Saturday, August 29, 2015

Random find: Arizona's loyalty oath

Oh, the things you find when you aren't looking for them...

While doing some regular general research, I came across this interesting nugget on the website of the Arizona Secretary of State -

Arizona has a loyalty oath?

Curious as to what officeholders in AZ have to swear to be loyal to, I opened up the form on the SOS' website, expecting something from the McCarthy era.  It wasn't quite that bad, but...

OK, it's pretty much boilerplate stuff, basically very mundane.

But I noticed one thing, a significant omission.  Do you see it?

Here, let me help -

Quoting the highlighted text:
...I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the State of Arizona...

Based on this oath, for Arizona officeholders, supporting (and protecting and defending, and ?obeying?) federal laws is optional.

Yes, it's just another way that the neo-secessionists at the state capitol can thumb their noses at civil society in general and the federal government in particular.

But, on the bright side, doesn't the phrasing of that oath mean that when the Republican leadership at the Capitol (including the governor, leadership of the lege, and their staffers/lackeys), by their brazen refusal to follow Arizona law, and a court order to do so, and properly fund the state's education system, they have, in effect

Voluntarily resigned their positions?

Yeah, yeah, yeah - I'm thinking logically, and while I'm not a lawyer, I know enough about the law to know that it can rarely be described as "logical".

Note: this isn't something thought up solely by Arizona's Secretary of State, Michelle Reagan; it's part of Arizona state law.

And per that law, it applies to "any person elected, appointed or employed, either on a part-time or full-time basis, by this state or any of its political subdivisions or any county, city, town, municipal corporation, school district, public educational institution or any board, commission or agency of any county, city, town, municipal corporation, school district or public educational institution."

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Some say "pro-life". Some say "anti-choice". I say "hypocrite".

This may surprise regular readers (OK, not really :) ), but I know a lot of "pro-choice" folks; I don't know any who are "pro-abortion".

By the same token, I know many "anti-choice" people, but very few who truly qualify as "pro-life".

The loud people who oppose even the idea that women should have control of their bodies and access to complete healthcare services, including abortion services if they so choose, like to proclaim themselves to be "pro-life",  as they see themselves as "protecting" fetuses.

The people who disagree with them often refer to those people as "anti-choice" because most of them seem to stop caring about those fetuses once they become living children.

The anti-choicers say that "life begins at conception" but act is if life becomes irrelevant at birth.

This past Saturday (8/22/2015), there were protests and counter-protests at Planned Parenthood facilities across the country, including here in Arizona.  Their putative motivation for the protests this weekend was some selectively-edited and now-debunked videos that allegedly showed PP execs talking about selling body parts from aborted fetuses for profit.

On Saturday, the anti-choicers' show pony/headliner was Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, himself definitive evidence that someone can be "anti-choice" without being truly "pro-life".

A few examples:

- His handling of the Sean Pearce case.  In late 2013, Pearce, a senior deputy of one close political ally (Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio) and the son of another close ally (disgraced former state senate president Russell Pearce), was driving his Chevrolet Tahoe at more than twice the posted speed (specifically, 81 mph in 40 mph limit zone), when he hit another vehicle.

The driver of the other vehicle was killed in the accident.

After a "thorough" investigation, Montgomery decided that no charges were warranted.

Even though everyone that I know (including people who work inside the justice system) who saw the video of the incident said "prison time", or something close.  Meaning that any "normal" person (i.e. - not politically well-connected) would have been looking at some serious prison time.

But not Sean Pearce, the son of one of Montgomery's friends and a senior underling of another one.

Pearce was cited for excessive speed, and because the prosecution failed to inform the judge in the matter that someone died as a result of Pearce's actions, he was allowed to take a defensive driving course.

Meaning that he didn't even get points on his auto insurance record for killing someone.

He didn't quite get off scot-free for the death, but it was damn close.

- Then there's the case of Joshua Pearce, brother of Sean and another son of Russell.

In 2010, an infant daughter of Joshua Pearce suffered a fractured skull.  When the incident was investigated, police found that the stories of Joshua Pearce and wife did not jibe with the stories told by their other children.  In addition, a doctor determined that the injury could not have occurred the way that Pearce said it happened.

Still, the investigation was closed after Mesa PD and the office of Maricopa County Attorney determined that no charges were merited.

- Turning to the now-infamous case of Debra Milke.

In 1990 (well before Montgomery became county attorney) Milke was convicted in the murder of her son.  The police and the prosecution alleged that she conspired with two men to kill her son and had confessed to doing so.

The confession was unrecorded and was witnessed by only one detective.

It later came out that the detective had a history of lying and falsifying evidence to make cases, that the prosecution was aware of that record, and that the prosecution failed to disclose that record to the defense, as they were required to do.

In 2013, the conviction was overturned by an appeals court because of the misconduct by the prosecution.  The case was returned to the MCAO for further disposition.

Montgomery's office started the process to re-prosecute her.  When another judge ruled that the misconduct in the first prosecution was so egregious that jeopardy had attached and that she could not be retried.

In an attempt to return Milke to prison and death row, Montgomery appealed that ruling.  And lost.

- And then, of course, there is the Jodi Arias case.

After a long and incredibly expensive trial, Arias was convicted of the 2008 murder of her boyfriend.

Montgomery sought to have her sentenced to death.

The first sentencing jury deadlocked between imposing the death penalty and a sentence of life in prison, mandating that she receive a sentence of life in prison (death sentences must be unanimous).

Montgomery could have accepted that and moved on to other cases, but he wanted her to die.

So he appealed the sentence verdict, looking for a second sentencing trial.

He got that second sentencing trial, trying to have Arias killed.

And after the second sentencing trial, after running the costs for her prosecution and defense into the millions (both paid for by the taxpayers)...the second jury also deadlocked.

The prosecution gets only two bites at the sentencing apple, so Arias was sentenced to natural life in prison (aka - life without the possibility of parole).

So, to sum up -

Montgomery has declared himself a "protector of life", yet lets one killer off, seemingly to help a couple of political allies.

Montgomery has declared himself a "protector of life", but tried to have someone who was wrongfully convicted put back in prison and on death row after her conviction was vacated because the prosecution in her case cheated.  Horrendously.

Montgomery has declared himself a "protector of life", but he has forced the spending of millions of taxpayer dollars in a futile quest to have someone that he doesn't like killed.

And when it comes to protecting children, their health and lives seem to take a back seat to his personal political calculations.

In other words, Bill Montgomery's words may say "pro-life".

However, his acts (both of commission and omission) tell a veerrrry different story.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

AZSOS Michele Reagan to Clean Elections Commission: "Do as I do, not as I say"

...In her case, what she says is all about transparent and honest elections; what she *does* is most assuredly not about about transparent and honest elections.

Oh yeah - as Arizona's Secretary of State, she is the state's chief elections officer.

Then-Senator Reagan in 2011, speaking in Scottsdale against the redistricting process

From the Arizona Republic, written by Mary Jo Pitzl, dated 21 August 2015 -
The turf war between the Arizona Secretary of State and the Clean Elections Commission is continuing, but on a slower timetable and with softer, yet stern, rhetoric.

On Thursday, Secretary of State Michele Reagan told the five commissioners to “tread lightly” as they consider a rule that could force disclosure of so-called “dark-money” contributors.

“I believe you have noble intentions,” Reagan said. “You want to be able to rein in groups if they corrupt our election system.”

But, she continued, the way the commission is trying to do that would set a precedent that she called “extremely troubling.”

Now, when Secretary Reagan was "Senator Reagan" and only a candidate for AZSOS, she talked a good game (OK, it was an "alright" game, and then only if you didn't listen too closely...but I digress).

From the Arizona Republic, written by Mary Jo Pitzl, dated 31 October 2014 -
Reagan, as chairman of the Senate Elections Committee, sponsored a bill this year that would have required disclosure of the "identifiable contributors" who are the original source of money for an independent-expenditure committee. This would have cut through the layers of intermediary groups that have merely passed along campaign cash to the committee. Senate Bill 1403 also would have required all political ads, signs, brochures and other materials to list the top three contributors.

The bill passed her committee on a unanimous vote, then never surfaced again.
That last part, the "never surfaced again" part, was a distinct pattern for Reagan during her time in the state senate - not only did 2014's SB1403 "mysteriously" die in committee, so did a slew of her election "reform" bills in 2013.

Her "reforms" were almost all about voter suppression and while Reagan's bills died, the voter suppression clauses were folded into the now-infamous HB2305.

She wasn't listed as one of the sponsors of the bill (plausible deniability?), but she was one the conference committee members that help to turn a previously (relatively) innocuous bill into a true nugget of ugly.

That bill was passed and signed into law by then-Governor Jan Brewer.

It was then subject to a petition effort to refer it to the 2014 ballot to be overturned (or upheld) by the voters.

The petition drive was successful, more or less.

Enough signatures were gathered to freeze implementation of the measure and refer it to the ballot.

The lege, still having a few active brain cells under their tin foil tricorner hats and realizing that having on the ballot something that would serve to highlight GOP voter suppression efforts would be very bad (for them, anyway), promptly repealed HB2305 during the early days of the 2014 session, rendering the petition drive/ballot referral moot.

Reagan's conflict with the Citizens Clean Election Commission seems to rise from the fact that they aren't willing to be paper tigers, unwilling to do anything to upset the dark money-fueled gravy train that so many at the state capitol so enthusiastically ride.

Maybe if, instead of just talking a good game, Reagan was interested in doing her job conscientiously and honorably, it wouldn't be necessary for the CCEC to intervene.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Donald Trump: Legit candidate or shiny object?

Some people think that GOP candidate for president Donald Trump is "sucking the air out of the room", making it impossible for the other candidates in the field to be heard or gain traction.

I think that instead he is providing cover for them.  They get to say some of the most insane, bigoted, and hypocritical things but with public and MSM attention focused on Trump's latest bout of racism/misogyny/general misanthropy, only the GOP base hears the dog whistles of the rest of the field.

In other words, Trump is this cycle's Shiny Object.

In a week where Trump declined to repudiate two of his followers who assaulted and urinated on a homeless Hispanic man (Trump said only that his followers were "passionate"), the other candidates said and did (there is an anti-immigrant theme here, but their hatred is of the "well-rounded" variety):

- Ted Cruz - Went after former president Jimmy Carter the day after Carter announced that he has cancer

- John Kasich - Called for the banning of teacher's lounges in schools because he thinks that all teachers do there is complain

- Bobby Jindal - Wants to prosecute the mayors of "sanctuary cities" for any crimes committed by undocumented immigrants in their cities

- Rick Santorum - Stated that Congress can override the US Constitution and end "birthright citizenship"

- Ben Carson - Wants to further militarize the US border with Mexico

- Rick Perry - Flat out lied about improvement in high school graduation rates in Texas during his tenure as governor there

- Chris Christie - Likened the furor around Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server for emails sent as part of her official duties as Secretary of State to his involvement in "Bridgegate"

- Jeb Bush - Embraced the nativist wing of the national GOP by defending the use of, and using, the ethnic slur "anchor baby"

- Marco Rubio - Doubled down on his embrace of "tinkle down" economic theory while speaking in Detroit, which may be the epicenter of the economic destruction wreaked upon the middle class by previous purveyors of "tinkle down" (OK, this is, relatively speaking, the mildest insanity of the week; still, it shows that Rubio is not ready for prime time)

- Carly Fiorina - Tried to weasel her way into gaining support from the anti-vaxxer wing of the GOP by advocating making vaccines for non-communicable diseases optional.  One problem: every one of the main vaccines given to children as part of going to school is for a communicable disease

- Scott Walker - Said #BlackLivesMatter doesn't matter and isn't worthy of his attention

- Rand Paul - Announced that his campaign for president is toast.  Oh, it's not *officially* over, but the KY GOP declared that he can run both for the nomination for the presidency and for reelection to his seat in the Senate.  Which is their (and his) way of saying that Paul has no chance of winning the presidency

- Mike Huckabee - Signaled that a potential Huckabee administration won't have need for a Secretary of State, just a Bible reader

- Lindsey Graham, Jim Gilmore, and George Pataki?  Not even GOP voters know that they are running

In most cycles, nearly every single one of the above examples would be cause for a major uproar; in the Year of Trump, they are barely a blip on the MSM's, and voters', radars.

So yes, Donald Trump is the 2016 presidential cycle's Shiny Object.

Pic courtesy Penn State U.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

"Rebranding" Arizona - another suggestion

This one would highlight both Arizona's wine industry and its cattle industry -

In vino, veritas; in Arizona, bullshit.

The Phoenix New Times has published a list of what they think are the 10 best suggestions, but I, oh-so-humbly, think mine is the best.

Though their list is pretty good. :)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Doug Ducey's "plan" to fix Arizona: Don't fix anything, just say nice things about it

Last week, news broke that Arizona lost out on two corporate relocations, mostly because of Arizona's decrepit and declining education system and its hate-filled political subculture.

Doug Ducey, Arizona's governor, has responded, not by urging the lege to fully fund the state's education system or taking steps to rein in the wingnuts at the state capitol, but instead by...wait for it...

"Rebranding" Arizona.

More specifically, an advertising agency, one with ties to Ducey that date back to his involvement with Cold Stone Creamery (noted as one of the worst franchisers, in terms of SBA loan defaults*) has been contracted to come up with a new slogan that puts Arizona in a more "positive" light.

Now, I think its clear from the above that I think that Ducey is treating his office like a siphon, using it to direct public money to the deep pockets of his allies.  However, being someone who loves Arizona in spite of its flaws, I want to help.  Maybe if I (and other people) contribute...

No promises that these will be viewed as "positive", however. :)


Arizona: come for the sunburn, stay for the melanoma


Arizona: come for the dehydration, stay for the heat stroke


Ditat Deus**, sed Exhaurias Republicans (which I think is Latin for "God Enriches, but Republicans Impoverish"; if that isn't quite correct, well, my Latin is admittedly horrible)


It's a dry hate

Anyone who has their own ideas to offer is welcome to leave suggestions in the comments section or to communicate them directly to the governor's office here.

* = not totally relevant to the main topic here, but it shows that Ducey's attitude of "to hell with the little people; after I get the money, they can take their chances" is not a new one.

** = Ditat Deus is the state's motto currently (and since before it became a state).  I'm suggesting that we update it to reflect current reality.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Committees update

These posts will become more frequent as the calendar moves toward the latter part of 2015 - people who are running for office in 2016 want to have everything set up so that they can start walking neighborhoods, meeting voters, and obtaining nomination signatures as soon as the heat breaks in most of AZ...

State level -

- LD21 state representative Rick Gray has formed a committee to run for the Republican nomination for a seat on the Arizona Corporation Commission.

- Yavapai County supervisor Chip Davis of Cottonwood has formed a committee to run for the Republican nomination for one of the state house seats in LD1.  Incumbent state senator Steve Pierce is termed out, so incumbent state representative Karen Fann is looking to move across the quad at the Capitol.

Background on Davis here and here.

Note: Normally, I hold off on coverage of a legislative run this early in a cycle, but Davis is a five-term county supervisor.  That fact alone means this run merits some early coverage, IMHO.

Federal level -

- Republican former state legislator and Arizona secretary of state Ken Bennett has filed for a run for the Republican nomination for the CD1 seat in Congress.  He's currently the chair of the LD24 Republicans in Phoenix but he's not totally carpetbagging here - he and his family have roots in Prescott and many of the parts of rural AZ that make up CD1.

This run is not breaking news as he has been long known to be interested in the seat.

- Former Republican state legislator and former independent candidate for state legislature Tom O'Halleran has filed for a run for the Democratic nomination for the CD1 seat in Congress.

Maricopa County level -

Nothing major of note yet...

- But one Andrew Hettinger has filed to run for Justice of the Peace.  According to his campaign paperwork:

He works as an attorney for Pinal County.

He lives in Chandler.

He is running in the Moon Valley justice precinct, which is in north central Phoenix.

This could be fun as JP candidates are required by law to live in the actual precinct that they are running in.  Hettinger still has some time to make the move, but residency issues could crop up in this race.

- Michelle Robertson of Glendale has filed for a run for the Democratic nomination for Maricopa County school superintendent.  The incumbent is Republican Don Covey.

Local level -

The cities of Scottsdale and Mesa do not report any new candidates at this time.

In Tempe, one Irina Baroness von Behr has formed a committee for a run at a seat on the city council.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Next up in Ferguson: Resurrecting Bull Connor?

When the police in Ferguson, Missouri (Ferguson PD and St. Louis County PD) forsook their oaths to serve and protect on Monday, they left the people of Ferguson to the tender mercies of a group of armed white men named the Oath Keepers.  Who they are -

- Oath Keepers Rally Reveals Radical Politics of Group

- Oath Keepers Descend Upon Oregon with Dreams of Armed Confrontation over Mining Dispute

- Oath Keepers Head: Government Planning To Unleash ISIS Attacks, Race War, Economic Collapse In Order To Impose Martial Law

Stewart Rhodes Defends 'Hang McCain' Comment, Says Senator Is Like Adolf Hitler

- St. Louis County cop suspended when racist, sexist rant goes viral after patrolling unrest in Ferguson, Mo.

Officer Dan Page is off the streets after the vile, hour-long rant he made during an April Oath Keeper's meeting went viral. The officer on Monday was spotted pushing and restraining CNN's Don Lemon, who is black, as the host did a live spot in broad daylight in Ferguson.

And the police there knew exactly what the Oath Keepers were doing (apparently, "subtle" is not part of their ideology) - 

Pic courtesy the Washington Post

The "best" part of this:

While the police in Ferguson were gleefully (and falsely) arresting dozens of African-Americans on suspicion of possessing firearms, the heavily-armed (and white) Oath Keepers were given free passes.

Perhaps this article praising the Oath Keepers, from Police Magazine, explains the preferential treatment.

Oath Keepers Head: Government Planning To Unleash ISIS Attacks, Race War, Economic Collapse In Order To Impose Martial Law - See more at:
Oath Keepers Head: Government Planning To Unleash ISIS Attacks, Race War, Economic Collapse In Order To Impose Martial Law - See more at:
Oath Keepers Head: Government Planning To Unleash ISIS Attacks, Race War, Economic Collapse In Order To Impose Martial Law - See more at:
Oath Keepers Head: Government Planning To Unleash ISIS Attacks, Race War, Economic Collapse In Order To Impose Martial Law - See more at:
Oath Keepers Head: Government Planning To Unleash ISIS Attacks, Race War, Economic Collapse In Order To Impose Martial Law - See more at:

Sunday, August 09, 2015

This could get *fun* in a hurry: Southern AZ Republicans possibly involved with a prostitution ring

One of the main reasons that I don't subscribe the Cap Times is that it so rarely breaks a story that a) is interesting, and b) isn't already known by folks who pay attention to the antics of AZ's political class.

However, once in a long while...

From the Arizona Capitol Times, written by Hank Stephenson -
If you’re a well-known Republican from south of the Gila River, there’s a good chance your name is listed in police documents alongside hundreds of “Johns” suspected of frequenting a Tucson prostitution ring.

The rest of the story is behind their subscriber paywall, so I don't know with certainty if names are named, but given that this story was posted on Friday morning and the AZ political world hasn't exploded, yet, I'm guessing no names have been published.

Emphasis on "yet".

Stay tuned on this one.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Steve Yarbrough: man of many professional hats...

...Attorney, state senator, executive director,...and siphoner?

Whether it is taking money from public education, or taking money from the front organization set up to facilitate the taking of money from public ed, there's a loud sucking sound wherever the influential state senator is around...

Every year or two, somebody in the MSM takes notice of something that lege watchers have pointed out for more than a decade - the windfall reaped by State Sen. Steve Yarbrough (R-LD17) from his scheme to siphon money from public education into private pockets by virtue of a "school tuition tax credit".

The way that the tax credit works is that taxpayers with money donate money to a school tuition organization that awards "scholarships" to pay for students to attend private schools.

"Scholarships" is in quotes because the recipients are frequently the children of donors.

The most recent MSMer to weigh in on this particular scheme: Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic.

From her column -

It was pitched as a small tax-credit program to help poor and disabled students attend private school.

Eighteen years later, $140 million is now being diverted from the state treasury, most of it to pay private-school tuition for non-poor, non-disabled students.


Yarbrough's the guy behind most of the bills to expand Arizona's tax credits for private-school tuition. He's also the executive director of one of the state's largest- school-tuition organizations – non-profits that collect tax-credit donations then dole them out as private-school tuition scholarships.


By law, STOs get to keep 10 percent of what they raise in tax-credit donations. This, to administer the program.

In 2013-14, Yarbrough's Arizona Christian School Tuition Organization collected roughly $17 million in tax-credit donations. That's a sweet $1.7 million for overhead.

Of that, Yarbrough collected nearly $146,000 in compensation, according to his latest IRS filing.

Roberts has a follow-up column here.

This is far from the first time Yarbrough's been in the spotlight.  Approximately six years ago, when the East Valley Tribune still had a print edition, a team of reporters there did an in-depth examination of the entire school tuition tax credit program called Rigged Privilege.

Yarbrough has been involved with ACSTO for more than a decade, apparently since its inception, as an organizational officer and executive director.

No matter what his official title (he's been ACSTO's vice president, secretary, or treasurer, or various combinations of those), his base compensation has remained in the range of $96K - $106K per year.  He also receives "other compensation" that has varied from ~$5K to ~$45K.

What *has* grown significantly as time has gone on is ACSTO's "processing" costs.

From 2001 to 2004, the organization did not list any processing expenses on its annual Form 990 filings with the IRS..

In 2005, Yarbrough became the organization's Executive Director.  Processing expenses were listed as $24,440.

In late 2005, he, his wife, their business partner, and his wife formed the company HY Processing.

In 2006, ACSTO reported paying HY $363,320 for processing donations and scholarships.

In case you think I'm being selective, reports for subsequent years show payments of $426,895, $482,945, $406,875, $392,110, $426,655, $560,710, and figure not disclosed, all to HY.

That's over $3 million paid to his own company that is easily documented. If the undisclosed figure is even just an average of the previous six years, that would put the total near $3.5 million.

And that doesn't even include the organization's rent payments to its landlord.

Who is, you guessed it, Steve Yarbrough.

Maybe they should consider changing the organization's name to "ACSTL" -

Arizona Christian School Tuition Laundry.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Old politicos don't retire, they just run for a different office: Candidates update

Normally, most of this would going into a pure "Committees Update" post, but many of these people have made public announcements but don't have updated committee paperwork on the relevant election authority website as yet...

...In Maricopa county, former Buckeye police chief Dan Saban announced his candidacy for sheriff, challenging incumbent Joe Arpaio.  Saban has challenged Arpaio before, running as a Republican in 2004, a Democrat in 2008, and as a Republican (again!) this time around.

He actually has updated paperwork on the Maricopa County Recorder's website.

Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts has some observations on Saban's renewed candidacy here.  Summary: she's not holding her breath waiting for a Saban primary victory.

Neither am I.

...In Congressional news, former state legislator Matt Heinz has joined current state legislator Victoria Steele in the race for the Democratic nomination in CD2.  Both are looking to challenge incumbent Republican Martha McSally.

With two candidates now in the CD2 Democratic primary, it's now official: there are two more candidates in a race for an occupied seat than there are in CD1, an open seat.  Incumbent Democrat Ann Kirkpatrick has already announced that she is running for US Senate in 2016.  As of this writing, while there have been rumors that Navajo County Sheriff KC Clark will run for the nomination, no Democrat has jumped into the CD1 race.

Steele, Heinz, and Kirkpatrick have already filed paperwork for their respective races, but no Democrat has filed in CD1.

...In statewide news, former state legislator "Atomic" Al Melvin is running for one of the Republican nominations for the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC).

He is famous for his scheme to turn Arizona into the country's nuclear waste dump and using the revenue to pay for Arizona's public education system.

If he wins a seat on the ACC, look for "glowing media reports about Arizona" to become "media reports about Arizona glowing"...

...In ballot question news, a new group, "We The People For The Unborn", has formed a committee for an as-yet undefined ballot question, but considering the hubbub generated by the recent attacks on Planned Parenthood by anti-choicers, don't be surprised if any question proposed by the new committee will be in that vein.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Short Attention Span Musing

Edited on 7/27 to correct an error

...Apparently, the leash from the Center for Arizona Theocracy Policy (CATP) stretches all the way from CATP's HQ to the 9th floor (governor's office)...

Last week, a video emerged purporting to show a senior official from Planned Parenthood offering for sale tissue from fetuses that have been aborted (not going to link to it; it's easy to find if you really want to see it).

It was quickly shown to be heavily selectively edited and egregiously taken out of context (the actual conversation was about using legitimately donated tissue for legitimate medical research), but that hasn't stopped hordes of anti-choicers from citing the video when they demonize Planned Parenthood.

Which is something that they do the same way that normal people breathe.

Anyway, Doug Ducey, Governor of Arizona, has jumped on the anti-PP bandwagon with a statement.  From that statement -

Governor Doug Ducey today directed the Arizona Department of Health Services to conduct a thorough review of current law and immediately promulgate emergency rules designed to prohibit the illegal sale of any tissue from an unborn child.

Since Ducey has officially deemed it OK to change public policy based on open lies, maybe it's time to play with the truth a little and see how much he likes it.

Found this picture on -

Ducey, left, and Cathi Herrod, President of CATP

Now, someone with Photoshop skills could do a better job with this than me, but this may be good enough to make my point -

The crudely-drawn black line going from Herrod's right hand to Ducey's neck represents a leash attached to a collar.

Now, to be clear, while it seems clear that Herrod and her group exert undue influence at the Capitol (9th Floor and elsewhere), to the best of my knowledge, a physical leash is not involved (meaning that the above pic is meant to be taken as a physical representation of a metaphor, not as documentation of an actual leash).

Having said that, I have to ask -

Would he like it if the above picture (or one done more skillfully) were circulated during his next election campaign?

While it is not accurate in a literal sense (like the anti-PP video), it is accurate in a metaphorical sense (unlike the anti-PP video)...

...Am I the only person who thinks that Donald Trump, Republican presidential candidate (and God's gift to comedians and wiseasses everywhere), instead of being the "nightmare" for the GOP that many in the GOP seem to believe, is actually their wettest dream -

- he actually has Democrats defending Sen. John McCain (R-Never Met A War He Didn't Monger) and his military service.

- he is providing cover for the other R candidates, all of whom have gone right on with saying things that should disqualify them from ever holding *any* elected office, much less the presidency.  However, the national media is focused on Trump and his never-ending case of verbal diarrhea.

...News broke this week that Rodney Glassman, the 2010 Democratic nominee for US Senate in AZ, has changed his voter registration from Democrat to Republican.

Most people that I talked to about this A) hadn't heard the news prior to reading about it in the Yellow Sheet Report and B) weren't surprised - he was never much of a Democrat, and unless the AZGOP changes its name to the "Arizona Glassman Party", he's probably not going to be much of a Republican (though he may find some common cause with the Chamber of Commerce wing of the AZGOP).

The story mentioned that he might be exploring a run in LD28 (looking to unseat Democratic State Rep. Eric Meyer).  As of this writing, the website of the AZSOS doesn't show him as establishing a campaign committee (statewide, exploratory, or legislative).

Just to be thorough, I checked the websites of the FEC and Maricopa County; no Glassman activity in either place as yet.

Edit on 7/27:  Rep Meyer is facing term limits in the House and has formed a committee for a Senate run.  He is expected to face the incumbent senator for LD28, Republican Adam Driggs.  As such, if Glassman does indeed go for a House seat, it will be an open seat.  However, unless he is better connected within the LD28GOP and can fend off would-be competitors before nominating signatures are filed, he will face a number of challengers.  

Many of whom may view themselves as having "waited their turn" and will be reluctant to step aside for an upstart.

Having said that, a Glassman primary victory isn't impossible, just difficult to foresee.

Apologies to readers for in my haste to complete this post, I didn't check Meyer's status while searching for any Glassman committees.

End edit...

...Also this past week, the US House of Representatives passed HB3009, punishing "sanctuary cities" (cities that don't notify the feds of the immigration status of people that come into contact with "the system").  The vote fell almost completely along party lines, but six Democrats crossed over to support this nugget of nativist grandstanding.

Including Arizona's own Kyrsten Sinema (CD9).

I don't know if she was always on the nativist train (support: her friendly relationship with the infamous Russell Pearce) or if she is triangulating, trying to gain the support of people who will never vote for her anyway (support: everything she has done since gaining the office), she is looking ever more vulnerable to a primary challenge.

I don't know if one will happen in 2016, but one is coming, and soon.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Netroots Nation 2015: A few thoughts

...and a few pictures (of course :) )...

This week, Netroots Nation 2015, a conference of progressive activists from all over the country, took place in downtown Phoenix.

Thousands of people journeyed to the Phoenix Convention Center to share their stories, knowledge, and (hard-won) wisdom with each other over an exhausting but exhilarating three-plus days.

The most-noted high points of the conference were the appearance of progressive icons Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for an address on Friday and a "town hall" with presidential candidates Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and former Governor Martin O'Malley of Maryland on Saturday.

There was also an emphasis on immigration actions, including a massive march and rally, protesting Joe Arpaio and his nativist policies.

Warren addressing (and "wow-ing") the conference

Both of the above pics are of the town hall crowd while Sanders was speaking

However, the best part of the conference was in meeting people who are fighting the same battles as we are here in Arizona (it turns out that Kansas can make a strong argument that the politics there are as thoroughly insane as they are here) and also learning from them about successes and yes, failure, in their fights to help make the world a little better.

Now, I can't talk about *all* of the trainings/panels/caucuses/event - at any one time, there would be 7-12 (or more) going on, and it was impossible to be in more than one place at a time, but here are a few impressions -

Best panel:

#EpicFail: A Look at GOTV Failures (So You Don’t Repeat Them)

Organizers, from the grass roots level to national organizations and campaigns, talked about GOTV ideas that sounded brilliant as proposals, but were viewed as something other than "brilliant" after they were implemented.  Like an initiative to help register voters that cost $250K, registered a whopping six voters, and saw only two of those six actually vote.


There were others, some painfully funny, some just painful.

There were three main lessons from this -

1. No matter how brilliant an idea may seem, have someone (or more than one someone) with no vested interest in it examine it, looking for flaws or unintended side effects.

2. Don't lose sight of the your intended audience; doing something that just turns off parts of the base (say, with incessant email blasts) is counterproductive.  One of the primary tenets of professional medicine is "First Do No Harm".

As it turns out, that's a good thing to remember in many fields of endeavor.

3. A fail doesn't really become "epic" unless you don't learn the lesson 
Biggest disappointment:

It seemed that all of the sessions were focused on "preaching to the choir" and how to be better at that.

My biggest pet peeve in politics is not the people that I disagree with (of course, they are wrong :) , but that's just politics.  Seriously, if you are freaked out by disagreement, stay away from politics.  It's all about disagreement.).

Nope, my biggest pet peeve are the people I refer to as "proudly apathetic" about politics.

We all know these people and may have been them at some point.  They're the people who dismiss politics as being beneath them, and not worthy of attention.

They may be registered to vote but for 23 months out of a typical 24-month election cycle, can't be bothered to pay attention to what their elected officials are saying and doing.

Can't say that the omission was much of a surprise - the conference is attended by people who are politically active and engaged and are used to dealing with people who are already at least engaged.

However, in my opinion, in Arizona (and elsewhere) the most significant reason for the election is eligible voters (registered or not) who don't vote. 

Those are the people who have to be reached by folks who are looking to improve society (or at least, their little part of it). 
Best event:

What ensues when you get a bunch of political geeks together, mix in some trivia, and stir in some alcohol to taste?


Some of the assembled Pub Quiz contestants, before the contest started.  See that cluster of people at the back of the picture on the left side?  That's the bar (putting the "Pub" in "Pub Quiz" :) )

Best non-conference related entertainment:

Four days of riding the light rail (most of which was pretty boring).
- While going home on Wednesday, two drunks got on the LR, sat across from each other and started trying to throw Fritos into each other's mouth.

They missed.  A lot.

- On Friday evening, there were three women who were returning to Tempe when they noticed it was raining.  One of them took out a pair of jeans and proceeded to wrap them around her head - apparently, she had just had something done to her hair and couldn't allow it to get wet.

Locals rate for attending Netroots Nation: $195.00
A day pass for riding the light rail: $4.00
Seeing someone walk off of the train and down the street essentially wearing their jeans as a hat while not drunk or otherwise intoxicated (I think): Priceless. 
- Also on Friday, a kid (by that, I mean that he looked like he was in his late teens or early 20s), was standing in the train car (it was an SRO trip).  He then leaned against the nearest wall.  Which had an emergency intercom box on it.

If he had jumped any higher when the train operator got on the intercom and instructed him to stop hitting the call button, he'd be a cinch to make the US Olympic team.

Other takes on NN15:

Pamela Powers Hannley wrote on a "Black Lives Matter Matter" demonstration during the "town hall with Sanders and O'Malley here and here. 

MSNBC coverage of the Arpaio protest, written by Nisha Chittal, here. 

More MSNBC coverage of NN15 in general, written by Chittal and Yasmin Aslam, here. 

AZRepublic coverage of Warren's speech, written by Dan Nowicki, here.
Random pictures from NN15:

Is anyone really surprised that an event with "Netroots" in the name had a lot people with laptops, tablets, and more?








(l-r) Brad Baumann, former ED of the Congressional Progressive Caucus; Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA): Lily Eskelsen GarcĂ­a, President of the National Education Association; Arshad Hasan, ED of ProgressNow. Panel: Education in the 2016 Presidential Campaign
From Wednesday: Thousands of "swag bags" after being filled

An interview on the main floor of the conference

Rep. Mark Takano


























Before the start of the meeting of the Arizona Caucus

From the panel: A New 50 State Strategy: Reversing the Democratic Collapse in the States (l-r) Michael Sargeant, ED of the DLCC; E.J. Juarez, ED of Progressive Majority Washington; Nina Turner, former state senator (OH) and wearer of many community activist hats; and Monica Perez, former legislative candidate in Arizona and community activist

From: 2020 War Room: Update from the Fight to End GOP Gerrymandering, Arizona State Senator Martin Quezada

From: 2020 War Room: Update from the Fight to End GOP Gerrymandering, Arizona State Rep. Charlene Fernandez



















Renowned author and former AZRepublic columnist, Jon Talton

Guess where next year's conference will be held?

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), introducing Sen. Elizabeth Warren