Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Monday, February 29, 2016

#FireIsOurs artist Makana to perform in Arizona this month

Hawaiian slack key guitarist, singer, songwriter and social activist Makana --whose song #FireIsOurs is invigorating supporters of Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign -- will perform three times in mid-March in Arizona.



You will hopefully recall my recent post featuring an unofficial campaign anthem for Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign.

As a child, Makana performed in boys choirs, and when he learned to play the ukulele realized he had a knack for music. He would sit for hours and days practicing. He told the Arizona Eagletarian that fans have often remarked about how his music carries the influence of Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmie Page.

He says that other fans have told him that they've never heard so much music come from one guitar before. Here he is giving a TED talk on Maui in 2013.



He performed his first paid gig at 14-years old and when he was 15 he was playing in clubs four nights a week.

When Makana comes to Arizona, he plans to have a new (as of yet unreleased) (CD) album available for purchase.

Makana will perform:

More background information is available at MakanaMusic.com and at the links above for the Sea of Glass Center and Musical Instrument Museum.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Reich-teousness! Former Clinton admin Labor Sec'ty endorses Bernie Sanders

From his Facebook timeline, UC Berkeley Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy Robert Reich declared today,
I endorse Bernie Sanders for President of the United States. He’s leading a movement to reclaim America for the many, not the few. And such a political mobilization – a “political revolution,” as he puts it -- is the only means by which we can get the nation back from the moneyed interests that now control so much of our economy and democracy.
This extraordinary concentration of income, wealth, and political power at the very top imperils all else – our economy, our democracy, the revival of the American middle class, the prospects for the poor and for people of color, the necessity of slowing and reversing climate change, and a sensible foreign policy not influenced by the “military-industrial complex,” as President Dwight Eisenhower once called it. It is the fundamental prerequisite: We have little hope of achieving positive change on any front unless the American people are once again in control.
I have the deepest respect and admiration for Hillary Clinton, and if she wins the Democratic primary I’ll work my heart out to help her become president. But I believe Bernie Sanders is the agent of change this nation so desperately needs.
This is a Higgs Boson level Bull's-eye.

Democratic party apparatchiks need to wake up. There is only one choice for President that will be at all meaningful.

There are plenty of indicators and warning signs are all about.

If we nominate and then elect Bernie Sanders, we will be able to celebrate, but if we nominate Hillary (and thus enable a Republican siege on the White House), we will with pronounced anguish lament that we "have the government we deserve."

Today it is a case of the grasshopper pitted against the elephant. But tomorrow the elephant will have its guts ripped out. Le Loi, Vietnamese emperor, 15th Century.

Hillary Clinton & Voters' Objections: Rumors or Reasonable Inferences?

The New York Times editorial board, less than a month ago, endorsed former First Lady Hillary Clinton to become the Democratic nominee for President. Now the Gray Lady says, #ReleaseTheTranscripts.
“Everybody does it,” is an excuse expected from a mischievous child, not a presidential candidate. But that is Hillary Clinton’s latest defense for making closed-door, richly paid speeches to big banks, which many middle-class Americans still blame for their economic pain, and then refusing to release the transcripts.
A televised town hall on Tuesday was at least the fourth candidate forum in which Mrs. Clinton was asked about those speeches. Again, she gave a terrible answer, saying that she would release transcripts “if everybody does it, and that includes the Republicans.” [...]
In a debate with Bernie Sanders on Feb. 4, Mrs. Clinton was asked if she would release transcripts, and she said she would “look into it.” Later in February, asked in a CNN town hall forum why she accepted $675,000 for speeches to Goldman Sachs, she got annoyed, shrugged, and [glibly] said, “That’s what they offered,” adding that “every secretary of state that I know has done that.”
At another town hall, on Feb. 18, a man in the audience pleaded, “Please, just release those transcripts so that we know exactly where you stand.” Mrs. Clinton had told him, “I am happy to release anything I have when everybody else does the same, because every other candidate in this race has given speeches to private groups.”
On Tuesday, Mrs. Clinton further complained, “Why is there one standard for me, and not for everybody else?”
The only different standard here is the one Mrs. Clinton set for herself, by personally earning $11 million in 2014 and the first quarter of 2015 for 51 speeches to banks and other groups and industries. 
 Voters have every right to know what Mrs. Clinton told these groups. [...]
Besides, Mrs. Clinton is not running against a Republican in the Democratic primaries. She is running against Bernie Sanders, a decades-long critic of Wall Street excess who is hardly a hot ticket on the industry speaking circuit. [...]
Public interest in these speeches is legitimate, and it is the public — not the candidate — who decides how much disclosure is enough. By stonewalling on these transcripts Mrs. Clinton plays into the hands of those who say she’s not trustworthy and makes her own rules. Most important, she is damaging her credibility among Democrats who are begging her to show them that she’d run an accountable and transparent White House. 
Make no mistake, the Arizona Eagletarian's call for Clinton to disclose is not something I came up with after the NYTimes decided it was the right thing to do. I've said it all along.

CNN said, this evening, 
Clinton has so far not heeded calls by progressive and conservative groups who have demanded that the former secretary of state release transcripts from speeches she gave to banks in 2013 and 2014. And Clinton's aides have suggested that she is held to a different standard than other candidates, as evidenced by calls for her to release transcripts.
Is Hillary taking lessons on stonewalling from Trash Burner Bob Stump? Both are in precarious spots. Self-made predicaments. Both act like citizens (voters) are violating their privacy by demanding accountability. Both claim speculation is nothing but rumors.

Both are wrong. I'll spare you the rambling civics lesson just now. Voters demand answers because the power invested in the offices in question belongs to the voter, not to the office holder.

#ReleaseTheTranscripts damn it.

I also have dear, dear friends who have told me that the whole controversy is nothing but the GOP attacking Hillary. That view, however, is based on the game theory notion that Bernie is unelectable in the general election.  This game theory belief declares that the GOP would rather face Bernie in November.

The GOP might want that, but the data suggest Bernie is far more electable.

Since when does the supposition (IF, in fact, that's what they want) determine what Democrats should do? How has playing patsy to the GOP worked out for Arizona Democrats at the state capitol?

It's time to take a proactive course of action.

Everything about Hillary's campaign, for months, has been about reacting. Everything about Bernie and his campaign has been about setting vision.

This is not the time to Settle for Hillary©. This is not the time for "No, we can't."

As to silly claims that Bernie hasn't accomplished anything, have these people at all been paying attention? What makes it possible to accomplish anything in government? Rallying voters. Who has been doing it?

Today it is a case of the grasshopper pitted against the elephant. But tomorrow the elephant will have its guts ripped out. Le Loi, Vietnamese emperor, 15th Century.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Guess what... politics is conflict. Buckle up because it's not going to let up until November.

The Nevada Democratic caucuses are in the books. Like in Iowa, the process was rife with conflict and chaos. One post from a group on Facebook,
My parents waited 4 hours to vote in Nevada today. They explained to me how unorganized and chaotic it was to vote. They were moved around from one room to another. They were told to stand and wait in one line and after waiting over an hour they were told to move to another line 😨. There wasn't enough staff to help with the voting process. One woman went around with an envelope pressuring people to donate cash for the Clinton campaign while people stood in line to vote, another woman was screaming at people because she was angry that people were voting for Bernie. People should not be harassed while trying to vote, that is ridiculous. My parents indicated the process of voting today was "exhausting" 😥 they arrived around 10:05 am to vote and were done around 2:15 pm. Both my parents are 70 years old, so I am just grateful they stuck with it and voted. ‪#‎LatinosforBernie‬
Of course, this is now third hand and not something I can verify. Similarly, Hispanic activist icon Dolores Huerta, a Hillary Clinton supporter and endorser, reported -- and the Washington Post and Huffington Post (and other news websites) dutifully relayed to their readers -- a dubious concern.

Huerta claimed that Sanders supporters shouted her down,
Dolores Huerta, a civil rights leader who has endorsed Hillary Clinton, said Saturday that Bernie Sanders supporters shouted her down when she tried to offer Spanish-language translations at a Las Vegas caucus location -- including by chanting "English-only" -- ahead of Clinton's win in the Nevada Democratic caucuses.
"Shouting 'English-only' -- that is completely against the spirit of everything that we're working for," Huerta told The Huffington Post in a phone interview.
Actress America Ferrera, also there to support Clinton, tweeted about the incident, which they said took place at a caucus location in Harrah's Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.
Here's a video of the incident.




Both the Huff Post and WaPo stories brazenly slant this to be about Sanders supporters conduct. By the way, Snopes investigated and declared Huerta's allegations false. From WaPo,
Dolores Huerta says she was shouted down with ‘English-only’ chants from a Sanders crowd
With primary season in full swing, political news has begun to settle into some expected patterns. The assumption is that most of the big surprises that remain will come from voters, delegate counts and perhaps some unforeseeable candidate scandal.
To that end, there are plenty of stories that put Republican Donald Trump's supporters on record as raucous, not ashamed to use their fists, spit and do other not-so-nice things to  their political opponents.
The most vehement supporters of Democratic Party contender Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) frequently come in for some reasonable comparisons, even if they insist that they are just too progressive for Trump supporter-style antics.
Well, something just happened in Las Vegas that might really and truly challenge that. Dolores Huerta, longtime civil rights and farm-labor activist as well as a confidant of the late Cesar Chavez,  tweeted this Saturday night from a Nevada caucus location:
— Dolores Huerta (@DoloresHuerta) February 20, 2016 
How easy is it to spot the overt bias? Now, I'm not buying that Sanders' supporters are like Trump's. But billionaire Jeff Bezos' (Amazon.com entrepreneur) new toy, the Washington Post, appears to be trying to paint populism as detrimental to our country and its political processes.

Wouldn't it seem at least as reasonable to approach the story from the angle that the caucus process, this year especially, is somehow deficient? In Iowa and now in Nevada, moderators or those conducting the events seem to have been woefully unprepared.

If reporters weren't simply trying to portray populists as thugs, there are several questions they could have asked. For starters, why was Huerta there in the first place? The answer to that appears to be as an official observer for the Clinton campaign.

How exactly is an observer, who was known to be there on behalf of one of the campaigns, and probably was only lawfully allowed to watch and listen (eyes and ears, but not mouth) to even be allowed on the stage to offer translation services in the first place?

How and why would registered voters who recognized (which the moderator clearly didn't) be castigated for speaking up for their lawful rights to a fair vote?

Why do we allow corporate media to define the incident in the first place?

In the meantime, Hillary's campaign and supporters continue to make hay by deceptively painting Sanders supporters as an unruly mob.

Despite the false perception of racism among Bernie Sanders supporters, the Vermont senator still ended up winning the Latino vote by a 53-47 margin, according to entrance polls. This shatters the myth of Sanders’ limited viability among people of color, showing that the surging campaign is appealing to more than just white voters.
Neither Dolores Huerta nor America Ferrera responded to US Uncut‘s requests for comment.
-----

Longtime Arizona Eagletarian readers will remember that politics is conflict. That was a major theme of the independent redistricting process that got into full swing in 2011. It was rife with raucous public hearings followed by still (in 2016) ongoing litigation. The level of conflict presenting in caucus states should not really be so shocking. 

A project of the University of Colorado, Beyond Intractability, has an essay that says this,
Politics are among the most ancient, enduring, and consequential sources of conflict, as they determine how power will be distributed among people, including over life and death, wealth and poverty, independence and obedience. Conflicts concerning these issues have shaped the ways we have interacted as a species over the course of centuries. At their core, as Hannah Arendt wrote, is the conflict that, "from the beginning of our history has determined the very existence of politics: the cause of freedom versus tyranny."
Freedom and tyranny are factors not only in conflicts between minorities and nation states, but also in small, everyday conflicts between parents and teenagers, managers and employees, governments and citizens, and wherever power is distributed unequally. If we define political conflicts as those arising out of or challenging an uneven distribution of power relational, religious, and cultural power, it is clear that politics happens everywhere. [...]
Journalist H. L. Mencken wrote, decades before September 11, that "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace in a continual state of alarm (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing them with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." 
I would pose to you now, that if Hillary Clinton is so damn qualified to lead the United States, why the hell is she so inept at campaigning without having to resort to inciting raucous caucuses and inventing imaginary hobgoblins to deceptively paint Sanders and his supporters as the enemy?

Do we REALLY want to give her the keys to the nuclear firing codes? Methinks she's more like Dr. Strangelove than Gandhi.

-----

As an aside, don't forget that Secretary of State George Orwell, aka Michele Reagan, has already announced intent to eliminate state/county run Presidential Preference Elections (for 2020). That would put Arizona potentially in the same chaotic dilemma that we've seen this year in Iowa and Nevada.

Is that what you want?  Speak up. Rise UP! And make sure you and your friends are registered to vote (Democrat, Republican or Green... if you want to vote in this year's Presidential Preference Election on March 22nd) by midnight Monday. That can be accomplished online at servicearizona.com

Saturday, February 20, 2016

More GOP Campaign Finance Rewrite Subterfuge

The Arizona Capitol Times on Friday published an Associated Press story on state elections director Eric Spencer's campaign finance rewrite bill, announcing that (the Senate Judiciary) committee passed the measure.
Republican lawmakers are working with the Secretary of State’s Office to overhaul the state’s campaign finance system with a 54-page rewrite critics say is too long and complicated to rush through the Legislature.
A Senate panel passed the measure on Feb. 18. Sen. Adam Driggs, R-Phoenix, described it as an effort to simplify current law so that people don’t need to hire an attorney to understand Arizona’s campaign finance system.
“The attempt is to go from some legalese to maybe what some people might consider poetry,” Driggs said during the Judiciary Committee hearing, which he chairs.
Wow. That might be a description you'd find in the Oxford English Urban Dictionary next to the expression, "shiny object."

Now, I understand that the good folks at the Cap Times think of me in less than favorable terms. But for multiple reasons, it's their own damn fault. Not the least of which is that they made it clear to me a couple of years ago that they didn't like me quoting them as much as I sometimes do. But they essentially told me that if I criticize them when I do it, they recognize it as covered by the Fair Use Doctrine.

Of course, like now, sometimes they are just so easy to criticize. In other words, Adam Driggs with an assist from the reporter and the Capitol Times just insulted your intelligence.

The definition of shiny object from the Urban Dictionary,
Someone who is easily distracted by shiny objects, similar to a cat who gets distracted when you shake a shiny object or toy in his face. A person who is not very intelligent.
But wouldn't the Cap Times claim they didn't say that? Perhaps. But what really does bill sponsor Adam Driggs intend with SB1516? The reporter, Ryan Van Velzer, opens with the claim, "Republican lawmakers are working with the Secretary of State's office to overhaul the state's campaign finance system..."

If the reporter really wanted to illuminate the issue for readers, wouldn't he really want to figure out WHY they want to rewrite this law completely? I mean... it's not like he wasn't paying attention over the last couple of years when Dark Money scandals were dominating elections for statewide offices, right?

By the way, didn't VOTERS do something about rewriting campaign finance law a few years ago? Yeah, what about the voter approved Clean Elections Act? What makes Adam Driggs and Eric Spencer think they can just thumb their noses at the voters like this?

Well, much of the change in this bill is not directly to the sections of statute enacted by voters. So, they will say that they aren't tampering with Clean Elections. BUT...

What about those silly Republicans that claim everything will be peachy at the Capitol, free of undue special interest influence, as long as there is proper disclosure? Well,
But Tom Collins, director of the state’s Citizens Clean Elections Commission, said the bill would do more than change wording – it would limit public scrutiny.
It would redefine when candidates and political action committees have to make information available and under what circumstances candidates can accept money, goods and services, Collins said after the hearing.
“Some of these changes will mean that voters will receive less information about how money is at play in state elections than they would receive under the current law,” he said.
Would voters prefer to have full and proper disclosure of the influence of campaign cash? Would politicians who have the authority to write laws while limiting public scrutiny of them doing so rather protect that authority by... further limiting public scrutiny?
The bill would repeal and replace the state’s current campaign finance system. The proposal covers everything from political contributions and campaign-finance reports to disclosure requirements.
State Elections Director Eric Spencer said he has spent the past 10 months working with interested parties to craft the new system. Spencer described the bill as a house-cleaning measure to re-organize laws that have piled on top of each other for the past decade.
The objective is to simplify and create uniformity among existing laws with a goal of balancing campaign finance disclosure with free expression, he said.
Wouldn't a real journalist ask who those "interested parties" who want to "craft the new system" might be? And what exactly does Spencer mean when he describes the bill as re-organizing laws that have piled on top of each other?

"With an objective to simplify... with a goal of balancing disclosure with free expression..." doesn't that sound an awful lot like he's working to make it easier for whomever his "interested parties" are to have free expression without having to worry about compliance with laws reflecting the voters' right to disclosure (especially of Dark Money sources and interests)?
Opponents are concerned lawmakers haven’t had enough time to understand the possible impacts of the lengthy proposal.
“It’s a lot of public policy change in one bill, and I think it’s very difficult for anyone to discern how the various parts of it will affect each other and affect future elections,” said Sandy Bahr, who lobbies for the Sierra Club’s Arizona chapter.
One particular area of concern for Bahr was a provision that added disclosure exceptions for political action committees, she said.
Sen. Andrea Dalessandro, D-Green Valley, said that without the proper scrutiny, the bill could open too many loopholes.
“I don’t think we’ve had enough time to analyze the intended and unintended consequences,” she said.
The measure doesn’t include criminal provisions originally listed in the campaign finance section of law. Spencer said he will instead include those provisions in a separate bill for clarity’s sake.

So, at least Van Velzer lists one of the "simplifications."

Oops, Spencer says he'll worry about criminal provisions another time. You see, the time for lawmakers (of whom Spencer is NOT one) to file bills for consideration this year has already passed. But then again, there's always the trusty strike-all amendment so that whoever controls the legislature at any given time doesn't have to play by the same rules they impose on the minority party.
A "strike everything after the enacting clause" amendment (also referred to as a "strike everything" amendment or simply a "striker") proposes to delete the entire text of the existing bill and substitute new language, essentially making it a completely different bill, possibly on an entirely different subject. These amendments are sometimes used to allow legislators to circumvent the deadlines on introduction of new legislation, deal with an issue that arises after the deadline or revive a bill that has previously been defeated.
But no problem, Spencer says, for "clarity's sake" we didn't want to put that in a bill that already had 109 provisions.

Is it fair to surmise that Arizona Republicans really don't want to jeopardize their grip on the power at the Capitol? Or that if some pesky blogger (or reporter) might ask inconvenient questions and use social media to get the word out, might that challenge their power?

How much more attractive does "Oops, we forgot to reinstate any criminal penalties for anything related to campaign finance," make it "easier to ask forgiveness than permission" for Dark Money interests?

Isn't that special?






Thursday, February 18, 2016

Makana -- Fire is Ours!



Okay, so this was on a Fox News Channel show with Tucker Carlson. Carlson being just as much of an ass as he's ever been.

This young man, Makana, handled it all with dignity and class.

By the way, a friend of the Arizona Eagletarian blog who now lives in New York, knows Makana from when she lived in Hawaii. Thanks, Naomi for posting about Makana on Facebook!

Here's the video that caught the attention of Fox News.



Thanks, Makana!

By the way, for the Occupy movement, Makana wrote and performed this next song.



Learn more about Makana at makanamusic.com

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Top Economists suggest we should end mass incarceration in the US. Why is Hillary worried?

On Monday, the Independent (UK) reported on a Chelsea Clinton speaking engagement on her mother's behalf.
Chelsea Clinton said Senator Bernie Sanders’ proposal to end mass incarceration in the US is "worrying" and insinuated that her mother’s rival does not understand what is “possible” to achieve in Government.
Speaking to a packed town hall in Cleveland, Ohio, Chelsea Clinton took the opportunity to denounce Senator Sanders’ proposed criminal justice reforms when she was asked about her mother’s “vagaries” towards African American policy.
She replied that Senator Sanders advocated the end of mass incarceration, aiming for the US to no longer be the country with the highest number of people in jail by the end of his first term in 2020 - but his plan "worried" her.
For the sake of brevity (for a change?), I will only cite the Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law. This time, I'll leave out numerous other sources that easily debunk Ms. Clinton's sad efforts to help her mother's campaign. Today, February 17, 2016, the Brennan Center posted this,

Top Economists to Join Criminal Justice Reform Effort

New York, NY – Today, 10 renowned economists from across the political spectrum — including former Cabinet officials, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, professors, and political advisers — joined the Brennan Center's Economic Advisory Board, a new initiative supporting the Center’s data-driven approach to ending mass incarceration.
The bipartisan group will provide strategic guidance and help chart economic and social science research for the Center’s work to end mass incarceration. The group will vet economic analysis seeking to quantify the effects of mass incarceration on economic inequality and the country’s economy. The initiative is led by Inimai Chettiar, the director of the Brennan Center’s Justice Program.
“Data and economic research shows which policies are working, and which are not,” said Lawrence H. Summers, former U.S. Treasury Secretary, and President Emeritus and Charles W. Eliot University Professor at Harvard University. “It’s important for lawmakers, and all Americans, to understand that mass incarceration has real, negative consequences for our economy as reform of sentencing laws to reduce the number of people in prison is being considered by Congress.”
“Mass incarceration isn’t just a moral problem, it’s also an economic one,” said Joseph E. Stiglitz, a Nobel Laureate in economics and professor at Columbia University. “The unnecessary incarceration of millions of offenders keeps potentially productive citizens out of our workforce and contributes to the economic inequality of communities of color. It’s vital for economists to join lawmakers and law enforcement to call for an end to overly harsh criminal justice policies.”
“Criminal justice reform is an issue that brings both sides of the aisle together,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum, and former chief economist for the White House and director of the Congressional Budget Office under President George W. Bush. “Conservative economic principles hold that we should not waste government resources on a system that does not work and takes thousands of people away from the American workforce.”  
Formation of the board comes amid ever-growing evidence that mass incarceration has significant and far-reaching economic consequences. The criminal justice system costs taxpayers $260 billion a year, according to The Reverse Mass Incarceration Act, a 2015 Brennan Center analysis. And, incarceration contributes to as much as 20 percent of the poverty rate in America.
“The fiscal costs of mass incarceration are just the tip of the iceberg,” said Inimai Chettiar. “Over-incarceration’s larger effect on human capital, the economy, and inequality haven’t been fully quantified. This initiative, with guidance from the Board, seeks to do that.” 
Chettiar and members of the board are available for comment. Members of the board include:

  • Steven N. Durlauf, William F. Vilas Research Professor and Kenneth J. Arrow Professor of Economics, University of Wisconsin–Madison.
  • Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President, American Action Forum; former Chief Economist, White House Council of Economic Advisers; former Director, Congressional Budget Office; Chief Economic Policy Adviser, John McCain Presidential Campaign.
  • Glenn C. Loury, Merton P. Stoltz Professor of the Social Sciences, Brown University; member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  • Jeffrey A. Miron, Director of Economic Studies, Cato Institute; Senior Lecturer on Economics and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Harvard University.
  • Peter R. Orszag, Vice Chairman of Corporate and Investment Banking and Chairman of Financial Strategy and Solutions Group, Citigroup; former Director, White House Office of Management and Budget; former Director, U.S. Congressional Budget Office.
  • Daniel L. Rubinfeld, Professor of Law, New York University; Robert L. Bridges Professor of Law and Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of California; member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
  • Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel Laureate, Economics; University Professor, Columbia University; former Chief Economist, World Bank; former Chairman, White House Council of Economic Advisers.
  • Lawrence H. Summers, Charles W. Eliot University Professor and President Emeritus, Harvard University; former U.S. Secretary of Treasury; former Director, White House National Economic Council; former Chief Economist, World Bank.
  • Petra E. Todd, Alfred L. Cass Term Professor of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Laura D. Tyson, Professor and former Dean, Haas School of Business, University of California Berkeley; Director, Institute for Business and Social Impact; former Chairman, White House Council of Economic Advisors.
(Emphasis in original)

Additional information on these economists is posted on another Brennan Center page.

So, Hillary supporters, might you rather be worrying about her ties to the Private Prison Industrial Complex? Chelsea's speech was this week, despite the campaign's apparent claim last October to cut ties to the industry.
"Hillary Clinton has said we must end the era of mass incarceration, and as president, she will end private prisons and private immigrant detention centers," campaign spokeswoman Xochitl Hinojosa said in a statement Thursday night. "She believes that we should not contract out this core responsibility of the federal government, and when we’re dealing with a mass incarceration crisis, we don’t need private industry incentives that may contribute -- or have the appearance of contributing -- to over-incarceration."
Hinojosa said the policy against accepting contributions tied to private prison companies "is only one of many ways that she believes we need to rebalance our criminal justice and immigration systems."
Lobbying firms that work for two major private prison giants, GEO Group and Corrections Corporation of America, gave $133,246 to the Ready for Hillary PAC, according to Vice. Those companies operate a number of criminal and immigrant detention facilities, some of which have been plagued by allegations of abuse and poor treatment of detainees.
I refer you back to dissonance theory (as cited last weekend) and ask whether three to four months shouldn't be enough time for Hillary and Chelsea to synch up their talking points about mass incarceration? But I digress.

Again, quoting Larry Summers,
“It’s important for lawmakers, and all Americans, to understand that mass incarceration has real, negative consequences for our economy as reform of sentencing laws to reduce the number of people in prison is being considered by Congress.”

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Arizona Secretary of State George Orwell?

Not that the real Secretary of State, Eric Spencer... oops, I mean Michele Reagan is trying to call out dissonance in government like Orwell, but that the office is all about using Orwellian rhetoric to con the legislature and voters.

Two weeks ago, Sen. Adam Driggs (R-LD28/East Phoenix) dropped SB1516, Spencer's campaign finance rewrite.

To announce the bill, the Secretary of State's office sent out a press release that opens,
In an effort to root out unlawful political spending while protecting legitimate non-profit groups and charities’ right to engage in the political process, Secretary of State Michele Reagan is asking the legislature for the tools she needs to hold so-called “convenience corporations” accountable.
The bill, for which a Senate fact sheet lists 109 provisions, "roots out unlawful spending" by excluding so-called unlawful political spending from the definition of "contribution." From the fact sheet,
Generally, a contribution is any gift, loan, advance, deposit of money or anything of value made for the purpose of influencing an election. However, statute outlines exemptions to contributions, meaning some of the money, loans or in-kind goods and services do not have to be reported. A contribution does not include:
1. the value of services provided without compensation by a volunteer on behalf of a committee;
2. money or the value of anything directly or indirectly provided to defray the expense of an elected official meeting with constituents, or provided by the state or political subdivision to an elected official for communication with constituents, if the official is engaged in the duties of his office;
3. the use of real or personal property used on a regular basis by members of a community for noncommercial purposes, and the cost of invitations, food and beverages voluntarily provided by an individual in rendering voluntary personal services on the individual’s residential premises or other property, to the extent that the cumulative value does not exceed $100 in any single election;
4. any unreimbursed payment for travel expenses for a volunteer;
5. the payment by a political party for party operating expenses as outlined;
6. independent expenditures;
7. monies loaned by a bank made in accordance with applicable law in the ordinary course of business, as specified;
8. a gift, loan or deposit of anything of value to a national or state committee of a political party specifically designated to defray any cost for the construction or purchase of an office facility not acquired for the purpose of influencing the election of a candidate in any particular election;
9. legal or accounting services if the only person paying is the regular employer of the individual and if the services are solely for the purpose of complying with campaign finance law;
10. the payment by a political party of the costs of campaign materials used by the party in connection with volunteer activities on behalf of any nominee or the payment of the costs of voter registration and get-out-the-vote activities as outlined;
11. transfers between political committees to distribute monies raised through a joint fundraising effort as specified;
12. an extension of credit for goods and services if the terms are substantially similar to extensions of credit to nonpolitical debtors and if the creditor makes a reasonable attempt to collect the debt, except debts that remain unsatisfied by the candidate after six months; and
13. interest or dividends earned on any bank accounts, deposits or other investments.
Of course, some of these thirteen things are included because they may be de minimus. Consider statewide campaigns however. Extensions of credit for goods and services? Transfers between political committees? Legal advice or professional accounting services? Gifts or loans to a national political party? Bank loans? 

I thought We the People were expecting our elected officials to increase disclosure, not make political spending more difficult to discover.

How many of those thirteen items have qualifiers like, "if the terms are;" or "if the person is?" Those are loopholes
n. A way of escaping a difficulty, especially an omission or ambiguity in the wording of a contract or law that provides a means of evading compliance.
Have you ever heard the expression, "it's easier to ask for forgiveness than permission?"


Where it says "Payday Lenders" (which happened in AZ immediately following voters outlawing those predators), substitute "Sean Noble" or "Karl Rove" or any Dark Money operator. In the case of SB1516, rooting out unlawful political spending really means to make it so those things are no longer unlawful.

Of course, Arizona's chief elections officer would never make it easier for Dark Money operators to evade compliance, right? Right.

Regardless of intentions, SB1516 draws loopholes big enough to...


... drive one of these through it.

SB1516 is on the agenda for the Wednesday, February 17 Senate Government Committee hearing at 2 pm. There are lots of bills, so who knows when this one will be rammed through. By the way, John Kavanagh is chairman of the committee.

Here's who is on the Arizona Legislature's Request to Speak system saying they are in favor of this bill:

Michelle Ahlmer, AZ RETAILERS ASSN(02/13/2016);    
Bas Aja, Arizona Cattlemen's Association(02/16/2016);    
Jenna Bentley, Self(02/16/2016);    
Courtney Gilstrap LeVinus, Arizona Multihousing Association(02/16/2016);    Chianne Hewer, AZ RESTAURANT AND HOSPITALITY ASSN (02/16/2016);    
Mike Huckins, GREATER PHOENIX CHAMBER OF COMMERCE (02/16/2016);    
Tom Jenney, AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY AZ(02/16/2016);    
Spencer Kamps, HOME BUILDERS ASSOCIATION OF CENTRAL AZ(02/15/2016);    
Josh Kredit, CENTER FOR ARIZONA POLICY(02/16/2016);    
David Martin, Arizona Chapter Associated General Contractors(02/12/2016);    Robert Shuler, WESTERN GROWERS ASSN(02/15/2016);    
Eric Spencer, AZ SECRETARY OF STATE(02/15/2016);    
Steve Trussell, AZ ROCK PRODUCTS ASSN(02/15/2016);    
Boaz Witbeck, AMERICANS FOR PROSPERITY AZ(02/16/2016);   

Besides local lobbying interests, Koch Brothers' mouthpiece and whited sepulchre Tom Jenney is in favor. So is the Center for Arizona Policy, our state's most prominent Dominionist interest (Think undermining women's rights and civil rights overall by Cathi Herrod).

These are the people who want to purchase on going interest in and domination of Arizona government. (see yesterday's post on Capitalism Eating Democracy)

Then there are the people sticking up for the voice of Main Street Arizonans, Samantha Pstross (ex. dir. Arizona Advocacy Network), and several individual citizens.

You may watch the committee hearing online.

Capitalism will EAT Democracy, unless...? UPDATED 11:15 pm MST 2-16-16



By now you've heard of TED talks, right?

This guy, Yanis Varoufakis, was a member of the Greek Parliament and for seven months served as the country's finance minister. His background suggests he has some insight worth listening to.

In case you don't believe his claim that capitalism will eat (or actually IS eating) democracy, then you probably believe Hillary Clinton is just another run of the mill Progressive candidate for President.

In Arizona, democracy... the right of citizens/voters to have any say in state government, has been under attack for years.

In 2013, one of the big attacks was HB2305, the Voter Suppression Act. It passed. Voters succeeded in qualifying it for the next general election ballot, beating back that attack. You know that story. This year, the GOP is taking it bit by bit, with HB2023, which will make it a felony to assist early voters in turning their completed, signed, sealed ballots to elections officials.

That is our capitalist plutocracy eating away at democracy. Don't believe me?

The Yellow Sheet reported yesterday, under the headline,
MEMO TO LOBBYISTS: BE PREPARED TO GIVE MORE
The [state] House and Senate Republicans’ IE [independent expenditure] committees each raised a little under $60,000 last year, campaign finance reports show. The House Victory PAC collected almost $55,000 in 2015 and spent $47,000, including roughly $33,000 that went to retire some debts. The committee has about $33,000 on hand. Meanwhile, the Senate Victory PAC raised almost $56,000 but spent much less (about $10,000) than its House counterpart. It entered 2016 with a little more than $77,000 on hand. A lobbyist told our reporter that the two committees’ collections aren’t impressive. “Anemic is the word that comes to mind,” the source said. Still, the lobbyist said the PACs’ non-election year collections aren’t necessarily a good indicator of how much they will raise this cycle. “We can always assume that election years are going to spike those accounts,” the source said. The source added that looking at the legislative committees’ accounts alone doesn’t provide a full picture of the parties’ spending preparations. On the GOP side, efforts to maintain control of the Legislature have been traditionally spearheaded by two groupings: the state party (along with local LDs), and the House and Senate PACs, the source said. On the Dem side, the state party, the county party and the legislative PACs are the ones leading efforts to increase the minority’s number, the source said.
OR NOT 
While the Republican legislative PACs have been busy, the House Dem’s PAC (or at least the committee that was active in the last election cycle) hasn’t been raising a whole lot of funds. Building Arizona’s Future, which was chaired by former House Minority Leader Chad Campbell, took in a little less than $9,000 last year. The bulk of that money came from three committees: $5,000 from Realtors of AZ PAC (RAPAC), $2,500 from Maricopa County Democratic Party and about $700 from AZ Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee. Building Arizona’s Future spent $181,000 during the 2014 election cycle.
Of course, on the national level, we have one Democratic Presidential candidate refusing to equivocate on the issue of monetary influence on elections and the other DEPENDENT on Big Money.

The dependent candidate is sounding more and more desperate every day. She talks a good talk, but doesn't walk the talk. One example is how her daughter Chelsea now is, in her capacity as surrogate, telling crowds how she finds it "worrying" that Bernie is intent on ending mass incarceration.
Chelsea Clinton said Senator Bernie Sanders’ proposal to end mass incarceration in the US is "worrying" and insinuated that her mother’s rival does not understand what is “possible” to achieve in Government.
Speaking to a packed town hall in Cleveland, Ohio, Chelsea Clinton took the opportunity to denounce Senator Sanders’ proposed criminal justice reforms when she was asked about her mother’s “vagaries” towards African American policy.
She replied that Senator Sanders advocated the end of mass incarceration, aiming for the US to no longer be the country with the highest number of people in jail by the end of his first term in 2020 - but his plan "worried" her.
Who is surprised that the voice of the Private Prison Industrial Complex has found its way to Democratic voters like this? We know that the PPIC contributes to the Clinton campaign. That tells you a lot right there about what kind of policy a second President Clinton would push on criminal justice reform. We don't know, however, the extent to which the Clintons own stocks in PPIC enterprises.

Then there's her cozy and very personal relationship with Henry Kissinger.


Obviously, I could go on regarding these two concerns with Hillary. And will... another day. But for now I hope you take the encouragement from Samuel L. Jackson to heart. He recorded the video embedded below to support Obama's 2012 campaign. Several issues Jackson mentions as Romney positions mirror how Hillary leans.

Out of touch millionaires just declared war, Jackson said. Have you seen the list of Hillary's financial backers recently? On the environment -- Hillary refuses to take a stand against fracking. On the Keystone XL pipeline, she only came out against it when she couldn't avoid the issue because of Bernie's stand and popular unrest.

Gay marriage? Her flipflops on that issue are well documented.

On civil rights? Michelle Alexander, law professor and author of The New Jim Crow, Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, recently spelled out why Hillary doesn't deserve the votes of Blacks.

The DREAM Act? Well, might Hillary's pronouncements on sending unaccompanied refugee children back to the violence they fled tell you what she really thinks about immigrants? I know several Dreamers that are campaigning for Bernie.

What's Hillary going to do about American jobs going overseas? Well, on the TPP,
Clinton had previously hedged on the TPP, a deal that she backed as Secretary of State and championed in her book, Hard Choices. Her main rival for the Democratic nomination, Sen. Sanders (I-Vt.)—who has made opposition to the deal a centerpiece of his campaign and worked against its advancement in the Senate—said in June he was "offended by Mrs. Clinton’s silence on trade and urged her to share her real views with voters."
What the hell is it going to take for people to realize that Hillary is, at best Republican-lite. *** I've cited some examples. On economics related to domestic policy, she's neoliberal. And that's not a good thing.
This is the philosophy that underpins and drives economic globalization. At its core is a belief in the free market and minimum barriers to the flow of goods, services and capital. It is an extension of the traditional liberal philosophy, which argues for a separation of politics and economics and that markets should be “free” from interference of government.
That she plays footsie with Kissinger tells you all you need to know to realize that on foreign policy, she's a neo-conservative. That's what got us into Iraq. 
The “neocons” believe American greatness is measured by our willingness to be a great power—through vast and virtually unlimited global military involvement. Other nations’ problems invariably become our own because history and fate have designated America the world’s top authority.
Do you want to send more of our children and grandchildren to die for plutocratic greed? Enough is enough.  




It really doesn't matter what Karl Rove thinks about Hillary. Of course, the GOP will ferociously attack Bernie. But Bernie's positions won't whither from the heat. And he has already shown, during this campaign, that he's got the backbone to stand up for what is right when he's criticized.

Capitalism will eat democracy for breakfast, lunch and dinner until it is no more... unless we wake the fuck up.

UPDATE          UPDATE            UPDATE

*** Note: On the subject of Hillary being Republican-lite, it might help some (I hope) to recognize that now Republican frontrunner Donald Trump appears to be positioning himself to the LEFT of Clinton. As Bob Lord pointed out on Blog for Arizona,
So, the pundit class is all agog over how Trump went where no Republican has gone before by going after W for Iraq and the WMD lies. Is it really that shocking? Wasn’t that a high hanging curve waiting to be whacked over the left field wall, and Trump had the brains to do it?
Trump doesn’t need to go after Jeb! like this. He’s already eviscerated him. I had developed a contrarian view on this, but the polls in South Carolina prove me wrong.
So, what was Trump’s purpose? [...]
Trump, it seems, is playing a long game. He knows that winning the nomination and losing the general wold be a pretty ignominious fate. 
So, he just brilliantly outflanked Hillary on her left here. And he did it by reference to WMD. You know why? Because the video footage of Hillary’s war mongering based on the WMD scare is devastating. She can own up to her mistake all she wants, it won’t help when the footage from 2002 starts to get more play. She was the neocon’s neocon. The contrast between the two here is “yuge” and, for Clinton, quite ugly. 
And this is not the only place where Trump’s positioned himself left of Hillary. He has her right where he wants her on trade, “gold standard” and all.
And campaign finance.
I can’t remember the last Presidential election where the Republican had positions clearly left of the Democrat. [...]




Could Trump position himself this effectively against Sanders?
No way.
But he’s banking on not having to.
And it’s not a bad bet. 
Especially if Hillary's supporters don't wake the fuck up.



Bob Lord contributed to this post. I appreciate his insight.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Insidious Influence of Money in Politics or is there really no substantive difference between Bernie and Hillary?

An excerpt from Mistakes Were Made (but not by me) by Carol Tavris and Elliot Aronson, first edition, 2007,

The Road to St. Andrews
The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none. -- historian and essayist Thomas Carlyle
The New York Times editorial writer Dorothy Samuels summarized the thinking of most of us in the aftermath of learning that Congressman Tom DeLay, former leader of the House Republicans, had accepted a trip to the legendary St. Andrews golf course in Scotland with Jack Abramoff [this CBS/60 Minutes interview is not available for embedding], the corrupt lobbyist-turned-informer in the congressional corruption scandal that ensued. "I've been writing about the foibles of powerful public officials for more years than I care to reveal without a subpoena," she wrote, "and I still don't get it: why would someone risk his or her reputation and career for a lobbyist-bestowed freebie like a vacation at a deluxe resort?"

Dissonance theory gives us the answer: one step at a time. Although there are plenty of unashamedly corrupt politicians who sell their votes to the largest campaign contributor, most politicians, thanks to their blind spots, believe they are incorruptible. When they first enter politics, they accept lunch with a lobbyist, because, after all, that's how politics works and it's an efficient way to get information about a pending bill, isn't it? "Besides," the politician says, "lobbyists , like any other citizens, are exercising their right to free speech. I only have to listen; I'll decide how to vote on the basis of whether my party and constituents support this bill and on whether it is the right thing to do for the American people."

Once you accept the first small inducement and justify it that way, however, you have started your slide down the pyramid. If you had lunch with a lobbyist to talk about that pending legislation, why not talk things over on the local golf course? What's the difference? It's a nicer place to have a conversation. And if you talked things over on the local course, why not accept a friendly offer to go to a better course to play golf with him or her -- say, to St. Andrews, in Scotland? What's wrong with that? By the time the politician is at the bottom of the pyramid, having accepted and justified ever-larger inducements, the public is screaming, "What's wrong with that? Are you kidding?" At one level, the politician is not kidding. Dorothy Samuels is right: Who would jeopardize a career and reputation for a trip to Scotland? The answer is: no one, if that were the first offer he got; but many of us would if it were an offer preceded by many smaller ones that we had accepted. Pride, followed by self-justification, paves the road to Scotland.

Conflict of interest and politics are synonymous, and everyone understands the cozy collaborations that politicians forge to preserve their own power at the expense of the common welfare. It's harder to see that exactly the same process affects judges, scientists, and physicians, professionals who pride themselves on their ability to be intellectually independent for the sake of justice, scientific advancement, or public health.... [end of excerpt]

-----




Ultimately, a broader concept than corruption, which was used by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United decision to narrowly define a quid pro quo transaction, ingratiation can be accomplished by subtle or obvious means. That often includes more ambiguous means of bribery than explicitly declaring what the briber expects from the elected official, political candidate or judicial officer.

For example, the notorious tactic Jack Abramoff describes in interviews, including the video above, is that as soon as he offered a Congressional staffer a future job, he "owned" that person.

So, ask people who want to suggest that Hillary is not owned by Wall Street (or other major corporate Special Interests) to explain how that could possibly be the case, when she's literally made more than a hundred million dollars since she and her husband left the White House.

Oh, and by the way, on that #ReleaseTheTranscripts problem she has, it appears she has come up with an answer. If you believe a President of the United States owes voters the truth about her relationship with those Special Interests, you're not going to like her answer.




Can you look me in the eye and tell me truthfully that Hillary is not owned by Wall Street or any other corporate Special Interest? Better yet, look in the mirror before you cast your vote in a caucus or Presidential Preference (primary) Election this year and answer it to yourself.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

People Wonder Why Arizona Democrats are Ineffective? UPDATED 6:00pm MST 2-14-16

We don't even have to bicker about whether or not they (we) are ineffective in imposing the will of voters on public policy and lawmaking in the Great State of Arizona.

When was the last big victory? Not in the last two general elections (2012 or 2014).

Frankly, Arizona Democrats have had no major (political candidate) victories since November 2011. (Court victories are beside the point).

Nothing since the astounding expulsion, by the people, of hateful nativist Russell Pearce from the Arizona Senate.

Not that there weren't opportunities. A coalition -- ostensibly led by Arizona Democrats -- in 2013 succeeded in putting a Voter Suppression bill (HB2305) on the 2014 general election ballot. But the GOP-controlled legislature pulled the rug out from under Democrats who had captured the moral high ground when it repealed HB2305 as its first act in January 2014.

Now, emboldened by the fact that they have not effectively been challenged on any significant public policy issue or candidate campaign for statewide office since the repeal of HB2305, the GOP has renewed its campaign to suppress the vote with an in-your-face-mofo bill to make the act of assisting early voters in returning ballots a felony.

What do we hear from the Arizona Democratic Party? "Please sign our petition to let the legislature know you disapprove." Weak. Pathetic. Impotent. If anyone in leadership with or on staff of the ADP had a backbone, and a keyboard, they would have already been indignantly starting the ball rolling for the apparently necessary referendum drive to challenge HB2023, the latest in the ongoing series of efforts by #AZGOP to disenfranchise Arizonans.

By the way, there's blatant Special Interest lobbyist influence in the bill, as shown in the amendment adopted into the bill during Committee of the Whole floor debate after it had been heard in House Elections committee. The amendment added the following language,
I. SUBSECTION H OF THIS SECTION DOES NOT APPLY TO:
1. AN ELECTION HELD BY A SPECIAL TAXING DISTRICT FORMED PURSUANT TO TITLE 48 FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROTECTING OR PROVIDING SERVICES TO AGRICULTURAL LANDS OR CROPS AND THAT IS AUTHORIZED TO CONDUCT ELECTIONS PURSUANT TO TITLE 48.
Screw Democratic candidates and voters (which bill sponsor Michelle Ugenti-Rita admitted is the purpose of the bill), but heaven forbid we take away the rights of Big Ag to impose taxes on others to support their profits.

So, WHY is there no Democratic Party official or elected Democrat loudly proclaiming this to all citizens of our state? And why are none of them daring the GOP to pass this bill so that we can rile up the electorate for another referendum drive? This 2011 Huffington Post entry by Diane D'Angelo, a friend of the Arizona Eagletarian blog, may provide some insight.
The defeat of Pearce was the topic of du jour not just because it rendered him the first sitting Senate president in the nation and the first Arizona legislator ever to lose a recall election, but because of the awkward dynamics between Democratic Party establishment and former Senate Candidate Randy Parraz, the man who led the charge against Pearce.
Parraz, a charismatic UC Berkeley Law School grad and former union organizer, was openly shunned during his 2010 Senate campaign by corporate Democrats terrified of breaking away from their Republican-lite campaign strategies. Those tactics, while occasionally landing a winner like former Governor and now Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, have also rendered the party silent (and impotent) on racist anti-immigration bills like SB1070 and repeatedly demoralize activists drawn to the party on just such populist issues. In fact, the only thing differentiating mainstream Arizona Democrats from Republicans may be the Prius' in their driveways.
Party leaders also shied away from openly endorsing Parraz' successful effort to remove Pearce, as did several sitting Democratic electeds. When I verbally pondered why party leaders and electeds would not openly embrace the movement to remove our arch-nemesis, the response, paraphrased, was "If people know Democrats want Pearce to be gone, he'll stay in office." Hmmmm.
One could say there's an almost pathological self-loathing of Democratic values at play among Democratic State Committee members. Let's call it internalized Demophobia: the fear of actually letting people know that your leanings are decidedly left-of-center. The good news is that with the defeat of Pearce and the rise of the populist Occupy movement, it looks as if AZ Dems, while not quite ready to wave a donkey flag and hold a pride parade, are willing to let their GOP mom and dad know they've finally had enough.
Well, more than four years after D'Angelo's post was published, it doesn't look like the revolt took. Which brings us to this week.

As you know, the Democratic Presidential primary season is well underway throughout the country. In the deep summer heat last July, more than 11,000 people showed up for a rally in downtown Phoenix to hear what insurgent Political Revolutionary Bernie Sanders had to say. This was during Netroots Nation. Hillary couldn't even be bothered to speak to the annual convention of Progressive activists.

As of July 2015, she took neither Progressive activists nor Bernie Sanders seriously.

Well, now -- after what was really a tie in Iowa and a massive (22 point margin) victory for Bernie in New Hampshire, she's shitting bricks, spinning her wheels desperately trying to sound credible as she co-opts Bernie's positions on virtually every Progressive issue and having her surrogates dissemble on any and every thing they can think of in an effort to undermine the Sanders campaign.

It just ain't gonna work.

We do NOT have to



Or her message of No, we CAN'T.

Which further brings us to the ultimate point of this post. A group of Hillary supporters distributed a list of their names. Phoenix New Times writer Miriam Wasser published it (along with a list of Bernie supporters).

The list of Hillary endorsers contains at least one name that was already on the Bernie list, so take it with a modest grain of salt.

But those who actually are telling voters to settle for Hillary, in my view, are rejecting the need for cutting the ties to Wall Street, the Private Prison Industrial Complex, Big Pharma, and every other special interest Hillary depends on for her prominence.

That position indicates either inability or lack of willingness to recognize the American Spring now emerging in our country. Thus, it is both a symptom and an indicator of why both in Arizona and increasingly throughout the country, the Democratic Party is seen as impotent.

SHAME on Hillary. SHAME on Hillary's supporters.

#SandersWarren16

-----

By the way, if you WANT to understand the American Spring, take the opportunity, as soon as possible, to view Michael Moore's new movie, Where to Invade Next. Here's an image from the film, where Moore meets with the CEO of Ducati Motorcycle in Italy to discuss employee relations.


#HammerChiselDown

"One of the most genuinely, and valuably, patriotic films any American has ever made... Optimistic and affirmative, it rests on one challenging but invaluable idea: we can do better."
Godfrey Cheshire, rogerebert.com

UPDATE UPDATE UPDATE -- Really, my thoughts subsequent to publication

Let's apply the contrast between Bernie and Hillary to our situation here in Arizona. It's widely understood that Hillary's got big names and big money on her donor list. Yet, Bernie's average donation has been $27. Hillary uses shiny objects to keep you from pondering the ramifications of her being owned by Wall Street and other Special Interests.

Well, if you want to understand some of the "beneath the surface" reasons why the Arizona Democratic Party (the actual organization) itself accomplishes so little and has only a very feeble voice in our state, you might want to examine the funding sources that pay for party operations.

But that might not be so easy to do. As a member of the ADP state committee for the last three years, I've seen presentations -- during the meetings now held every four months -- on how much money it has. Or rather, how much it needs.

A couple of items not generally included in these presentations include a breakdown of the amount of individual contributions and the size and number of donations from Special Interests... for example, Arizona Public Service or Salt River Project.

If the state committee is ever going to be more than a facade that presents the appearance of democratic (yes, small "d") influence, these things must be subject to examination and brought into the sunlight.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Does Hillary remember the first rule of HOLES?

“The first rule of holes: When you're in one stop digging.”
Some attribute it to Molly Ivins, some to Will Rogers. No matter who first said it, it's wise counsel.

Now, about that hole Hillary is in... and is likely to be in much deeper later today, after the New Hampshire polls close.



Okay, so it's fair to infer that we all have emotional blinders. The most objective and highly skilled critical thinkers are not immune.

In a twist of irony, the cause for women in America and even more so the rest of the world (recalling Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In, a treatise for empowering contemporary women) will be hindered, not helped, by electing Hillary Clinton.

Besides the excellent essay by Karen Bravo (recently posted to the Arizona Eagletarian), one example is that Hillary had the opportunity to call for electing New York State's first woman governor in 2014, Fordham University law professor Zephyr Teachout. Instead, this year's woman candidate for president publicly endorsed Andrew Cuomo in that gubernatorial contest.

If she's such a feminist, why didn't Hillary promote the election of Professor Teachout?

My friends may have plenty of reasons for supporting Hillary over Bernie. Some of them may be logical and rational. Regardless, in the Democratic primary for the 2016 presidential nomination Hillary represents the status quo. Hillary is also anti-democratic.

And about whether she's a Progressive?
But in a funny way, the electability argument is at odds with the argument that Clinton deserves our support because the forces of misogyny and rightwing hatefulness are arrayed against her.
Can such a polarizing figure really argue that she’s the one to “break the gridlock” and get things past a Republican Congress?
And if she does find common ground, will it be by bringing in another Wall Street dominated administration?
In some ways, figuring out what the sensible choice is for Democrats is beside the point. Sanders is giving Clinton a run for her money, not because one group of Democrats or progressive pundits is winning an argument. The interesting thing about the Sanders phenomenon is the movement behind him—many of them young people, including young women. Any Democratic candidate is going to have to respond to the real aspirations of those voters—and not by telling them they are being unrealistic.
It would be nice if that movement were coalescing around a woman.
In fact, as Abby Scher reported for The Progressive more than a year ago, young feminists chose their candidate a long time ago—a champion of real progressive values, and an enemy of the Wall Street establishment.
Her name is Elizabeth Warren.
The decibel level of the cacophony is loud and will only get louder over the next nine or ten months.

In the meantime, don't be surprised if Hillary will inevitably fall flat on her face, despite all the best intentions of all of her supporters.

She's going to have to get honest about her speeches to Wall Street, the ramifications of the money she has accepted from major corporate interests (campaign donations and otherwise) and she's going to have to #releasethetranscripts.

The transcripts, again -- despite the best intentions of her Democratic loyalist friends -- could prove to be her Achilles' heel.
An Achilles' heel is a weakness in spite of overall strength, which can actually or potentially lead to downfall. While the mythological origin refers to a physical vulnerability, idiomatic references to other attributes or qualities that can lead to downfall are common.
I again refer you to page three of the Rocky Mountain Poll conducted by the Behavior Research Center of Arizona last month. This is what voters believe right now.
                                                                                                                                        Not
                                                                                            Agree     Disagree        Sure
These days big business and Wall Street 
have too much influence on elections                     77%         14%                 9%

These days labor unions have too much influence on
elections                                                                              
52             29                   19

Labor unions should not be allowed to contribute to
specific candidates without the approval of a majority
of their members.                                                                
81             14                   5


Corporations should not be allowed to contribute to
specific candidates without the approval of a majority
of their stockholders.                                                          
78              15                   7

There should be no limit on how much money an
individual can contribute to a political candidate.       
40              55                   5

NOTE: the empty space below is due to a blogspot.com formatting issue
that I don't currently know how to solve.