Thursday, November 27, 2014

I'm thankful for great candidates who dared to be vulnerable.

I'm thankful for a number of people who dared to be vulnerable, at least partly on my behalf.


  • Fred DuVal who was far and away the best candidate for Arizona governor this year
  • Terry Goddard, who took a bold stand against Voter Suppression and against Dark Money
  • Felecia Rotellini, who in interviews challenging her campaigns ads which attacked Brnovich's brazen self-dealings, owned those ads and stood her ground
  • David Garcia, who faced down racism and the groundswell of opposition to Common Core
  • Sandra Kennedy, after having been defeated for reelection to the Corporation Commission in 2012 went right ahead and put herself out there to run for the same office again in 2014
  • Jim Holway, a highly qualified, but still Democratic, candidate for Corporation Commission
  • Paula Pennypacker, a former long-time Republican who changed parties because the AZ GOP shunned her, dared to take on the House Appropriations chairman in a lopsided Republican district
  • Patty Kennedy, a Glendale school board member, challenged a Republican known for retribution
  • Terri Woodmansee, another Democratic candidate who challenged Senate Appropriations chairman Don Shooter
  • Kelli Butler, another Democratic candidate who faced long odds challenging incumbent Sen. Adam Driggs
  • Janie Hydrick, another Democratic candidate who challenged one of the biggest lobbyist whores in the Arizona Legislature, Jeff Dial
  • Kristie O'Brien, who challenged the Dominionist author of SB1062, Senate Finance chairman Steven Yarbrough.
  • Jo Holt, who challenged Steve "Build the wall" Smith
  • Amy Rose Schwabenlender, David Butler, Sheila Ogea, Frank Cuccia, Demion Clinco, Joe Longoria, Beth Weisser, Lanny Morrison, Carmen Casillas, Holly Lyon, Scott Glover, DJ Rothans, Steve Hansen, James C Burton, Scott and Cara Prior, Danielle Lee, Mitzi Epstein, Carolyn Vasko, Esther Lumm, Arky Muscato, Bonnie Boyce-Wilson, Larry Woods, Steven Zachary and Aaron Marquez -- Democratic candidates for seats in the Arizona Legislature
  • Mike Weisser, James Woods, and W. John Williamson -- all long-shot Democratic candidates for Congress
  • The many Democrats who ran for city and town councils, school boards and seats on boards of special districts.
These people, and of course also those Democrats who won their races, dared greatly. They all live to fight another day, but their willingness to take the big risk of running for office was for them and for me a very BIG DEAL.

I know a little bit about what it is like in their shoes, having run unsuccessfully for a school board seat in 1998. That's why I relate to Brené Brown's message in the TED talk video embedded below.

She defines vulnerability,

Vulnerability is not weakness and that myth is profoundly dangerous... I define vulnerability as emotional risk, exposure, uncertainty, it fuels our daily lives. And I've come to the believe -- this is my 12th year doing this research, that vulnerability is our most accurate measurement of courage. To be vulnerable, to let ourselves be seen, to be honest ... vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.  
To create is to make something that has never existed before. There's nothing more vulnerable than that. Adaptability to change is all about vulnerability. 
The second thing, in addition to really finally understanding the relationship between vulnerability and courage, the second thing I learned is this. We have to talk about shame.   

Additional quotes from this TED talk:
When we reach out and be vulnerable, we get the shit beat out of us.
You show me a woman who can actually sit with a man in real vulnerability and fear, I'll show you a woman who has done incredible work.
You show me a man who can sit with a woman who has just had it, she can't do it all anymore, and his first response is not, "I unloaded the dishwasher" but he really listens, 'cause that's all we need, I'll show you a guy who has done a lot of work.
Shame is an epidemic in our culture. And to get out from underneath it, to find our way back to each other, we have to understand how it affects us and how it affects the way we're parenting, the way we're working, the way we look at each other.
If we're going to find our way back to each other, we have to understand and know empathy because empathy is the antidote to shame. If you put shame in a petri dish it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a petri dish and douse it with empathy, it can't survive. The two most powerful words, when we're in struggle, are "me too."  
If we're going to find our way back to each other, vulnerability is going to be that path. I know it's seductive to stand outside the arena, because I think I did it my whole life, and think to myself, "I'm going to go in there and kick some ass when I'm bulletproof and when I'm perfect." And that is seductive. But the truth is, that never happens.
Even if you got as perfect as you could, and as bulletproof as you could possibly muster, when you got in there, that's not what we want to see. We want you to go in, we want to be with you and across from you, and we just want for ourselves and for the people we care about, and the people we work with, to dare greatly.
Please take the twenty minutes to view Brown's TED talk. She shares stories that bring her points and her quotes to life.


One thing that, in my view, is NOT vulnerability: Diane Douglas, Arizona's Superintendent of Public Instruction-elect refusing to talk to reporters or to citizens who may not agree with her.

Republic columnist EJ Montini writes about her in a column posted this afternoon.


So, why is this important to me and why do I think it's important to Arizona Democrats right now?

First, I think of the courage it took for the people listed at the top of this blog post to run for office. Like I said, I ran in 1998 for a seat on the KGB (Kyrene Governing Board). In a three candidate race for two seats, I received about 10,500 votes. But I still lost by more than 1,000 votes. I also experienced embarrassment, guilt and shame during that campaign. The week immediately prior to the November 1998 election, a story about my divorce ran in the Ahwatukee Foothills News. That hit piece likely was the straw that broke the camel's back. I was personally devastated, mainly by and about the hit in the community paper.

Second, I believe our (Democratic) statewide candidates were excellent candidates. I would not have chosen anyone different than them for this year's slate. They ALL, each and every one of the obviously imperfect candidates, deserve our deepest and most sincere gratitude for putting themselves in the arena.

I do NOT believe, contrary to the Capitol Times' quote from Chad Campbell, that the Arizona Democratic Party is dead. To the contrary, WE showed tremendous courage and had some results that bucked nationwide trends. A dead political party doesn't make that happen.

Nevertheless, the candidates LEARNED. The volunteers and campaign advisers learned. And if we demonstrate wisdom and resilience over the next two months, we will choose Party leadership that will capitalize on the learning from this election. We all need to share those lessons, stick together and make adjustments. As we do so, we will demonstrate superior resilience.

Pundits across the land believe that 2016 will turn out much differently. But that won't happen if we allow ourselves to accept that we're a dead party doomed to defeat.

2016 (and 2018) will turn out differently in Arizona because we care and we've got a message that does and will resonate with Arizonans. The obstacles in front of us are not insurmountable. We will stand together.

I'm thankful for you, Arizona Democrats. We ARE resilient.

h/t and thanks to my Republican friend, Barbara Espinosa for this image. Barbara also dared to be vulnerable, bucking her party and facing down threats from them for supporting Fred DuVal and Paula Pennypacker. I'm very thankful for new Republican friends I've made this election season also and the common ground we have.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Why does Barber's suit to have 133 provisional votes count matter? UPDATED 6:30 pm MST, 11-27-14

According to the current unofficial vote total in the race to fill Arizona's Second District seat for the 114th Congress, Republican challenger Martha McSally leads incumbent Ron Barber by 161 votes.

On Monday, Barber's lawyers filed suit in Federal District Court seeking to have 133 provisional ballots, not yet included in the unofficial vote count, counted.

The Arizona Republic reported last evening that a hearing is scheduled for 11 am this morning (November 26) on the suit.
McSally has a razor-thin lead of 161 votes, out of more than 219,000 cast in the 2nd District race. A recount is scheduled for after Dec. 1, but it will be delayed if Barber's legal challenge is heard by the courts.
The lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to stop the state from certifying the results of the election on Dec. 1, less than a week away. The hearing is set for 11 a.m. Wednesday in Tucson in front of Judge Cindy K. Jorgenson.
12News anchor Lin Sue Cooney said, in a video clip posted with the Republic story, "McSally has a 161 vote lead over Barber and even if all of the 133 voters chose the incumbent Congressman, McSally would still be slightly ahead."

Neither Cooney nor Rob O'Dell nor Matthew Hendley, got at one of the main underlying issues on why this lawsuit matters. O'Dell reported,
If all 133 votes the Barber campaign is putting forward were counted, the margin in the race could dwindle to 28 votes.
Rebecca Green, co-director of the Election Law Program at William & Mary Law School, said whoever is in the lead going into the recount has a huge advantage. But Green said cutting into the McSally's lead prior to a recount improves Barber's chances of winning. "They are trying to jockey to get as many votes as possible before the recount," Green said.
This is true. But... what about that recount? If the rest of the votes were counted correctly, McSally wins by 28 votes, right? Well, maybe.

This is why election integrity activists successfully pushed for a hand count audit for every Arizona election. Arizona Revised Statutes, Title 16, Article 12 has seven sections specifying various aspects of recounts. Pertinently, ARS 16-663 B. states,
When the court orders a recount of votes which were cast and tabulated on electronic voting equipment, such recount shall be pursuant to section 16-664. On completion of the recount, and for legislative, statewide and federal candidate races only, the county chairmen of the political parties entitled to continued representation on the ballot or the chairman's designee shall select at random without the use of a computer five per cent of the precincts for the recounted race for a hand count, and if the results of that hand count when compared to the electronic tabulation of that same race are less than the designated margins calculated pursuant to section 16-602, the recount is complete and the electronic tabulation is the official result. If the hand count results in a difference that is equal to or greater than the designated margin for that race, the procedure established in section 16-602, subsections C, D, E and F applies. 
ARS 16-664 C. states,
The programs to be used in the recount of votes pursuant to this section shall differ from the programs prescribed by section 16-445 and used in the initial tabulation of the votes.
My experience, observing early ballot tabulation at Maricopa County and participating in the hand count audit, suggests there are legitimate possibilities that 28 votes out of more than 200,000 could have been tabulated incorrectly for a couple of reasons.

Two significant possibilities include false undercounts and machines falsely reading an overvote for the race in question. False undercounts occur where a voter indicated a choice but may not have used a marking device (pen or pencil) that the machine would read.

I saw several false overvotes during the hand count. The most common reason for that was when the (early) voter used a Sharpie or other pen that bled through the ballot and was picked up as a mark for a race on the opposite side of the ballot. Out of 200,000+ ballots, there certainly could have been 28 of those. The machines would have not included those votes in the total because overvotes disqualify the ballot for that race. That's why the ballot, for example, for state representative says "vote for not more than two." If the machine thinks three marks were made, that race for that ballot (voter) doesn't get counted -- even though human eyes can tell whether the voter actually made too many marks for the race in question.

We also know that one of the two counties in which CD2 resides, Cochise, had major problems with its vote tabulation systems. The problems first presented during the August primary. They apparently didn't get fixed for the general election.

Consider this:

[Watch the documentary (online, for free) that Larry Moore referenced in the YouTube clip, at SnagFilms.]

Larry Moore heads a company that provides alternative software programming that, in theory anyway, could be brought in to conduct the machine recount.

Election integrity activist group AUDIT-AZ filed suit challenging Santa Cruz County for transparency problems this election season.

The Fatally Flawed Elections blog posted about the Barber/McSally recount situation a couple days ago. It's worth a read.


So, to me, the reason this lawsuit matters is because if Barber wins, the Republican state legislature might be motivated to plug the holes in election related statutes including those that preclude using the hand count totals for the final totals in automatic recounts.

UPDATE           UPDATE           UPDATE

The Associated Press reports today that US District Court Judge Cindy Jorgenson has denied Congressman Ron Barber's request to have 133 provisional votes, even though they were lawfully cast, counted.

Whether or not this decision will impact the race for Barber's seat in Congress is yet to be seen. However, these voters, who lawfully cast votes, do have a legitimate grievance because their votes are not going to be counted.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Message to McDucey, Reagan, Brnovich and Douglas -- don't get complacent.

Senator Sanders puts it quite succinctly. But most of what's in the graphic has been discussed at length in posts on the Arizona Eagletarian.

So, Scrooge McDucey -- don't think you're going to get away with massively undermining the Medicaid Restoration, SNAP or other aspects of the state administered safety net.

Michele Reagan -- crow all you want about your bullshit claims about "protecting the integrity of the vote" but if you think you're going to get away with disenfranchising voters to the extent that Wisconsin and Texas did this year, you're mistaken.

Mark (oh sure, you're not really a crook... like anyone believes that?) Brnovich -- don't mess with the Renewable Energy Standards Tariff and be sure to keep Cathi Herrod out of your office.

Diane Douglas -- well, if you think you're going to escape intense scrutiny of everything you try to do once you take the oath and replace Thucydides, you've got another thing coming.

And Catherine Miranda -- don't fool yourself into thinking anyone really believes that D you have after your name. Just try to kiss McDucey's ass, or Herrod's, or APS's. Watch what happens.


And Elizabeth Warren, speaking to a gathering at the Center for American Progress on Wednesday said,
"We tested the Republican ideas and they failed, they failed spectacularly. There’s no denying that fact," Warren said. "We know the importance of accountability on Wall Street —the benefits of having a better educated work force. The advantages that come from investments of high speed rail and medical research."
The senator from Massachusetts, near the end, interestingly, did also seem to suggest there should be some introspection in the Democratic party.

"People across this country get it. Sure, there’s a lot of work to be done and there’s a long way to go before Democrats can reclaim the right to say that we’re fighting for America’s working people, that we’re fighting to build a future not just for some of our children but for all of our children," Warren said. "No, we’re not there yet but don’t forget the good news. Our agenda is America’s agenda."

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.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

New Democratic Party Leadership -- LD 28 -- UPDATED 11:50 am, 11-19-14

First things first. Outgoing LD28 chair (and Democratic senatorial candidate for LD28) Kelli Butler announced tonight that she will run for election to the chairmanship of the Maricopa County Democratic Party.

Next breaking news item is that LD28 precinct committeeman Rodney Glassman failed to get elected to the Arizona Democratic Party state committee. The significance of that news is that he will NOT qualify to run for ADP state chair.

A source has told me that Glassman, in seeking election to the state committee, told those present at the LD28 reorganization meeting that he had been asked by Emerge Arizona to run for state chair. About Emerge Arizona:
Emerge Arizona is changing the face of Arizona politics by identifying, training and encouraging women to run for office, get elected and to seek higher office. Our intensive, cohort-based six-month training program is unique. As the number of elected Democratic women remains flat or even declines, the need for our work is growing.
The closest Glassman may have come, my guess is, to being asked by Emerge Arizona, is if one or more of the group's alumna had personally asked him. I seriously doubt that a group dedicated to encouraging women to run for office would ask or endorse him for state chair. Another possibility is that my source may have misunderstood. Nevertheless, Glassman is OUT of the running for 2015-2016 ADP state chair.

Anyway, here's the new leadership for LD28 Democrats:

Chair -- Gary Gilger
1st vice chair -- Mary Scanlon
2nd vice chair -- Jane McNamara
Secretary -- Nancy Schriber
Sergeant at Arms -- Chuck Howey
Treasurer -- Joe Downs

State Committee -- Kelli Butler, Rep. Eric Meyer, Carolyn Warner, Gary Gilger, Jane McNamara, Danica Opernica, Lois Pfau, Ann Wallack, Mayor Greg Stanton, Ruben Alonzo, Mary Scanlon, Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, Doug Mings, Nancy Schriber, Joe Downs, Mark Robert Gordon, Kim Rosenthal, Eric Shelley, Jeff Clark, Dan Trozzi, Donna Gratehouse, and John David Herman.

I offer my best wishes for LD28 to have a dynamic and ever bluer 2015-2016. And I offer my best wishes to Kelli Butler as she seeks the MCDP chair position. She's a good candidate but I don't know if she will be the only candidate. I look forward to talking with Kelli and with other candidates that may be interesting in running.

UPDATE           UPDATE           UPDATE

Privately, I've received feedback from two individuals related to the situation last night with Rodney Glassman and his claim regarding support from Emerge Arizona for a run to become ADP state chair.

One person indicated she personally had asked Glassman to consider running for chair, but did not do so in the name of the organization. The other person, not an LD28 PC, indicated unequivocally that Emerge Arizona, as an organization, did NOT ask Glassman to run.

From where I sit, it's of little to no consequence how Glassman worded his statement about Emerge Arizona. Whether my original source had heard him correctly or not, the organization did NOT ask or urge him to run but one or more individuals associated with the group did, on behalf of themselves, make such a request. Giving Glassman the benefit of the doubt, he may have simply been implying that people in Emerge Arizona had made the request.

Nevertheless, because he was not elected by his LD to serve on the state committee, he is still out of the running and cannot now be elected state chair.

One of the notes I received indicated that Democrats who opposed Glassman's selection to the state committee did so based on his support during the 2014 primary election for Republican gubernatorial candidate Scott Smith. I don't know the extent of that situation or the actual reasons LD28 PCs declined to support Glassman. However, I personally held (and still hold) the belief that of the Republicans who sought the 2014 nomination for governor, the ONLY one who wasn't/isn't completely bonkers is Scott Smith.

Personally, my concerns with Glassman run much deeper. It is unclear to me what accomplishments he can legitimately take credit for in terms of advancing Democratic ideals. I became familiar with him during the 2010 primary election campaign when he sought the Dem nomination for US Senate to go up against John McCain.

My view then was that Glassman's rhetoric was empty and his accomplishments as a Tucson city councilman were sparse. Additionally, his education background (a Ph.D. based on "research" that lacked depth and was likely unrelated to actually managing agriculture in arid regions like Arizona) was questionable. There was also the matter of personal behavioral issues of a serious nature in his past.

He had been accused at more than one undergraduate institution of sexual harassment related charges that caused him to change schools. Additionally, he had been found responsible for one or more traffic deaths as a result of an established pattern of reckless/aggressive driving. Glassman's family wealth enabled him to avoid personal criminal responsibility for any of those incidents.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Arizona Democratic candidates take note!

Minnesota's junior US Senator, Al Franken, won his first election by 312 votes. So damn close that it took months for a recount to validate his victory before he could take the oath of office and begin representing the legitimate constituents in his home state.

Of course, when it was time for him to stand for reelection, he could make video ads like the ones below because he did not sell out to corporate interests. You can bet that 1) he had plenty of opposition this year; and 2) that if he had been a sell out, the GOP would have hit him hard, labeling him a hypocrite. They may have still tried, but it didn't take because he's authentic.

Franken got reelected by a wide margin, 53.2 to 42.9 percent with 202,975 more votes than his Republican challenger.

There was still plenty of drama, heated up with $20 million. Franken's share funded mainly by small donors from all 50 states. By drama, I mean his opponent and opponent's supporters trying to distract voters by various means. But Franken's message was the bottom line, the underscore and the exclamation point to the entire campaign.

Here's a template for candidate messaging that works.

Sen. Franken didn't try to psych up the electorate. He simply laid out a couple of key issues in a direct, matter of fact way.

That's populist and it's progressive. And it's what will be needed to win election in Arizona.

I can't emphasize enough that I am not down on our 2014 Democratic statewide candidates. Fred DuVal was, by far, the better candidate than Scrooge McDucey. I admire Fred and the heart and energy he put into his campaign. I will not waiver on that perspective.

It's plainly obvious that Terry Goddard was a far superior candidate than Michele Reagan. He was confident and had a very good message. From the bottom of my heart, I hope that Terry takes the lead to put together an initiative campaign to reign in the influence of Dark Money in Arizona elections.

Felecia Rotellini, you can't and couldn't get a better advocate for Arizona citizens for the office of Attorney General this year.

Same goes for David Garcia for Superintendent of Public Instruction.

I'm not criticizing any of them and I'm not criticizing the Arizona Democratic Party or Maricopa County (or any other county) Democratic Party.

Criticism by individuals, including those trying to position themselves to run for state or county party chair positions, is only a distraction. One of the main sources of that distraction over the last two weeks has been the Capitol Times and it's gossip rag, the Yellow Sheet Report.

For those considering running for party chair positions, if you're going to try to do it to position yourself for a run for Congress or other high office, fahgeddaboudit. That includes Rodney Glassman.

People wanting votes for those positions need to present a plan to the state and county party committee members who get to vote. Be prepared to demonstrate both what you HAVE DONE and CAN DO. And you better be able to show it and tell it in a way that makes sense in a tangible way.


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.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Redistricting -- AIRC Motion for SCOTUS to Affirm or Dismiss, Harris case

Today the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission filed its Motion to Affirm or Dismiss in the Supreme Court of the United States in Harris v AIRC.

The 102-page document has 55 pages of preliminaries, then the motion, followed by 47 pages of exhibits/appendices.

For a document like this, I'm not sure I could do it justice to summarize it briefly. Instead, here's an excerpt for a teaser of sorts.
Despite Appellants’ efforts to reframe the factbound per curiam order into a new case posing broad legal questions, the appeal does not present any substantial federal issues meriting this Court’s attention. Appellee Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission therefore respectfully requests that the Court summarily affirm the decision below.
Appellants raise far-reaching issues that have little to do with the actual findings and ruling on appeal. They brought this suit on the theory (and told the court they would prove at trial) that “a policy of increasing the Democratic Party’s strength” caused the minor population deviations – an average overall deviation of 2.2 percent and a maximum deviation of 8.8 percent – in Arizona’s legislative redistricting plan. Doc. 176 at 2. After a five-day trial and review of transcripts of the Commission’s many public meetings, the district court found that was not true and that “compliance with federal voting rights law was the predominant reason for the deviations.” J.S. App. 6a. The court did not need to decide whether political motivations are illegitimate redistricting considerations because even assuming they are, Appellants could not prove their claim. At most, “some of the commissioners were motivated in part in some of the linedrawing decisions by a desire to improve Democratic prospects.” Id. The limited extent of that partisan motive does not indicate any constitutional infirmity. If it did, Appellants’ argument could result in overturning virtually every state’s legislative redistricting plan, an untenable and constitutionally unacceptable affront to State sovereignty.
The district court held that the Commission’s desire to comply with the Voting Rights Act, including the obligation to obtain preclearance, is a rational state policy capable of justifying minor deviations in population. J.S. App. 65a-72a. The Court should summarily affirm on the same narrow grounds. Appellants’ argument would require the Court to hold that compliance with federal law, although mandatory, was irrational. It would also clash with this Court’s decisions holding that non-mandatory policy decisions to respect county lines or protect incumbent politicians can justify deviations that go far beyond the minor ones at issue here. See, e.g., Brown v. Thomson, 462 U.S. 835, 847-48 (1983) (holding that state policy of adhering to county boundaries justified underpopulating district by 60 percent); Karcher v. Daggett, 462 U.S. 725, 740 (1983) (listing “avoiding contests between incumbent[s]” among policies that “might justify some variance” in congressional districts). The fact that this Court’s subsequent decision in Shelby County v. Holder, 133 S. Ct. 2612 (2013), removes Arizona’s obligation to seek preclearance does not render the Commission’s efforts to obtain preclearance irrational or illegitimate.
This is not the case for the Court to decide whether partisan motivations can invalidate a map with minor population deviations. The district court rejected Appellants’ partisanship arguments based on the evidence. This Court should summarily affirm.
I expect that I shall read through this Motion and at least some of the appendices in due course (and well before oral arguments are heard before the court (most likely the last week of February 2015)).

In the meantime, for your reading pleasure (if you're a political nerd), the link to the entire 102-page document is embedded at the top of this blog post.


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.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

NOW is the time for Democratic Congressional and statewide office hopefuls to rethink fundraising.

In case someone hasn't heard me say it yet, I love Arizona Democratic Party chairman Bill Roe, exec. dir. DJ Quinlan and the rest of the staff. I think our candidates for statewide office and for Congress were all tremendous and tremendously brilliant people.

We got the job done... well, for the Arizona Legislature anyway (not losing any ground, as far as number of seats), and for some other key races (like the Gilbert Public Schools governing board).


After months of pathetic, often pessimistic and always annoying emails to people who had signed up to receive campaign updates from Congressional and statewide candidates, I have heard exactly NOBODY talking about the role these horrendous messages had on the outcome of the election season.

I believe that, in general, that fundraising strategy poisoned those campaigns. Not the sole factor, but they were demoralizing and nobody was prepared to change the strategy once it began.

EVERY Democratic candidate for Congress and statewide office in Arizona (except Clean Elections funded Terry Goddard) did it. The degree of neediness or desperation evident in the text of those email messages varied. But ALL of them, to a degree, alienated people who received them.

Perhaps it would be good for political science academics to figure out a way to quantify the problem. However, even though I am not currently able to objectively measure it, the problem was obvious to many, many people.

Here's what I currently understand about the problem.

The last key person with a high profile winning race for Congress was the current US Senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren. She is the template that needs to be replicated.
Elizabeth Warren, a fearless consumer advocate who has made her life's work the fight for middle class families, was elected to the United States Senate on November 6, 2012, by the people of Massachusetts.
Elizabeth is recognized as one of the nation's top experts on bankruptcy and the financial pressures facing middle class families, and the Boston Globe has called her "the plainspoken voice of people getting crushed by so many predatory lenders and under regulated banks."
She is widely credited for the original thinking, political courage, and relentless persistence that led to the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. President Obama asked her to set up the new agency to hold Wall Street banks and other financial institutions accountable, and to protect consumers from financial tricks and traps often hidden in mortgages, credit cards and other financial products.
How did Sen. Warren get elected?

  • Plainspoken authenticity with a message that hit home for the majority of voters.
  • Grassroots fundraising that didn't require whiny, annoying emails. She was an inspirational rainmaker. Her campaign was plenty green, drawing in more than $42 million (committee ID, S2MA00170).
Fearless with laser-like focus on a message that will continue to resound over the two-year election cycle we now begin.

Have you heard any of her stump speeches or media interviews or committee questioning in the last two years?

Ya know, Arizona Republicans are not going to like it, but Elizabeth Warren IS still the template for the authentic politician effectively communicating to voters/citizens that she will unequivocally advocate for the interests of the voter.

Not only was and is she authentic (and therefore believable), she has always done her homework and speaks knowledgeably and effectively on issues that matter to voters.

I'm not going to parse the messages put forth by Fred DuVal, Felecia Rotellini, David Garcia or even (Clean Elections funded) Terry Goddard. But I am going to say there was a gap between the candidates and the voters, as evidenced by the vote tallies.

The vote totals provide evidence that -- for whatever reason -- an inspiring, credible, authentic message did not effectively make it from the candidate(s) (each of them for the statewide offices) to the mind of the voters.

There's plenty of places that breakdown could have occurred beginning with whether the message itself was inspiring to whether there was money to get the message out on print, broadcast or social media to whether the voters understand American civics, politics and government.

The bottom line at THIS stage is for prospective candidates to take inventory of their own values, skills and experience to figure out if they can formulate the necessarily inspiring, credible, authentic message necessary for a run for office in 2016 or 2018.

Former Clinton administration Labor Secretary Robert Reich blogged yesterday,
The President blames himself for the Democrats' big losses Election Day. “We have not been successful in going out there and letting people know what it is that we’re trying to do and why this is the right direction,” he said Sunday.
In other words, he didn’t sufficiently tout the Administration’s accomplishments.
I respectfully disagree.
If you want a single reason for why Democrats lost big on Election Day 2014 it’s this: Median household income continues to drop. This is the first “recovery” in memory when this has happened.
Jobs are coming back but wages aren’t. Every month the job numbers grow but the wage numbers go nowhere.
Most new jobs are in part-time or low-paying positions. They pay less than the jobs lost in the Great Recession.
This wageless recovery has been made all the worse because pay is less predictable than ever. Most Americans don’t know what they’ll be earning next year or even next month. Two-thirds are now living paycheck to paycheck. [...]
The stock market has boomed. Corporate profits are through the roof. CEO pay, in the stratosphere. Yet most Americans feel like they’re still in a recession.
And they’re convinced the game is rigged against them. [...]
Fifty years ago, just 29 percent of voters believed government is “run by a few big interests looking out for themselves.” Now, 79 percent think so.
According to Pew, the percentage of Americans who believe most people who want to get ahead can do so through hard work has plummeted 14 points since 2000.
What the President and other Democrats failed to communicate wasn't their accomplishments. It was their understanding that the economy is failing most Americans and big money is overrunning our democracy. 
And they failed to convey their commitment to an economy and a democracy that serve the vast majority rather than a minority at the top.
Some Democrats even ran on not being Barack Obama. That’s no way to win. Americans want someone fighting for them, not running away from the President. [...]
And the Democrats? They have a choice.
They can refill their campaign coffers for 2016 by trying to raise even more money from big corporations, Wall Street, and wealthy individuals. And hold their tongues about the economic slide of the majority, and the drowning of our democracy.
Or they can come out swinging. Not just for a higher minimum wage but also for better schools, paid family and medical leave, and child care for working families.
For resurrecting the Glass-Steagall Act and limiting the size of Wall Street banks.
For saving Social Security by lifting the cap on income subject to payroll taxes.
For rebuilding the nation’s roads, bridges, and ports.
For increasing taxes on corporations with high ratios of CEO pay to the pay of average workers.
And for getting big money out of politics, and thereby saving our democracy.
It’s the choice of the century.
[Arizona] Democrats have less than two years to make it.
Prospective 2016 candidates, Elizabeth Warren's book, A Fighting Chance would be a very good place to start looking for your inspiration.

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.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Who will lead Arizona Democrats to victory in 2016?

Names are already being bandied about as speculative competitors for Arizona Democratic Party state chair. What I've not heard is anything from current chairman Bill Roe about his intentions for 2015-2016.

The first thing that will be important to me, in the event we will be electing new blood to the position, is that we have a strong, progressive populist voice (see quotes from Richard Trumka's op-ed cited in yesterday's blog post).

Populist as opposed to promoting the corporate Democratic perspective.

I do not necessarily believe that any rumor that's begun circulating is very credible at this point. But to the degree that any given rumor starts a buzz that gets loud enough, it could become credible. Trial balloons, as they say.

One rumor I've heard has to do with Kyrsten Sinema, who I commend for winning re-election to Congress. But she has been anything but populist in representing Arizona's 9th District.

By the way, she already refuses to speak with me, take my calls or even look in my eyes when we are face to face. So, I don't particularly give a shit how mad she'll be about this.

People (both Rs and Ds) have been of the mindset that she intends to run for the US Senate in 2016. That first came up before McCain started hinting about a 2016 run for re-election. How old is he now?

Sinema, in her younger days, was actually more inclined to promote progressive and populist ideas and ideals. But she adapted when the political climate wasn't solid enough to support her election from that perspective. When first elected to Congress, she obtained a coveted position on the House Financial Services committee.

That was widely understood to be for the purpose of facilitating corporate fundraising for re-election. I saw no rebuttal of that conventional wisdom anywhere. As a result, her votes on financial services related bills favored the predatory industry her committee was supposed to be overseeing on behalf of the American electorate.

Whether she actually runs for US Senate (in 2016) or not remains to be seen.

Now, speculation has it that Sinema has a favored candidate for ADP chair. The name I've heard (I will wait before saying who I've heard it is) is someone who has attitude (a good thing) but may be too heavily oriented toward corporatism. We've already seen that to be a problem.

Not that Bill Roe is a corporatist, but that our candidates were unable to muster enough of a populist message to win ANY of the statewide offices.

We're not going to get Elizabeth Warren to move to Arizona to run for state chair. But we need a voice like hers.

I believe we will be able to get one.

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, November 9, 2014

Politics is 24/7, 365. So, what now? UPDATED 7 pm MST, 11-9-14

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.
There may be plenty of grousing and second-guessing about what happened last Tuesday and what caused it. But there are also silver linings to those dark clouds.

It's true that Democrats lost every one of the statewide office races in Arizona. We will make adjustments.

It's also true that Republicans took over the US Senate -- without the assistance or resistance of Arizona voters. In 2016, there will be a race for the senate seat now held by John McCain. We will make adjustments and compete for that seat.

It's also true that Democrats lost a huge number of seats in state legislatures nationwide. But so far, the most likely end result in our state is that the balance of power will be a net change of ZERO. There are still a few days of ballot counting to finish up. Two races for seats in the Arizona House are too close to call right now.

No New election results updates have been posted to today (as of 4:12 pm) even though tabulation of late arriving early ballot continues. In LD4, Charlene Fernandez currently leads the Republican by 115 65 votes in the race for the seat now held by Democrat Juan Carlos Escamilla. In LD9, Randy Friese leads incumbent Republican Ethan Orr by 199 votes. If both Democrats win, it will offset the loss of the seat now held by Democrat Demion Clinco, who lost on Tuesday.

The most annoying aspect of the election season was the -- literally -- HUNDREDS of emails begging for money by Sinema, Barber and Kirkpatrick as well as the statewide candidates for governor, attorney general and superintendent of public instruction. Terry Goddard's campaign used Clean Elections funding (as did Corp Comm candidates Jim Holway and Sandra Kennedy), so he was able to stay focused on his message. It was a good message. Goddard drove home the issues of Dark Money and voter suppression. He was, like the other statewide candidates hit hard by broadcast television ads funding by Dark Money.

In the absence of Clean Elections funding, candidates begged from grassroots activists. It was obviously not enough.

On the flip side, when Elizabeth Warren ran successfully in 2012 for US Senate, she also sent emails asking for grassroots donations. Because her message of progressive populism resonated with voters all across the country, she didn't have to beg.

Our candidates were well qualified individuals. But they did not exhibit the inspiring messaging power that caused Sen. Warren to win.

About six weeks ago, published AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka's op-ed on progressive populism.
... it shouldn’t surprise anyone that in America in 2014, populism decides who wins elections.  The only question is which kind of populism is going to win.
There is a radical right wing populism that points its finger at government, at the president, at ObamaCare, at immigrants and at the so called “takers.”  It’s a diversionary populism that channels anger over the fundamental reality in America since the 1970’s - there’s an economic crisis underway for working Americans.  And it’s not surprising that right wing populism is diversionary—if you look at its funders you find the economic elites its rank and file despise. 
Progressive populism is something very different.   Progressive populists seek to address the economic realities of 2014 directly by advocating policies that would create jobs and drive up wages-- making the society fairer and creating opportunities for those who work hard.  Progressive populists favor what I like to call the submerged majoritarian agenda—the economic agenda a majority of Americans strongly support but that can’t get any traction in Washington.
What is this submerged agenda?
It’s policies that make our country fairer right now—like increasing the minimum wage, restoring workers ability to bargain with employers, and taxing millionaires and giant corporations at levels that reflect how much of the country’s wealth and income they now have. 
I'm not going to whine about the results from last week's election. However, I am going to cheer long and loud for renewed progressive populism. That is the political future of the egalitarian America envisioned in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.


Nevertheless, politics is 24/7, 365. So, what now?

Over the next couple of months, state, county and legislative district political parties reorganize.

Who will constitute the executive committee of the Arizona Democratic Party for the next two years? Who will lead the county and legislative district party organizations?

County and LD party groups conducted aggressive grassroots campaign activities which were vital to the effort to win more seats in the legislature. Reportedly, nationwide, Democrats lost an average of seven seats in each state legislature. Given the overall political climate, these efforts were instead largely responsible for maintaining the Democratic position for the upcoming 52nd Legislature.

Names have already begun popping up for speculation. I've heard a few of those names. But I've only spoken with one person who is considering running for such a leadership position. Of course, there will need to be more than just chairmanships at issue because it takes a village, not a king or queen.

You can count on me to continue stirring the pot.


On the issue of politics 24/7, 365, two things are on my radar at the moment that I hope will interest you.

First, as many people expect, the movement to put a marijuana legalization measure on the ballot for 2016 has begun. Safer Arizona, which conducted the 2014 campaign, is starting right away to raise money to print petitions and begin circulating them. To that end, the group has established a crowdfunding project on

Direct democracy ensures the will of the people is made into public policy and law. Please contribute. Together, let's make this happen.


Second, filmmaker Frances Causey, producer/director of Heist: Who Stole the American Dream, is working on a new documentary project, Duh-moc-ruh-see! The Movie.
In our film we “kick the tires" of American democracy, revealing some very uncomfortable truths about an America always thought to be egalitarian. Be assured in our film you won’t get the "moonlight and magnolias" version of 1776 commonly found in textbooks.
Duh-moc-ruh-see! The Movie is a truthful “connect the dots account”, one that sheds much light on our current troubles. We believe that as flawed as our nation’s founding was, the US  has done some things really admirable like the Bill of Rights, which we explore in the film.
Causey has also established a crowdfunding project on

One of the problems in the 2014 election was that potential voters (the ones who stayed home and refused to participate) don't understand American government, politics and civics enough to realize how voting empowers them. Duh-moc-ruh-see! The Movie will get the message across to those voters.

Please contribute. And together, let's make THIS powerful movie happen.


UPDATE           UPDATE          UPDATE

Updated vote totals for LD4 and LD9 House races (above) became available from the Secretary of State's website late this afternoon. They include both Pima and Maricopa County vote updates.

In LD4, Charlene Fernandez now leads the Republican by 65 votes. In LD9, Randy Friese now leads incumbent Ethan Orr by 247 votes.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Redistricting development; election update

As of about 7:30 this evening, the CD2 race had tightened dramatically. Incumbent Congressman Ron Barber is now within about 350 votes with about 24,000 early ballots remaining to be counted in Pima County.

After apparent loss of two seats in the Arizona House, Tucson's LD9 Democratic candidate Randy Friese has taken a lead over Republican Ethan Orr. Since nationwide, Democrats lost hundreds of seats in state legislatures, it's looking like Arizona's not fairing too badly in that category. For the most part, we've held ground.

The Superintendent of Public Instruction race is still too close to call but with Scrooge McDucey now as governor-elect, I wonder if it might not be better to endure two years of Republicans screwing up our k-12 public education and make it a cause célèbre for the 2016 election season.

Then we'll see just how mad the Arizona electorate will be as Scrooge McDucey tries to eliminate the state income tax.


Pursuant to a stipulated motion filed jointly by counsel for plaintiffs (and defendant AIRC) in Leach v Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, Maricopa County Judge Mark Brain ordered a stay of the proceedings pending the Supreme Court disposition of Arizona Legislature v AIRC.

In his October 30th minute entry, Judge Brain states,
9:00 a.m. This is the time set for a telephonic status conference regarding the parties’ Joint Motion to Stay (filed October 17, 2014). All parties appear telephonically. Plaintiffs are represented by counsel, Lisa T. Hauser and Michael T. Liburdi. Defendant Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission is represented by counsel, Mary R. O’Grady and Joseph Kanefield. Defendant Ken Bennett is represented by counsel, Michele Lee Forney.
A record of the proceedings is made by audio and/or videotape in lieu of a court reporter.
The court and parties discuss the ramifications of the proposed stay. The parties acknowledge that it is unlikely that there will be time to redraw the district lines for the 2016 elections if the stay is granted; notwithstanding that fact, all of the parties wish to stay this matter pending the Supreme Court's decision.
IT IS ORDERED granting the parties’ Joint Motion to Stay, all in accordance with the Order Granting Joint Motion to Stay All Proceedings electronically signed by the court on October 30, 2014 and filed by the Clerk on October 31, 2014.
Background as stated in the Joint Motion to Stay,
The action pending in this court was brought by private plaintiffs and challenges the constitutionality of Arizona’s Congressional Districts as certified by the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (the “AIRC” or “Commission”) due to alleged violations of various redistricting procedures mandated by the Arizona Constitution, which allegations the Commission denies.
In a separate action brought by the Arizona Legislature, a three-judge panel was asked, in part, to declare that the voter-adopted amendments to the Arizona Constitution removing congressional redistricting authority from the Legislature violate the Elections Clause of the United States Constitution and that, as a result, the congressional maps adopted by the AIRC are unconstitutional and void. The District Court found no violation of the Elections Clause and granted the Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim. Ariz. State Legislature v. Ariz. Indep. Redistricting Comm’n, 997 F. Supp.2d 1047 (D. Ariz. 2014). The Legislature appealed and, on October 2, 2014, the Supreme Court of the United States postponed the question of jurisdiction to the hearing of the case on the merits of two questions: whether the Elections Clause of the United States Constitution and 2 U.S.C. § 2a(c) permit Arizona’s use of a commission to adopt congressional districts and whether the Arizona Legislature has standing to bring the suit. Ariz. State Legislature, 2014 WL 4916185 at *1.
If the Supreme Court of the United States concludes that the AIRC lacks congressional redistricting power and the District Court subsequently invalidates the Commission-adopted congressional districts, the action pending in this court to determine whether the AIRC followed the constitutionally-mandated redistricting procedures when crafting these same congressional districts may be moot. Thus, the parties agree that it is in the interests of justice and judicial economy to stay their litigation pending the outcome of the Legislature’s case.
The parties ask this Court to stay all proceedings in this matter until the Supreme Court of the United States issues its decision on the merits in Arizona State Legislature v. Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.
I would have posted these documents earlier except that I spent the day today conducting (along with dozens of other Democrats and Republicans) the Maricopa County hand-count audit conducted pursuant to A.R.S. §16-602 B. 1.
B. For each countywide primary, special, general and presidential preference election, the county officer in charge of the election shall conduct a hand count at one or more secure facilities. The hand count shall be conducted as prescribed by this section and in accordance with hand count procedures established by the secretary of state in the official instructions and procedures manual adopted pursuant to section 16-452. The hand count is not subject to the live video requirements of section 16-621, subsection C, but the party representatives who are observing the hand count may bring their own video cameras in order to record the hand count. The recording shall not interfere with the conduct of the hand count and the officer in charge of the election may prohibit from recording or remove from the facility persons who are taking actions to disrupt the count. The sole act of recording the hand count does not constitute sufficient grounds for the officer in charge of the election to prohibit observers from recording or to remove them from the facility. The hand count shall be conducted in the following order:
1. At least two per cent of the precincts in that county, or two precincts, whichever is greater, shall be selected at random from a pool consisting of every precinct in that county. The county political party chairman for each political party that is entitled to continued representation on the state ballot or the chairman's designee shall conduct the selection of the precincts to be hand counted. The precincts shall be selected by lot without the use of a computer, and the order of selection by the county political party chairmen shall also be by lot. The selection of the precincts shall not begin until all ballots voted in the precinct polling places have been delivered to the central counting center. The unofficial vote totals from all precincts shall be made public before selecting the precincts to be hand counted. Only the ballots cast in the polling places and ballots from direct recording electronic machines shall be included in the hand counts conducted pursuant to this section. Provisional ballots, conditional provisional ballots and write-in votes shall not be included in the hand counts and the early ballots shall be grouped separately by the officer in charge of elections for purposes of a separate manual audit pursuant to subsection F of this section.

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.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Reflections on a mostly disappointing election

This is, of course, a time of reflection.

Key facts that have emerged from the 2014 general election so far:
  • The Greedy Old Pricks have gained control of the United States Senate.
  • Scrooge McDucey is now governor-elect of Arizona.
  • Mark "I am NOT a CROOK" Brnovich (who may actually BE a crook) is now attorney general-elect.
  • A woman who has committed herself to Voter Suppression is now secretary of state-elect.
  • Arizona's Congressional Delegation will remain the same except that the Barber/McSally race for CD2 is still too close to call
  • The race for Superintendent of Public Instruction is too close to call, which is highly problematic in and of itself. Should Diane Douglas win, and with a Gov. McDucey, K-12 public education will be further decimated. Expect class sizes to continue to expand and turnover of experienced teachers to skyrocket.
  • The Arizona Senate apparently will remain 17-13, with the GOP retaining a four seat advantage.
  • Democrats apparently have lost seats currently held by Demion Clinco (who did run this year) in LD2 and Juan Carlos Escamilla (who did not run for re-election) in LD4. 
  • In LD26, where I live, the three Democratic state lawmakers, Andrew Sherwood, Juan Mendez and Ed Ableser each won re-election. This is a good thing. But their jobs just became more difficult.
Here is a sneak peek at some of what to expect policywise from the legislature and executive branch, at minimum, attempts to,
  • Repeal Medicaid restoration
  • Renew HB2305 Voter Suppression legislation
  • Re-introduce SB1062 like legislation
You may say, "they wouldn't dare." But we just had -- one day ago -- an election that was for all intents and purposes a referendum on those items and the Guardians of Privilege won hands down.

On the federal level, expect movement in the wrong direction on climate change/environmental issues.

In frustrated agony, many of my friends have expressed a wide variety of lamentations. Some of them lay blame on an apathetic electorate. They are, at least partially, correct. However, as to identification of the underlying, bottom line cause, I disagree. 

From where I sit, those who had the loudest and mightiest bully pulpits won. That's a matter of the plutocracy, corporate media being the major factor. Corporate media at times lamented -- as they do every cycle -- the annoying, obnoxious political ads. Corporate media, however, has it within its power to put a halt to the obnoxiousness of the ads. They don't do it because they salivate over the fact that the billions of dollars in Dark Money spent every cycle goes almost entirely to broadcast and print media.

Then there are the candidates and the political parties. Each bears some responsibility.

The Arizona Democratic Party sure seemed to hedge on messaging. The strongest attack they could pull off is to make fun of Scrooge McDucey's ice cream store flavors. That message did not gain any traction. 

ADP focused efforts on the three competitive Congressional races, but didn't have much insight or energy to put into the statewide campaigns and the state party pretty much blew off the Arizona legislature.

Might it also have blown a wonderful opportunity to get the right voters increasingly to the polls when it all but ignored the initiative drive to put legal personal, non-medical use of marijuana on the ballot.

Candidates themselves. Hmmm... good candidates. Excellent candidates for the most part. Felecia's team told the truth about Brnovich, lobbying for private prisons and selling out Arizonans. The Arizona Republic's editorial staff decided to provide cover for Brnovich on that one. Then again, the Republic spurned Tea Party Diane Douglas. As of 7:30 pm tonight, she was holding a roughly 27,000 vote lead over David Garcia.

I am not privy to what happened in the two AZ House campaigns in which we lost seats. Therefore, I have no insight on what could have been done differently to change the outcome.

As far as LD26 goes, Republicans Dale Eames and James Roy were both awful candidates. 

Eames aggressively pretended to be Independent when he's really a gun-toting, hard core Republican. He put up a lot of signs. He had Russell Pearce's brother Lester backing him. Fortunately, it was not enough.

Roy, who played the role of political rookie with awkward gusto, was apparently angry that I called him out on his conduct. WTF did he expect when he decided to run? Did he expect me to let him take a mulligan when he showed up at the Democratic rally wearing his gun in an easily visible holster?

The best campaign messaging I saw from any legislative candidate came by way of the keyboard of Andrew Sherwood when the Mesa Republic and the East Valley Tribune published his sharply pointed op-ed.

For the most part, legislative and other local candidates (i.e. Justices of the Peace, school boards) and activists/volunteers put a lot of effort into GOTV (get out the vote) door-to-door and phone canvassing. For some, those efforts paid off.

For others, noble and gallant efforts came to naught because of a dearth of competitive legislative districts. There will be more to write on all of this in due time. 

ProgressNow Arizona director Robbie Sherwood reflected nicely and succinctly (in a Facebook status update):
A little bent, not broken.
I am incredibly inspired by the fighting spirit of Ann Kirkpatrick, Kyrsten Sinema and Ron Barber. Kyrsten and Ann have withstood a national tidal wave and Rep. Ron Barber is still hanging in there (everybody knock on wood). My friend and former colleague Congressman Ruben Gallego is going to make Arizona very proud, and Raul M. Grijalva will continue to be the progressive conscience of the country.
It's obviously a profound disappointment that incredibly qualified leaders and people I'm proud to call friends like Fred DuVal, Terry Goddard, David Garcia and Felecia Rotellini were not able to overcome a highly toxic national electoral environment, mid-term voter malaise and unprecedented outside "dark money" attacks.
Silver linings: As of right this second, it looks like the Arizona State Senate will hold the line at 17-13, which is a major accomplishment if you look at the wipeouts happening in statehouses around the country. Forging a moderate coalition in the Senate will become increasingly important as we all dust off and get back to work, because there will be more anti-working family, anti-labor, anti-equality, anti-choice, anti-public education and anti-equal pay legislation coming our way. Appearances on the Daily Show, sadly, will not end.
The headwinds in 2016 will be at our back and not in our faces, but there's a lot of hard work that needs to be done, starting right now. One last note, perhaps my favorite ray of sunshine last night was the incredible effort by Phoenix public employees who put together an absolutely incredible grassroots effort to defeat the odious Prop. 487, which would have cost Phoenix taxpayers millions. No one gave them a chance, least of all the media. I want to shake the hand of everybody involved in that effort. Lastly, thank you to everybody who stepped into the ring and ran for office, and please don't give up.
After reflection comes analysis -- in due time. After analysis comes action.

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, November 2, 2014

Kavanagh hit mailer a half-truth?

That bastion of lazy journalism -- the Arizona Republic -- characterizes John "Quid Pro Quo" Kavanagh's mailer as "somewhat true/somewhat false."

Okay, perhaps the Republic is trying to portray themselves as impartial, presenting the appearance of giving Kavanagh the benefit of the doubt. But when something is only "somewhat true," how can it be anything other than misleading?
A half-truth is a deceptive statement that includes some element of truth. The statement might be partly true, the statement may be totally true but only part of the whole truth, or it may utilize some deceptive element, such as improper punctuation, or double meaning, especially if the intent is to deceive, evade, blame or misrepresent the truth.
If Kavanagh had even an ounce of integrity, he could have taken the high road by stating up front that he considers himself a "drug warrior" and that he fully believes the War on Drugs has been successful but that his opponent disagrees. That's not what he did.

He went full demagogue on the topic.
A demagogue /ˈdɛməɡɒɡ/ (from French "demagogue", derived in turn from the Greek "demos" = people/folk and the verb "ago" = carry/manipulate thus "people's manipulator") or rabble-rouser is a political leader in a democracy who appeals to the emotions, fears, prejudices, and ignorance of the lower classes in order to gain power and promote political motives. Demagogues usually oppose deliberation and advocate immediate, violent action to address a national crisis; they accuse moderate and thoughtful opponents of weakness. Demagogues have appeared in democracies since ancient Athens. They exploit a fundamental weakness in democracy: because ultimate power is held by the people, nothing stops the people from giving that power to someone who appeals to the lowest common denominator of a large segment of the population.
The Republic can be credited for calling attention to Kavanagh's demagoguery, except that they really didn't "call a spade a spade."

THE BOTTOM LINE: Pennypacker's... Republic op-ed pieces on the legalization and regulation of illicit drugs are vague on which drugs she's proposing be legally sold...
Isn't that really the smoking gun evidence that Kavanagh intended to deceive the voters targeted with that mailer?

Kudos to the incessantly declining Arizona Republic for giving prominent space in its Sunday before election day opinion section to this issue which can give Arizonans plenty to think about. Yet, this largest news enterprise in our state leaves it sufficiently ambiguous to allow hard-core Republican voters to believe the four-term state representative was really not lying too brazenly.

We know, however, that this kind of thing is nothing new for Kavanagh. Here's an image from a prior election cycle mailer he used against his Democratic opponent Stephanie Rimmer.

This, by the way, is why candidates choose to not respond to Cathi Herrod's questionaires. The question Rimmer answered had nothing to do with writing laws regarding qualifications for employment in elementary schools. Kavanagh fully intended to exploit the situation by deceiving the voters. I don't recall the Republic doing a fact check on this mailer, but it would be a stretch to even give Kavanagh the benefit of the doubt on this one.

Bottom line as I see it is that John Kavanagh has no conscience that prevents him from lying to voters in order to get his way. This he learned, apparently, from decades of service as a policeman in New Jersey.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Have we UNDERSTATED what is at stake in the 2014 general election?

For several years, Somalia, a failed nation-state in Africa has been a standard example when the issue of chronic tax cutting or Libertarian "every man for himself" dogma arises for discussion.
Somalia is the most failed state in the world, according to the annual ranking by Foreign Policy and The Global Fund For Peace.
Located in the Horn of Africa, the majority Sunni Muslim country suffers from an ineffective government, famine, disease, piracy, militant extremism, and frequent external intervention.
No wonder it has topped the list of the most failed states every year since 2008.
What is a failed state?
A failed state is a state perceived as having failed at some of the basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government. Although there is no general consensus on the definition, Fund for Peace characterizes a failed state as having the following characteristics:
  • Erosion of legitimate authority to make collective decisions
  • Inability to provide public services
Common characteristics of a failing state include a central government so weak or ineffective that it has little practical control over much of its territory; non-provision of public services; widespread corruption and criminality; refugees and involuntary movement of populations; and sharp economic decline.
Of course, no one now can reasonably consider Arizona a failed state. But IS it moving in that direction?

Tea Party and militia movements, especially at and concerning our Southern border demonstrate weakening practical control over territory.

Last year, when the CPS scandal emerged, that was but one example of non-provision of public services. It put a vulnerable population, children in families generally experiencing financial and emotional stress, at increasing risk.

A stark, but hidden from most Arizonans, example of widespread criminality and corruption involves a personal friend of mine who has been defrauded by real estate and mortgage loan operators. He had invested savings, from a more than 30-year career as a civil servant, in land in several areas of the state. He reports having lost more than $75,000 because of one unscrupulous, but licensed individual. Another individual had lost more than $100,000 at the hands of the same licensed individual.

This friend reasonably should have been able to expect relief -- or at least some action against the licenses of the perpetrator of the fraud against him -- from the Arizona Corporation Commission, the Attorney General and/or the Arizona Department of Financial Institutions. Instead, he has faced a disheartening loop of "go talk to the other agency" from all three.

An attorney advised my friend that this licensed mortgage loan officer was offering what amounted to unregistered securities. The Corporation Commission is charged with regulating securities. Arizona Revised Statutes § 44-1841 makes it a class 4 felony to sell or even offer to sell unregistered securities. ARS § 44-1822 gives the Corp Comm authority to investigate but does not require it to do so.

This is what my friend received -- standard boilerplate rejection language -- from Matthew Neubert, director of the Corp Comm's Securities Division:
"Division resources generally require that rather compelling reasons, in terms of the nature of the practice, the number of people involved, or the amount of loss, must be present in order to justify a lawsuit. We must, therefore, restrict our action to those cases which involve the greatest harm to the public, and which will have the greatest deterrent effect on fraud in the marketplace."
How does this not give license to those with sinister motives to bilk Arizona retirees and other investors?


Then there are the acute problems with K-12 public education funding. Since you're reading this, you likely know that overall, school funding took a gigantic nose dive when the Great Recession arrived. Scrooge McDucey owns a large portion of the responsibility for fighting restoration of funding since. He has declared that, if elected governor, he will NOT comply with court orders to pay schools the more than $300 million now owed and will vigorously fight it.

If you have school-age children or grandchildren, you should be very concerned about that. Average class size is increasing dramatically, as is turnover among experienced teachers.


Arizona has cut taxes in 23 of the last 24 years, according to Democratic gubernatorial nominee Fred DuVal.

As LD23 senate candidate Paula Pennypacker has said repeatedly, "where are the jobs?" "Where is the economic growth?"

“This is the first time in modern Arizona where we've trailed the national recovery. We traditionally underperform the rest of the country during recessions and overperform during recoveries,” according to a senior economist with Elliot D. Pollack & Co., as reported on just days ago.
The shortfalls projected by Arizona’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee in an Oct. 7 report put the state in more exclusive company. Only a few states, such as Nevada, Virginia and Hawaii, anticipate budget deficits in the current fiscal year, said Lucy Dadayan, a senior policy analyst at the Rockefeller Institute of Government at State University of New York in Albany.
Arizona’s dependence on revenue growth from new residents and businesses puts it apart from states that developed earlier, said Arturo Perez, fiscal affairs program manager for the National Conference of State Legislatures, based in Denver. 
Wouldn't you think that two decades is long enough to wait for the Voodoo Economics to kick in and supply Arizona with a booming economy?

Arizona, we cannot afford to elect Scrooge McDucey. The stakes are too high and his plan has already been tried and found wanting.