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Democratic Diva

Stunning election result in Phoenix

14 Mar 2017 11:12 pm
Posted by: Donna

phx 3

God, I hope this is a harbinger of the future.

Apparently there is no problem caused by Republicans that cannot be solved by adding more Republicans

14 Mar 2017 12:22 am
Posted by: Donna

margaret sullivan
Margaret Sullivan

I like Margaret Sullivan and think she did a solid and thoughtful job as NYT’s Public Editor when she was in the position. Now she’s at the Washington Post as a media columnist and her latest on fake news and Trump supporters makes a decent observation about how the false info spreads and morphs into voter perceptions that are often completely bonkers but understandable at the same time:

As right-wing sites concentrated during the campaign on immigration stories — often with exaggerated or false claims about the dangers of refugees and immigrants — they also endlessly attacked Hillary Clinton over Benghazi and her use of a private email server.

These sites often traffic in “decontextualized truths, repeated falsehoods, and leaps of logic to create a fundamentally misleading view of the world,” the report said.

This brings to mind a Trump voter I met in northeast Pennsylvania who took right-wing talking points and put them in a blender. She told me she couldn’t trust Clinton because “I didn’t like how she stole those emails and it got people killed in Benghazi.”

This tainted media sphere not only set the conservative media agenda, “but also strongly influenced the broader media agenda, in particular coverage of Hillary Clinton.”

Oh true that, Margaret! Mainstream media ran with those right wing attacks as well, but were careful not to go to far. Pundits like Chris Cillizza and Andrea Mitchell knew they’d look like doofuses going full Benghazi but other bogus allegations against Hillary Clinton were blandly vague enough for them to Very Seriously furrow their brows and make frowny faces over them a lot. Hence “emails” being in heavy rotation and since most media people didn’t understand the technical details of what they were reporting and couldn’t explain it properly, voters filled in their own blanks.

It was, with noteworthy exceptions (like David Farenthold of WaPo) an election of stunning journalistic malpractice, as everyone from lowly bloggers like myself to media experts have pointed out. It was gratifying to see someone like Margaret Sullivan grasp it.

Sadly, instead of coming to the logically obvious solution of “never listen to Republicans ever again”, Sullivan prefers a different course:

There’s another way that the traditional press has allowed right-wing media to flourish — by moving too far to the left itself.

Mainstream newsrooms were once much more ideologically diverse, said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute.

“The best data out there shows that there are fewer Republicans working in traditional newsrooms and news generally than there used to be,” he told me.

Many people have been criticizing the lack of diversity in newsrooms, but they mean gender, race, and other identities typically excluded from high profile positions in print and broadcast media. But nope, Sullivan is more concerned with ideological diversity, which presumably means a newsroom predominately white, male, urban, and Ivy League educated would be fine so long as there were balance in political affiliations.

And I can’t fathom how Sullivan (and I’ve seen others in prominent media positions make this argument) can look at the problem of bad, fake, misleading information flooding the internet and airwaves and say, “this clearly calls for more Republicans!” The Arizona Republic and local news stations here in Phoenix are chock full of Republican or right leaning reporters and I haven’t noticed it doing much to tamp down the fake news, conspiracy theories, and downright goofy beliefs that proliferate around here. This appears to be another iteration of the impossible-to-kill Magical Moderate Republican Unicorn myth.

Sullivan also cites some flimsy evidence for her claim newsrooms were biased toward the Democrat in the 2016 election:

Pope puts it more bluntly, referring to the “unarguable partisanship” he saw from some mainstream journalists as Nov. 8 neared, evident especially on social media. Favoring Clinton, they not only mocked Trump but also were unable to fathom that he might win.

Most people thought Clinton would win and reporters acting as such, and mocking Trump as the self-evident buffoon he is, in no way means they were remotely pro-Clinton in their coverage at any point up to the election. It was quite the opposite!

Pope now sees “a huge corrective” underway, as journalists dig in, providing meaty accountability coverage of Trump and spending more time listening to Trump’s core of voters.

Oh, as opposed to before the election when the MSM was laser-focused on Clinton vot….ha ha, no. It was pretty much all Trump voters all the time then too. Nevertheless, “more Republicans” is the go-to solution here.

AZ Rep. David Stringer thinks teachers have it too easy

09 Mar 2017 02:14 pm
Posted by: Donna

David-Stringer-About-300x300Photo: Springer campaign website

I saw a text message this afternoon by someone who was at the monthly Arizona Business and Education Coalition luncheon at the State Capitol. According to the attendee, Rep. David Stringer (R-Yavapai County) addressed the group (which includes many educators) and told them that it doesn’t take a certain skill set to be a teacher and that teaching itself is an easy part-time job with two months off per year. (That is from the text so obviously a paraphrase.)

UPDATE: Here is the redacted text.

redacted abec

This is not an uncommon view among conservatives pursuing their quest to “reform” public education. Some have even attempted scientific justifications for underpaying teachers, claiming people (read:women) who choose the profession do so because they are less intelligent.

While it’s certain much of the right wing war on public education is driven by money and the desire to push their ideology on impressionable young minds, a large factor is still plain old sexism. They, and frankly too many people who are not so right wing, view teaching as care work done primarily by women on behalf of children, therefore work that women should just be doing free or for as close to it as possible.

At any rate, Rep. Stringer can be reached at (602) 926-4838 if you’d like some clarification on that remark.

Arizona Republicans have always been at war with Eastasia and have always loved full-day Kindergarten

06 Mar 2017 03:23 pm
Posted by: Donna

More than a decade ago I challenged then Arizona Senator John Huppenthal (R) in what is now District 18 (Ahwatukee/Chandler) for his seat. One of the hotly contested issues of the 2006 midterm was then-Governor Napolitano’s proposal to fund full-day Kindergarten for all public schools. Proponents of full-day K had a wealth of research backing them while their foremost opposition came in the form of one John Huppenthal, who repeatedly, and erroneously, cited a longitudinal study to bolster his view.

Former Senator and Superintendent of Public Instruction Huppenthal wasn’t alone among Republicans in opposing full-day K back then and he isn’t now. Here’s current Senator Steve Smith (R-Pinal County) a mere month ago suggesting parents (read: mothers) use it to shirk their child-rearing duties on the taxpayers’ dime:

Because there are no learning standards past the required 2 1/2 hours, not all schools set high academic expectations, said state Sen. Steve Smith, a Republican from Pima County. He said some constituents who paid for full-day kindergarten were unhappy.

“They played games. It was effectively babysitting time,” Smith said. “They did not have the same teacher as they did the first half of the day.”

“For me as a parent, to want to put my child in all-day K, there had to be some sort of actual achievement and learning going on the second half of the day,” Smith said.

But these attitudes have, for the time being at least, been flushed down the AZ Republican Caucus memory hole. Behold this email sent by Republican Representative Regina Hobb (Kingman) to her colleagues:

Dear Colleagues,

Last week in the Arizona Capitol Times I read a great article written by Julia Meyerson, the founder and principal of Vista College Prep, a high-performing K-5 elementary school located just south of downtown Phoenix. Vista College Prep was recently highlighted by “A for Arizona,” a project of the Arizona Chamber Foundation in partnership with the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, as a “fantastic model closing the achievement gap and dedicated to serving more students each year through growth and replication.”

Below is a link to the entire guest editorial from the Arizona Capitol Times in support of Governor Ducey’s efforts:

http://azcapitoltimes.com/ news/2017/03/02/full-day- kindergarten-expansion- essential-to-arizonas- educational-success/

In her piece Julia shares, “the foundation for our success begins in kindergarten. We have committed to operating a full-day kindergarten program because the data tells us that a full day of kindergarten, especially in low-income communities, is essential. This commitment has only been made possible through substantial grant funding and generous donations. Without an increase in funding for full-day kindergarten, not only does sustainability and the ability to replicate continue to be a challenging proposition for us, but it gives schools the option to opt out of making kindergarten a designated, and fully funded grade.”

Julia’s comments are spot on, as is Governor Ducey’s commitment to early childhood literacy, and I look forward to working with you and supporting his efforts!

Gina Cobb

District 5

Don’t believe your lying eyes, ears, and memory. They’ve always loved full-day K.

Why doesn’t Governor Ducey want reporters to ask about charter schools?

02 Mar 2017 05:21 pm
Posted by: Donna

It is 5pm Thursday evening as I type this and #CharterSchoolsAtTheCapitol is the 4th trending topic on Phoenix twitter right now, referring to an event held today with the Governor and people who run charter schools. My guess is the overall theme of the event was, uh, charter schools are great. And that probably being the case, I’m sure the Governor and his staff didn’t want nosy reporters around asking their poky questions such as “Why don’t charter schools have to comply with the same standards as traditional public ones?” and whatnot.

Matt Benson, Ducey’s spokesman (CORRECTION: Matt is not the Governor’s spokesman, he is the Director of lobbying firm Veridus, of which the Arizona Charter Schools Association is a client) attempted to deny that media were barred from the event in a response to Brahm Resnik, to which Brahm was all “nope”.

I’m sure Matt is telling the truth that “media” were there. Like the “Charters Schools 4 Life Gazette” or similar. Maybe Center for Arizona Policy (big proponents of “school choice” and getting tax dollars for religious schools) sent someone over there who will do a breezy write-up about it in this week’s Five Minutes for Families newsletter. But no actual reporters from mainstream news outlets, at least not per the press advisory (Editor’s note: Matt Benson tweeted me that mainstream media such as KTAR and Capitol Media Service’s Howie Fischer were present. Still doesn’t explain the Governor’s press advisory.)

Obviously whoever was in charge of promoting this on Twitter did their job well but it’s hard to tell if this was a big success with the public or not. One thing is clear though: Ducey is a master propagandist. Almost daily now there’s a puff piece on the local news that’s basically the anchor reading a press release about how the Governor personally saved a bunch of adorable puppies or whatever. His PR team is almost as good as Joe Arpaio’s was.

Democrats, lacking Ducey’s access, have no power to replicate that at this time but we need to be pushing back on it, hard. Truthfully, I don’t know what the strategy should be but I’ll certainly be calling it out when he’s propagandizing and shutting the press and public out.

Listen to a sensible moderate centrist Republican Arizona State Senator say a totally non-wingnutty thing in a committee!

01 Mar 2017 06:03 pm
Posted by: Donna

Remember these paragons of civility?

Big hat tip to the friend who works on Arizona legislative matters who tipped me off to this. The Senate Transportation and Technology Committee was discussing HB2324, a noncontroversial bill that would exempt Purple Heart recipients and their spouses from vehicle registration fees. After some hashing out of minor details of the bill by other members of the committee, my own State Senator Kate Brophy McGee (R-North Phoenix), whose carefully-crafted image of bland moderation plays very well in this swing district and has been fully lapped up by the local press (she’s pretty much the gold standard of “moderate Republican” in news reporting around here), had something really outstandingly sensible and centrist and civil to say about Vietnam veteran and former Senator and Secretary of State John Kerry.

I used to be able to make clips easily of these videos but they seem to have changed the system so to see Brophy McGee’s truly excellent comment about Kerry, if this link to the video doesn’t automatically take you there, click on the bill number and then scooch forward to about the 64:00 mark.

I don’t quite know how to ask this, but there are Purple Hearts and then there are Purple Hearts. So if I’m reading this correctly, it’s not just having a Purple Heart but also a 100% disability? So, in other words – not to inflame (inaudible) – if you have a John Kerry Purple Heart, as an example. Is someone like my friend’s grandson who lost both legs and arm and has a modified vehicle – he has a Purple Heart too.

Giving the game away there a little too much, Senator. And not only that, it looks to me like she feigned ignorance deliberately so she could make that John Kerry crack. The existing statute already provides the exemption to persons receiving 100% veterans’ disability benefits. The bill adds an additional provision for Purple Heart recipients, who have been awarded for injuries sustained in the line of duty, with no consideration for how high a disability rating they received upon leaving the service. It requires no particular expertise in reading legislation to see this in the bill itself.

I’d like to see Brophy McGee say to John Kerry’s face what she thinks of his Purple Heart.

Republicans have their tweeting assignments for the SOTU

28 Feb 2017 04:54 pm
Posted by: Donna

The text of the draft is small so here’s what Republicans should be tweeting in Arizona, just fyi.

Arizonans have seen #Obamacare premiums skyrocket by 116% in 2017. Excited for @GOP reforms from POTUS!

Justifying repealing the ACA due to increases in premium rates is, as Salon writer Bob Cesca put it, like wanting to ban gas stations because the price of gas went up. When you see GOP operatives tweeting misinformation about the health care law, Bob’s piece I linked is a good source for debunking it. Losing the ACA will endanger the lives of untold numbers of Arizonans, including some of our most vulnerable residents, whom the “pro-life” Republican politicians here constantly and piously insist they want to protect and cherish.