Saturday, November 19, 2016

Trump analogy time: Less "Hitler" and more "pre-Hitler"

Godwin's Law, courtesy
A term that originated on Usenet, Godwin's Law states that as an online argument grows longer and more heated, it becomes increasingly likely that somebody will bring up Adolf Hitler or the Nazis. When such an event occurs, the person guilty of invoking Godwin's Law has effectively forfeited the argument.

For the purposes to discussing the president-elect, Donald Trump, and/or his administration and advisors, I'm going to have to violate Godwin's Law, or simply consider it suspended for the duration.

The comparisons are too obvious to ignore.

The comparisons of Donald Trump to Adolph Hitler seem to me to be both a case of overreach and being premature.  He hasn't even taken office yet.

Nope.  While it's not a perfect analogy (any analogy is an imperfect comparison between two entities), right now he looks to most closely resemble Paul von Hindenburg.

Paul von Hindenburg, courtesy

Von Hindenburg was the second president of Germany (after WWI).

He wasn't Hitler (in fact, he died in 1934, years before the Nazis' greatest evils were fully realized).

However, he was the one who welcomed Hitler into the mainstream of German politics by making him Chancellor of Germany in 1933.

Unlike Trump (who was basically a draft dodger), von Hindenburg was a former field marshal in the German army in WWI.

Like Trump, he was reluctant to accept the responsibilities of his office.

Unlike Trump, he apparently cared about the country he was charged with leading.

Like Trump (who will be 70 on Inauguration Day in January), he wasn't exactly a young man when he first took office (76 years old).

No where did I find evidence of von Hindenburg being held responsible for the rise to power of Hitler and the Nazis; what he did was give them access to the levers of power in the early and middle 1930s.

Fast forward to 2016:

Trump is bringing in some utterly vile people around him, people like Mike Pence, Kris Kobach, Jeff Sessions, Michael Flynn, and others, all people who shouldn't be allowed near a position of public responsibility much less one of public trust.

Right now, none of them appear to be Hitler-like (though at least a couple of them look like wannabes), but when Trump leaves office over his ethical issues (of course, given his age, the term "medical issues" may serve as the preferred euphemism) look for one of them to at least try to assume dictatorial powers.

To critics:

Yes, I know this was (and is) a quick, almost superficial, look at one, very specific, part of the entire ugly situation.

Which is all that it is intended to be; in 50 years or so, historians will produce some very erudite and intellectual treatises that will use many more words to say the same thing.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Election Night 2016

9:50 -

There were 19 school district-related ballot questions in Maricopa County.

Right now, it looks like 15 will pass, 3 will go down, and 1 is still to close to call.

This is actually much better than average here.

9:30 -

In Scottsdale, all incumbents are on their way to reelection.

9:21 -

It looks like the AZ lege will tighten.  My read on races right now:

AZSenate - 14 R, 13 D, 3 too close to call.  If all three races in the "too close to call" category go D, then control flips.  16 - 14 R seems more likely, but this is far from over.

AZHouse - 33 R, 26 D, 1 too close to call.  The Rs retain control.

9:20 -

The Maricopa County Sheriff's race has been called for Paul Penzone!

8:06 - early votes only:

Maricopa County Sheriff: Penzone up over Arpaio big
Maricopa County Recorder: Fontes up over Purcell
CAWCD - Arboleda, Graff, and Holway all in the top 5
LD18 legislature - Bowie (senate) and Epstein (house) ahead
LD28 Senate - Meyer slightly ahead of Brophy-McGee
US Sen - McCain thumping Kirkpatrick
CorpComm - Not looking good for Mundell or Chabin
LD6 - Bagley (D) and Allen (tin foil) - too close to call
Ballot measures -
     Prop 205 (legalizing recreation marijuana) - losing
     Prop 206 (raising minimum wage) - winning shaping up to be a lot like election night 2000.  Florida will be keeping us holding our collective breath...

Once AZ results start coming in, this post will be updated, with an focus on statewide, legislative, Maricopa County, and Scottsdale races.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Election 2016: It's almost over

In case you haven't noticed the wall-to-wall (but oh-so selective) media coverage, the incessant TV and radio ads (and spots on other media), the late night comedy, the hate-filled shouting, or have simply avoided even opening your mailbox for the last month or so,

There's an election coming up on Tuesday.  


While millions of Americans have already voted (full disclosure time: I am one of those millions), millions more will be voting Tuesday.

If you haven't already done so, please make sure you vote on Tuesday.

In addition to a race for president that features two main candidates who present the starkest difference between two candidates for that office in US history, there are scores, in fact, hundreds, of down ballot races that have even more effect on our daily lives that are also up for election.

If you don't know where your polling place is (AZ only) -

Arizona SOS' polling place locator is here (This one should include all polling places in all counties, so if your county isn't listed below, use this one. It works for me here in Maricopa County)

Maricopa County's polling place locator is here

Pima County's polling place locator is here

Coconino County Elections page, including a list of polling places, is here

Apache County Elections page, including a list of polling places, is here

Santa Cruz County polling places are listed here

Other things to keep in mind in Arizona:

If you have an early ballot, it can be dropped off at any polling place in your county on Tuesday, and it will be counted.

If you vote in a precinct other than your own, you will have to cast a provisional ballot and IT WON'T BE COUNTED.

If there is a long line at your polling place, report it to your county party, and if you want your vote to be counted, STAY IN LINE.  If an elections official encourages/suggests that you leave and come back later, this is an attempt at voter suppression.


Tuesday, November 01, 2016

2016 may not be over quite yet, but positioning for 2018 has already started...

From the Arizona Republic, written by Laurie Roberts - 
What is it with these politicians and their ambitions?

Last week, it was Kelli Ward announcing that she’s running once again for the U.S. Senate in 2018 – this time trying to knock off Sen. Jeff Flake.

Now comes Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, filing campaign papers to challenge Secretary of State Michele Reagan in 2018.

Stanton’s decision makes sense – even though it would be nice to get through 2016 before the angling begins for 2018.

Stanton, in a press release, says he's not really running for secretary of state. He just needed to create a state campaign committee in order to transfer remaining funds from his city campaign committee before Nov. 4, when a new state law will bar him from doing so.

As mentioned in the article, Stanton may not run for secretary of state - the governor's spot is also up for election in 2018.

Right now, Doug Ducey, the incumbent governor looks likely to run for and win reelection.  However, a lot can happen between now and the beginning of 2018.

Stanton (pic courtesy

Not least of which is the election next week, which will impact who seeks what office in 2018.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Win or lose the election, Trump has already become the nation's "enabler in chief"

I am not saying that Trump did any of this, or even directed one (or more) of his followers to do these things.  I don't have evidence to that effect.

But while I don't believe in accusing someone, even someone like Trump, of doing something reprehensible without some actual evidence (guess that means that I'll never be director of the FBI), neither do I believe coincidence.

From the Twitter feed of Ashley Killough, a producer/reporter for CNN -
Screenshot of the Tweet:

From pics taken by Elizabeth Rogers, a friend, and friend of the blog, near 32nd Street and McDowell in Phoenix.  The graffiti is new, going up in the last couple of days or so -

Arizona: It's a dry hate.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Ballot time in Arizona

...and elsewhere, as well, but since I live in AZ and my ballot covers AZ, that means this post will focus on AZ (or at least my little part of it).

There are races here in Maricopa County and elsewhere in the state that are important and interesting, but this post only covers those that are on my ballot.

President -

This one is easy -

Hillary Clinton is easily one of the two or three most qualified people to ever run for president.

Donald Trump is a buffoon (which is a word I use to describe someone when I don't want to use the more colorful part of my vocabulary).

And I thought this even before Trump's recently unearthed admission of a seduction technique that can best be described as "rape".

US Senate seat representing AZ -

Ann Kirkpatrick is nowhere near liberal enough to suit me, but she genuinely works to represent her constituents.

In addition to supporting Donald Trump until it was no longer "cool" to do so, John McCain has never met a war he didn't monger.

Another easy choice.

US Congressional seat, representing CD9 -

Skipping this race.

There are two Republicans in this race.  Be it in this race or ones where an R is running and is uncontested, I will be skipping the race.  Even in Arizona there are Republicans who are decent human beings and are (or were) honorable public servants.

They can no longer get through primaries here.

LD24 seats in the Arizona Legislature -

They face no challengers, but Sen. Katie Hobbs, Rep. Lela Alston, and Rep. Ken Clark do a great job representing the people of LD24 and merit an expression of our support and thanks.

Arizona Corporation Commission -

This is Arizona's utility regulator, and when the CEO of the largest regulated utility endorses three of the candidates, vote for the other two, and only the other two.

Those are Bill Mundell and Tom Chabin.

Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, District 1 -

Skipping this race.

Maricopa County Assessor -

Skipping this race.

Maricopa County Attorney -

Diego Rodriguez.

County Attorney isn't just a "staff" job, where the person holding the position must have a particular skill set (the lawyer stuff), but must have integrity,

Bill Montgomery is the incumbent.  Ask him on which side of the bars we can find Sean Pearce.

Maricopa County Recorder -

Adrian Fontes.

A county recorder doesn't do much that directly impacts voters, except for RUN ELECTIONS.

The current recorder, Helen Purcell, has held the post for decades (literally!).

It has been decades since an election here went of without a hitch.

It seems that in every cycle, something new goes wrong, but there is one constant - she always blames someone else for the problems.

The height of her chutzpah in this regard may have been when she blamed incredibly long voting lines during the presidential primary on voters actually, you know, "voting".

Maricopa County School Superintendent -

Michelle Robertson.

There are two candidates on the ballot.

Both are teachers.

One hates public education and Common Core (in short, he's Diane Douglas with a Y chromosome...and she is unfit to be state superintendent of public instruction).

The other one is Michelle Robertson.

She's highly intelligent, highly educated, and student-focused, and will make a great leader and advocate for Maricopa County schools.

Maricopa County Sheriff -

Paul Penzone, in another easy choice.

The incumbent, Joe Arpaio, a nationally-renowned nativist and publicity junkie, is facing criminal charges over the way he operates the agency.

Penzone is a decorated career public servant.  Arpaio has been reduced to bald-faced lies.

It should be a walkover for Penzone, but it won't be - too many of Arpaio's supporters know he is a hater, but he hates the same way that they do.

Maricopa County Treasurer -

Joe Downs.

Like Robertson above, he's smart and knows his stuff.

Unlike his opponent, he doesn't believe in using public resources to campaign for public office.

Justice of the Peace, Arcadia Biltmore -

Skipping this race.

Constable, Arcadia Biltmore -

Carolyn Lane.  She's unopposed, but she works her a** off and deserves an expression of thanks and support.

CAWCD (Central Arizona Water Conservation District, aka the governing board of the Central Arizona Project) -

For this race, voters can select five candidates.  However, there are three outstanding ones - Alexandra Arboleda, Ben Graff, and Jim Holway.  Voting for only those three will increase the likelihood of them winning seats.

Maricopa County Community College District governing board, At-Large seat -

Linda Thor.

Scottsdale Unified School District ballot questions -
"Yes" on both.

Just because the legislature hates public education and refuses to adequately fund it, doesn't mean we have go along with them.

Mayor of Scottsdale -

Bob Littlefield.

Bob is a die-hard Republican, and when he's mayor, we will disagree on pretty much everything that Democrats and Republicans disagree on.

But he genuinely cares about the city.

On the other hand, Jim Lane (the incumbent) and his accomplices on the City Council seem to mostly care about money from developers, holders of liquor licenses, and others that come before the council.

I may not agree with Littlefield on much, and reserve the right to not vote for him in a future election, but for this one, he meets the basic criteria necessary for all elected officials should meet (but most in AZ fail to meet) -

He gives a damn about the district/city that he is running to represent.

Scottsdale City Council -

Guy Phillips.

He's a tea party type, and one I wouldn't vote for under most circumstances.

However, Lane and his handlers keep running negative campaigns against him, so he gets my vote - much as I don't like his ideology, anybody that Jim Lane dislikes can't be all bad.

Proposition 490 (Scottsdale-specific ballot question) -

It appears to be a harmless cleanup of language in the city charter, but, while I am not familiar with all of the people who submitted an argument, the ones that I am familiar with have never supported a "good government" measure that doesn't directly benefit them.

Oh, and Jim Lane also endorsed this one.


Back of the ballot:

Judges - AZ Supreme Court, AZ Court of Appeals and Maricopa County Superior Court -

Voting to retain all listed, except for Jo Lynn Gentry.

The Arizona Commission on Judicial Performance Review does a good job of examining their own, and I am going with that.

Next cycle, I may not - Governor Doug Ducey and the majority in the Arizona Legislature are doing their level best to co-opt/corrupt the judicial branch, and they may make enough inroads toward that goal that next time, the Commission may not merit trust.

For now, however, they do.

Arizona ballot questions -

Proposition 205

Passage of this one would legalize the possession of marijuana for recreational use.

This one is controversial, in that many of the people and corporations that profit from the status quo oppose it.  And have expended thousands (OK, millions) of dollars to defeat it.

Given that the vast majority of Arizonans understand that marijuana is not the "great evil" and opponents that profit from pharmaceuticals that are less effective than marijuana or the police state apparatus that has been constructed to wage the "War on Drugs", well, they've had to resort to misleading and false signs, TV spots, and more.

I am voting Yes.

Proposition 206 -

Passing this one would raise the state's minimum wage, in increments, to $12/hour by 2020.  It would also result in employees being able to accrue paid sick leave.



Saturday, September 03, 2016

Some primary surprises (and some "not surprises") on Tuesday...

Note: All results are tentative and subject to change as late-arriving mail in ballots and provisional ballots are counted.  Most races seem settled, though there are a few that may flip.  And at least a couple seem headed for recounts...

Note2: Results from Maricopa County-specific races are from the website of the Maricopa County Recorder; results from races that cover other counties or the entire state are from the website of the Arizona Secretary of State.

Note3: The geographic descriptions used are for reference only, to give a general idea of where a district is located.  They are not, nor are they meant to be, definitive descriptions of the geographic area covered by a particular district.

I actually think that the a few of the primary results will serve to help Democrats make some gains, but this is turning out to be a weird electoral cycle.

In other words, no predictions.

On the Democratic side...

...In CD2 (Tucson and Southern AZ), former legislator Matt Heinz defeated former legislator Victoria Steele.

...In LD7 (Northern AZ including the Navajo nation), current state legislator Jamescita Peshlakai defeated Steven Begay for the nomination for state senate.

...In LD26 (Tempe and West Mesa), a contentious primary resulted in Juan Mendez (Senate), Athena Salman and Isela Blanc (House) defeating David Lucier (Senate), Celeste Plumlee (incumbent), and Michael Martinez (House).  While the Democratic nominees are likely to win in November, it remains to be seen if some feathers (on both sides) are permanently ruffled.

...In LD27 (South Phoenix and SW Maricopa County), incumbent state senator Catherine Miranda defeated her stepdaughter Maritza Miranda Saenz for the Democratic nomination for state senate.  Catherine Miranda is so well-respected and personally popular that people are already lining up to take her on in 2018.

...In LD29 (West Phoenix), State Rep. Martin Quezada defeated incumbent State Sen. Lydia Hernandez, who is known as a Republican in everything but name.

...In LD30 (West Central Phoenix and Glendale), the three way race for two nominations for the House is still too close to call, with newcomer Ray Martinez in second place, 144 votes ahead of incumbent Jonathan Larkin.

...In LD9 (North and NW Tucson) friend and fellow blogger Pamela Powers Hannley won the second Democratic nomination for a House seat.

Congrats Pam!

On the Republican side...

...In the primary race for Maricopa County Recorder,  beleaguered incumbent Helen Purcell is ahead of apparent 9/11 Truther (based on some of his tweets) Aaron Flannery by 185 votes.  This one is close enough that a recount may be needed here, which would involve another beleaguered incumbent, Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan.

...In the primary race for the Republican nomination in CD5, state legislator (and renowned would-be tinhorn dictator) Andy Biggs is leading perennial candidate Christine Jones by 9 votes.  Regardless of how this one turns out, expect a recount here.  No matter how enthusiastically Biggs declares victory.

...In a bit of a surprise to many observers, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu won the Republican nomination in CD1.  He's a "colorful" character, so much so that the DCCC is already running TV spots in the race.

...In the primary race for Maricopa County School Superintendent, incumbent Don Covey came in a surprising third in a three way race.  And it wasn't even a close third...

Democrat Michelle Robertson awaits in November.

...In the primary race for the nomination for Desert Ridge Justice of the Peace (far northern Phoenix), incumbent Clancy Jayne came in third in the three way race.  He's not a liberal or even a moderate by any definition, but even Republicans consider him to be an "unpleasant person".

...In the primary race for the nomination for Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio lapped the field, setting up a November battle with his 2012 challenger, Democrat Paul Penzone.

...In the primary race for the nomination for Moon Valley JP (north central Phoenix), political newcomer Andrew Hettinger more than doubled up former state legislator Carl Seel.  Seel is also regarded by many as an "unpleasant person".

...In the primary race for state senate in LD5 (Western and NW AZ), state legislator Sonny Borrelli (R-anger control issues) defeated former state senator Ron Gould (R - The South Will Rise Again!).  This was a race where most non-crossburning observers hoped both candidates would find a way to lose.

...In the primary race for state senate in LD18 (Ahwatukee, south Tempe, west Chandler), in an upset, Frank Schmuck defeated incumbent Jeff Dial.  Wiseass bloggers and headline writers all over the state just smiled a little wider.

Democrat Sean Bowie awaits in November.

...In the primary race for state house in LD1, dark money darling David Stringer is ahead of Chip Davis for the second nomination there.

However, as interesting as some of the races here may have been, none brought joy to the internet as did the defeat of Angela Corey, the Florida prosecutor who got George Zimmerman a complete walk for murdering a black man but was able to get 20 years for Marissa Alexander for NOT killing one.

She is one elected official that no one is going to miss when she's gone.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Early voting has started in Arizona...

...and while it is a primary election, all voters, even unaffiliated ones, can, and *should* participate...

From an email from the City of Mesa -
Early voting for the Aug. 30 Arizona Primary Election began on Aug. 3 and ends on Aug. 26.
Voters on the Permanent Early Voting List and voters wishing to receive an early ballot who are not registered with a declared political party must contact Maricopa County Elections at (602) 506-1511 to request which ballot they want to receive (Republican, Democrat, Green or non-partisan if it is a ballot for [non-partisan] candidates only). Voters, not registered with a party, who plan on going to the polls to vote can request the ballot they want upon arrival at the polling site.

While this email focused only on Maricopa County (home county of Mesa), the procedure is the same in other counties, except election questions should be directed to the relevant county's elections department. 

Maricopa County's list of early voting sites is here.

Pima County's list of early voting sites is here.

Pinal County's early voting sites are the offices of the Pinal County Recorder; the list of those offices is here.

Yavapai County's early voting sites are the offices of the Pinal County Recorder; the list of those offices is here.

Yuma County - early ballots can be dropped off at the county recorder's office here.

Santa Cruz County - contact the Elections Department at 520-375-7808 for early voting information.  The full list of voting centers for the election is here.  Note: Santa Cruz County's website is vague, but I do *not* believe these are also early voting locations.

Coconino County's list of early voting sites can be downloaded here.

For the other counties, please contact their elections departments for the relevant early voting information.

Saturday, August 06, 2016

"Dark money" doesn't always mean bribing elected officials; sometimes it means buying them while they are still only candidates

Normally, I am loath to comment on any primary race, even a Republican primary race - the "lesser of two evils" is usually still pretty evil.

However, I will make an exception when the observation that I make is about the conduct of the candidate, and not the content of his/her positions on the issues*.

* - An exception to that exception: When a candidate self-identifies as a Democrat but holds positions or exhibits an attitude toward the public that says "Republican".

Then, they're fair game...

The race that is the subject of this post is actually a three-way race for two seats (AZ House of Representatives), but the principle is still applicable.

In Legislative District 1, centered around Prescott, there are three candidates running for the two Republican nominations to the House -

Noel Campbell, an incumbent (the other House incumbent there, Republican Karen Fann, is running for the AZ Senate seat there; she's unopposed in both the primary and the general)

Chip Davis, a long-time Yavapai County supervisor

David Stringer, a businessman

This isn't about any of the positions on issues (suffice it to say, I wouldn't vote for any of them).

Nope, it's about one of them.

Campbell, the incumbent, is running as a "Clean" candidate.  In the two campaign finance reports that he has filed this year, he reports raising $2070 from individual contributors, and making $0 in loans to his campaign. (Note: to run as a Clean Elections candidate for a seat in the legislature one has to obtain $5 contributions from at least 250 voters in the district)

Davis reports raising almost $43K from individual contributors and $10K in a loan to his own campaign.

Stringer reports raising $0 from individual contributors and loaning his own campaign more than $89K. (Relax - he's got the money to afford this; his financial disclosure statement indicates that he has more than $1 million in cash and assets available)

Stringer *has* accepted at least one outside contribution for his campaign -
Thanks to the Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting for shining a light on this

"American Federation for Children" sounds good in an "Awww shucks, they're for kids" sort of way.

However, a little research turns up the fact that AFC is an "astroturf" (fake grassroots) group that exists to push for the privatization (and profitization) of education in the U.S.

From SourceWatch -
The American Federation for Children (AFC) is a conservative 501(c)(4) advocacy group that promotes the school privatization agenda via the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and other avenues. It is the 501(c)(4) arm of the 501(c)(3) non-profit group the Alliance for School Choice.  Former Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Scott Jensen, who was charged with multiple crimes stemming from abuse of his office, is on staff at ASC as Senior Advisor to its Government Affairs Team.

In the organization's own words, ASC is "a leading national advocacy organization promoting school choice, with a specific focus on advocating for school vouchers and scholarship tax credit programs."

The anti-public education bent isn't something that's new to Stringer.

From his own campaign website -
Stringer became especially active when he helped spearhead the campaign that lead to the defeat of the 2013 PUSD school bond and budget override. 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Bernie and Hillary: A few thoughts

Hi everybody!  It's been a while since I posted (work getting in the way) and an even longer while since I posted something that was pure commentary.

With the start of Democratic National Convention however, it's time for some commentary.

To supporters of Bernie Sanders:

Don't be asses.

Hillary Clinton won the primary.

Throwing a temper tantrum now, booing Hillary Clinton, booing Bernie Sanders himself after he pleaded with his supporters to support Clinton, isn't going to change the results of the primary.

Look, we can support Clinton, or not, as our individual consciences dictate.

But, whatever we each decide for ourselves, it doesn't help anyone to be asses about it.

To supporters of Hillary Clinton:

Let me be up front about it -

I am not Hillary Clinton's biggest fan.

When I cast my vote for Sanders in the primary, I voted for the person I thought would do the best job of working for the people, *all* of the people of America.

I haven't heard or seen any evidence that shows that criteria to be an incorrect one, or that my evaluation using that criteria was incorrect.

In short, I'm still a Bernie fan.

With that caveat/disclaimer out of the way, on to the "commentary" portion of the program.

As with the message for Sanders' supporters, the message can be summarized thusly -

Don't be asses.

Longer version:

Candidate Clinton's biggest weakness is not her.

It's not even her husband (he's still great on the stump, though sometimes, his leash should be shorter).

It's you.

There's a certain arrogance in her camp.  A rather off-putting arrogance.

A big part of that arrogance is manifested in a "How DARE you?!?" attitude toward anyone who isn't wholly and unthinkingly in the Clinton camp.

I've heard this from people, Hillary supporters, who I've known, liked, and respected for years.

Speaking personally, I do NOT respond well to "How DARE you?!?".

Not even people that I have heretofore liked and respected.

In this, I don't claim to speak for anyone else, but something tells me that I am not alone in this feeling.

Oh, and another thing that I don't respond well to: "By not voting for Clinton, you're voting for Trump".

That's just a modern version of "if you aren't with us, you're against us".

Which was complete crap when George W. Bush said it.

It's still complete crap.

Among Sanders' supporters, there are people who will never vote for Clinton, no matter what.

Among Sanders' supporters, there are people who will look at Trump and then cast their vote for the Democratic nominee, no matter what.

Among Sanders' supporters, there are people (like me) who want to vote for Clinton, but can be pushed away.

While I will never vote for Trump (he's evil) or Jill Stein or Gary Johnson (they're ideologues who fail the "will work for the people of America" test), I *can* skip the race completely (I've already decided to skip the CD9 race in November).

And while one person not voting in the race won't make a big difference in the race, thousands or hundreds of thousands skipping the race could definitely impact the race.

My recommendations:

Don't gloat, don't belittle Sanders supporters, don't denigrate people whose opinions are different than yours.

Leave that to Republicans and other Trump supporters.

To the Clinton campaign (and her supporters):

Don't *demand* the votes of Sanders' supporters; *earn* them.  Failing that, at least ask for them (without the guilt trip stuff added in).

Give people a reason to vote *for* Hillary Clinton, not just reasons to vote *against* Donald Trump.

Surrogates like Elizabeth Warren (and wiseasses everywhere) can handle that chore (let's face it, Trump's main contribution to pop culture is a steady stream of punchline material.)

Caveat: Trump will, a couple of times, offer up something so despicable, so egregious, that the campaign should take notice and make a direct comment.  Pick those occasions wisely.

To everyone in both camps:

When you come across someone who is belittling one candidate or the other (or their respective supporters), when you are tempted to just classify them as a "Hillbot" or "Berniebro" and move on, ignore them.

Unless the vitriol is from someone you know personally.

Then ask them to do one of two things -

Explain, or pull their heads out of their asses.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Michelle Reagan, Arizona Secretary of State or 21st Century "Not Ready For Prime Time Player"?

...Of course, unlike the real Not Ready For Prime Time Players, people are laughing at, not *with* her...

Arizona Secretary of State Michele Reagan, the state's chief elections officer, has had a tough few months.

First up: there were some massively long lines during Arizona's presidential primary in March.  Those lines were in Maricopa County, so the elections officer there (County Recorder Helen Purcell) took much of the heat for that, but some, inevitably, ended up on Reagan.

Then in May, in the weeks leading up to an incredibly close special election, her office failed to follow state law and send voter information pamphlets to hundreds of thousands of voters.

Now, this week, she is refusing to follow state law requiring her to issue updated manuals for election workers.

Now, I'm not going to pile on Secretary Reagan (well, not too much), but part of her job is to help people become voters.

She seems to be failing in that regard (as well as in the above areas) -
Phoenix ComicCon 2016, Friday night.  Pic courtesy Rebecca Wininger

And it isn't like she just plumb forgot about Phoenix ComicCon.  From Twitter -

That's not the only part of her job she's failing at (though elections are a *big* part of that job).

From the AZSOS' "Media Center" page -

Note the "@REALAZsos" Twitter handle; it doesn't match the "@SecretaryReagan" handle for the tweet above.

So I checked out the one linked on Reagan's official website.

Does anyone read Russian (at least, I think it's Russian)?

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Arizona dodges the "late night monologue punchline" bullet for once*

* - Well, maybe; the people behind the state's latest embarrassment don't seem like that they have gotten the "Wait, people have heard about this.  Never mind" message.

From the Arizona Capitol Times, written by Hank Stephenson -
America’s civil rights legacy has been “hijacked” by blacks, and revisionist history unfairly denigrates “English-speaking white citizens” even though they freed the slaves and ended segregation, according to a group planning a “civil rights conference” on the floor of the Arizona House of Representatives later this month.

The American Unification Movement is an anti-immigration group headed up by Los Angeles-based activist Ted Hayes, who has teamed up with local conservative activist Ron Ludders to host the all-day event at the statehouse on May 21.

Shortly after the original story was published, this update was appended to the story -
UPDATE: About a half-hour after the story below was published, the Arizona House of Representatives said that the American Unification Movement event had been canceled.
Sounds good...but the American Unification Movement doesn't seem to have gotten the message.

Their latest post on their Facebook page -

From the front page of their website -

Hmmm...yes, it's possible that the webmaster/communications folks at AUM are a little slow (and to be fair, this whole thing exploded in the face of David Gowan, the Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives and the person who approved this wasteful use of public resources, just this afternoon) but it is also (very) possible that the Speaker's office said whatever they thought would make the controversy go away.

In other words, keep an eye on the Capitol on May 21.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The sine die watch is on at the legislature

Guess what time of the year it is?

Multiple sources, meaning mostly lobbyists and members of the media (because my "insider" sources are Democrats, who are told less than the media), are reporting that the state's budget will be done this week, and with it, the 2016 session of the Arizona legislature.

Sounds simple, but the ride is going to be at once rough and stultifyingly boring.

There is going to be a lot of "hurry up and wait" this week at the Capitol.  The budget negotiations take place between the governor's office and the "leadership" of the legislature.

Democrats and rank-and-file Republicans aren't welcomed to the table.

 However, things could still go sideways at the lege.

If that happens (which seems unlikely at this point), don't be surprised if they finish up work on regular bills this week, adjourn sine die (sending everyone home), and bring back the lege in a short special session to pass a budget.

The pressure to adjourn is partially brought on by a legislative deadline, requiring the lege to adjourn sine die by April 30 (Saturday).

However, that deadline can be extended by a simple majority vote, which is something that the Republican majority can usually achieve, easily.

The more practical deadline is related to fund-raising - members of the lege aren't supposed to accept contributions from lobbyists during the legislative session, this *is* an election year after all.

In other words, they all want to get the hell out of Dodge (Phoenix) and get on with the real reason that they are involved in politics - $$$.

Anyway, as of this writing, no budget-related bill have been posted on the lege's website.

Some of the tweets from the day, some from when the Tweeters thought the budget might come down today, and some after their hopes were dashed -

Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Maricopa County Recorder's Office isn't telling the truth to Spanish-speaking voters? It must be a day ending in "y",,,

Arizona has a "special" election coming up for the voters to consider two ballot propositions placed before them by the legislature (which, for most observers, should be definitive evidence that both are bad for Arizonans - this *is* the Arizona legislature that we are talking about here).

Proposition 123 would allow the legislature to continue to shirk its duty to properly fund education in Arizona by letting it tap into the state's land trust at a faster pace than is currently allowed.

Proposition 124 would reward the legislature for it habitual underfunding of the pension system for public safety employees by placing more of the financial burden of the system on those public employees.

Early ballots have started reaching mail boxes this week, and there are already problems.

And to the surprise of almost no one, the problems are in Maricopa County.

Of course.

From KNXV-TV, written by Melissa Blasius -

ABC15 has learned thousands of early ballots mailed in Maricopa County this week have a major mistake in the Spanish translation of Proposition 124.

Proposition 124 is a proposal to make changes to police and firefighter pensions.  However, the boldface short title of the proposition in Spanish indicates it’s about education funding.  The wording in the title for Proposition 124 appears identical to Proposition 123, which is also on the ballot.

Beneath the incorrect title for Proposition 124, there is a more lengthy explanation that appears to appropriately describe the pension reform ballot measure.

Spokespeople for both the Arizona Secretary of State and the Maricopa County Recorder say they were unaware of the problem until ABC15 brought it to their attention Friday morning.

They, meaning Michelle Reagan (Arizona Secretary of State) and Helen Purcell (Maricopa County Recorder), respectively, the overseer of elections in the entire state and the overseer of elections in the state's most populous county, want people to believe that this is a minor mistake that can be corrected by reprinting the ballots to be used for in-person voting and sending post cards to the recipients of early ballots.

Which might be an adequate response...if there weren't problems with all elections in Maricopa County.

Most of the time, Purcell, Reagan, et al. place the blame for problems with elections square on the shoulders of the people they seem to despise most - the voters.

Apparently, certain elected officials are surprised when voters actually vote in elections that don't have those specific elected officials on the ballot.

Of course, there are a few examples of official malfeasance/sustained incompetence that even they can't blame on the voters; when caught, they just "pooh-pooh" (minimize) the impact of their bad acts on the voters.

Like they have in this situation.

Full disclosure time: I have already voted "No" on both propositions and returned my ballot.  My reasons for voting against Prop 123 have been stated before this.  As for Prop 124, while a number of people that I wholeheartedly respect actually support the measure, I cannot bring myself to support of anything that the legislature puts on a ballot.

Somewhere...someday...the modern Arizona legislature may spawn an idea that actually benefits all Arizonans, and not just their deep-pocketed masters.

When (if!) that comes to pass, the related post will have a title that starts with "Well, there's a first time for everything".

Anyway, a few pictures of my ballot, to illustrate the problem -

Prop 123; please note the Spanish language short title.
Prop 124; please note the Spanish language short title.

Prop 124's Spanish language short title, magnified:

A translation, courtesy Google Translate (probably not necessary in Arizona, but it makes a great visual :) ):

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Proposition 123: Read the fine print, folks

In a few days, early voting will start for May's special election when the voters will consider Proposition 123, a plan approved by the legislature to get the voters to get the lege out from under a court order to properly fund public education.

Since I may be the only observer in the state to not weigh in on the measure, it's time for me to do so.

For readers with short attention spans:

It's more than a bad idea; it's a scam.  I am voting against it and recommend that you also vote against it. 

For readers with longer attention spans:

When Arizona became a state, millions of acres of land were set aside in a trust administered by the state.  It was allowed to sell off a portion of those lands every year with the revenue being earmarked to help support a number of beneficiaries, primarily public education in Arizona.

If approved, the measure would allow the governor and the legislature to sell off state trust lands at a faster pace, bringing down the overall value of the trust, ostensibly using the increase in short term revenue to bolster public education funding here in Arizona.

The measure is something that is actually *bad* for Arizona public education, and even worse, it doesn't look like that the authors of the measure ever intended help public education.

People as ideologically diverse as five current and former Arizona state treasurers and former congressman Ron Barber think this is a bad idea.

These aren't people with whom I am often in agreement (including Barber, they are, one and all, far too conservative), but they are right on this.

Their evaluations of Prop 123 are far more eloquent than anything I can come up...but that won't stop me from chiming in with a few points. :)

Firstly, it's a scheme to sacrifice the future to pay for the present.

There are fables/aphorisms/fairy tales/whatevers to that fit here -

For people who are weary of the constant battle to support education in Arizona, or have just become so desperate to temporarily stave off further damage to the state's education system, there's the one pointing out the lack of wisdom in "eating your seed corn".

From (linked above) -

To eat the corn which should be saved for seed, so as to forestall starvation; - a desperate measure, since it only postpones disaster.

any desperate action which creates a disastrous situation in the long-term, done in order to provide temporary relief.

For the people who look upon the state's trust lands with covetous eyes, there's the one about a goose and some golden eggs.

From -
One day a countryman going to the nest of his goose found there an egg all yellow and glittering. When he took it up it was as heavy as lead and he was going to throw it away, because he thought a trick had been played on him. But he took it home on second thoughts, and soon found that it was an egg of pure gold.

Every morning the same thing occured, and he grew rich by selling his eggs. As he grew rich he grew greedy; and thinking to get at once all the gold the goose could give, he killed it and opened it only to find nothing.

Greed often overreaches itself.

Secondly, there's the people who are supporting the measure oh-so enthusiastically, almost piously.

Sharon Harper, the chairman of the political committee formed to spend money, is the CEO of Plaza Companies, a large real estate firm/speculator, and W.J. "Jim" Lane is the mayor of Scottsdale.  A place where the most appropriate Christmas gift for the majority on the city council (of which he is the undisputed leader, both legally and practically) would be lip splints.

Needed because when a deep-pocketed developer walks into the room, they pucker up so intensely that they may sprain something.

This committee has raised nearly $4 million to spend in support of the scheme -

In contrast, the committee formed to oppose the measure has raised slightly less -

The committee is strongly supported by big business, getting more than $1.2 million in funding from business entities -

To be sure, the people behind those business entities are ponying up some of the personal money (one page from the same campaign finance report) -

To be blunt, these are people whose definitions of "right and wrong" overlap with their definitions of "sufficient and insufficient ROI".

Thirdly, and perhaps most damning of all, there's the "fine print" of the proposal.

Not only is there nothing that forbids the legislature from cutting General Fund appropriations for public education by the same amount of revenue generated by trust land sales (or more!), there is "poison pill" language that allows the lege to massively cut education under circumstances that the lege itself can create.

The text of the proposal, from the bill passed by the lege (emphasis added) -

2.  Article XI, Constitution of Arizona, is proposed to be amended by adding section 11 as follows if approved by the voters and on proclamation of the Governor:
11.  Schools; inflation adjustments; exceptions; definitions
Section 11.  A.  On or before February 1 of each year, if the state transaction privilege tax growth rate and the total nonfarm employment growth rate are each at least one percent, but less than two percent, the director of the office of strategic planning and budgeting, or its successor agency, and the director of the joint legislative budget committee, or its successor agency, shall jointly notify the governor, the president of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives.  On receipt of the notification, the legislature is not required to make the inflation adjustments required by section 15-901.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, for the next fiscal year.
B.  On or before February 1 of each year, if the state transaction privilege tax growth rate and the total nonfarm employment growth rate are each less than one percent, the director of the office of strategic planning and budgeting, or its successor agency, and the director of the joint legislative budget committee, or its successor agency, shall jointly notify the governor, the president of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives.  On receipt of the notification, the legislature shall not make the inflation adjustments required by section 15-901.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, for the next fiscal year.
C.  Beginning in fiscal year 2024-2025, on or before February 1 of each year, if the total amount of general fund appropriations for the Arizona department of education, or its successor agency, is at least forty-nine percent but less than fifty percent of the total general fund appropriation for the current fiscal year, the director of the office of strategic planning and budgeting, or its successor agency, and the director of the joint legislative budget committee, or its successor agency, shall jointly notify the governor, the president of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives.  On receipt of the notification, the legislature:

1.  Is not required to make the inflation adjustments required by section 15-901.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, for the next fiscal year.

2.  May reduce the base level for the next fiscal year by the amount of the inflation adjustments required by section 15‑901.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, made for the current fiscal year.

D.  Beginning in fiscal year 2024-2025, on or before February 1 of each year, if the total amount of general fund appropriations for the Arizona department of education, or its successor agency, is at least fifty percent of the total general fund appropriation for the current fiscal year, the director of the office of strategic planning and budgeting, or its successor agency, and the director of the joint legislative budget committee, or its successor agency, shall jointly notify the governor, the president of the senate and the speaker of the house of representatives.  On receipt of the notification, the legislature:

1.  Is not required to make the inflation adjustments required by section 15-901.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, for the next fiscal year.

2.  May reduce the base level for the next fiscal year by two times the amount of the inflation adjustments required by section 15-901.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, made for the current fiscal year.

E.  If the inflation adjustments required by section 15‑901.01, Arizona Revised Statutes, are not required to be made or are prohibited from being made pursuant to this section for a fiscal year, the omitted inflation adjustment amounts:

1.  Are not required to be paid or distributed in any subsequent fiscal year.

2.  Become a part of the calculation of the base level for subsequent fiscal years.

F.  If base level reductions are made pursuant to subsection c or D of this section for a fiscal year, the reduced amounts:

1.  Are not required to be paid or distributed in any subsequent fiscal year.

2.  Do not become part of the calculation of the base level for subsequent fiscal years.
G.  This section preserves the authority vested in the legislature pursuant to this constitution.
H.  For the purposes of this section:
1.  "Total nonfarm employment growth rate" means the percentage change in the seasonally adjusted total nonfarm employment in this state from the final month of the most recent calendar year to the final month of the immediately preceding calendar year, as reported by the Arizona department of administration or its successor agency.
2.  "State transaction privilege tax growth rate" means the percentage change in the revenues derived from the state transaction privilege tax that are distributed to the state general fund from the most recent calendar year to the immediately preceding calendar year, as reported by the Arizona department of revenue or its successor agency.
3.  Nonseverability
If any portion of this proposition is finally adjudicated invalid, the entire proposition is void.
4.  The Secretary of State shall submit this proposition to the voters at a special election called to be held for that purpose on May 17, 2016 as provided by article XXI, Constitution of Arizona.

The way that this is written, the lege could enact more corporate tax cuts, further reducing state revenue.

And increasing the percentage of education spending as a portion of general fund expenditures (without actually increasing education spending) to the point where they could legally further reduce education spending.

Secretary of State (and Chief of Voter Suppression) Michele Reagan is on board with this scheme too, judging by the rather slanted ballot language crafted by her office -

People like Doug Ducey and the lege favor Proposition 123, and that's reason enough to oppose it -

The next time that either one supports something that benefits civil society will be the first time.

Information on Proposition 123, including things like ballot arguments filed both in favor of and in opposition to the measure can be found here.