sum of the adjusted primary election spending limit and the adjusted general election spending limit for a particular candidate shall result in disqualification of a candidate or forfeiture of office.

That’s some pretty unambiguous language there. I’m not sure why Executive Director Collins that the board members who voted for that paltry fine (paid in monthly installments, no less) are struggling to understand what the whole point of implementing a public campaign financing system in Arizona was. Those rules were put in place so that voters would have confidence that candidates aren’t engaging in fraudulent activity with public money. This sets a really bad precedent since the next candidate who blatantly violates the rules can simply point to the slap on the wrist Forese and Little got and demand the same deal. The Commission has basically declared open season on public campaign funds.

I’m one of the strongest defenders of AZ Clean Elections out there. The reason, as I’ve explained before, is because attacks on our state’s program are intended to end all public campaign financing, everywhere. But the program is not without its flaws, clearly one of which is arbitrary and inconsistent enforcement of violations. Bad call, Clean Elections Commission.

WTF, Laurie Roberts?

21 Oct 2014 08:50 pm
Posted by: Donna

I had long suspected that Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts’ focus on child abuse in her columns is little more than self-serving preening but her latest piece removed all doubt.

Last week, Democrat Fred DuVal told members of a Gilbert church that he believes your 14-year-old daughter should be able to get an abortion without first getting your consent.

DuVal’s comments – to me, at least – were stunning and the most stunning part of the story?

It wasn’t news.

DuVal was appearing at the Redemption Church in Gilbert where Pastor Tom Shrader asked him a series of questions, including this one on the rights of parents when it comes to their teen-age daughters and abortion.

If one were a true champion of abused children, as Roberts claims to be, then it should not be a shock that someone would oppose requiring parental notification and consent for abortion. It should be bleedingly obvious to Laurie Roberts, of all people, why that would be. Yet it isn’t. And Laurie has so many questions!

On Tuesday, I tried to talk with DuVal to clarify. Does he really believe that 14 year olds should be able to get abortions without a parent’s consent?…

…So, DuVal wouldn’t try to change existing law but he doesn’t believe that parents have the right to know that their young daughters are contemplating abortion?…

…On Tuesday, I asked several political editors why. The answers were varied, mostly that they were swamped with the gay-marriage story late last week and that it didn’t seem particularly newsworthy that a pro-choice candidate would oppose parental consent…

…But I wonder if the same editorial decision would have been made had it been Ducey saying that he opposed the state’s opt-out provision – the one that exists for girls who face the very-real threat of a beating if they tell mommy and daddy they want an abortion.

My guess is we’d cover that Ducey story. The fact that we didn’t cover the DuVal story?

I hope I’m wrong, but I’m wondering, does it say more about us than about him?

Man, that’s some weapons-grade pearl clutching there, and not a whole lot of interest in the well-being of the pregnant, scared teens themselves. Maybe Roberts is only interested in babies and small children who are abused. Once they’ve hit puberty and are sexually active, they have it coming I guess? Roberts does finally mention abuse at the end of her piece, using some rather disturbing phrasing – “…girls who face the very-real threat of a beating if they tell mommy and daddy they want an abortion.” Very few teenagers call their parents “mommy and daddy” so I don’t even know what that’s about. Oh, and why might it be covered differently if Ducey publicly opposed allowing girls who fear violence from their families to opt out of the notification/consent requirement? Because that is a monstrous position. I mean, damn, Laurie.

I imagine that it has simply never occurred to Laurie Roberts that the notion of children being the property of parents, which Arizona’s parental consent for abortion law is firmly rooted in, is a major contributing factor to the scourge of child abuse. Incidentally, here is the rationale Americans United for Life, which provides the model anti-choice legislation for the whole country, gives for requiring parental notification for a minor’s abortion:

The [Legislature]’s purposes in enacting this parental notice law are to further the
important and compelling State interests of:
(1) Protecting minors against their own immaturity.
(2) Fostering family unity and preserving the family as a viable social unit.
(3) Protecting the constitutional rights of parents to rear children who are members of
their household.
(4) Reducing teenage pregnancy and abortion.
(5) In light of the foregoing statements of purpose, allowing for judicial bypasses of
parental notification to be made only in exceptional or rare circumstances.

Only no. 1 directly relates to the minors and no. 4 is flat out absurd. Numbers 2, 3, and 5 err heavily on the side of parents and against abused teens.

Cathi Herrod had a very bad day but she’s not going anywhere

17 Oct 2014 04:46 pm
Posted by: Donna

Woe is Cathi Herrod. Behold the President of Center for Arizona Policy’s statement on Friday’s huge marriage equality win for Arizona in all it’s schadenfreude-alicious glory:

Statement from Center for Arizona Policy President Cathi Herrod

Arizona’s marriage amendment which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman has been overturned by the courts.

PHOENIX – “I am heartbroken for a country and a state that has had the redefinition of marriage forced upon them by an out of control federal judiciary.

In what amounts to the de-facto Roe v Wade of marriage, voters throughout the nation have watched their voices be silenced, and their votes voided. Now, Arizona’s marriage amendment and our voters are the latest victims. While the United States Supreme Court may still take up the issue of marriage redefinition, for now the courts have settled the issue in our state.

Today, we grieve. We grieve for the children who now have no chance of growing up with a mom and a dad. We mourn the loss of a culture and its ethical foundation. We mourn a culture that continues to turn its back on timeless principles.

But we do not despair. We do not throw in the towel. We do not give up.

Just as we have worked to build a culture of life, we will focus on rebuilding a culture of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

For more information, contact Aaron Baer, 602.424.2525 or abaer@azpolicy.org

Center for Arizona Policy promotes and defends the foundational values of life, marriage and family, and religious liberty. For more information, visit azpolicy.org.

To which I respond.

Do take note of the language in that, specifically the reference to Roe v Wade and “culture of life”. Herrod was not only signalling that CAP is going to double down abortion restrictions*, but she’s also conveying something that I and other pro-choice activists have been trying to get those, like HRC Arizona, who think they can support anti-choicers like Ethan Orr because he’s “good” on LGBT issues to understand: Cathi Herrod does not see abortion and same sex marriage as wholly distinct issues. Her opposition to both stems from the same mission to force people into rigid patriarchal gender roles and she’ll take whatever gets her closer to that goal. This is why I keep saying that CAP will bring SB1062 back under the auspices of women’s reproduction and we need people to get out there and fight the “Hobby Lobby” bill just as hard as with SB1062. Harder, really, since the business community never cares about anti-women laws. We have to make them care. You can’t delude yourself that you can be cafeteria-style on human rights anymore.

*Her success in any of her endeavors depends greatly on who is elected governor in a few weeks.

Let’s talk about parental notification, shall we?

16 Oct 2014 07:45 pm
Posted by: Donna

“I obviously know more about any 14 year old’s family situation than she does!”

Anti-choicers hold two positions that are broadly popular with the public. One is support for late term bans, as antis have somehow convinced the majority of Americans that women will abort perfectly healthy pregnancies in the sixth to ninth months with alarming frequency unless the law stops them. The other is parental notification, which is one of those things that sounds reasonable if you don’t really think about it much (and most people don’t). So it’s no surprise that Arizona Republican candidate Doug Ducey would end his silence on reproductive rights throughout the general election campaign with an attack on Democratic candidate Fred DuVal over parental notification.

Here’s part of the statement that AZ GOP chair Robert Graham (pictured above) put out about it:

“Mr. DuVal’s position to remove parents from a decision of life and death is completely reckless,” said Pastor Jose Gonzales Q, of Harvest Bible Church. “Regardless of your position on abortion, we cannot possibly leave these types of decisions to developing minds. We are entering an age where parental involvement is increasingly important, but to even suggest that a minor – much less a 14 year-old – can intelligently comprehend the long-term impact of such an action is absurd.”

But that same 14 year old can intelligently comprehend nine months of pregnancy culminating in painful (and often dangerous to a still-growing body) and having to decide whether to parent the child or surrender it for adoption, right Bob? What Graham is referring to is Fred DuVal opposing parental notification laws in an interview. DuVal gave a perfectly fine answer to it, one that was brave considering that he’s running for Governor in a purplish state. DuVal said that requiring her to notify her parents infringes on the right of the pregnant woman to choose. That’s absolutely true but there’s even more wrong – disturbingly wrong – with Arizona’s parental notification law.

Arizona lawmakers were so eager to punish teenage sluts a couple years ago that they passed a law requiring notarized parental consent. Here’s the form that Planned Parenthood provides, which makes it pretty unambiguously clear that the girl (who must be named) is getting an abortion with the permission of her parent or guardian (also named). What medical privacy? The law does stipulate that documents relating to the parental notification are not public records and cannot be disclosed, but the notary public still knows you are getting an abortion, and if don’t trust that person and you live in a gossip-y community, that could be cause for concern. The whole point of the notarization is to humiliate and intimidate young abortion patients and their families. The anti-choice legislators made sure that even girls with the most loving and supportive parents in the world wouldn’t get away with abortion without some mandatory slut-shaming.

And for those unlucky girls who just can’t tell their parents for whatever reason, here’s what they get to go though!

Obtaining Consent for an Abortion
In order to obtain permission for an abortion from a judge, you must visit the Superior Court in the county where you live and file an application (also known as a petition) at the Clerk of the Court’s Office. You will then meet in private with a clerk who is specifically trained in this process.

Once you have completed the application, the clerk can assign a lawyer who will represent you at no charge. The clerk will then take your application to the judge, who may hear your case right away. If that is not possible, a notice of a hearing will be given to you. It will tell you the time and day of your hearing.

During your hearing, the judge will probably ask you some questions to decide if you are mature enough to make the decision to have an abortion yourself or if an abortion would be in your best interest. You may be nervous, but don’t worry, that is normal. Simply answer the judge’s questions honestly. Some questions that might be asked are:

Are you aware of existing alternatives to abortion, including adoption and parenting? How did you make the decision to have an abortion?
Are you aware of how an abortion is done and do you understand the possible medical risks? You may be asked to describe the procedure or the risks to the judge.
Does your partner know that you are pregnant? How does your partner feel about the pregnancy? You are not legally obligated to tell your partner that you are pregnant.
What kind of relationship do you have with your parents? Why are you unwilling or unable to talk to your parents about your pregnancy? What do you believe would happen if you told them? Do you have reason to believe they would react negatively due to something that has happened in the past?
Do you work? If so, where and when do you work, how much money do you make? Do you go to school? If so, are you a good student?
How are you going to pay for the abortion? Do you know what would happen if you had a medical complication? Who would pay for your care?
What are your future plans (school, job, etc.)?
What do you know about birth control? Are you planning to use it in the future?

After the Hearing
After the hearing, the judge will decide whether you may proceed with your abortion. Usually, the judge makes a decision right away, and you are immediately given a written Court Order that tells you what the decision is. If not, the clerk will arrange a way to get the decision to you.

If the judge authorizes you to have an abortion, immediately contact an abortion provider to schedule your appointment.

If the judge refuses to authorize the abortion you may:

Appeal the judge’s decision. Your lawyer can help you decide if this is a good idea in your case. If you did not have a lawyer when you began the process, you will need one for an appeal.
Ask your parents for their consent.

That seems fun, doesn’t it? This is what makes Graham’s pious moralizing all the more nauseating. Neither he nor Doug Ducey give a shit about the well-being of teenage girls. Conservatives are simply freakishly obsessed with imposing sexual “purity” on girls and young women and always dreaming up inventive ways to punish those who don’t conform.

But like I said, parental notification laws are supported by two thirds to three quarters of the population, depending on the survey. This is because it’s one of those subjects that is super-susceptible to “common sense” appeals, such as “but kids can’t get a tattoo without parental approval so why is abortion different?” There’s a simple explanation of why they are different: When parents are notified that their daughter is considering an abortion, they’re not just being notified of the procedure. They’re being notified that she’s pregnant and, more to the point, informed that she has had sex. Maybe not most, but a good percentage of parents do not react well to that, with some becoming violent. A high school friend of mine got beaten bloody when her father learned she was sexually active. In some communities sexually active daughters are disowned by their families. And frankly, we as a society have a lot of collective growing up to do about female sexuality before parental notification ever becomes a good idea.

Of course, that’s not likely to happen when there are right wing prudes in charge who think the threat of a violent father and death from cervical cancer keeps young women chaste. And don’t kid yourselves (looking right at you, Lisa Graham Keegan), Doug Ducey is exactly that kind of reactionary.

UPDATE: Robert Graham and I interacted on Twitter last night:

Doug Ducey’s plan to help poor single mothers is to further subject poor young men to prosecution

16 Oct 2014 11:58 am
Posted by: Donna

The final debate for Arizona Governor between Democrat Fred DuVal and Republican Doug Ducey was held in Scottdale on Tuesday afternoon. It was a debate on “women issues” hosted by various local organizations. Questions about a number of topics ranging from the budget to energy to water were posed to the candidates and it wasn’t until the end when both men were asked questions thought to be specifically pertaining to women. The final question before closing statements was a very good one, about how each would help struggling single mothers in Arizona, many of whom head families living in poverty. (I can’t embed a video but you can view the entire debate here.)

When it was Ducey’s turn, he seemed a bit uncomfortable with the question and launched into his usual empty argle bargle about “growing the economy” But about halfway through he got quite focused and animated as he launched into a rant on “deadbeat dads”, as if he’d just then remembered his debate coaching.

It’s my philosophy that if you are old enough to father a child you are old enough to financially take care of that child and I will use the power of the Governor and law enforcement to garnish those paychecks and make sure those dollars get to those single mothers and there’s some responsibility for these actions.

Now, I realize there are some fathers out there who deliberately shirk their financial support obligations. and that’s a problem, but note Ducey’s formulation here: His comments are aimed directly at young men and his use of the phrase “law enforcement” seems deliberate because who are the young men in our state who regularly face law enforcement? I definitely got the sense that you were supposed to picture certain young men there, if you know what I mean.

The internet is a cesspool of misogynist and MRA garbage where the topic of child support is concerned but it is possible to find clear-eyed, rational treatments of it, such as this NYT piece by Eduardo Porter in which he criticizes an enforcement model that is overly punitive, outmoded, and ineffectual:

For years, policies to help disadvantaged children have been designed to provide as little help as possible to their estranged parents. Mothers benefit from support programs like the earned-income credit and public housing only to the extent that they are caring for children.

Noncustodial fathers have been treated exclusively as sources of cash, subjected to things like wage garnishment or incarceration to enforce child-support orders that can remain in place even when fathers lose their jobs or go to jail, making little allowance for fathers’ ability to pay.

Many don’t. In 2011 some 5.6 million mothers were due child support but only three-quarters of them received any, according to census statistics. Fewer than half received the full amount due. In 2012, the Office of Child Support Enforcement logged 11.5 million cases in arrears, worth a total of $114.6 billion.

Reliable support from fathers can clearly improve the lives of children and their mothers. Still, there are adverse consequences from pursuing it at all costs. Studies suggest that strict enforcement of child support reduces the employment rates of young black men, driving them into crime and the underground economy. And mothers and children often gain little when public assistance is proportionately withdrawn.

Incarceration rates have multiplied by five over the last 35 years. Most of those imprisoned are young black men. More than half have young children. When they get out, their chances of finding a job will be minimal. But their child-support arrears will be waiting.

In Arizona it is likely that poor Latino and Native American young men are the ones disproportionately targeted by harsh child support enforcement. Ducey claims that there is $1 billion in uncollected child support in our state but that figure tells you nothing about how much of that can be pinned directly on irresponsible young men (hanging around the street corner with their sagging pants and rap music, no doubt) willfully withholding payments from the poor single mothers of Arizona. Parents at all income levels can be “deadbeats” but efforts to collect from them, as difficult as they are, are more likely to succeed with noncustodial parents who actually have the means to pay when they are finally made to do that.

Basically, Doug Ducey is engaging in the kind of feel-good “tough” sounding rhetoric that sells well in an election (his “deadbeat dads” remarks were a soundbite on one local news broadcast later in the evening) and appears to be supportive of women. He is not, however, proposing anything meaningful to help single mothers and their families living in poverty in Arizona. Ducey is certainly clueless about how to help poor young men with no prospects.

HRC AZ disappoints with Ethan “Bros Before Hoes” Orr endorsement as news media fawn over his weed announcement

14 Oct 2014 11:55 pm
Posted by: Donna

I learned via good sources on Facebook earlier that the Human Rights Campaign of Arizona has decided to endorse incumbent Ethan Orr (R) along with Dr. Randall Freise (D) for Legislative District 9. It’s bad enough they are snubbing Orr’s seatmate Victoria Steele (D) but they are throwing their support to a guy who has a lousy voting record on human rights issues. (CORRECTION: I have since learned that HRC AZ is endorsing Steele. They picked Orr over Friese.)

I understand that Orr is nominally pro-LGBT rights and, who knows, maybe he has finally come out in support of marriage equality. HRC AZ may be rewarding him for voting against SB1062 (not that it mattered since the bill passed anyway). If that’s the case, I would urge extreme caution about that. Ethan Orr strongly opposes a woman’s right to choose, which should be upsetting enough if you believe that human rights should be a full meal for all, not a cafeteria plan for some. But what that also means is that if/when SB1062 comes back, it will be (as I’ve explained many times) disguised as a “Hobby Lobby”-type measure. They’ll just say the magic word “abortifacients” and Ethan Orr will be on board. Thus, he really cannot be pro-LGBT if he is also anti-choice.

Orr has gotten a mystifying amount of earned media for recently promising to introduce a bill to legalize recreational weed next year. It’s not as if Orr is breaking ground with this because Ruben Gallego introduced something similar last year and debated it publicly with conservative opponents. Hell, I said we should consider legalizing recreational pot at my Clean Elections debate when I was running for state senate back in 2006! (I caught a ration of crap for that, by the way. Ethan Orr has nothing on me!)

It’s unlikely Orr’s weed bill will get anywhere, unless the GOP is seeing strong indications that the planned ballot 2016 initiative on legalizing recreational MJ is going to be gangbusters, in which case he would deserve no credit for it. What offends me about Orr’s posturing about pot legalization, as much as I agree with his position, is how this is yet another way he demonstrates his “moderation” by only supporting personal liberties that could enjoyed by men, and in some case disproportionately so. Orr is all for the gun rights, for the gay rights (supposedly), and (now) for the weed rights. Is he for women’s reproductive rights? Hell no.

Ethan Orr is a cafeteria-style “moderate Republican” who thinks you should give him cookies, and your vote if you’re in his district, for looking out for his bros while kicking dirt on women. This is pure “bros before hoes” libertarian douchewad politics. Just say no to it.

Maybe try having him in dreads and tie-dye next time

13 Oct 2014 03:38 pm
Posted by: Donna

Oh my heavens, the Intellectual Conservative blog has SHOCKING HIDDEN CAMERA FOOTAGE of a nefarious fiend stealing Republican candidates signs!!

Unbelievable. We’ve been told the thief will be prosecuted and has been given a court date. The signs were posted on private property with the consent of the owner. Was the thief a Democrat operative? Or someone connected to one of the opposing candidates?

Let me be clear that this could be footage of an actual sign theft in progress. But you’ll have to forgive me for being a tad skeptical about this little sting operation. How is it they happened to have a camera waiting where those particular signs were and a thief who, oh-so-conveniently, showed up, parked in full view of it, and ran out to snatch the signs? Looking cartoonishly guilty as all hell about it. In broad daylight. On a busy road.

Also, and I’m not saying you can judge everyone’s political affiliation by their appearance, but it has been my experience that young men who look like Skippy McFratbroerson there tend not to be Democratic operatives, or even Democrats. You can find an abundance of said dudebros at Young Republican events, though. So IC Arizona has “been told” the thief has a court date. I’ve been told that we might find the “thief” at the sign-in table at a Michele Reagan fundraiser. Both statements were on the internet so who knows which is true? So many questions!