Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Let's Take the Facade off of the anti-Medicaid Restoration effort, shall we?

The last couple of days have been a roller coaster of emotion with the Supreme Court gutting the Voting Rights Act then declaring the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. Then you have President Obama setting some encouraging steps in motion to combat climate change. And how about Texas Sen. Wendy Davis and the filibuster heard around the world? Some genuine disappointment and a lot of rejoicing.

But there is too much work to be done for us to allow ourselves to linger in the afterglow.

I just finished watching a 17-minute YouTube clip of the June 22nd kick-off to the campaign, by hardline Arizona Republicans, to put the Medicaid restoration bill on the ballot for the people of Arizona to decide come November 2014.

All the usual suspects were featured (notably, Russell Pearce, Angelo LaFaro and Ann Heins, not to mention about a dozen of the most radically anti-Obama members of the current Arizona Legislature), but more importantly, we need to take the mask off of the man behind the curtain.

The YouTube clip was uploaded by a user known as "AforPArizona." This, of course, stands for Americans for Prosperity, Arizona. Confirming this connection, Americans for Prosperity's website shows the organization's very emphatic support for the particular referendum effort in question, with an eloquent call for 300 Spartans to fight Obamacare in Arizona. The essay is signed by Tom Jenney, the head of AFP's Arizona chapter.

So, what is Americans for Prosperitywho is Tom Jenney and why is he so dead set on killing the Medicaid restoration -- and preventing so MANY low-income Arizonans from obtaining much needed medical care?

By the way, just WHOSE prosperity is he concerned about anyway?

That might be the most salient question that must be asked and answered in order for us to really understand this particular referendum effort.

AFPs directors have strong ties to Koch Industries and executive staff boasts this,
At the state level, AFP staff and volunteers consistently fight for free market policies.  They were seen as a key leader in supporting Governor Scott Walker’s budget reforms in Wisconsin, the successful Right to Work legislation in Michigan, and reform-minded budgets in states like North Carolina and Florida.  Their goal at the state level:  provide the long-term grassroots infrastructure, funding and grassroots strength necessary to take on entrenched special interests to pass free market, smaller government policies.
"Free market policies" is code for removing any safeguards that prevent concentrated capital interests to develop market domination.

"Scott Walker's budget reforms" is, of course, code for austerity.
In economics, austerity describes policies used by governments to reduce budget deficits during adverse economic conditions... In macroeconomics, reducing government spending generally increases unemployment. 
Fortunately, Tom Jenney, along with the main faces and voices of this referendum effort, Frank Antenori and Ron Gould don't try to hide that they are all about cutting government spending. They do, however, deflect attention away from what it all means to the people who will be impacted by dramatic cuts to government spending in general and on the Medicaid restoration in particular.

The shiny object they use is the nebulous concept of "freedom," which they never define. If you tell people that their freedom is in jeopardy and make them afraid, how many of them will bother to figure out what the real, practical ramifications will be if what the mob wants to see happen actually happens?

So, in the very human practice (let's face it, we all do it) of taking short cuts in decision-making, we sometimes give the benefit of the doubt to people we trust. If we are skeptical, not so much. That's where Tom Jenney comes in. He's a major player in this entire scenario. Has anyone really subjected him to the kind of scrutiny that would rightly warrant putting trust in him?

So, back to the question, WHO is Tom Jenney?

On his personal website, he most prominently calls himself a community activist and has a picture of his handsome, smiling, White Anglo-Saxon Protestant face disarmingly displayed along with an impressive resume and list of issues he considers important.

Topping off the disarmament offensive (it's certainly not presented in a defensive manner), he states:
Prior to joining Goldwater, Jenney served for two years as Administrator for the Unique Learning Center, a faith-based after-school program in Washington, D.C.’s Shaw neighborhood. He serves as an elder at the Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in Phoenix. (emphasis in original)
He invokes the expression "faith-based" in one sentence and then follows it (a stealthy one-two punch) with disclosure that he "serves as an elder at the Emmanuel Presbyterian Church."

This is probably a good time for a personal disclaimer. I am not holy, let alone holier than thou, or than Tom Jenney. Further, like Jesus did (as recorded in the Gospels), I associate with people (many of whom) do not profess to be holy, or believers in God or in the same things I believe or that Tom Jenney apparently believes.

About Jenney then, his faith-based service would be all well and good BUT...

Let's compare Jenney's church's beliefs with what HE goes around doing for a living. From his church's website:
We are a family of believers pursuing a personal relationship with Christ and seeking fellowship with one another, guided by the truth of the Holy Bible, and furthering God's work in Christ's name. (emphasis in bold added)
We are called to love God and our neighbors as ourselves. 
That calling, to love God and our neighbors is a direct reference to Matthew 22.
34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law,tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 
Again, all well and good. But... what about when Jesus said...
No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. Matthew 6:24.
Let's speculate for a moment. Do you think that David or Charles Koch -- the driving force behind, underlying and underwriting Americans for Prosperity -- would tolerate Tom Jenney making the work of the Gospel a higher priority than promoting their political goals?

Clearly, many people do many different kinds of work. They can't all forsake everything to follow Jesus, right? Of course not. So, what standard would we look for in evaluating whether we should give deference to Mr. Jenney having noble intentions, emulating the compassion consistently displayed by Jesus Christ for the poor and especially the sick?

Along with that compassion, did not Christ consistently demonstrate contempt for the rich?

Do you remember when Jesus said, "Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." ?? Matthew 19:24.

What does this all boil down to? What ultimately am I getting at?

Tom Jenney is what Jesus Christ called a "whited sepulchre."
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. Matthew 23:27
I do not claim to have any standing to offer advice to anyone at Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in Phoenix as to any decisions they should make about their elders. Or about anything else, for that matter.

However, I do have a very keen interest in what goes on at the Arizona State Capitol and in calling attention to what I see happening regarding public policy and lawmaking. And it bothers me immensely that the movement seeking to exercise the "people's veto" of Medicaid restoration is being orchestrated by a man who takes his cues from some of the richest people in the United States while giving nothing more than lip service to the genuine interests of the majority of the people of Arizona. 


  1. Isn't AFP the organization the "laundered" millions of dollars to two groups in California in the 2012 elections?

    1. I don't know. Your comment made me think of PBS' Frontline report last fall. I'm not sure if this is connected to that report. But it is clear that AFP and Tom Jenney take their marching orders from David and Charles Koch and Koch Industries. What's good for Koch Industries, they say, is good for America. Or so they want us to believe. I would question that belief.

    2. Sorry. I got AFP confused with Americans for Responsible Leadership (ARL). They are the ones who help launder $11 million to defeat two ballot issues in California in 2012.

      Seems they are all basically part of the Kochtopus dark money machine.