Robert Robb is correct, but also mistaken, in his analysis of Top Two Primary.

29 Jan 2016 01:02 am
Posted by: Donna

johnson top two
Photo: Arizona Republic

Robert Robb makes a logically consistent, persuasive, and correct argument (sort of) in favor of the 2016 Top Two Primary initiative in Arizona:

The principal objective of the top-two primary initiative shouldn’t be sugarcoated.

It isn’t to increase voter turnout or eliminate discriminatory barriers to independent candidates. Those might be desired byproducts. But they are not the main event.

The principal objective, the main event, is to reduce the influence of conservative Republicans in state government and politics. Those who don’t like the outcomes of Arizona elections want to change those outcomes by changing the rules.

It’s really about reducing conservative power

Plainly stating the principal objective shouldn’t settle the argument, even for conservative Republicans. For there is something else that should be plainly stated: The current system of partisan primaries doesn’t fit today’s political demography in Arizona.

Under the current system, state law establishes conditions for having a political party recognized. Taxpayers pay for recognized parties to hold primary elections to select their general election candidates. Parties get other advantages, such as preferential access to the voter roll.

Robb is correct that claims of Top Two increasing turnout or helping “independent” candidates get elected are howlers to people who pay anything resembling close attention to Arizona elections but possibly plausible to those who don’t, hence such claims being at the forefront of selling the initiative to the general public and certain gullible pundits.

And Robb is on point with his assertion that the traditional primary system does not reflect current registration figures (a third of the state’s voters are not officially affiliated with any party) and the case he makes for removing taxpayer funding of partisan primaries is a solid one. It is objectively the best argument for changing to an open primary system.

So far, so good, but here’s where even Robb, who has thus far evaluated the initiative in the most clear-headed manner of anyone in the news media, gets it wrong:

It’s really about reducing conservative power

Nope! While it is true that many supporters of the measure who are “in the know” like the idea because they feel jungle primaries would moderate the more conservative elements of the GOP, that does not appear to be the top priority of the people behind Open Primaries. In my previous post I demonstrated how the Top Two organizers are engaging in strategies and rhetoric that do not appear to be directed at remaking the Republicans in Arizona so much as at demolishing the Democrats.

If you want to replace the John Kavanaghs in safe suburban Republican districts with Bob Worsleys, then it simply makes no sense whatsoever to be doing outreach in urban Democratic districts to convince the voters there to abandon the Democrats. Assuming they succeeded, how exactly would increasing the number of Republicans in the AZ legislature to a percentage far beyond veto-proof do anything to moderate the Republicans? You’d have a giant GOP caucus of conservatives with a small caucus of “moderate” Republicans within it that would have no more ability to check the right wingers than the Democratic caucus currently does, and probably less because they wouldn’t be an organized opposition.

But what you would have is a whole bunch of very “business friendly” legislators putting forth little to no resistance to the agenda of the public pension-plundering hedge fund managers, private prison lobbyists, and any other corporate hangers-on who are very eager to get this Top Two thing passed.

I’m sorry, but any plan to moderate the Republicans here that doesn’t involve electing more Democrats to force that to happen (because they’d have real competition!) is doomed to fail in that endeavor. It is especially galling that Top Two has been paired with Terry Goddard’s Dark Money initiative in such a way that Democrats are expected to participate willingly in their own destruction.

Top Two Primary intends to demolish Democrats in AZ.

28 Jan 2016 03:07 am
Posted by: Donna

StopTop2

As I drove home Wednesday evening I caught the tail end of a recorded segment on the radio about the Top Two Primary initiative. I heard a man telling KJZZ host Steve Goldstein (I’m paraphrasing) about how Democrats have little power in state government so Hispanic voters would do well to stop aligning themselves with them. I rolled my eyes and continued on but I saw this summary of the interview when I got home:

Arizona’s Latino community is gravitating away from either major political party.

Those were the findings of a recent survey by an organization hoping to reform elections in the state.

About 40 percent of Latinos in Arizona are Independent, a trend that becomes even more pronounced among millennials. According to the survey, more than 75 percent of respondents said Latinos should register as Independent and eschew the established parties. This is good news for supporters of a ballot initiative that would allow independents to run in the primary.

Danny Ortega is a co-chair of the Open and Honest Elections Coalition.

He said Latinos, who were once loyal to democrats, are increasingly disillusioned with the party’s inability to make meaningful progress on immigration, education and other issues.

“They don’t see the party as effective, number one,” Ortega said. “Number two, every state office is controlled by Republicans. The legislature is controlled by Republicans, and so Latinos don’t feel like they are part of the end game.”

Pay careful attention to all the wording there: Arizona Latinos, they say, are increasingly becoming “independent” voters and the majority of Latinos told a pollster (and I’d be really interested in seeing how the question was phrased) that not registering for either party was in their best interest. This is because Democrats suck! Republicans are somehow held harmless in all this, despite them being the ones responsible for SB1070, Sheriff Arpaio’s reign of terror, and an endless, nationwide stream of anti-immigrant and anti-Hispanic vitriol. Amazing. That’s even worse than the “both sides are to blame!” false equivalence. Ortega is literally blaming Democrats for what Republicans did.

Ortega points out, correctly, that Republicans control the state government. Yet he does not propose that “independent” Hispanic voters could elect Independent candidates, nor does he explain in any way how rejecting Democrats will increase their power in Arizona. The only possible conclusion to draw from his statement is that Ortega thinks Hispanic voters, “independent” or not, should throw their support to Republican candidates, who will presumably be the “moderate” kind who support “meaningful progress” on immigration, education, etc. Unlike those worthless Democrats!

This is interesting because I’ve been told for years by supporters of this Top Two thing that the goal was to elect “moderate” Republicans in heavily white districts, such as Scottsdale, where no Democrat has a chance. But now it appears that even in heavily Hispanic districts that traditionally elect Democrats, the Democrats are targeted for elimination by it. Which makes sense considering Chuck Coughlin, who helped orchestrate the passage of SB1070 in 2010 to ensure GOP election victories, is heading up the initiative effort with Paul Johnson and considering who else is taking an interest in this initiative.

Houston indictments of anti-choice smear merchants show how their claims fall apart under the slightest scrutiny

26 Jan 2016 07:19 pm
Posted by: Donna


Center for Arizona Policy, not dealing well with Monday’s news

So many anti-choicers were having a bad day on Monday with the announcement that a Republican witch hunt of Planned Parenthood in Harris County, Texas had gone hilariously awry, with the perpetrators of the video “sting” being indicted by the grand jury while Planned Parenthood was cleared, that it’s difficult to pick just one to highlight but I’ll go with Andrew Napolitano of Fox News. Napolitano, a former judge, had a meltdown over a Republican prosecutor not just going after Planned Parenthood out of opposition to legal abortion irrespective of whatever evidence came forth in the case.

“The grand jury does not turn around and indict your witnesses, the people who brought you the case, without the prosecutor wanting this to happen!” Napolitano exclaimed.

He continued: “So, why would this prosecutor, appointed by Gov. [Rick] Perry, a former judge, a Republican woman, why would this prosecutor want to do this other than to send a message like, ‘I might be a Republican but leave Planned Parenthood alone’?”

“Leave it alone?” Napolitano shouted. “They’re using tax dollars to kill babies and sell their body parts!”

Anti-choicers are now in full martyr mode, and continuing to make their lurid claims, despite no evidence turning up of these sales of fetus parts for profit, let alone Planned Parenthood using tax dollars to facilitate them, in multiple investigations in several states, because the right wing base will continue to believe them. But that Andrew Napolitano feels confident to make the bald-faced admission that the attacks are purely politically motivated makes it all the more maddening to imagine how easily the same mainstream news people who were duped by David Daileiden’s con job will fall for the next one and give it undue credibility.

And you definitely don’t have to subject every outlandish anti-choice claim to the level of scrutiny that a grand jury would to see what really motivates the movement! A trio of filmmakers recently created a virtual reality project so that people could see and hear what anti-choicers say to women as they enter clinics:

Today (Jan. 22), on the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I went to Planned Parenthood. I sat in a room, bright and sterile, with a distraught woman as she recalled the trauma she endured just minutes prior — when she was verbally harassed by dozens of protesters outside the health center’s doors. She was visibly shaken and upset.

Then, I walked outside and witnessed first-hand the kind of tasteless vitriol that was being said. As I neared the Planned Parenthood’s doors, I was called a “whore” and a “wicked jezebel feminist.” My morals were questioned. I was told repeatedly that what I was doing, by accessing my right to safe and accessible health care, was the devil’s work. I felt sick to my stomach.

And then it was all over. Their threats were silenced, and I was left in the dark. I took off my virtual reality headset and went on with my day. But for millions of women across America, they’re not so lucky. They don’t get to just walk away from that distressing experience; they live through it. I’ve never been aggressively harassed by a group of strangers while walking into my local Planned Parenthood. But now I know, just a little bit, what that feels like — and it feels pretty sh-tty.

“Across The Line” is a five-minute immersive virtual reality experience that places viewers in the shoes of a patient entering a health center for a safe and legal abortion. I had the opportunity to demo the harrowing project at the Sundance Film Festival.

Using real audio gathered at protests, scripted scenes and documentary footage, filmmakers Nonny de la Peña, Brad Lichtenstein and Jeff Fitzsimmons created a powerful depiction of the often toxic environment that many patients must walk through to access health care on a typical day at Planned Parenthood. Virtual reality is often referred to as an empathy machine, and experiences like “Across The Line” best demonstrate its strength as a storytelling tool.

For about the millionth time, I can’t for the life of me understand how any damning “evidence” about Planned Parenthood produced by such angry, female sex-punishing freaks would be deemed worthy of a minute of respectful news coverage, let alone giving such conspiracy garbage prime op-ed placement in national newspapers. Of course, being treated as credible when they should never be probably goes a long way toward explaining why David Daleiden and his partners would feel it was just fine to commit various crimes in the process of “trapping” Planned Parenthood in the act of doing what they just know Planned Parenthood is guilty of.

And I seem to recall quite a few local news figures in Arizona having quite a lot to say when news of the fetal parts “sting” broke last summer, leading to an investigation by Governor Ducey that revealed (you guessed it!) no wrongdoing whatsoever by any abortion providers in the state. They seem to have forgotten all about it and none seem to have noticed this Texas story. Which is odd because I have a strong feeling that if the Texas grand jury had gone the other way, indicting Planned Parenthood, it would have gotten more attention here and maybe a local reporter or two at Planned Parenthood AZ’s door. But this? Crickets. So I guess it’s safe to predict that when they pull this bullshit again in a year or two, they’ll lap it up again.

Meet the highly shady out-of-state characters influencing, and bankrolling, Top Two Primary in AZ

25 Jan 2016 01:38 am
Posted by: Donna

John Arnold and Jackie Salit
John Arnold and Jackie Salit

It’s no secret that “centrist” business leaders in the Central Phoenix corridor and their friends at the Arizona Republic are strongly backing the Top Two Primary initiative, which now has ballot language and is getting signatures gathered for it. Even political reporter Mary Jo Pitzl couldn’t help but make her lede look like a press release for it:

Unlikely allies want to shake up Arizona elections with proposals outlawing anonymous corporate political donations and replacing a primary system they say favors the extremes of both major political parties.

The proposed ballot measures are being spearheaded by two former Phoenix mayors who ran as Democrats for governor and the Republican political consultant who most recently backed Gov. Jan Brewer.

But Terry Goddard, Paul Johnson and Chuck Coughlin say they’ve found common ground in a quest that Coughlin describes as an effort “to reinvent the architecture of Arizona politics.”

Supporters cite the fact independents have become the largest voting block in Arizona and could propel both measures to success in November.

“A political system has to accurately represent the true picture of the electorate,” said Jackie Salit, president of IndependentVoting.org. And that’s not happening now, she said.

Leaving aside the head-shaking spectacle of Terry Goddard joining forces with Chuck Coughlin, who was the top adviser of then-Governor Brewer (and Terry Goddard’s opponent in the 2010 election) when she signed the despicable SB1070 into law, it’s disturbing to see the lack of vetting of the lesser-known people behind Top Two.

Jackie Salit, who was quoted in Pitzl’s story, is an author and political activist who resides in New York City. Salit claims to have run Michael Bloomberg’s mayoral campaigns though the Independence Party of New York. Salit was also part of an inscrutable (to me, but maybe you can figure it out) project called “Talk/Talk” with the late “public philosopher” Fred Newman. Salit’s bio describes her focus on “independent” voters and avante garde approach to politics:

Salit recounts independents little-known history and sometimes volatile impact as old political institutions and categories are becoming irrelevant—even repugnant—to many Americans. Salit, who has spent 30 years as an insider in this growing movement of outsiders, also reveals how independents underestimate their own power and how they can make the most of their newfound influence in American politics.

Note the use of the terms “repugnant” to describe existing political structures (which presumably includes grassroots partisan activity such as being a neighborhood precinct leader) and “volatile” to describe the way she appears to hope they will be dismantled. It is difficult to reconcile such – and there’s no better way to describe it – radicalism with the constant claim of Top Two Primary backers that the goal is electing “moderates”.

As for Salit’s Independence Party of New York, it looks to be a weird astroturf scam designed to dupe New York voters.

By the thousands, New Yorkers have mistakenly joined the Independence Party when enrolling to vote. Intending to have no political affiliation, these voters instead checked the “Independence Party” box — empowering the group to exploit an illusion of popular strength.

Still more seriously, Independence leaders have exercised the authority to back candidates by stocking legally mandated governing panels with the names of unwitting people, many of whom have no idea they are listed as party members.

Bearing the earmarks of orchestrated fraud, the tactics represent a distortion of the democratic process as it has been established by state law and court rulings.

That the party’s leaders are members of a cultish group steeped in a bizarre combination of Marxist philosophy and sex therapy puts an exclamation point on the illegitimacy of their influence over who gets elected mayor, controller and public advocate.

No New York official has built closer ties to Independence leaders or benefited more from their support than Bloomberg. He ran as their candidate in three mayoral campaigns, twice scoring votes on the Independence line that exceeded his margin of victory.

Such sensible moderates!

The other person from outside of Arizona (h/t to a Facebook friend who alerted me to him) whom Mary Jo Pitzl mentioned in her Republic article as a backer of Top Two she simply described as “Texas philanthropist John Arnold”. Well, if by “philanthropist”, you mean “philanthropically helped himself to the Enron implosion and hopes to do the same with public pensions”.

…Anyone who has seen the Oscar-winning documentary The Smartest Guys in the Room and remembers those tapes of Enron traders cackling about rigging energy prices on “Grandma Millie” and jamming electricity rates “right up her ass for fucking $250 a megawatt hour” will have a sense of exactly what Arnold’s work environment was like.

In fact, in the book that the movie was based on, the authors portray Arnold bragging about his minions manipulating energy prices, praising them for ‘learning how to use the Enron bat to push around the market.’ Those comments later earned Arnold visits from federal investigators, who let him get away with claiming he didn’t mean what he said.”

As Enron was imploding, Arnold played a footnote role, helping himself to an $8 million bonus while the company’s pension fund was vaporizing. He and other executives were later rebuked by a bankruptcy judge for looting their own company along with other executives. Public pension funds nationwide, reportedly, lost more than $1.5 billion thanks to their investments in Enron.”

In 2002, Arnold started a hedge fund and over the course of the next few years made roughly a $3 billion fortune as the world’s most successful natural-gas trader. But after suffering losses in 2010, Arnold bowed out of hedge-funding to pursue ‘other interests.’ He had created the Arnold Foundation, an organization dedicated, among other things, to reforming the pension system, hiring a Republican lobbyist and former chief of staff to Dick Armey named Denis Calabrese, as well as Dan Liljenquist, a Utah state senator and future Tea Party challenger to Orrin Hatch.

As my friend put it, he “sounds like a peach of a guy who just wants Arizona elections to be better!” Arnold’s “charity” seems to be engaged in the project of convincing public workers to give up their defined benefit pensions in return for 401K-type plans, and then systematically funneling those plans into highly risky investment schemes that return massive profits to, you guessed it, hedge fund managers.

Wow, just typing that out makes me nostalgic for the more innocent time of approximately an hour ago when I just thought the whole Jacqueline Salit-Fred Newman-Michael Bloomberg connection was bizarre!

Per the Arizona’s Politics blog, our new friend from Texas plans to bestow his, uh, beneficence upon us in a big way to influence the upcoming vote on Top Two:

The national Open Primaries group, primarily funded by Texas philanthropist John Arnold, has made a $1M contribution to the Arizona joint effort, with hopes to raise $13M more. They promised that they will “over-disclose” who contributes to the effort, even though current laws do not require it, and pointed out that the opponents to the measure will not be disclosing.

Does it really matter if the backers are “over-disclosing” their names if no one but bloggers like myself and my Facebook friends are bothering to do a modicum of looking into who these people are?

AZ Democratic caucus acting like a damn opposition party! Yay!

21 Jan 2016 03:12 am
Posted by: Donna

barbara mcguire
AZ Sen. Barbara McGuire

The Arizona legislative session began last week and, as has been the case for most of the past decade or five, the Democrats are in the minority. If you pay attention to the doings at 1700 W. Washington St. you know that being the opposition party means that Democratic lawmakers, armed with facts and logic, argue valiantly (and futilely) against atrocious harebrained GOP bills in committee hearings and make impassioned speeches against said bills and ever crueler budget cuts on the floors of the Senate or House. They are, of course, mostly ignored as the terrible bills and budgets pass.

But being the noble opposition does not mean simply resisting, it should also mean offering their own vision for how the state should be run, even if it, too, goes nowhere legislatively. It’s in that way that our Democratic caucus is really distinguishing itself this session. Democratic legislators have dropped several progressive bills and have grabbed media attention with them. They include bills to legalize marijuana, make voter registration and voting by mail automatic, end discrimination against LGBT persons in housing and employment, and require sex ed to be medically accurate. And a bill introduced by Senator Barbara McGuire, a moderate Dem from Pinal County, would allow terminally ill people to end their own lives with doctor-prescribed drugs (warning: link autoplays a video):

Sen. Barbara McGuire of Kearny says her bill lets patients with an incurable disease and six months left to live request medication to end their lives under the care of a physician.

As baby boomers enter their golden years, end-of-life care has become a greater priority with doctors in California, Oregon, Washington, Vermont and Montana already prescribing life-ending drugs. California Gov. Jerry Brown was the latest governor to sign a “right-to-die” proposal into law in October.

Senate Bill 1136 is likely to face several hurdles. Republicans who control the Legislature are unlikely to back the measure and Gov. Doug Ducey opposes physician-assisted suicide.

Good for McGuire and the Dem lawmakers who have joined her in sponsoring the bill. It will not pass, of course, not with this legislative majority and Governor, but it should spark a conversation. Governor Ducey should be forced to explain publicly why he objects to allowing people to choose their own path to dying and I think Arizonans may be shocked to learn what underlies that.

The 2014 Center for Arizona Theocracy Policy surveys are no longer searchable online but you can see then-candidate Doug Ducey’s answers in this Phoenix New Times article, wherein he indicated he was against physician assisted suicide. Ducey did not elaborate on that answer with a statement but another candidate did, none other than the “moderate” former Mayor of Mesa and great white hope of the centrist Valley business elites, Scott Smith. Again, no longer available at the CAP site but yours truly wrote a post about Smith’s appalling statement to the question:

Question 8: I believe God has a plan for each of us for which we must be strong, even when this includes trials to our end.

Smith is LDS and Ducey devout Catholic but I’m fairly certain he would say something similar. Uber-conservative Catholics take their cues on this from people like Mother Teresa, who was a big proponent of the nobility of suffering (for other people). I tend to think that most people, regardless of their religious faith or lack of it, don’t cotton to moralizing strangers denying them the prospect of euthanasia because God has a plan.

But cornering Governor Ducey into awkward interviews where he extols the virtue of suffering is not the only good reason to have a conversation about assisted suicide. There are also real concerns, often expressed by people with disabilities and advocates, that allowing it could lead to people being pressured or coerced into ending their lives by caregivers or relatives or believing that their lives are not worthwhile if they are not healthy and able-bodied. These are tough questions and they will likely lead to an ongoing debate akin to that over reproductive rights (though probably a more honest one since it’s not about ladies and sex). We need to have it.

Plus, it certainly beats the hell out of yet another tiresome row over where’s the next place Arizona is going to allow people to carry guns. So yay Democrats! Way to show us how grownups (try to) do policy.

Hillary Clinton takes a forceful stance on abortion rights like women matter or something!

19 Jan 2016 05:41 pm
Posted by: Donna

DEM 2016 Clinton

So the contest between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders is getting real, as was apparent in Sunday’s night’s Democratic Presidential debate on NBC (which got a respectable 10 million viewers, by the way), in which the two front-runners argued vociferously over their different approaches to health care, banks, gun control, and foreign policy. The disparity between Clinton and Sanders is generally characterized as one of her pragmatism vs his idealism and there are about a thousand think pieces you can find that analyze it. Here it is, as succinctly stated by Jeet Heer:

Sanders is promoting an “ethics of moral conviction” by calling for a “political revolution” seeking to overthrow the deeply corrupting influence of big money on politics by bringing into the system a counterforce of those previously alienated, including the poor and the young. Clinton embodies the “ethics of responsibility” by arguing that her presidency won’t be about remaking the world but trying to preserve and build on the achievements of previous Democrats, including Obama.

That’s what it boils down to and I have good friends and people I respect and admire on both sides of it. I’m personally going with Hillary, but more on that later, as I throw the following bucket of ice water on the high hopes of supporters both camps: Essentially, any Democrat who is elected President in 2016 (and I hope one is) will probably not be passing any type of major health care legislation, or breaking up the big banks, or making college free or significantly more affordable, not with Paul Ryan’s Congress. There is a glimmer of a possibility of retaking the Senate but I wouldn’t count on it, barring some colossal GOP fuck-up in the coming year. Dems may pick up a few House seats, due simply to increased voter turnout in the Presidential year, but don’t count on coattails from the top of the ticket, regardless of whose name is on it. Democratic voters are notoriously terrible about voting all the way down the ballot and states not named things like “Ohio”, “Florida”, or “Virginia” won’t even rate a Presidential candidate visit.

So the Democratic President most of us hope will be elected will be charged mainly with vetoing bad Republican bills, keeping the country from engaging in blatantly stupid military conflagrations, and nominating as many as four Supreme Court Justices. That’s pretty much it, and I think it’s momentous enough to get that Democratic nominee, whomever it is, elected in November.

That said, I am thrilled about a stand that Hillary Clinton has taken recently on reproductive rights. As many of y’all know, low income women have been barred from using Medicaid or other federal programs (such as military health care) to cover abortion services since 1976 under the Hyde Amendment. Hyde was the first of many successful anti-choice measures that restricted abortion without technically banning it. It was named for a Republican Congressman from Illinois who openly admitted that he loathed abortion being available to any woman:

“I certainly would like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion, a rich woman, a middle-class woman, or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the…Medicaid bill.”

In other words, poor women had to take one for the forced-birth team. And they’ve been taking it every year since 1976 because Hyde is a rider attached to regular annual budget appropriations and to whatever else Republicans (or in some cases anti-choice Democrats) want. This shitty amendment has wreaked havoc on the lives of some of our most vulnerable people and their families. Over the years, pro-choice groups and sympathetic members of Congress have attempted to repeal Hyde but, for the most part, it has enjoyed easy passage year after year because even most Democrats have been persuaded that there is something wrong with public insurance covering abortion. (Reinstating Hyde was made a condition of the passage of the Affordable Care Act, with pro-choice activists scolded to stop being such whiny purists. I remember it well!)

But in the past year or so, mainly out of you-have-really-worked-my-last-nerve outrage at right wing attacks on reproductive health, and in particular at the disgusting smear campaign against Planned Parenthood provoked by charlatans with video cameras, the pro-choice movement is increasingly unabashed in its calls to end Hyde. And it has gained a very prominent and important ally in that cause, as Rebecca Traister explains:

The lack of interest in the topic of reproductive justice is particularly galling, since this primary season — which has included talk of political revolution coming mostly from Sanders — has lately also featured some revolutionary language coming from Clinton, not a candidate usually known for being on the radical edge of debate.

But as too few people seemed to have noticed, Hillary Clinton has spent the past ten days campaigning vocally and without apology against the Hyde Amendment. Hyde, a legislative rider first passed in 1976 and added to appropriations bills every year since, prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, which means that the low-income women, many of them women of color, who rely on Medicaid for health insurance cannot use their insurance to terminate their pregnancies except in cases of rape, incest, or their life being in danger.

It is a discriminatory law that perpetuates both economic and racial inequality. And the notion of repealing it has remained a third rail in American politics until about five minutes ago … or, more precisely, until this summer, when California representative Barbara Lee introduced the EACH Woman Act, which would effectively repeal Hyde. So far, the bill has 109 co-sponsors but a vanishingly small chance of going anywhere.

Which is what makes it so notable that Hillary Clinton — who, despite a strong record of supporting reproductive rights, has not always spoken about them with righteous vigor (her 2005 discussion of abortion as a “sad, tragic choice for many” enraged many activists) — has decided to publicly do battle against Hyde. Even more important, she is explaining her stance in terms that offer a crucial and long-awaited corrective to the course of the abortion debate in America.

This is huge and Traister is right to be irked that reproductive rights were not raised at the recent Democratic debate (while moderator Andrea Mitchell did feel it was appropriate to ask Bernie Sanders how he felt about Bill Clinton’s penis wanderings twenty five years ago while Hillary was standing right fucking next to him). When I and others brought up the absence of a single question on reproductive rights, we were brushed off with standard rebuttals we’ve grown to expect in these situations – All the Democratic candidates are pro-choice so why ask about it? It was settled by Roe v Wade in 1973! – along with some new ones – Campaign finance reform will solve this problem! Passing single payer is the answer!

For a pro-choicer such as myself, the insistence of many on my side to treat abortion and contraception access as a secondary ladies auxiliary issue, and even worse as a bargaining chip to achieve other progressive priorities (such as the ACA) or something to be jettisoned in favor of the “big tent” (dear God, what about the pro-life Democrats??), is a matter of endless frustration. It also stuns me how blasé many of my liberal counterparts are about it when it is so obviously such a top-tier issue for the GOP, not only in the sense of motivating their voters but also always at the top of their legislative agenda. A Republican President will make antipathy toward abortion rights and contraception a litmus test for judges, including those appointed to the Supreme Court. And those judges will also be against labor rights, voting rights, environmental protections, public education, and banking and campaign finance regulations. Just so you know.

And if you like Bernie Sanders because of his single payer health care plan, then consider the irony how years of conservative attacks on reproductive rights and accommodations to their tender sensibilities on abortion and contraception have actually undermined the cause of single payer, by making it difficult to extract health care from the whims of religious health care providers, other parties claiming “religious conscience objections”, and government agents acting as protectors of taxpayers (Hyde Amendment). Having pro-choice interests take a backseat to others wasn’t such a great idea after all.

Naturally, I don’t expect a President Clinton to be able to get a repeal of the Hyde Amendment passed, for reasons I’ve already stated about the extent of what her powers would be. But I’m deeply grateful to Hillary for making this statement and I submit it’s every bit as important as the conversation Bernie Sanders has re-opened about single payer health care. I’m with her.

The Top Two blackmailing of AZ Democrats begins!

14 Jan 2016 12:22 am
Posted by: Donna

open and honest elections sos filing

From the AZ Capitol Times comes this teaser for their January 12th edition of the Yellow Sheet:

Top two and anti-dark money rolled into one

By: Yellow Sheet Report January 12, 2016 , 4:18 pm

The campaigns for dark money disclosure and a “top-two” style primary election system have officially joined forces under the aegis of Open and Honest Coalition. In a news release today, the coalition announced the filing of “separate, but aligned” proposals to amend the Arizona Constitution.

Oh brother. Yes, it’s true. The message is clear that if you Democrats want the Dark Money initiative you have to sign on to the craptastic Top Two Primary, that only “works” by demolishing progressive Democrats in Arizona. But it’ll be fine that Democrats are discouraged from running in numerous races so as pave the way for “moderate” Republicans to win jungle primaries, as Republic columnist Linda Valdez (who likes Top Two) assured me on Facebook recently, since we’ll know who’s funding everyone!

Except we still don’t know who has donated to this Open and Honest Coalition, since they haven’t disclosed any donors yet. Nor is there ballot language for either measure. Here’s how the Open Primaries Arizona describes them in a press release from Monday:

The Open and Honest Coalition has formed two committees to potentially back two separate, but aligned, initiatives:

Open and Honest Disclosure would require groups who spend money to influence candidate elections to disclose the original source of any contribution in excess of $10,000. With over $15 million of undisclosed money spent in the 2014 election cycle to influence Arizona candidate races, campaign finance disclosure rules must be strengthened to restore integrity and transparency into Arizona’s election system.

Open and Honest Elections would create a level playing field for all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, where they would directly compete under the same rules. It would also allow all voters to participate in elections – removing the current unfair and often burdensome barriers for independent and unaffiliated candidates and voters. Independents are the largest registered group in the State of Arizona, yet they are treated to a completely different set of rules when it comes to running for office and voting in primary elections.

“The American experiment as a constitutional democratic republic is in jeopardy. Voter turnout has dropped in the last two election cycles, more and more Americans are choosing not to identify themselves with political parties, yet those very same parties set the rules which govern our elections and choose our candidates. The American people have lost faith in our government to address some of the fundamental problems facing America today – America is still great, it is our two party system and undisclosed dark money contributions which have broken the system,” said J. Charles Coughlin, President and CEO of HighGround Public Affairs and Co-Chair of the Open and Honest Coalition. “We intend to fix that problem, to establish a level playing field for all candidates and voters and to protect our democracy from the corruption of undisclosed dark money contributions to support candidate elections in Arizona. I am confident, if we are able to get on the ballot, Arizonans will overwhelmingly support both of these amendments to promote Open and Honest Elections in Arizona.”

“I believe it is time for change in how we elect people to public office! The younger generations need something to believe in when it comes to our government system and the way we elect public officials. We need an election process that will bring us together to address the issues we all care about, such as Education, Employment, Immigration, and many others,” added Danny Ortega, an Open and Honest Coalition co-chair and former Board Chair of the National Council of La Raza.

The coalition is hoping to file ballot language by the end of January on both amendments. They are working to secure over $10 million in financial support from both local and national sources to back both efforts. In the upcoming weeks, the coalition will announce additional co-chairs to demonstrate that efforts to increase fairness and transparency are backed by a broad left/right coalition of business, community, civic and political leaders from Arizona.

The first description, which obviously deals with campaign finance disclosure, is a straightforward description of what the initiative will do. The second is the Top Two primary one and it is, of course, a whole lot of meaningless word salad. But notice how Chuck Coughlin – prime architect of SB1070 and Terry Goddard’s defeat in 2010 for Governor who has, it should be said, not shied away from praising dark money in the past – weaves a reminder about ending “corruption of undisclosed dark money contributions” into his pitch. Just in case you Democrats forgot you had better support this Top Two piece of garbage if you want your Dark Money initiative.