Friday, May 29, 2020

AZ Corp Comm finds its soul

Local Phoenix activist Stacey Champion tweeted this last December,
Today, she shared some good news that Arizona Corporation Commission chair Bob Burns acknowledged is due to Stacey's action.
The good news is in this document filed by Chairman Burns today, which states in part,
In my opinion, Staff's report puts forth a scathing assessment of Arizona Public Service Company's ("APS") customer outreach and education program ("COEP") ... This report is only the latest development that seems to indicate that APS did not comply with the Commission's order and expectation from its approval of APS' last rate case. 

Stacey Champion is a (s)hero to the people of Arizona (whether they know it or not). I am proud to declare that Stacey belongs. And belongs to us. Long live Stacey Champion.

Stacey is NOT alone in this ongoing fight. However, she in my view lives the stoic ideals Ryan Holiday sets forth in The Obstacle is the Way.
Some of these men and women faced unimaginable horrors, from imprisonment to debilitating illnesses, in addition to day-to-day frustrations that were no different from ours. They dealt with the same rivalries, political headwinds, drama, resistance, conservatism, breakups, stresses, and economic calamities. Or worse.
Subjected to those pressures, these individuals were transformed. They were transformed along the lines that Andy Grove, former CEO of Intel, outlined when he described what happens to businesses in tumultuous times: “Bad companies are destroyed by crisis. Good companies survive them. Great companies are improved by them.” Great individuals, like great companies, find a way to transform weakness into strength. It’s a rather amazing and even touching feat. They took what should have held them back—what in fact might be holding you back right this very second—and used it to move forward.
As it turns out, this is one thing all great men and women of history have in common. Like oxygen to a fire, obstacles became fuel for the blaze that was their ambition. Nothing could stop them, they were (and continue to be) impossible to discourage or contain. Every impediment only served to make the inferno within them burn with greater ferocity.
Holiday, Ryan. The Obstacle Is the Way (p. 4). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 
Stacey Champion embodies that ferocious inferno.

The future is female. With women activists and elected officials like Stacey (and Elizabeth Warren and many more), I'm optimistic about the future, despite the massive problems society faces today. 

Stochastic Terrorism laid bare

Perhaps the storm isn't so perfect right now, but the eye is hovering dead center over 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, Washington, DC.

A certain elected official who lives there for the time being had a huge tantrum. Why? Because he didn't like that @Jack asserted his ownership of Twitter on Wednesday. The stochastic terrorist-in-chief yesterday  had his biggest in-office tantrum yet when Twitter advised users to fact check the buzzard.

Said tantrum occurred on the same day that a Minneapolis police officer killed George Floyd, apparently with full intention, by kneeling with his entire weight on Floyd's neck for 7 minutes.

Consequently, protests are raging in several US cities, including Phoenix, as this is posted.

Phoenix Police have ordered protesters downtown to disperse.

Is that how Phoenix Police controlled a crowd around Wesley Bolin Plaza that was armed to the teeth bitching about the necessary stay-at-home order issued by the Arizona governor because of the Covid-19 pandemic? Did they demand that crowd immediately disperse?

Who is responsible for the current unrest in Phoenix?

Police chief Jeri Williams? Maybe, maybe not. It's not like she hasn't had to deal with protesters, even protesters riled up by the stochastic terrorist-in-chief.

But really, a great deal of the responsibility rightfully falls directly on the shoulders of the president, given that his response to being fact checked was to bully social media platforms with a dubious executive order.
“In terms of presidential efforts to limit critical commentary about themselves, I think one would have to go back to the Sedition Act of 1798 - which made it illegal to say false things about the president and certain other public officials - to find an attack supposedly rooted in law by a president on any entity which comments or prints comments about public issues and public people,” said First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams.
Jack Balkin, a Yale University constitutional law professor, said “the president is trying to frighten, coerce, scare, cajole social media companies to leave him alone and not do what Twitter has just done to him.”
More recently (also Friday morning May 29) Twitter took the more aggressive action to hide a Trump tweet for violated rules because it glorified violence.
The social networking site Twitter hid one of President Donald Trump’s tweets early Friday morning.
“This Tweet violated the Twitter Rules about glorifying violence,” Twitter noted.
“However, Twitter has determined that it may be in the public’s interest for the Tweet to remain accessible,” the president’s favorite social networking site added.
In the tweet in question, Trump referred to protesters as thugs and said, “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”

Again, I recommend you buckle your seat belts, it's going to be a very bumpy ride for the next 157 days.

Oh, and if Chief Williams needs ideas for de-escalating the protests this evening, I found this with a quick internet search.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

The Virus Still is A-Ragin'

Thanks to Shy Girl Talking, Susie Spangler and Bob Dylan

From The Hill yesterday (May 19)
Texas, North Carolina and Arizona are among the states seeing rising numbers of coronavirus cases, intensifying concerns as they seek to reopen shuttered economies.
Texas saw its largest one-day increase in cases on Saturday, with 1,801 new cases. North Carolina also saw its largest single-day jump on Saturday with 853 new cases. And Arizona reported 462 new cases that day, close to a record high.
The seven-day average in new cases in all three states has also been rising, according to data compiled by The New York Times. 
The data [CLEARLY] illustrate the risk of states reopening even amid ongoing outbreaks. Texas and Arizona are both relatively far along in reopening, having given the green light to businesses like restaurants and barber shops, though they have cautioned to open with limited capacity and other safety measures. [...]
Spokesmen for Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) both pointed to their states’ increasing testing as a factor to explain [AWAY] the increases.
Isn't it peculiar that "Double Talk" Doug seems to be more concerned with the fact that people are being identified as having a covid-19 infection AS OPPOSED TO the fact that there ACTUALLY ARE more people who are infected?

It reminds me of another video I saw yesterday, this one posted to YouTube by Randy Rainbow. It seems Trumpistas like Double Talk Doug want to change tradition. Enjoy a tune from Fiddler on the Roof,

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Don't let Fascism take root in Arizona or anywhere else in America

We know that Donald Trump has an affinity for Adolf Hitler, even though he scoffed at suggestions that he read and admired Mein Kampf. In an opinion column published in 2019 on, NYU law professor and long time civil liberties attorney, Bert Neuborne draws troubling comparisons between the two politicians.
I hate to put Donald Trump and Adolf Hitler in the same sentence. It trivializes Hitler’s obscene crimes to compare them with Trump’s often pathetic foibles. And it understates our nation’s historic commitment to constitutional democracy to suggest a serious parallel between the twenty first century United States and 1930’s Weimar Germany.
But I can’t ignore the fact that Trump’s savagely divisive political rhetoric, both as a candidate and as our 45th President, closely tracks the tropes that Adolf Hitler used from 1932-36 to persuade a critical mass of the German people to trade their democratic birthright for a Nazi pottage of xenophobia, bigotry, and scapegoats.
Hitler did not take power by force. Germany dropped into his maw like a piece of overripe fruit spoiled by years of poisonous, corrosive rhetoric. The real risk to American democracy posed by Trump’s talent for invective and divisiveness is not a military putsch. It is the erosion of the bonds of mutual respect and common decency that hold constitutional democracies together.
One key to Hitler’s success in talking German democracy to death can be found in the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, where two small green plastic cubes rest almost unnoticed on small display tables—surviving examples of miniature radios distributed free of charge by the Nazi Party in the years following 1932. There was only one catch: the free radios received only a single frequency—the unremitting, unadulterated voice of Adolf Hitler spewing his witches’ brew of bigotry and hate directly into the heads of 35-40% of the German people.
Trump’s mastery of Twitter is the twenty-first century analogue of those green plastic radios, forging a direct line of unfiltered communication with 40 million Americans, enabling Trump to stoke mass fears and foment divisive anger on demand. (more)
Recently, Amazon Prime showed me a title, Rick Steves' The Story of Fascism in Europe. It intrigued me to no end. Maybe this is one reason why Trump loathes Jeff Bezos. I watched it on Monday evening. Then I wondered if that video was available on YouTube. Imagine my excitement when I found it there too!

So, here for your learning and viewing pleasure, I present to you Rick Steves' 2018 56-minute special. I highly recommend it, even if you have attention issues like mine and can't watch it all in one sitting.

I found this presentation more concise and cogent than former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's book Fascism, A Warning.

Clearly, even though we Americans would like to think it could not happen here, it IS on our doorstep. And if we do not act affirmatively to stand for American/democratic institutions, if Trump somehow wins a second term, it will all be over but the shouting within days of him taking the oath of office in 2021. As former President Barack Obama has said (and tweeted) the way to save democracy is MORE democracy. So, make sure to do all that you can to save democracy.

Monday, May 18, 2020

Pavlovich: Five Reasons Christians support the Orange Guy

So, it really shouldn't be surprising to us that a few thousand years after the Israelites fell down to worship a golden calf, religious people are still compromising their convictions and losing their way and kneeling before an orange jackass! -- John Pavlovich, May 17, 2020

And for good measure, I will leave this meme here for you with no comment.

What's the source of the "you're not the boss of me" view of "freedom" in America today?

Wouldn't it be preferable for America and Americans to learn the major lessons of history without having to endure death and disaster repeatedly? Might the expected second wave of the covid19 pandemic not wait until the fall of 2020?

Professor Tom Nichols may have some insight.

Nichols mentions at about 4:30 into the video that the view of freedom expressed by anti-stay-at-home activists these days echoes what you get from young children rather than what one would reasonably expect from adults. "You're not the boss of me!"

Bottom-line: not only is Trump a very sick individual with too damn much power, but efforts began decades earlier to redefine and re-educate Americans on what freedom means. Incrementally since the 1950s, freedom has taken on a decidedly narcissistic meaning. Sacrificed clandestinely on the altar of greed to the gods of Capital, civic responsibility has gradually faded from American life.

These days, most working-class Americans who -- 50 years ago would have been easily able to support a growing family on one 40-hour per week job, must have two earners who each put in north of 50 hours/week just to squeak by. Hence, they have no time or energy to get involved to support local candidates who represent their own interests.


Yesterday, I started reading Nancy MacLean's Democracy in Chains (subtitled: The Deep History of the Radical Right's Stealth Plan for America) and it immediately stirred my soul. Professor Nancy MacLean's video below is shorter than Nichols' (above). The Kindle version of her book is available, as I write this post, for $1.99.

MacLean unearthed a movement started decades before the 1971 Powell Manifesto. It was shortly after Powell's declaration of the power of the owners of capital, that economic statistics kept by the federal government first tangibly demonstrated how laws shifted power and money to plutocrats away from working class Americans.

Where movement activists win over majorities, they make headway; when they fail to, they in time falter. This cause is different. Pushed by relatively small numbers of radical-right billionaires and millionaires who have become profoundly hostile to America’s modern system of government, an apparatus decades in the making, funded by those same billionaires and millionaires, has been working to undermine the normal governance of our democracy. Indeed, one such manifesto calls for a “hostile takeover” of Washington, D.C.
MacLean, Nancy. Democracy in Chains (p. xxxiii). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition. 
Now, we have local GOP political consultant (hack) Chris Baker clumsily trying to make health and safety conscious small-business owners, who he believes are primarily Democrats, into a new boogie man. Of course, Baker didn't say on what he based his guess about the partisan make up of these business owners. But what's clear is that owners of capital or small-businesses are the good guys as long as they aren't Democrats.

From the Arizona Republic,
A collection of Arizona small businesses, ranging from restaurants to retailers, have published a letter on stating they will not be opening their doors until "credible epidemiological experts & researchers" say it's safe.
Gov. Doug Ducey allowed salons and barbershops in the state to reopen May 8 and dining rooms to reopen May 11, as long as new state safety guidelines are followed.
Restaurants across the Valley that reopened saw mixed results Monday, with Arizona Republic reporters seeing crowds of varying sizes. [...]
Danielle Leoni, who owns the Breadfruit & Rum Bar in Phoenix with her partner, Dwayne Allen, said Allen signed the letter because they didn’t feel comfortable opening Monday. 
We don't feel that the guidelines are clear enough, concise enough or demanding enough to keep us all safe, and there's a lack of testing and there's a lack of test results,” Leoni said.
Leoni and Allen closed their Caribbean restaurant indefinitely in March and recently formed the Arizona Small Restaurant Coalition to advocate on behalf of the restaurant industry.
“There's nothing we have ever faced that has been more grave than what we're facing today and it can't be taken lightly,” Leoni said. “Reopening is not a matter of making sure we have a balanced budget. Money doesn't matter when it's either money or your life, and that's why you don't see small businesses clamoring to open today. Most of us are hesitant, and it's because it's just there's not enough value.”
Makes one wonder what David Schweikert's buddy Chris Baker has against small-business owners who reasonably understand that guidelines Doug Ducey authorized are not clear enough, concise enough, or demanding enough to keep them, their families and their customers safe.

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Do you have school-age children? Do you feel lucky?

Trump Again Undermines Dr. Anthony Fauci, Pushes For Schools To Reopen

President Donald Trump urged schools across the nation to reopen “as soon as possible” even as the coronavirus continues to spread, saying infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci’s ongoing calls for caution were “not an acceptable answer.”
“He wants to play all sides of the equation,” the president said on Wednesday of Fauci, a leading figure on the White House’s coronavirus task force.
“I was surprised by his answer, actually,” Trump later added, “because you know it’s just to me, it’s not an acceptable answer, especially when it comes to schools.”
Trump was referencing Fauci’s testimony to the Senate earlier this week, where the doctor warned lawmakers that reopening the country too soon could lead to “suffering and death that could be avoided.” When Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) pressed Fauci about his resistance to kickstarting the economy, the doctor directly pointed to the unknown effects infections of COVID-19 could have on children.
“I think we better be careful, if we are not cavalier, in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects,” Fauci told the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. “You’re right in the numbers that children, in general, do much, much better than adults and the elderly and particularly those with underlying conditions. But I am very careful and hopefully humble in knowing that I don’t know everything about this disease.
But Trump appeared to reject that concern in remarks to reporters on Wednesday.
“I think they should open the schools, absolutely,” the president said, according to a pool report from the White House. “I think they should. It’s had very little impact on young people. (more)

And we KNOW that when it comes to the #Covid19Pandemic Trump has NEVER been wrong, right? [/snark]

Monday, May 11, 2020

Guest Post: Faking Invincibility!

This blog post was written by Teri Kanefield and originally published on her blog.

In a pandemic, a president like Obama would try to save lives while minimizing damage to the economy.
Trump doesn’t care about saving lives or the “economy.” He cares about maintaining power. The desire to maintain power (and his need to fake invulnerability [and invincibility]) explains today’s Twitter storm. If you missed it, here’s a sampling. He fired off more than 125 Tweets along these lines:

“Obamagate” refers to the “scandal” of Obama targeting Trump and Flynn and unleashing the “Russia hoax.” You get the idea.
Trump can’t manage the pandemic the way Obama would have.
  • He doesn’t know how
  • He isn’t equipped (he spent 3 years dismantling the government and appointing people “loyal” to him instead of experts)
  • Using the government to help people goes against the GOP ideology.
People are amazed that Trump is doubling down on the strategy that caused the Republicans to lose the midterms, the recent Wisconsin election, and bleed support since then.
In fact, doubling down is his best option.
Consider what would happen if instead Trump suddenly tried to do an about-face and handle the pandemic the way a rule-of-law leader would. He would fail miserably.
Trump isn’t that kind of leader. He doesn’t know how to be. Moreover (and this is important) his base would lose interest in him if he tried to be a rule of law president like Obama. He’d cease to be their hero, the strongman doing battle with their enemies, fighting the “Deep State” and socking it to the libs.
Without his base, he’s nothing.
So he has two options:
  • Double-down and keep his base excited,
  • or try to act like Obama and fall short.
He can’t out-Obama Obama. His base doesn’t want a rule of law leader. They want a rule breaker.
This is the same reason Democrats shouldn’t try to “fight like” Republicans. They’ll never do it as well. If Democrats try to compete in the arena of “who fights dirtiest” they’ll lose. You can’t out-Herod Herod.
What’s amazing to people who favor rule of law (as opposed to cult of leadership) is that according to every objective measure, Trump’s handling of the pandemic is a colossal failure—yet he retains more than 40% approval.
That’s because a lot of people reject “objective measures.” They want the myth of the strongman.
Trump also retains better than 40% support because he has a firm grip on what’s left of the GOP, and he has a well-oiled propaganda loop.
Doubling down is therefore the smarter strategy. By doubling down, he can retain the support he has, and try to expand that.
If he tries to be a rule of law president, he STILL won’t win over Rule of Law people. He has already burned his bridges with people who prefer rule of law.
Trump’s tirade this morning followed the same formula he’s been using for years— times ten.
  • Embrace conspiracy theories
  • Make himself the victim of an insidious plot to destroy America.
  • Call any reporting he doesn’t like “fake news”
Most alarming:
  • Hint that he will engage in outrageous, rule-breaking actions:

Promising to break rules and norms does two things:
  • It stokes his base. They think: “Our team will win! Yay! Trump is the Strongman who will Trample the Libs!”
  • Second, it causes panic meltdown in the opposition.
Now consider what this tweet accomplishes:
Trump supporters see it and think: “Wow! Trump really IS all powerful!”
[Most] Republicans see it and think, “I’d better toe the line! Trump will win and I want to be on the winning side.” (That’s what hierarchical thinkers care about.) [Rule of Law Republicans and the Lincoln Project are exceptions. By the way, the Arizona Eagletarian, who generally is solidly Progressive, embraces coalition thinking and those two subsets of Republicans]
A tweet like that also keeps people from remembering that the GOP lost the midterms by 8 points and they lost in Wisconsin, etc. etc. It keeps people from remembering that the GOP have not only been steadily losing elections, they’re losing support.
NYT: Trump’s *own polling* shows him losing to Biden among seniors by a double digit margin.
— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) May 9, 2020 
A tweet like that [the one claiming Democracy in America is dead] advances a narrative that helps Trump and moves people out of the world of facts into myth.
Consider this: Thomas Rid, an expert in Russian disinformation tactics, said that the extent of Russia’s interference in the 2016 election was “designed to be overestimated.

The desire to be overestimated makes sense when you think of this from a gangster mentality. If people overestimate you, they think you are more powerful than you are. Your supporters will fall more quickly in line. You enemies will give up and despair. [He's NOT more powerful than an American electorate that Rises UP and strengthens the institutions that serve as foundation for society that depends on truth and fact.]
It’s dangerous to underestimate Trump by assuming that he’s just stupid and crazy. It’s equally dangerous to overestimate him.
If I were Trump and wanted to destroy democracy and install a leadership cult, I’d try to goad the Democrats into fighting like Republicans. I’d also try to persuade them that I’m winning so they would just melt down.
On the other hand, if I wanted to save Democracy I’d tell everyone to work on getting their absentee ballots, and getting every Trump critic they know to work on getting their absentee ballots. Winning in Nov. will not solve all of our problems, but it’s a necessary first step.
This is the way a rule of law person thinks:

Jay Colorado hit the nail on the head, and in fact, gave me the idea for the title for this blog:
When a strongman fakes being invulnerable or invincible, he gets his followers to fall in line, and scares his opposition into accepting his dominance.
Trump is, above all, a conman. That’s why he has so many people persuaded he’s invincible even after the GOP lost big in Wisconsin.
Here are two phrases I’d like to ban on social media.
The first is: “I sure hope you’re right and the election isn’t stolen.”

When someone says, “We’d better hope. . . ” or “I sure hope . . ” I hear passivity and even privilege. I hear: “I hope lots of people are out there working on this.”
The real danger is voter suppression, when people are persuaded not to vote. Active Measures in 2016 was mostly about suppressing the vote, persuading people there was no point in voting, and that HRC was just as bad as Trump, etc. Stacey Abrams formed Fair Fight to fight voter suppression.
There are groups out there working to fight voter suppression. We shouldn’t be “hoping.” We should be “working.”
The other “logic” I’d like to debunk is: “Trump is acting like he knows he’s going to win. So he must know he can fix the election. So he must know the fix is in.” 
If the fix was in, why didn’t he fix the midterms, or the recent Wisconsin election, or the other elections the GOP lost in the past 4 years? If the fix was in, what was the point of Operation Ukraine Shakedown (which failed, by the way.)
Had Operation Ukraine Shakedown succeeded, we’d all believe that Ukraine decided on its own to open an investigation into the Bidens, which would have given the false narrative credibility.
Operation Ukraine Shakedown was launched shortly after the GOP lost the midterms in 2018, because the writing was on the wall.
Of course the GOP will try every trick in the book in November. But why would the tricks work in 2020 if they didn’t work in 2017, 2018, or 2019?
The tricks won’t work if everyone [That's YOU and ME] does their part.
Rant over.
(That was quite a rant!)
Oh, and yes, I had a lovely Mother’s Day. I hope every mother felt honored today.

The Arizona Eagletarian thanks Teri Kanefield for this timely, incisive essay. Teri is a criminal appellate attorney and a historian, besides being a mother.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Doubletalk Ducey Turns Tail; Re-Traces his Steps in Double Time

Just a day ago, the Arizona Eagletarian (and others) decried the brazen Trump ass-kissing being done by Doubletalk Doug Ducey in the wake of the #OrangeMenace's grandstanding at a Honeywell plant in Phoenix. Local news media including the Arizona Republic and the Arizona Capitol Times, in addition to the Washington Post (see below) pushed back (okay, more like shoved the way Pat Tillman used to do for the ASU Sun Devil football team) hard.
“We now have two months of on-the-ground data,” Ptak said. “We’ve been able to see which models are accurate — which match the actual facts and are most useful — and which are not.”
Ptak noted that ADHS Director Cara Christ, who is an infectious disease epidemiologist and public health expert, made the decision to pause the university modeling group “after reviewing all the data.”
The decision drew criticism from Democrats, including Sinema, other members of Congress and state lawmakers.
Today, Arizona Dept of Health Services director Cara Christ euphemistically said, "Never mind."

This screenshot tweeted by ABC15 investigator @MelissaBlasius just before 3pm today.

The Arizona Department of Health Services said on Thursday that it will have an "ongoing partnership" with the university experts who were producing COVID-19 modeling before being told on Monday by the department to "pause" their work.
The abrupt turn comes after pressure from Democratic lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, and local and national media attention.
Dale Carnegie, decades ago, in his seminal work on How to Make Friends and Influence People noted the importance of allowing people to "save face."

So, what major news outlets do, when they let people like Ducey and Dr. Christ off the hook might at times be reasonable and justified. But if that's ALL a journalistic organ wants to do, "powers that be" will, have, and frequently do exploit it. That's the root of government corruption.

Case in point: Any and everything you hear from Trump and his minions (no, not the cute animated movie minions) is that he has done a "fantastic job." Except that he has not. In fact, NO COUNTRY is doing WORSE in response to the pandemic, and no country has had more cases of coronavirus infection (per capita) than the United States. NONE. See

That's right. The fact, the reality, and the TRUTH are the opposite of what the Orange Menace proclaims.

Last night's Arizona Eagletarian blog post quoted the Yellow Sheet Report
(UofAZ Prof) Gerald said the group feels the Ninth Floor is lifting restrictions too quickly and the moves are shortsighted, if the ultimate goal is leading Arizona down a path of fewer cases and deaths. “I’m not sure we would necessarily disagree with it per se, except to more transparently convey the notion that there is a tradeoff between resumption of economic activities and the health consequences,” Gerald said. “We know more people are going to get sick and more people are going to die. Maybe that’s a tradeoff we’re willing to make.”
Maybe Dr. Gerald was trying to be diplomatic, but that is an outrageous statement.

NO, Damn it, it is NOT a tradeoff that we even should be considering. Here's what NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo said,
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday that he’s not willing to trade people’s lives to reopen the state’s economy, saying it’s “absurd” to argue over how many deaths are worth reopening the state.
“This is not a situation where you can go to the American people and say, ‘How many lives are you willing to lose to reopen the economy?’ We don’t want to lose any lives. You start to hear these, to me, what are absurd arguments,” Cuomo said at his daily press briefing.
The Orange Menace is now calling on Americans to be warriors, "The people of this country should think of themselves as warriors. Our country has to open." 

Ask yourself this: what are warriors expected to do? Trump didn't define what part of warrior he was asking the American people to be. However, has he DONE anything over the last couple of months to PROTECT warriors? Or does his rhetorical context simply suggest that he expects people to die as a result of the virus so that he can take credit for restoring the American economy?

Has he done or said anything to suggest he's even willing to bestow any kind of honor on those who sacrifice their lives for his glory?


Hours after Doug Ducey, the Republican governor of Arizona, accelerated plans to reopen businesses, saying the state was “headed in the right direction,” his administration halted the work of a team of experts projecting it was on a different — and much grimmer — course.
... Ducey’s health department shut down the work of academic experts predicting the peak of the state’s coronavirus outbreak was still about two weeks away. [...]
The move to sideline academic experts in the middle of the pandemic reflects growing friction between plans to resume economic activity and the analysis of epidemiologists that underscores the dangers of rolling back restrictions. Officials in Arizona said they would rely on “real-time” information, as well as modeling conducted by federal agencies, which is not released publicly.
During his visit to Arizona on Tuesday, Trump pressed states to pursue aggressive reopening strategies even as he acknowledged “some people will be affected badly.” Governors from Georgia to Iowa have stepped ahead of the recommendations of doctors and epidemiologists in their states, beginning phased reopenings before they met the administration’s nonbinding guidelines. Recent polling suggests they have done so against the wishes of most Americans, who support sweeping precautions to slow the spread of the virus.
But experts said Arizona’s dismissal of academics, whose analysis seems at odds with the state’s approach, marked an alarming turn against data-informed decision-making.
“The approach seems to be, ‘Shoot the messenger — and quick,’ ” said Josiah D. Rich, an epidemiologist at Brown University.
The Arizona health department was pulling back “the special data sets which have been shared under this public health emergency effort,” according to the Monday email from Bailey, which was first reported by an ABC affiliate in Phoenix. [...]
The move also troubled some federal lawmakers. “We can’t just remove scientific data and bury facts when it contradicts an agenda or narrative,” said Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Ariz.).
Will Humble, a former Arizona health director, said he was concerned by the timing of the abrupt suspension of the modeling work — hours after Ducey had announced plans to ease restrictions on restaurants and barbershops, among other retailers. [...]
Here comes some doubletalk from Ducey's spokesman,
Patrick Ptak, a spokesman for the governor, said the department’s determination “had nothing to do with” the president’s travel to Arizona, or the governor’s Monday announcement about new steps in the state’s gradual reopening. He said the decision was made by the state’s health director, Cara Christ, “after reviewing all of the data.” [...]
But Humble said the state is eluding accountability by relying on nonpublic modeling. The academic partnership yielded public reports, the most recent of which predicted that the state’s peak of cases would not arrive before mid-May.
Ptak said the state is working to see if Arizona-specific projections can be made public.
“Good practice is always to use multiple models and multiple inputs,” said Elizabeth Carlton, an assistant professor of environmental and occupational health at the Colorado School of Public Health. “A smart state program will consult a lot of different data sources.”
Efforts in other states to selectively interpret and display coronavirus cases to suit political ends are also raising concerns among epidemiologists.
Iowa experts who presented the state with models saying it was too early to reopen said they were ignored.
“My concern is that the [Iowa Department of Public Health] — they’ve been saying the curve has been declining for a month now and it never really has,” said Eli Perencevich, an epidemiologist at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and a member of the team preparing modeling for state health officials.
My take on the Doug Ducey's double time turn around is that even awkward pols can be held accountable to the will of the people when the public outcry is loud and sustained. But unlike the astroturf warriors who advanced on state capitols recently with their irresponsible toys and firearms, DATA can be a much more powerful force for accountability.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Will PREMATURE "re-opening" Flatten the Graph? WTF Doug Ducey, Donald Trump and Martha McSally?

Oh, and we need to ask Senator Martha McSally, WHY does she still toe the line for Trump and #MoscowMitch?

Has your country #FlattenedTheGraph?  Graphs taken from on May 6, with data posted through May 4, 2020. Click the link to view other countries' data. Here's a sample of six countries curves.

Of course, we don't know whether any given country has been adequately testing for the virus. Reportedly, South Korea has done a remarkable job of aggressively testing and arresting the spread of Covid-19.  With this limited data, and as uncertain as it is, clearly the US has the highest RATE of cases per capita, with Russia second among this group at roughly 1/3 the rate of infection cases of the US.

Thus far, it seems blatantly obvious that our country's elected federal executive branch presider, Donald Trump is by far doing the WORST job in the world. Think about that. No wonder there is Mourning in America.

Brazil 211,715,973 (July 2020 est.); Covid-19 115,455 cases

Egypt 104,124,440 (July 2020 est.); 7,200 cases

New Zealand 4,925,477 (July 2020 est.); 1,488 cases

Russia 141,722,205 (July 2020 est.); 155,368 cases

South Korea 51,835,110 (July 2020 est.); 10,794 cases

US 332,639,102 (July 2020 est.);  cases 1,204,336

Population estimates taken from on May 6, 2020

Ducey succumbs to the Wing Nut faction and tries to cover his tracks

Five years ago, the Arizona Eagletarian speculated out loud on whether it might be a good idea to start a recall of the (then) newly elected governor. I dubbed the governor, Scrooge McDucey because he came to power proclaiming his intent to eliminate the state income tax.

Ducey then speaking out of both sides of his mouth when Democratic candidate Fred DuVal called him on it, denied making the claim. Dougie was already highly skilled in "double talk" by then.

Lo and behold, with the astroturfed wingnuts now actually taking out petitions to conduct such a recall, people have been searching the Interwebs for information on the movement. I have no way of knowing who has been doing the searching, but I do know that the Google machine has directed hundreds of them to my five-year old post on the subject.

However, it seems to be reasonable to infer that the wingnuts (who have been showing up at state capitols across the nation to intimidate governors) are getting their wish granted by McDucey.

As reported in the Arizona Republic:
On Wednesday, Sinema tweeted in support of continued social distancing: "To reopen strong, we must be safe and smart. For now, that means continuing to social distance and stay home — as well as increasing testing and infection-tracking."
Arizona State University will continue to provide COVID-19 models to the public despite instructions from the Arizona Department of Health Services to "pause" the work, the university confirmed.
A tweet from U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema on Wednesday afternoon said that she was grateful the work would continue.
Sinema said the decision to "disregard the science that should be the basis of Arizona public health policies — and the White House's guidelines for re-opening — is concerning and disappointing." [...]
In late April, Tim Lant, a mathematical epidemiologist at ASU, said the model showed five different scenarios for how the disease could progress in Arizona, depending on how social distancing efforts were relaxed.
The slowest curve, based on if the state reopens at the end of May, is “the only one that doesn't put me immediately back on an exponential growth curve,” Lant said in April. That’s because transmission rates would be lowest at that time, he said.
I can say, scientifically, no, it's not safe to reopen unless you're planning on, you know, shutting down again after a couple of weeks, and we can help figure out what the appropriate amount of time is to stay open before we shut down,” he said. [...]
Now comes Ducey spokesman Patrick Ptak with the beginnings of what my mother described to me when I was still a child as "double talk." Also in the cited Arizona Republic story above,
“We now have two months of on-the-ground data,” Ptak said. “We’ve been able to see which models are accurate — which match the actual facts and are most useful — and which are not.”
Ptak noted that ADHS Director Cara Christ, who is an infectious disease epidemiologist and public health expert, made the decision to pause the university modeling group “after reviewing all the data.”
The decision drew criticism from Democrats, including Sinema, other members of Congress and state lawmakers.
Earlier, the Ducey regime (with ADHS Director Cara Christ taking the heat) had shut down the work of the ASU/UofA public health modeling team and restricting the team's access to state data.
The modeling team of about two dozen professors at Arizona State University and the University of Arizona was compiling the most robust public model in Arizona of COVID-19.
The email, from DHS bureau chief of public health statistics S. Robert Bailey, came on Monday evening, after Gov. Doug Ducey announced plans to begin easing social distancing in the coming days.
ABC15 first reported on the email stopping the modelers' work.

Journalists, for better or worse, have to pretty much refrain from expressing judgment on the subject of their investigative reporting... unless they are writing an opinion column, or analysis piece. Which is why it can be so frustrating when reading lines like this,
The decision drew criticism from Democrats, including Sinema, other members of Congress and state lawmakers.
Well, DUH! Why would they NOT criticize such decisions, when there is clear DATA to show the decision is not supportable for anything other than political reasons (i.e. the wingnut protesters)?

Today's Yellow Sheet Report has more.
The Dept of Health Services yesterday unexpectedly fired a volunteer COVID-19 modeling group made up of ASU and the UA scientists that had offered assessments critical of the governor’s plan to reopen, in a move one modeler called a politically motivated attempt to justify reopening. Dr. Joe Gerald, director of Public Health Policy and Management at the University of Arizona’s College of Public Health, told our reporter that the reasoning is clearly political and a step towards a half-baked justification of reopening Arizona as soon as possible.
Gerald said he believes the decision came from the Ninth Floor and Christ. The researcher suspects Ducey may be falling in line with Trump, who visited Arizona yesterday and recently discontinued the White House coronavirus task force. In his Monday press conference announcing the return of restaurants, barbers and salons, Ducey used unreliable data “that no one” in the group has been talking about to say Arizona had a “green light” to reopen, Gerald said.
“It’s difficult to reconcile the governor’s new messaging on his social distancing decisions with the data that’s been reviewed and thought about by all the members of our working groups and ADHS itself,” Gerald said. “Many of us are concerned that this change in direction has been prompted by ... the Governor’s Office on what they want to do with regard to social distancing and an attempt to blur the message coming from public health officials.”
By the way, "double talk" as employed by the Ducey regime on this subject over the last couple of days is defined as,
Language that has no real meaning or has more than one meaning and is intended to hide the truth.
More from today's Yellow Sheet,
Gerald said the group feels the Ninth Floor is lifting restrictions too quickly and the moves are shortsighted, if the ultimate goal is leading Arizona down a path of fewer cases and deaths. “I’m not sure we would necessarily disagree with it per se, except to more transparently convey the notion that there is a tradeoff between resumption of economic activities and the health consequences,” Gerald said. “We know more people are going to get sick and more people are going to die. Maybe that’s a tradeoff we’re willing to make.” 
Do the people of Arizona understand the tradeoffs involved. How can people validate such decisions if we/they don't realize what it really means to them and to their families and communities?

Would McDucey even be making these flawed decisions if the Orange Menace hadn't eaten his soul too?

From Which countries are beating Covid-19?

20 countries listed as winning, from Australia to Vietnam.

20 countries listed as "almost there," from Azerbaijan to Uzbekistan with Costa Rica, Germany, Italy, and Portugal included.

29 countries listed as "needing work," from Argentina to the United States. Not surprisingly (unfortunately), the country with the most cases listed, as of May 4, is the US with 1,204,336.

So much for the Orange Menace's claims that he's doing a great job. NO, he's NOT.

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Trump's campaign knows he's in deep doo doo. Their current plan is to make people hate Joe Biden...

... And a faction of BERNERS are already picking it up and doing much of the dirty work. Half a dozen or more Facebook friends (of mine), some I've known personally, some not, have jumped on the Russian bot bandwagon. Two of whom resorted to name calling and sadly, rather than discuss the matter like rational adults, they kept it up. Buh bye.

Excerpts from the Washington Post follow, provided to readers pursuant to the Fair Use Act Doctrine.

By Michael Scherer and Josh Dawsey
May 2, 2020 at 4:09 p.m. MST
For weeks the Trump reelection effort has diligently cut, catalogued and pushed out viral videos of every verbal stumble Joe Biden makes in interviews, relentlessly pushing the idea that the presumptive Democratic nominee is mentally unfit for the presidency.
“There is something missing,” Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said last week in a campaign broadcast. “I feel bad for him. I wish his wife would pull him out of this.”
But behind the scenes, the offensive has become a point of contention among some of President Trump’s closest advisers, who have spent weeks debating without resolution the best message and strategy to accomplish the Trump campaign’s central goal of tarnishing the Biden brand as poll numbers continue to show a rocky road to reelection for the president.
Several political advisers, including White House senior aide Kellyanne Conway, have warned his allies against relentlessly mocking the 77-year-old Biden’s mental acuity because the president has already lost ground with senior citizens, people familiar with the matter said.
Senior Democratic and Republican strategists, in private conversations, are in full agreement about the stakes of the discussions now taking place at the White House and in campaign conference calls. If President Trump and his political machine don’t find a way to drive up Biden’s unpopularity with voters, they argue, the president will have little shot at winning a second term.
“We have to introduce people to a different Joe Biden,” a Trump campaign adviser said. “One of the reasons we won in 2016 is because so many people hated Hillary Clinton. I’m not sure people hate Biden that much.”
Republicans need the election to be a choice between Biden and Trump and not a referendum on the president’s performance and rhetoric in office, according to Republican and Democratic strategists. On this score, Democrats said they are — for the moment — more bullish on Biden’s prospects than they expected to be just a few months ago.
The debate over when and how to launch a focused and sustained attack on Biden with paid advertising has yet to be resolved inside the president’s campaign, according to multiple sources.
“There are advisers telling him to wait until the convention. Other people saying go at it now,” said one Trump campaign adviser, who like others requested anonymity to discuss the private deliberations. “It is not decided.”
Adding to the dilemma for the president’s campaign is that the coronavirus pandemic has focused the spotlight brightly on the president and his controversial handling of the outbreak while Biden maintains a relatively low profile, doing interviews and virtual campaign events from a basement office at his home in Delaware.
The pandemic has delayed a widely expected anti-Biden advertising offensive by the vastly wealthier Trump campaign, allowing Democratic super PACs to outspend Republicans in key swing states over the last month. Biden’s approval ratings are also far stronger than those of the last Democratic nominee, Clinton, at this point in 2016.
“Our expectation was always that Trump would go on offense early and we’d have to scramble to defend against his attacks,” said Josh Schwerin, an adviser to Priorities USA, a super PAC supporting Biden. “The reality has been we’ve been able to run millions of dollars of thoroughly researched and tested ads, largely unanswered, and Trump’s numbers in these states have been eroding badly.”
Trump decided last month to delay a decision by his campaign leadership to run ads attacking Biden’s policy toward China, after multiple advisers urged him to focus on selling his leadership as president during the pandemic first. As a result, the campaign has said it will spend more than $1 million over the next week on advertising across the country promoting Trump’s pandemic response, a move that Democrats have dismissed as a cosmetic move to please the president, who is consumed by what he watches on cable television.
Parscale has repeatedly argued that getting Biden’s unfavorable numbers up is key to winning the election in November, according to people who have heard his comments.
He has told other campaign advisers that positive ads do not do as much for the president's political fortunes as negative ads against Biden, and that is why he wants to focus on campaign ads that are anti-Biden, even as some advisers would prefer a different approach.
“You can’t let Biden hide in the shadows,” Parscale has told surrogates, according to a person with direct knowledge of his comments.
Parscale has been among the most aggressive advocates in going after Biden, but his standing has become shaky at times with the president, four Trump advisers said.
Which might be nothing more than classic Trump misdirection.
Trump’s team hopes to target Biden particularly over China once the pandemic wanes along with trade deals and some of the more liberal policy positions he committed to during the Democratic debates, such as health care for undocumented immigrants. The Trump campaign has several ads about China ready to go.
A recent Republican National Committee poll showed 51 percent of voters in 17 swing states — such as Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — blame China the most for the coronavirus, according to a person briefed on the results. Some 24 percent blame Trump the most.
Which explains Trump's aggressive rhetoric blaming China.
The polling on China is so strong that the major Trump super PAC, America First Action, has launched a $10 million campaign casting Biden as “weak” on handling the U.S. rival. The group purchased the Web address in 2019, long before the pandemic.
Yet, Trump mixes his anti-China rhetoric with admiration for its president, Xi Jinping.
“It is not that there is one line of attack against Joe Biden. The most damaging thing against Joe Biden is that while he has high name ID, the depth of impression of him is weak,” America First Action president Brian O. Walsh said. “He is relatively a blank slate.”
The America First spots have been matched by a similar investment in the same states from the pro-Biden super PAC American Bridge 21st Century, which has been running ads that cast Trump as caving to pressure from China.
“Since November, we’ve defined Trump in key battlegrounds — outspending him on TV and radio in our target states,” said Bradley Beychok, the group’s president.
Some Trump allies and campaign surrogates are also focusing on the allegation from Tara Reade that Biden sexually assaulted her in the early 1990s — an accusation Biden denies — as well as the former vice president’s tendency to make verbal gaffes. But the latter two arguments are challenging given the president’s history of women accusing him of sexual assault, which includes Trump caught on tape bragging about grabbing women’s genitals, and his tendency to also veer off script into meandering, untruthful comments.
Trump has complicated the matter further this week by repeatedly suggesting in public that Reade’s allegation may be false.
Which allegation has all but been proven to be false.
“I would just say to Joe Biden, ‘Just go out and fight it,’ ” Trump said Friday during an interview with conservative podcast host Dan Bongino. [...]
Of course Trump suggests that. Doing so takes the American corporate news media attention off of Trump's mishandling of the Covid19 pandemic.
Some Trump advisers said they are happy that Biden is basically being a pundit on TV instead of calling troops overseas, working with food banks or doing things that would get him more positive media coverage and draw a contrast with the president during the pandemic.
Conway has been one of the adviser’s arguing for a delay in attacking Biden on China and along with others has pushed for going after him as an establishment, insider politician. [...]
The Biden campaign dismissed the idea that the former vice president is vulnerable on the issue of China.
“Kellyanne Conway should read the Trump campaign’s own polling, which shows Joe Biden winning in a landslide after sounding the alarm about coronavirus early, publicly warning Donald Trump not to trust the Chinese government about containment, and calling for testing on the scale we need to overcome this outbreak,” said Andrew Bates, a spokesman for the Biden campaign.
Nevertheless, Biden must avoid thinking he's got it in the bag.
Working from the White House while many top campaign aides are at home during the pandemic, Conway has been dispatched to help the president improve his numbers among senior citizens, which have dropped in recent public and internal polling. She helped orchestrate an event at the White House on Thursday where Trump spoke with leaders of senior citizens groups.
Recent RNC polling showed that voters in the 17 swing states — a list that includes Arizona, Florida and North Carolina — see the two men as essentially equal when it comes to being “weak or confused,” 45 percent saw Biden as more weak and confused, while 44 percent saw Trump that way.
Voters view Trump as more of an outsider — 69 percent to 20 percent — and better at getting things done and handling the economy. Some 46 percent say Trump is in better health, while 37 percent say Biden is in better health.
But voters say Biden better understands average people and is more honest, compassionate, calm and committed to making health care more affordable by double-digit margins, the poll showed. Voters also see Biden as more intelligent and competent, the poll showed.
Trump aides have been discussing attacks that range from going after Biden for not supporting the raid on Osama bin Laden to supporting taxpayer-funded health care for illegal immigrants and supporting the Green New Deal and its champion liberal freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), according to Republican officials. Other attacks would focus on Biden’s support of the Iraq War or backing the NAFTA trade agreement, Trump advisers said.
None of which will outweigh or counteract the widespread understanding among voters that Trump is incompetent and extremely malevolent.
They are also looking to exploit divisions in the Democratic Party — from liberals who are skeptical of Biden’s more centrist positions to moderates and independents who are skeptical of him promising more liberal positions. 
In 2016, Trump and his campaign [which clearly included Putin and his Russian internet warriors] were successful in making Hillary Clinton unpopular, magnifying concerns that predated the campaign by focusing on her government emails, foreign entanglements, speaking fees and long career as a Washington insider.
Like Clinton, Biden has spent decades in Washington as a political insider, but Trump, who withstood a massive negative advertising onslaught in 2016, is now running for reelection as the president, potentially blunting the attack.
“It will be interesting to see if it works,” said Amanda Loveday, an adviser to the pro-Biden super PAC Unite the Country. “Because it didn’t work against Donald Trump. And I would argue it didn’t work against Hillary Clinton because the people who didn’t like her already didn’t like her.”
Philip Rucker contributed to this report.

Friday, May 1, 2020

SCOTUS to tackle disputes over access to Trump financial records

From SCOTUSblog
During the 2016 presidential campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump famously refused to release copies of his tax returns – a departure from the practice of nearly all major-party candidates in recent decades – and he has continued to decline to do so since then. But on May 12, the Supreme Court will hear oral argument in a trio of cases arising from efforts by a New York grand jury and congressional committees to gain access to the president’s financial records. The court’s ruling could be significant not only for Trump and his businesses, but also for the presidency more broadly.
The first two cases slated for argument on May 12, Trump v. Mazars USA and Trump v. Deutsche Bank, involve subpoenas issued by congressional committees. In the Mazars case, the House Committee on Oversight and Reform issued a subpoena in April 2019 to Mazars, the president’s longtime accounting firm, for financial records relating to Trump and his businesses. The committee said that it wanted the documents as part of its investigation into the adequacy of current government ethics laws.
Trump asked a federal district court in Washington to bar Mazars from complying with the subpoena, arguing that the committee’s investigation into his finances does not serve the kind of legitimate legislative purpose that the Supreme Court’s cases require. The district court rejected that argument, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed. [...] (more)
UPDATE (this ScotusBlog post originally was published there on March 9, 2020): The Supreme Court added a new wrinkle to the congressional-subpoena cases earlier this week with a request for additional briefing that will be due just four days before the May 12 oral argument. In a brief order on Monday, the justices instructed the parties to the cases and the federal government, which filed a “friend of the court” brief supporting Trump, to file supplemental briefs addressing whether courts should stay out of the fight over the subpoenas because it is fundamentally a dispute between the branches of government. If the justices were to conclude that the cases are that kind of a dispute, they could dismiss them without ruling on the merits. The next steps could then depend on how Trump’s accountant and lenders respond: Without a ruling in his favor from the Supreme Court, Trump might not be able to block them from turning over his records, but on the other hand Congress might not be able to enforce the subpoenas if the companies refuse to comply. Monday’s order does not address the New York grand jury case. But even if the court rules against the president in that case and the subpoena for his tax returns is ultimately enforced, grand jury secrecy rules would likely mean that the records would remain under wraps for some time – at the very least, until after the 2020 election.
A decision in the cases is expected by summer.