You’re over two weeks late and a dollar short, AP

08 Sep 2016 02:38 pm
Posted by: Donna

On the evening after the “damning” AP story broke about a supposed pay-to-play scandal with the Clinton Foundation (which has since proven to be bullshit), that had been teased by a fallacious tweet claiming that half of all the people who met with then-Secretary Clinton at State were Foundation donors, I happened to catch the reporting of our local CBS affiliate in Phoenix on it on the 10pm news. Local newscasts typically devote about one minute of coverage to Presidential campaigns and on this night the news anchor basically read AP’s tweet, with the chyron below repeating the same thing. I expect it was the same on the other local newscasts.

So that’s what went out to the 12th largest media market (out of the 100 ranked) and now AP has (finally) issued a correction, after the damage has been done to Secretary Clinton’s “optics” and to a top-rated charitable organization that saves poor people with HIV/AIDS and other devastating diseases.

I got chided the other day by a local print reporter for complaining about the media all the time. I’m not doing it for my health.

Ignorance isn’t independence, or an excuse

06 Sep 2016 11:30 pm
Posted by: Donna

degrasse tyson quote

WaPo‘s David Weigel makes a humorous, though endlessly frustrating (for us politico types), observation about American voters:

It’s not the most original thought experiment, but it’s useful: Imagine a conversation with your past self, or some confused passerby, in 1991. Tell him that in the future, basically everyone will carry a tiny supercomputer at all times. People will wake up with it, run with it, map their destinations with it, order food with it, find hook-up partners with it, blow off partners after the hook-up didn’t go so well. At any moment, wirelessly, they can look up any information by typing in a few words.

Now, imagine explaining to this person that candidates for office put most of their speeches online, along with their entire party platforms. Some candidates would even allow their speeches to be watched live, or saved and watched later, from the tiny supercomputer. Your future self – or whoever – would probably assume that the problem of political ignorance had been cured.

I think about this more and more, because I keep meeting voters who insist, with a sort of hopeless helplessness, that they don’t know “what the candidates stand for.” This past weekend, at the Minnesota State Fair, I kept hearing people campaign that Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump were “mudslinging,” and that this was bad, because they (voters) wanted to hear about the issues…

…Whose fault is that, and whose fault is it swing voters are unsure where Donald Trump stands? Not the media’s — piles and piles of money are spent to get reporters and cameras to the places where candidates deliver policy speeches. Not the candidates’s, though in this particular election Clinton has given exponentially more detail than Trump. (Literally, exponentially. CNN’s Brian Stelter points out that there are 9,000 words about policy on Trump’s campaign site, and more than 100,000 words on Clinton’s.) It’s true that “candidate gives policy speech” is not a story that gets a front page (unless it’s in response to a crisis), and “candidates trade barbs” is. But it is easier than ever for a candidate to shoot his or her message past the media.

No, I’m sorry, but this one falls on the voters. It is generally as easy to learn where the candidates stand on all but the most obscure issues as it is to find, say, a recipe for low-calorie overnight oats. It’s also easy to ignore the negative, “mudslinging” aspects of a campaign, for the same reason so many people find it easy to cut their TV plans and watch streaming services…

I agree with Weigel up to a point that voters need to own this but I don’t find the media to be blameless in the problem. The political press pushes certain narratives about candidates, often arrived at via groupthink rather than evidence (Al Gore was bland, George W. Bush was folksy, Hillary Clinton is “untrustworthy”, Trump “speaks his mind”, etc.), that tend to be seized on as shortcuts to the learning about policy stances that Weigel (and I) feel voters should be doing. And some journalists, along with some politicians and others seen as authorities on electoral politics, have spent decades relentlessly disparaging partisanship, with an almost religious fervor, hailing the rise in the number of “independent” voters as if it were God personally sending a sign vindicating them.

But no, it’s not. When you tell people for years that parties suck and are corrupt and are for mindless sheep a lot of people start to believe it. Unfortunately, those same people don’t seem to be finding sources aside from the hated parties to get their information. Ironically, suggestions that they get their information about the issues from the candidates themselves are bound to be ignored because those candidates are – wait for it – partisans! They’re assumed to be lying because everyone knows that partisans and politicians and especially partisan politicians are liars, even when they’re simply stating their policy goals.

There are certainly undecided voters who do want to know where candidates are on the issues but they want that information filtered through trusted sources. That is not going to be the candidates’ websites, for the reasons I just explained and it’s not going to be the MSM if they persist in prioritizing the he said/she said horse race over asking Clinton and Trump about their policy proposals. Perhaps Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson and Bill Nye the Science Guy could be enlisted to be our National Election Explainers. Still, Weigel’s point, that voters should at least try to learn what candidates stand for via those amazing space age information machines they have at their fingertips before throwing up their hands about “mudslinging”, is well taken.

Trump is not the working class hero that many of his supporters and pundits insist he is

01 Sep 2016 07:39 am
Posted by: Donna

The blog was down for several days but thankfully our delightful adminis-tress has gotten it working again in time for me to say a few things about Trump’s allegedly presidential and pivotal day trip to Mexico and his later speech (in which he etch-a-sketched any pretense of a pivot) in Phoenix on Wednesday.

First, on Trump’s puzzling meeting and subsequent press conference with President Enrique Peña Nieto (at which American reporters were not allowed), I’ll direct you to veteran political organizer and journalist Al Giordano, who lives in Mexico and who has covered Latin America extensively. Read this series of tweets:

Really, follow Al for a number of reasons but especially for his insights on how to defeat Trump. But in the case of Trump’s Mexico excursion, Al’s (very plausible) theory is that Trump is playing the useful idiot to an unpopular Mexican President shopping posh retirement locales. This seems not to have occurred to horse race-obsessed news bureaus – including the New York Times – desperate for that all-important Presidential Trump Pivot.

As for Trump’s Phoenix event, which can only be described (as many have done, very capably) as horrifying, I want to key in on something that seems to have disappeared down the chasmic rabbit hole memory of pundits covering the election, which I tweeted:

While everyone does know that Trump is a total hypocrite personally where immigration (based on his own hiring practices) and trade (based on his own manufacturing practices) are concerned, few people seem to be able to synthesize that understanding into a full picture of Trump as a white nationalist demagogue.

Trump is unapologetic about exploiting undocumented workers in his ventures from building to his modeling agency. Hillary Clinton is running ads in multiple states featuring Trump being embarrassed by David Letterman for clothing bearing his name brand being manufactured in low wage countries.

How, then, does anyone, with a straight face, argue that Trump is telling the truth when he claims to care about American jobs? What he made the case for, in the so-called “softened” immigration position he laid out in Phoenix Wednesday evening, sounded to me like essentially SB1070 for the whole country. That Arizona law, when it was in full effect (before the Supreme Court struck much of it down), was used to profile and terrorize Hispanic residents, despite the insistence of proponents that would never happen.

Trump didn’t reiterate his previous statements about rounding up and deporting 11 million people (pivot!); he instead said that undocumented persons in the U.S. would be “subject to deportation”, repeated his usual crowd-pleasing angry rhetoric, and ended his event by inviting several people whose loved ones had been killed (either through murder or drunk driving) by undocumented persons (suggesting that no one in America is ever killed by native-born people).

The 10-point plan Trump laid out was very heavy on fear-mongering about violent crime and promises to secure the fuck out of the border and amp up enforcement in-country. It was relatively light, however, on protecting American workers from the perceived depredation upon their livelihoods by immigration. Trump didn’t even get to that until point number 10, where he promised to enforce the use of E-Verify and that:

Immigration law doesn’t exist just for the purpose of keeping out criminals. It exists to protect all aspects of American life – the worksite, the welfare office, the education system and everything else. That is why immigration limits are established in the first place. If we only enforce the laws against crime, then we have an open border to the entire world.

We will enforce all of our immigration laws.

The same goes for government benefits. The Center for Immigration Studies estimates that 62 percent of households headed by illegal immigrants used some form of cash or non-cash welfare programs, like food stamps or housing assistance. Tremendous costs, by the way, to our country. Tremendous costs. This directly violates the federal public charge law designed to protect the U.S. treasury.

Those who abuse our welfare system will be priorities for immediate removal.

Number 10, we will reform legal immigration to serve the best interests of America and its workers. The forgotten people, workers. We’re going to take care of our workers. And by the way, we’re going to make great trade deals. We’re going to negotiate trade deals, we’re going to be bring our jobs back home, we’re going to bring our jobs back home. We have the most incompetently worked trade deals ever negotiated probably in the history of the world and that starts with NAFTA. And now they want to go TPP, one of the great disasters. And if countries want to leave Arizona, and if they want to leave other states, there’s going to be a lot of trouble for them, it’s not going to be so easy. There will be consequence, remember that. There will be consequence. They’re not going to be leaving, go to another country, make the product, sell it to the United States and all we end up with is no taxes and total unemployment. It’s not going to happen, there will be consequences.

Leaving aside how Trump put resentment over welfare at the forefront of point 10, the Presidential candidate who has yet to own up to his own hiring and manufacturing trade practices appears to have tacked concern over jobs and trade on as a sop – not so much to the people in attendance at the rally who were really eating up the “scary criminal foreigners” angle a lot more – but to pundits (often) from the left, such as Thomas Frank, who are committed to the idea that many white voters (or as he calls them, “working class” voters) are gravitating to Trump out of economic anxiety and not racism:

Here is the most salient supporting fact: when people talk to white, working-class Trump supporters, instead of simply imagining what they might say, they find that what most concerns these people is the economy and their place in it. I am referring to a study just published by Working America, a political-action auxiliary of the AFL-CIO, which interviewed some 1,600 white working-class voters in the suburbs of Cleveland and Pittsburgh in December and January.

Support for Donald Trump, the group found, ran strong among these people, even among self-identified Democrats, but not because they are all pining for a racist in the White House. Their favorite aspect of Trump was his “attitude”, the blunt and forthright way he talks. As far as issues are concerned, “immigration” placed third among the matters such voters care about, far behind their number one concern: “good jobs / the economy”.

Yet Trump pressed the topic of immigration – not “good jobs/the economy” – and chose Phoenix, rather than Cleveland or Pittsburgh, to deliver this ostensibly presidential and pivotal tour de force speech! The home of SB1070 and Jan Brewer and Joe Arpaio is not a place from which, to a bloodthirsty crowd, a Presidential candidate would convincingly launch a non-racist immigration policy. And Donald Trump is not the man anyone should be listening on immigration or trade, given his own self-serving actions in those areas.

It actually seems that white people who do pay heed to Trump tend to do so more from a position of comfort than not:

Which makes sense since people who don’t really care about working class jobs and trade impacts but who do have a big investment in their white supremacy would tend to favor a guy who doesn’t care about the first two but is running hard on the third.

Moment of truth time for Arizona

19 Aug 2016 03:43 am
Posted by: Donna

az we're not nuts

Former AZ Governor Jan Brewer, quoted in The Hill:

Former Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) this week called Hillary Clinton a “lying killer” and insisted her state wouldn’t vote for the Democrat in November’s presidential election.

“The people want a fighter. They’re tired of the lying killer, uh, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clintons of the world,” Brewer said in an interview on KTAR News that was highlighted by Mediaite.

Brewer argued that Democrats may be helping the state’s economy by spending heavily on advertisements there but that it wouldn’t help them politically. She predicted GOP nominee Donald Trump would air just a few ads.

“I don’t think that they can win Arizona,” the Trump supporter said of Democrats.

As much as making this odious woman bitterly disappointed alone on November 8th should be all the motivation we need to make this happen, Brewer certainly has grounds to make this prediction. It has long been the aspirational myth here of Democrats that the demographic “sleeping giant” of Hispanic voters will awaken and overtake the elections here. It hasn’t happened yet.

Republican consultant types, at least in my experience, have especially loved to jibe Democrats about this. But some of the less hardcore partisan ones, along with several media pundits and mainstream establishment thought leaders, subscribe to a concurrent aspirational myth of their own: that of The Moderate Republicans Who Are Going To Come To Their Senses Any Day Now And Save Us From The Lunatics Currently In Charge.

This, too, hasn’t happened yet. It hasn’t happened despite gutting Clean Elections, an AZ Republic columnist’s crusade to “de-kook the Legislature”, two failed Top Two Primary campaigns, and attempts by business and academic leaders to forge “nonpartisan dialogue”.

The myth relies on the existence of a “sleeping giant” of Arizona voters and prospective politicians who are socially moderate yet fiscally conservative, whose economic and policy interests line up closely with those of the business community, and who shun blind partisanship yet must have a Republican to vote for because they will never, ever vote for a Democrat.

Indeed, these people have been presented plenty of times the past two decades or so with “moderate” options*, both in GOP primaries and in general elections with decidedly non-extreme Democrats, yet they haven’t managed to pull the trigger on the whole saving-us-with-moderation plan. Instead, the aforementioned Jan Brewer won decisively for Governor in 2010 on the strength of SB1070 (round up the illegals!), along with a whole bunch of other Republicans who have felt little need to moderate themselves on a host of issues from public education (cut it and funnel tax dollars to charters and private vouchers!) to energy (demolish the solar industry and do whatever else the Kochs want!) to culture war issues (Cathi Herrod, by all means, have your way with us!) to the disgusting and utterly morally incomprehensible defenestration of child protective services (are there no churches? work houses?).

Arizona voters who insist on voting Republican despite all of that have had ready-made excuses for doing so, including:

“Taxes! They’re too high!”

“What part of “illegal” don’t those people understand?”

“I already pay enough for the schools so why can’t the teachers take a pay cut?”

“Corporation Commission? What is that? These ads tell me all I need to know!”

“Why should we throw money at CPS when I read an article about how a social worker forgot to check on an abused kid?”

So many great excuses! Huge excuses!

Moment of truth time, people. Donald Trump is running on a bald-faced campaign of white supremacy. He is. That’s all there is to it. The current polls show him having more or less (and in the more-or-less realm lies the Electoral College votes) a tie with Hillary Clinton in Arizona. If the polls are to be believed, then in sheer numbers at least half the voters in our state feel that an unabashed white nationalist supremacist is a fine person to lead our country.

This might cause you to reexamine your neighbors, coworkers, and relatives. You should do that.

And this means that The Moderate Republicans Who Are Going To Come To Their Senses Any Day Now And Save Us From The Lunatics Currently In Charge are, in fact, not going to do that. They can’t, because they don’t exist.

Which means that you, people who supposedly yearn for moderate governance in Arizona, had better get with the Democrats, and help them get enough voters to the polls defeat the Trump horror show. It’s not like there isn’t an abundance of history showing you where his shit leads.

*Well, Janet Napolitano and Terry Goddard both got elected to statewide seats with Clean Elections. Hardly a couple of radicals.

Oh hell no, John McCain

17 Aug 2016 05:12 pm
Posted by: Donna

Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, the Democrat challenging fossilized John McCain for the Senate seat he has held way too long issued a press release last Thursday decrying the following:

So Kelli Ward, who is challenging McCain for the GOP primary, was campaigning in Winslow and she and some supporters did a jovial little homage to the Eagle’s song featuring the famous corner in the tiny town. Silly, but not quite Rodney Glassman “Sweet Home Arizona” level cringe-inducing.

As you can see, John McCain’s PAC described it thusly:

#StreetCornerKelli sings her heart out

Winslow, AZ has a new street act that will pump you up past the 2:30 slump! Introducing #StreetCornerKelli!

I’m so sure the political operatives who came up with the “Street Corner” label – and made it into a hashtag – for a woman had no idea of its connotations! And the second statement? Oh, sure, that must be about singing. I see you, McCain, and whichever dudebro on your staff thought this was clever.

I understand there may be those who feel that women are misinterpreting and overreacting to this. That we’re being overly, wait for it, PC about it. Well, let me offer my rebuttal as a 10 year military veteran, followed by another decade in a high tech male-dominated field, experience that has bestowed upon me a PhD from the University of Dealing With Harassing Dirtbags and Their Many Enablers: bullpucky.

I can’t speak for Ward but I can tell you that Ann Kirkpatrick has to respond to this because McCain’s campaign is giving her a little taste what she’s in for when he is her (very likely) general election opponent. Basically women have two choices in this situation:

1. Say nothing and the abuse escalates. Be seen as weak and unwilling to defend yourself, thus deserving of abuse.

2. Defend yourself and be seen as an oversensitive hysterical bitch who can’t take a joke.

Neither are great options (you can’t win, ladies!) but your best bet is (if possible and safe for you) to go with the second option in most cases, and especially if you’re running for office. Taking the “high road” on attacks via creepy sexual innuendo will only encourage them to see how far they can push it. Don’t count on the media or voters to be outraged on your behalf. You have to call it out and make them own it.

And if you want to know just how far McCain can go with misogyny, recall:

John McCain called his wife Cindy a “cunt” in front of at least five witnesses on the campaign trail in 1992, according to Cliff Schecter’s new book:
Three reporters from Arizona, on the condition of anonymity, also let me in on another incident involving McCain’s intemperateness. In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain’s hair and said, “You’re getting a little thin up there.” McCain’s face reddened, and he responded, “At least I don’t plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt.” McCain’s excuse was that it had been a long day. If elected president of the United States, McCain would have many long days.

You better believe he surrounds himself with guys who think just like he does.

Man, the chutzpah on Catherine Miranda!

16 Aug 2016 01:45 am
Posted by: Donna

Here is another example of the kind of deceptive mailers going out for Catherine Miranda in LD27 in South Phoenix. This time it’s from Miranda’s own campaign.

miranda flyer

Michelle Obama? I doubt the First Lady would approve the use of her image and quote from her strirring appeal to equality and progress in Philly at the DNC in the campaign materials of an anti-choice, anti-LGBT “Democrat” who endorsed both Doug Ducey and Michele Reagan in 2014. (I’m told there was a mailer with her and Hillary Clinton too, because of course there was.)

You could maybe make an argument that some of the Dem primary voters in Miranda’s district agree with her culture war issue views (though Dems who don’t hold them have gotten elected easily there). But it’s difficult to argue that those voters would feel warm toward Catherine Miranda had she put an image of Governor Ducey on her flyer, along with a quote from him about the need for a voter suppression measure aimed directly at many of her constituents.

“We join 18 other states in this common-sense approach to maintaining the integrity of our elections.”

If Miranda wanted to aim high, as in the words of Michelle Obama that she appropriated for her primary campaign message in that mailer, then she would recant her support for the man who accused people, including many in her district, of violating the integrity of elections. Among other gross things Doug Ducey has done, since being elected with her help.

The kind of dark money that operates in plain sight

11 Aug 2016 01:33 am
Posted by: Donna

rock products flyer

Several LD 27 (South Phoenix) Democrats who got the above flyer are understandably fuming about it. Incumbent Senator Catherine Miranda is about as Democratic-in-name-only as a DINO can get. She’s anti-choice and has a penchant for doing things like endorsing Doug Ducey and Michele Reagan. Ick. Fortunately, she’s got a strong challenger for the upcoming primary in Maritza Miranda Saenz.

Senator Miranda’s seatmates are Reps Rebecca Rios and Reginald Bolding, both of whom are popular Democrats with solid records on the issues we care about. Both have issued statements on Facebook that they are not endorsing in the Senate primary (probably a prudent move on their parts) and did not authorize the statement made in the flyer. (more…)