Why would uber-social conservative Sylvia Allen push a bill to protect her (alleged) sex abuser son-in-law?

19 Mar 2015 03:43 am
Posted by: Donna

AZ Republic‘s Laurie Roberts notes the irony of Senator Sylvia Allen (R-Birtherstan) sponsoring a pro-union bill.

Turns out Sen. Sylvia Allen is a champion of unions. Who knew?

The “constitutional conservative” best known for her efforts to create state militias and close public meetings is hoping this year to boost protections for detention officers who find themselves in hot water.

Like, say, her son-in-law.

Last year, then-Navajo County Supervisor Allen tried to interfere with an internal investigation into her son-in-law’s conduct with female inmates in the Navajo County jail.

This year, Allen has moved on to the state Senate where she sponsored a bill aimed at ensuring that others don’t have to endure what she sees as a witch hunt against her son-in-law.

Son-in-law Timothy Hunt lost his corrections officer job and faces possible criminal charges over some gross things he did to captive women in the county jail. I do find the police union (a major one supports Allen’s amendment) angle interesting, as well as Roberts’ questions about Arizona Police Association’s legal support for Hunt and Allen’s attempt to draft Richard Mack to run for Navajo County Sheriff.

But I want to address the really egregious thing about this, namely the utter hypocrisy of Allen enthusiastically supporting legislation to punish people for their private consensual behavior (anti-choice, anti-LGBT laws) for years and then working feverishly to protect her son-in-law from consequences for his alleged (predatory) indiscretions. It goes to show something that writers like Matt Bruenig have been pointing out about moral scolds and their lack of empathy for people they don’t know.

I say this is a sight to behold because there has been a quiet story percolating that David Brooks is in the process of divorcing right now…

…According to Brooks’ own lesson, he and his ex-wife should be judged extremely harshly for this. And it’s not just him who said we should do this sort of thing. Reihan Salam and Ross Douthat shared similar recommendations in their book Grand New Party about the importance of cruelly shunning people who deviate from traditional family forms.

Yet, despite all of this, not a single shunning word about Brooks has yet to be uttered from anyone in this camp. In fact, when I fired shots at Brooks on Twitter last year for his divorce, shunning advocate Salam said it lacked civility and grace.

This sort of behavior presents an obvious question: why aren’t conservatives practicing what they preach regarding David Brooks? As a public figure, he would seem to be an especially important person to bully and demoralize as part of the norm-setting process. If people close to him just savaged him, that would get the point across that this isn’t something you can do without suffering serious social repercussions.

The reason they don’t shame him, I submit, is because they know David Brooks, they care about David Brooks, they think it would be rude and offensive to kick a hurt and down David Brooks. Moreover, they don’t know and can’t know what happened inside the marriage to cause its dissolution, and therefore probably aren’t in the right place to make sweeping pronouncements about its legitimacy. In short, they have humane concerns about their friend whom they respect as a fully formed human being. They aren’t willing to hang him in the public square to dissuade off others because that would be cruel and they feel that.

Allen obviously has the same humane concerns, possibly more about her daughter than her daughter’s icky husband (since this is about something much worse than a divorce), but she’s still deviating, with the herculean efforts she has made to shield Timothy Hunt, from the harsh, puritanical life script she wants to impose upon people she doesn’t know. Equally important to note is that Allen was really eager to find anything that would smear the women who alleged impropriety by Hunt, according to the investigators she was trying to interfere with.

Oftentimes people think dishonesty is the problem with hypocrisy but the real problem is lack of empathy. Moral scold hypocrites like David Brooks and Sylvia Allen arbitrarily project their “morality” onto others, whom they don’t see as human, while reserving kindness and understanding for themselves, and very often trying to codify that disparity into law. And that’s just immoral as hell.

I probably shouldn’t even be giving them the idea

16 Mar 2015 06:01 pm
Posted by: Donna

Photo: stuffwhitepeoplelike.com

Sen. Debbie Lesko (R) has a striker bill that would expand private vouchers and as I perused the list of students who already qualify for them I was struck by the absence of one category of student.

Arizona Revised Statutes § 15-2401 defines an ESA qualified student as an Arizona resident who is any of the following:

· Identified as having a disability,
· Attends or is eligible to attend kindergarten at a D or F school or school district,
· A previous scholarship recipient of the ESA program or the Arizona Scholarships for Pupils with Disabilities Program,
· A child whose parent or guardian is a member of the armed forces and on active duty or was killed in the line of duty (these students are exempt from any further requirements for qualification),
· A child who is a ward of the juvenile court, or
· A child who is a sibling of a current or previous ESA recipient.
The qualifying student must also meet at least one of the following requirements:
· Attended a governmental primary or secondary school as a full-time student for at least 100 days of the prior fiscal year and who transferred under a contract to participate in an ESA,
· Previously participated in the ESA program,
· Received a scholarship from a School Tuition Organization and continues to attend a qualified school,
· Was eligible for an Arizona Scholarship for Pupils with Disabilities, or
· Has not previously attended a governmental primary or secondary school but is currently eligible to enroll in a kindergarten or preschool children with disabilities program.

Where are the “gifted children”?* I ask this because, as everyone knows and as Stuff White People Like cheekily put it, an astounding 100% of white children are gifted. We’re totes kidding about the 100% part, since white kids in working class and poor families are excluded. But boy howdy do they breed geniuses on the regular in places like Fountain Hills and Arcadia! The current voucher – excuse me, “empowerment scholarship” categories do apply to the majority of Arizona students but are effectively useless for most since their families are unable to afford private school even with the few thousand dollars ESAs provide. Opening them to “gifted” children would blow the roof off of any pretense of income caps and allow affluent parents to feel virtuous about tax dollars subsidizing Chad and Bitsy at Brophy and Xavier.

I’m honestly surprised they haven’t made this happen yet. Seriously, watch how many white kids from rich families would instantly get a “gifted” evaluation the second vouchers – excuse me, “empowerment scholarships” were opened up for that.

*Yes, I know, some children really are gifted and need programs to accommodate them. It reminds me of gluten allergies, which some people have and consuming gluten makes them miserable. But there are also a lot of people running around being giant pains in the ass demanding gluten-free everything with no medical basis for it.

Ducey didn’t run on his budget? Oh geez, Bob Robb.

16 Mar 2015 03:04 am
Posted by: Donna

Not AZ Republic columnist Bob Robb, but a funny photo of a Bob Robb

Arizona Republic columnist Robert Robb is very peeved by the budget that our new snowbird Governor has signed:

Ducey did not run on the specifics of this or any other budget. During the campaign, he avoided specifics as though they were a form of leprosy.

Nowhere on the campaign trail did Ducey say that he would cut university funding by $75 million to $104 million. Or that he would cut Medicaid payments to hospitals and docs by 5 percent. Or that he would have state taxpayers guarantee the loans of private companies that operate charter schools.

On the campaign trail, Ducey limited himself to the following specifics about the state’s fiscal policy: (1) he would offer a tax cut every year; (2) he would balance the budget without a net increase in taxes; and (3) he would spare K-12 education from any budget cuts.

Far from being a budget on which he ran, the budget he signed actually violates his pledge not to cut K-12 education.

You don’t say! Very strange how a GOP candidate whose general election strategy was to step aside and act as blandly inoffensive as possible, while millions of dollars in dark money ads trashed Fred DuVal, turns out to be the exact Governor who is now cutting millions from K-12 and colleges. Who could have seen that coming? Oh yeah, Democrats, who had been paying attention to Scott Walker, Rick Scott Pat McCrory, and Sam Brownback.

We have been screaming about this for years. Bob Robb, on the other hand, has a long and sordid history of sidling along with the very people he is now denouncing for going too far with the education cuts. How the hell did he not know that was coming? I’m really unconvinced he did not know that.

This is where I get very impatient with Republican voters of all stripes, but especially the more “informed” ones. Right wing activists tell you exactly what they intend to do. They want to wreck the social safety net and start wars everywhere. Thus I submit that the average Republican voter knows exactly what s/he is doing. They’re voting to stick it to non-white people and sometimes that blows back on them.

Victoria Steele’s courageous testimony showed why “rape exceptions” are a sham

13 Mar 2015 03:06 am
Posted by: Donna

Edited to correct the name of the committee chair to Kelly Townsend from Kelli Ward.

Alas, due to our stupidly slow “high speed internet” connection at the house, I’ve been unable to view the two and a half hour Arizona House Federalism and States’ Rights (seriously?) Committee hearing from Wednesday. But there was one part that made the news, and for good reason. It was when Democratic Rep. Victoria Steele of Tucson, who was testifying against SB1318 (which denies insurance coverage for abortion, among other things), was overcome by the whole thing and shared how she had been a repeated victim of sexual assault by a family member as a young girl.

Sorry for the screen shot instead of embedded video but Channel 12 insists upon them opening immediately

Permit me a brief sidetrack to note that the news clip showing the torsos of several heavily pregnant women is a good illustration of why abortion politics are so messed up in this country. The vast majority of abortions occur in the first trimester, several weeks or months before a “baby bump” is apparent so this imagery is shockingly and irresponsibly misleading. Do better, news people.

So anyway, Rep. Steele went up to the podium with every intention, as she says, of being the “calm voice” about the bill. But when she was asked by Committee Chair Kelly Townsend (R) to defend the proposition that abortion is health care she remembered what happened to her, which had happened to other girls in her family. One of those girls was impregnated and, because it was pre-Roe, had to get an illegal abortion.

Townsend responded to Steele’s heart-wrenching account by insisting that there are exceptions in the bill for rape and incest victims. I tweeted Townsend earlier today to ask what the exact process for a rape victim to get one of those coverage exemptions was. I haven’t heard back from her yet and don’t expect I will. There is no language in the bill (because there never is) specifying what, precisely, a woman seeking an abortion has to do to qualify for one. Does whomever she presents herself to for that exceptional abortion merely take her word for it, or does she need a notarized affidavit? Is a police report required? Does there have to be a conviction or, in the absence of a captured suspect, a preponderance of evidence that the girl or woman was brutally raped such that would comport with the fantasies of this infamous South Dakota state senator?

“A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it, and is impregnated. I mean, that girl could be so messed up, physically and psychologically, that carrying that child could very well threaten her life.”

It’s not hard to understand why so few rape and incest victims report, considering how they must wade through whatever they’ve internalized (Was it my fault? Did I lead him on? What will it do to our family if I tell anyone?) and knowing or intuiting that they will face authority figures (like our friend from South Dakota) who are deeply invested in disturbing narratives about rape that require victims to be religious virgins brutalized within an inch of their lives for it to be “legitimate rape”. It’s not hard to understand, then, that rape and incest victims would decide that trying to get coverage for the abortion was not worth the hassle and the constant reliving of the trauma. Thus, rape exceptions on a purely practical level are essentially worthless.

So when someone like Rep.Townsend claims that rape and incest exceptions will be in an anti-choice law, she is engaging (whether she realizes it or not) in craven and lazy posturing. She gets to look reasonable without doing any heavy lifting on explaining how rape exceptions would work. (They don’t.) Luckily for her and other anti-choicers, journalists rarely bother to ask that obvious question.

Cathi Herrod, who is about the most glib and disciplined anti-choicer you will ever find, didn’t bother engaging directly with Channel 12′s request for a comment on Rep. Steele’s testimony:

“No matter what you think about abortion, we should all be able to agree that taxpayers should not be forced to pay for abortion, and women should be presented with the facts before making a life-altering decision. SB 1318 accomplishes both of these goals. Arizona’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, makes SB 1318 critically necessary. Not only does Planned Parenthood continue to advocate for taxpayer money to subsidize their abortion business, but recently, Planned Parenthood’s Glendale clinic wrongfully informed a woman that there was nothing they could do to reverse her medication abortion. Thankfully, the woman got connected with a local board-certified OB/GYN who was able to start her on a medication regiment to reverse the pill’s effect. She now has a healthy-growing pregnancy.”

Herrod, who does not give a rip about rape victims and does not have to pretend to care about them since she’s not in the Arizona Legislature, stayed on her own message about “taxpayers” (a group that apparently does not include pro-choice people or women who have abortions) and a ridiculous and discredited theory about “abortion reversal”. That speaks volumes about how the anti-choice movement, despite the lip service sometimes paid to “rape exceptions” by their politicians, has no intention of honoring them in any meaningful way. Which is no surprise since anti-choice activists oppose rape exceptions anyway.

AZ anti-choice legislators actually think you can reverse an abortion

11 Mar 2015 04:06 pm
Posted by: Donna

SB1318 was already bad enough. The anti-choice bill would bar any insurance exchange operating in the state (including the ACA) from covering abortion even if the woman purchased a separate rider, on the theory that money out of a woman’s own damn pocket that she earned herself is somehow “taxpayer dollars”. It also mandates that abortion doctors report to the state health director that they have admitting privileges at a local hospital, a requirement that opponents say could expose personal information about doctors to dangerous anti-choice zealots. But they weren’t done. Now there’s this amendment.

I’ll let the excellent Robin Marty give you the gist of it:

The Arizona legislature took an unprecedented step Tuesday during a late night hearing, amending a bill that would block abortion coverage in insurance plans purchased through the Affordable Care Act and inserting a new rule requiring that abortion providers inform patients that the procedure could in fact be reversed—despite no substantiated medical evidence to support that charge…

…with the addition of an amendment by Republican Rep. Kelly Townsend, the bill now would require that as part of the so-called “informed consent” material offered prior to an abortion, the doctor must tell the patient that in the case of a medical abortion, “It may be possible to reverse the effects of a medication abortion if the woman changes her mind, but that time is of the essence.”

The doctor would also tell the patient that “information on and assistance with reversing the effects of a medication abortion is available on the Department of Health’s website.”

Earlier this afternoon, I found myself trying to explain the “abortion reversal” concept to my incredulous boyfriend and found it difficult to do so because, like so many anti-choice myths and obsessions, it’s fantasy-based, but here goes: Medication abortion is a two-pill process in which a patient takes mifepristone first, followed by misoprostol several hours later. Some anti-choicers are now claiming to have successfully reversed medication abortions by persuading women who have taken the first pill – after which they immediately stumbled into a Crisis Pregnancy center, I guess – to not take the second one. The mifepristone is supposedly counteracted by having a doctor administer a large dose of progesterone* to the woman and then, voila, the pregnancy is saved! If that sounds at all plausible to you remember that we are talking about anti-choicers here. Here’s what actual medical professionals have to say about “abortion reversal”:

“There’s no evidence of any demonstrable effect of the ‘treatment’ these anti-abortion centers are marketing,” Dr. Cheryl Chastine, a provider at South Wind Women’s Center in Wichita, Kansas, said. “The medical literature is quite clear that mifepristone on its own is only about 50 percent effective at ending a pregnancy. That means that even if these doctors were to offer a large dose of purple Skittles, they’d appear to have ‘worked’ to ‘save’ the pregnancy about half the time. Those numbers are consistent with what these people are reporting.”

Dr. Chastine isn’t alone in her assessment. Dr. Dan Grossman, vice president for research at Ibis Reproductive Health, told Iowa Public Radio that the “treatment” was unlikely to be doing anything at all.

“[The abortion pill] binds much more tightly to the progesterone receptor, to block it than progesterone itself does,” Grossman told reporter Sarah Boden. “So there really is not much evidence to indicate, I’m really not aware of anything, that by increasing the amount of progesterone you’re gonna somehow block the effect of this drug.” He then added, “I think this is really outside of standard of care to just begin doing this kind of treatment, without collecting more rigorous studies about its effectiveness.”

If this “abortion reversal” nonsense isn’t enough to convince you that all the posturing that anti-choicers do about “safety” is a pile of unmitigated horseshit, I don’t know what it will take. I’m sure I’ll have more on #SB1318 when I get a chance to watch the Federalism Committee from Wednesday morning.

*By any doctor, in an ER or clinic or office or wherever. Since it’s an “abortion reversal” all the demands put on abortion doctors (admitting privileges and whatnot) are magically unnecessary. How convenient.

The ASU Foundation’s dark money contribution to Corp Comm race illustrates everything that is wrong with private “philanthropy” and dark money

11 Mar 2015 02:47 am
Posted by: Donna

Per AZ Republic reporter Ryan Randazzo:

The non-profit that raises money for Arizona State University accepted money from Arizona Public Service Co. in 2013 and the same year donated to a political group that helped defeat pro-solar candidates in last year’s elections.

The ASU Foundation accepted $181,000 from the non-profit APS Foundation and made a $100,000 donation to a political group called “Save Our Future Now,” which played heavily in the political campaigns last year for the Corporation Commission.

The non-profit, investigative Sunlight Foundation in Washington, D.C., first reported the donations Tuesday, citing public tax records from the non-profits.

Predictably, the ASU Foundation and APS responded with defensiveness.

“That contribution is consistent with our mission, which in part is to advocate on behalf of ASU and advance higher education,” [John] Skinner [chief of staff for the ASU Foundation] said. “There is absolutely nothing in our intent whatsoever that could be connected to any solar-energy issues or debates or whatever.”…

…APS issued a statement saying that the utility’s foundation is proud to support Arizona universities. “Where the ASU Foundation directs its own contributions … is guided by the foundation’s judgment and expertise, not ours,” the statement said.

And a candidate for Arizona Corporation Commission who was at the receiving end of some rather ugly (putting it mildly) negative spending by Save Our Future Now had this to say:

Vernon Parker, a Republican candidate who faced opposition advertising from SOFN in the 2014 election cycle, questioned the explanation. “Oh boy, I tell you, if anyone believes that, I have a bridge to sell them between Paradise Valley and Scottsdale,” he said.

I’m on Parker’s side here. Unfortunately for both of us, however, the Supreme Court decided that dark money should get a free path to influence elections. But the perfect conduit in which APS possibly laundered $100K to the Arizona Corp Comm race to help elect anti-solar candidates, the ASU Foundation, existed long before the Citizens United decision.

Arizona State University has become world-renowned for its Global Institute of Sustainability. No one would be taken seriously if they said that ASU was anti-solar energy. Trust me when I say that ASU is down like four flat tires with solar.

The ASU Foundation, on the other hand, while it does raise some money for the school, mainly exists to puff up the “pillar of the community” cred of rich guys like Bill Post. And that Foundation appears to have funneled a large donation to a dark money group opposing pro-solar candidates, while benefiting, as an organization, from ASU’s reputation for promoting sustainability. That allowed them to screw solar in the 2014 election with plausible deniability. “How can you say I don’t support solar energy? Why, I’m the Chair of the ASU Foundation!”

This scandal illustrates everything that is wrong with the notion that private philanthropy can replace a government of the people. Arizona’s constitution dictates that college should be as close to free as possible and that it should be paid for via sale of state trust lands and taxation. State college funding should certainly be free from dependence on self-interested rich guys deliberately undermining democracy while pretending to be advancing “social welfare”. They were doing this long before Citizens United. That decision just made it way easier.

Impressive response by Arizona Business Leaders™ to the terrible budget

10 Mar 2015 02:45 am
Posted by: Donna

Photo: AZ Chamber of Commerce and Industry announcement

By “impressive”, of course, I mean “pathetic”. The GOP led AZ Legislature dropped a turd of a budget in the middle of Friday night/Saturday morning that guts (among other things) university and community college funding and – because this is the cruelest session toward poor people that I’ve seen since I moved here in 1997 – cuts millions in Medicaid assistance, limits Temporary Assistance to Needy Families to an arbitrary lifetime cap of one year, and fails to fund child abuse and neglect prevention.

Conservative operative Shawn McCoy had some interesting observations about the budget process, one of which was this:

“This is a remarkable change from business-as-usual in Arizona,” said Glenn Hamer, CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which took no position on the budget. “The governor ran as a businessperson and made it clear he’d get the state’s fiscal house in order. It’s been a very good two months in office for the governor.”

Hamer noted that everyone would rather see a situation in Arizona where there were huge budget surpluses. That’s not the hand Ducey was dealt. But he points to measures in the new budget to protect taxpayers, strengthen schools, and continue to phase in tax reductions. “The vast majority of the business community understands and appreciates that the Governor did the difficult work, brought the legislature together, worked for better K-12 education, and created a better business environment,” explained Hamer.

Someone should really take Hamer aside and explain what “taking a position” means. This isn’t the first time the AZ Chamber has been officially “neutral” on a controversial measure out of one side of its mouth while praising it out of the other or, as in the case of SB1070 in 2010, getting a major concession (to illegal employers) so as to go “neutral”. Seriously, Glenn and AZ Chamber members, enjoy the jumbo shrimp at that Scott Walker shindig, and your tax cuts.

I’ve had people accuse me of unfairly making the AZ Chamber of Commerce and Industry (which is a well-known arm of the GOP and of crackpot right wing supply-sider ideology) out to be the face of the business community in Arizona. I’ll say there’s some merit to that, as there are many business owners in this state who are forward-thinking progressives or moderates. But the AZ Chamber boasts a membership list and board that includes every major company in Arizona and is seen as the premiere lobbyist of their collective interests.

I also haven’t seen a whole lot of resistance from the more local Chambers. It’s been crickets from the Greater Phoenix Economic Council and here’s what you get when you click on the Tempe Chamber’s (“recognized voice at state and national levels and regularly takes positions on legislation affecting the business environment”) link to their “latest state and federal agendas”:

So our local Business Leaders™ haven’t exactly been forthcoming with full-throated opposition to that harsh austerity budget. A notable exception is the Tucson Chamber:

At a press conference earlier this afternoon, there was a huge concern for the $30 million in possible cuts to Joint Technical Education Districts.

News of a budget deal between Gov. Doug Ducey and GOP leaders arose late Monday, and today the heads of Tucson Unified, Sunnyside Unified, Vail Unified, Sahuarita Unified school districts, as well as JTED and representatives with the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, demanded legislators to vote against it and persuaded all voters to put pressure on the state government to stop the abuse, and realize (as if it weren’t obvious enough already) that education, business and economy go hand-in-hand—there is no way to cripple one without crippling the other.

Good on Tucson business people for recognizing that (duh) you can’t have prosperity without universal high quality education! Yay, them. Still, the overwhelming consensus coming from our Almighty Job Creators™ here has ranged from happiness over the shitty anti-public education and poor-punishing budget to a gaping yawn. Not exactly a ringing endorsement for the idea that “pragmatic business leaders” are the best people to put in charge of our government.

“But Donna, what about SB1062?”

Yes, it is true that our sainted Business Leaders™ emerged (at the last minute) to put the kibosh on that bigoted pile of gobshite last year. But it was out of fear of boycotts and of being sued by individuals (a class that includes their employees). It was an immediate consideration of their profits and possible liabilities, not a far-reaching concern for the social and economic health of our state. It’s a mistake to see SB1062 as anything other than an outlier.