Sunday, January 24, 2021

How did Trump weasel his way into the White House in 2016; why could he not win a second term?

How did Trump weasel his way into the White House in 2016? 

Simple answer, fraud. Not necessarily the kind of election fraud he projected onto election officials in swing states like Arizona, Georgia, Michigan and Pennsylvania. But a fraud perpetrated upon the minds of too many American voters.

FRAUD is pervasive in EVERYthing inherent in American commerce and therefore in American culture. I don't mean that the American people are inherently fraudsters. But the system is too easy for those who want to defraud others to get away with it... for a time, short or long.

It's all based on the theory of "free-market" capitalism. Which means, regulation is, as articulated by Adam Smith in his economic treatise The Wealth of Nations, all in the "invisible hand of the market."

Business majors in college usually take 6 semester hours (or the equivalent) in Economics, where we learn about supply and demand. Demand can be (invisibly) manipulated by psychological factors. 

A recent example most Americans would be familiar with is how suddenly in March 2020, massive shortages in grocery stores swept throughout the country (and probably the world). The incompetence that led to the Trump administration's failure to address the national security catastrophe brought on by Covid-19 was pervasive. People started dying. The rest of us (most of us anyway) hunkered down. Panic ensued. Many food items as well as toilet paper suddenly disappeared from grocery store shelves. 

Anyway, too many people (i.e. BILLIONS of us worldwide) never have had enough understanding of the underlying principles to question capitalist economic systems. Baby boomers (like me) were fed a steady diet of fear (propaganda) of socialism and communism. Because it was propaganda based, we (as children at the time) believed what we were told... but didn't have enough knowledge to understand why, for example, there were consumer commodity shortages for millions of people in communist countries. But we knew they had shortages.  

But I digress.

Caveat Emptor, let the buyer beware, is a foundational principle of American commerce.

Unless or until government institutes regulation to stem the exploitation (See Thomas Paine's Common Sense, which succinctly expounds the purpose of government). 
For centuries, America has been heavily influenced, like it or not, by unscrupulous capitalists exploiting naïve consumers. A great deal of lawmaking through the years has been about "regulating" commerce... or over the last half-century, DE-regulating everything because it's easier to commit fraud that way.

Kurt Andersen spelled out a history of how propagandists, over that fifty or so years, built so much of it into our politics and law in his recent book Evil Geniuses.

I've started now reading, Duke University historian Edward Balleisen's book, which meticulously describes the systemic development of related culture in FRAUD: an American History from Barnum to Madoff. For additional insight, see Andersen's Fantasyland: How America Went Haywire, a 500-year History.

Why didn't Trump win a second term?

Because once he took office, he didn't hide his intent. Instead, he thought he'd get away with continuing his confidence game by branding the Free Press as the enemy of the people. It's a sad reflection on our country that so many people took the bait and swallowed the hook. But so many more voters literally wised up.

Fool me once, shame on you (you damn con artist). Fool my twice, shame on me. I think that's what George W Bush was trying to say. 

ALL Americans, really all humans, have gotten hoodwinked at times in our lives. Some people learn from their mistakes. Some don't.

Remember the expression, "knowledge is power?" 

It takes knowledge to keep from getting defrauded. Knowledge of how and why we're susceptible. Knowledge of history, economy, psychology, sociology, how government works, etc., etc.

Some of that knowledge comes from academic study. Some of it comes from learning from your own mistakes. Some comes from observational acuity, or learning from watching other people make mistakes.

Determination to learn and apply critical thinking and analysis skills can catalyze one's learning and skill development. Let's make sure we never get fooled by the likes of Trump or any other Fascist wannabe again.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

So much for a January 21 follow up meeting for the new AZ Independent Redistricting Commission UPDATED 1-20-21 1:10 am MST

Arizona law requires the Redistricting Commission to post official meeting notices and agendas 48 hours prior any meeting.

It's less than 48 hours until Thursday morning. There is nothing posted to under press releases or meeting notices for this newly (almost completely) reconstituted IRC. I didn't get anything by email, from anyone, including the Secretary of State's office either. Therefore, it doesn't seem like they'll be able to lawfully hold that meeting as announced at the end of the last meeting.

This evening, I inquired about it but don't expect a response until Wednesday morning. I received a response. 


So, if nobody knows where "official notice" was posted, how can it be official public notice?

Link to the agenda for Thursday morning.

Members of the public may view the meeting at this link:

All matters on the agenda may be discussed, considered, and are subject to action by the Commission. The agenda for the meeting is as follows: 

I. Call to Order, Interim Chair David Mehl. 

II. Approval of Minutes from the January 14, 2021, Public Meeting and Executive Session(s). 

III. Selection of the fifth member of the Commission as provided in Arizona Constitution, Article IV, Page, 2 §(8). 

IV. Oath of Office for the fifth Commissioner, administered by Secretary of State Katie Hobbs. 

V. Selection of the Vice-Chair. 

VI. Opportunity for Public Comment: Public comment will open for a period of thirty (30) minutes. Comments will only be accepted electronically in writing on the following form: (comments will be limited to 3000 characters). 

VII. Discussion of dates and locations of future meetings, and potential topics for future meetings. 

VIII. Closing of Public Comments. 

Monday, January 18, 2021

My sense of what the IRC public comments tell the four new commissioners

First and foremost, Robert Wilson represents a lightning rod and would make the entire process even more contentious than a decade ago. Unless they want that certain level of stress, they would do well to avoid him like the plague (or like Covid19).

Mr. Wilson had, by far, the most comments, both in support and in opposition to his appointment. By virtue of which, it's obvious he had his friends networked in, to watch and comment. Additionally, savvy people who are wary of having a Trump supporter in charge of the all-important remapping of legislative and Congressional districts were also paying close attention. 

He himself is confident in front of an audience, no doubt. But some of his responses to questions seemed lacking in candor. For instance, when asked why he didn't host any events at his store for Democratic candidates, his reply--that he invited some but none took him up on the offer--seemed far less than satisfying. The bottom-line on that issue is his persona, though he wants to put on a welcoming face, is not even close to independent. In fact, some comments in support of Wilson suggest that he has either implicitly or explicitly promised the likely new Congressional seat to rural Arizonans.

He suggests that the commission should defer judgment on 4 of the six lawful requirements (notably including communities of interest and competitive districts) to what the public tells the commission in public comments over the course of the process. Of course, that invites chaos as people badger the commissioners like the Tea Party activists did last decade.
Not only is that unseemly, but is a clear tell that Wilson has already been organizing (right-wing?) interests to hopefully overwhelm the public input and the Democratic commissioners to get his way. 

Thomas Loquvam had fewer comments but they were pretty much all in opposition because of his status as a lobbyist. His explanation for why he (out of an abundance of caution) registered as a lobbyist even though he did not need to, may be plausible but doesn't obviate his connections (that he worked as an attorney for them, and that his sister headed up the behemoth's lobbying and public relations for several years) to Arizona Public Service, a veritable Godzilla when it comes to political influence in our state.

Gregory Teesdale had fewer comments overall, but some recognized his potential value as a facilitator and his technical background. My impression of him, as I noted in my previous blog post,

He seems experienced in and well-qualified to explain complex issues and situations clearly so everyone can understand. Without, as he noted, talking down to them. He also prides himself in being an innovator. He impressed me as an out-of-the-box thinker.
One commenter--who said her professional background was in Block Grant planning, and that she has no political connections (and this blogger does not recognize her name)-- stated,

I have watched all 5 interviews, in their entirety, and have reviewed each online available application. I believe that Mr. Teesdale 1) reflects the most independent perspective, 2) expressed possessing personal strengths which would enable him to negotiate the stresses of negotiating conflict that comes with highly charged public input, and 3) has an extensive executive background with several strong skill-sets necessary to fulfill the position which demands both confidence and diplomacy. Additionally, his stated (on application) approach to redistricting seems the most logical, independent, and fair to all Arizona citizens, regardless of party. If "independence" is the goal, he seems most likely, of all candidates, to add that element to the commission.

Erika Neuberg apparently had several friends make comments in support of her candidacy. One comment, apparently left by a former rural county elected official indicated she felt that Neuberg presents adequate qualifications but "I worry about her ability to withstand controversy." Comments opposing Dr. Neuberg cited concern over her political contributions, suggesting she doesn't appear independent. By the way, Neuberg expressed fear over "chronic 3-2 votes" in the course of the IRC doing it's business. She did NOT explain how she would navigate those inevitable situations. 

Therefore, I have to wonder how she would get to 4-1 votes when the process is inherently contentious. She suggested that she wants all of the commissioners to be friends at the end of the process. Of course that would be nice. But does that mean she'd sacrifice compliance with the six criteria in the state constitution to get there?

Regarding Megan Carollo, a commenter noted her admission in her application that she did NOT vote in the 2016 election(s). The fact that the application specifically asks for that history, suggests that the screening commission probably should have nixed her from the get go. Carollo, in her interview, right at the beginning, disclosed her relationship with Doug York, saying that she and York are close friends. Given the fact that Gov. Ducey stacked the Commission on Appellate Court Appointments, that may explain why she was included on the short list.

Do I even need to go further into detail? Conflict of interest based on a years long close friendship with one of the Republican commissioners, and having not voted in a major election that was pivotal in seating a demagogue who spent the last four years demolishing key democratic institutions and the entire federal government. Deal breakers, alone or together.

But, she had a reason (rationalization) for refusing to vote.

Humans and human nature have demonstrated for millennia that we are ALL pretty darn good at coming up with rationalizations for why we do the wrong thing.

Clearly Wilson, Loquvam, and Carollo are all Republican plants.

Let's hope that Thursday morning, the new redistricting commissioners make a good choice. Or perhaps the least bad choice.

Friday, January 15, 2021

AIRC chair interview feedback

On Thursday afternoon, after the four 2021 partisan commissioners took the oath of office, they interviewed the five candidates for chair of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. Because of my annual eye exam, I was unable to observe all five as they happened. Today, I did. 

First, each of the five are earnest. Each of them has some applicable qualities that could work. All of them know the potential conflict and tension the position is likely to entail. The elephant in the room apparently was the influence of the Republican Party, but also was the Covid19 pandemic.

Technology advanced dramatically between the 2001 and 2011 commission. In 2021, telecommunication technology seems to have caught up to that envisioned in the 1960s cartoon series, The Jetsons. Zoom makes instant video teleconferencing look so darn easy and natural. It's possible that the pandemic forcing the meetings to take place remotely may, for the most part, mitigate the awful emotional burden for the new commission which the 2011 commission endured. 

David Daley, author of Unrigged, wrote this piece dateline January 14, for

Last August, more than one hundred Donald Trump supporters gathered in front of a Flagstaff, Ariz., gun store for a rally. The "Team Trump On Tour" bus dominated the shopping mall parking lot. U.S. Rep. Andy Biggs, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, spoke to the crowd.
Then, in September, Trump backers gathered again at Timberline Firearms and Training, this time for a "shooting day" to support the president.
Now, the owner of that gun store, Robert Wilson, has been selected one of the five finalists to become the powerful chair of Arizona's redistricting commission — the supposedly independent, and almost certainly decisive voice on a five-person board (along with two Democrats and two Republicans) who will determine this swing state's legislative and congressional districts for the next decade.
Wilson might be a registered political independent. But "hosted Trump rallies at his gun store, with a speech by the Freedom Caucus chair" doesn't inspire confidence in his actual independence or his ability to be the fair-minded, scrupulous arbiter that this position requires.
Indeed, someone fair-minded might look at the list of five finalists recently selected by the state's Commission on Appellate Court Appointments — an ostensibly nonpartisan personnel board — and wonder if the Republicans are trying to ratfuck Arizona's independent commission before a single line has even been drawn.
Four of the five finalists, while registered as independents, have either strong public opinions, or close ties and/or financial interests through jobs, family and partners into the state's political power structure. (more)

Anyway, in the order they were interviewed, here are a few of my observations.  

Robert Wilson (Coconino County)

Wilson presents himself very authentically.

He expects the AIRC to need to proceed, despite no longer being subject to DOJ preclearance, as if the need for preclearance still exists. I appreciate that perspective.

He suggests that the commission should defer judgment on 4 of the six lawful requirements (notably including communities of interest and competitive districts) to what the public tells the commission in public comments over the course of the process. Of course, that invites chaos as people badger the commissioners like the Tea Party activists did last decade. That point, as well as a tell he displayed about his partisan perspective -- no matter how respectful he tried to be, he referred overtly to the Democrat Party. While referring to individuals as Democrats is legit, the Party is the Arizona Democratic Party. Republicans and conservative-leaning independents who have been active politically, know that using the term Democrat Party is a blatant expression of disrespect.

Mr. Wilson is NOT at all good fit for the Independent chair of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission.

Thomas Loquvam (Maricopa County)

Loquvam (the V is silent,) speaks easily about himself, his experience and redistricting related matters. Early in his interview, he mentioned that he had received mass texts (which I interpreted to mean group texts) and emails urging him to apply for the position. Which naturally raises the question about from whom did he receive those messages. In fact, Commissioner Shereen Lerner asked him that very question, or something very close to it. He responded, long-windedly, that it was his daughter who encouraged him to apply. He didn't address the underlying question raised by his admission about texts and emails.

Loquvam rightfully acknowledged that the six required criteria the new maps must fulfill are NOT weighted and there is no hierarchy of importance. However, in telling the story of his short-lived solo law firm, he expressed obvious appreciation to now federal Judge Mike Liburdi who needed to shed clients when he was appointed to the bench. Liburdi, who referred clients to Loquvam, was very active in 2011 supporting Tea Party opposition to the maps. The ironically titled Fair Trust apparently funded Mike's advocacy and some of the litigation that provided quite a bit of the stress and tension encountered by the 2011 AIRC. "Apparently," because Fair Trust (which I referred then to as the UNFair Trust) refused to disclose either the extent of its involvement or who provided the funding for its efforts. 

Mr. Loquvam, because he is indebted to Liburdi as a result of reciprocity, is absolutely disqualified from the position.

Gregory Teesdale (Pima County)

Teesdale is a Coast Guard veteran with what he called Blue Collar roots.

He holds an MBA from Arizona State with a focus on Supply Chain Management. He describes himself as data-centric and comfortable in the tech world.

Rather than talk about his experience growing companies from the "ground floor," he referred to "sea level." Teesdale spoke in detail and confidently about related concepts more so than about himself... unlike Wilson or Loquvam. Responding to the question about what success will look like when the process is finished, he described it in terms of the voter and the electorate.

On handling conflict, he would encourage people to teach him how what he and the commission is then doing does not comport with what the law and the six criteria require of them.

He seems experienced in and well-qualified to explain complex issues and situations clearly so everyone can understand. Without, as he noted, talking down to them. He also prides himself in being an innovator. He impressed me as an out-of-the-box thinker.

Erika Neuberg, Ph.D. (Maricopa County)

Dr. Neuberg is a very confident, poised professional committed, she said, to working for the common good. She noted that she's been preparing for this opportunity for the last year.

Despite the clearly stated purpose of Prop 106, which Arizona voters enacted in the year 2000 general election, 


Erika Neuberg emphatically downplayed this last of the six criteria enshrined in the Arizona Constitution

... competitive districts should be favored where to do so would create no significant detriment to the other goals.
Erika Neuberg, Ph.D., though she is a lovely person, is NOT, (in my opinion) a good fit for the 2021 AIRC chair position. 

Megan Carollo (Maricopa County)

Megan Carollo has a Bachelor's degree in Economics and has done statistical analysis professionally.

She considers herself a "numbers nerd."

Further, Carollo has experience doing town halls and study groups in that professional work.

She presents with a vulnerable looking face and manner, and speaks with confidence, knowledge and curiosity. 

To her, success would be to set a good example for the next decade's commission, she's hopeful that the maps produced ultimately will be well-received. 

Carollo made a point to suggest that appearing nice does not equate to weakness. 

Her interview only took 20 minutes. 

From the Salon story (linked above),
Megan Carollo, the owner of a high-end floral boutique whose partner, according to state Democrats, both advises the Arizona Mexico Commission — a trade association chaired by the governor, and now led as president by Pacheco, the utility general counsel's sister — and serves as president of a firm that has received more than a million dollars in contracts from the governor's budget.
Next up for the AIRC is meeting next Thursday (January 21) at 9am to hopefully select a chairperson. They decided they wanted to read the public comments submitted in writing yesterday before selecting a chairperson.

Next up for me is to also read those comments, after which I will post again with my impression of the comments and perhaps post some of the detail.


It's also important to note that Doug York appears to have serious lack of respect for his fellow commissioners in that he both voiced his displeasure regarding the need to wear masks AND that whenever he spoke, he felt compelled to take his mask down to uncover his nose and mouth. He was the ONLY one to do so. That seems to be problematic.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

There is NO Future for Trumpism

In this interview with Amanpour & Company, former Sen. Jeff Flake sounded totally authentic.

A friend of mine who I had not spoken with in a long time called me on Tuesday. He asked me a couple of simple questions and pointed out that Libertarian candidate Jo Jorgensen amassed a whopping 51,465 votes. President-elect Joe Biden, 1,672,143; loser Trump 1,661,686

Biden's margin over Trump: 10,457 votes

Jorgensen's total was roughly five times the margin of victory Biden enjoyed (well, I enjoyed it too). I wonder how many of those 51,465 voters would have preferred a sane Republican candidate. Maybe more than 11,000?

So, why is the Arizona Legislature this morning summoning the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors to answer for how the election was conducted here when they might better aim their rage inward or at least do some self-examination looking for how they could have improved their own performance?

If the Republican Party had conducted itself as a rational political party (as if they actually could have?) rather than Trump's cult of personality, imagine how different the end result might have been. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad the Arizona Republican Party screwed up so badly. We dodged a major bullet. 

By the way, isn't it curious that Phoenix area political journalists hadn't pointed this out already?

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Meeting notice and agenda for first 2021 AIRC gathering

PHOENIX – Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs will host the first meeting of the 2021 Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission at 11:15 a.m. on January 14.

In 2000, voters passed Proposition 106 amending the Arizona Constitution, and creating the Independent Redistricting Commission to draw congressional and state legislative districts following the completion of the decennial census.

Prior to 2000, the State Legislature was responsible for creating these boundaries.

WHAT: The first meeting of the 2021 Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. A copy of the agenda is available here:

WHO: Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs

Commissioner David Mehl 

Commissioner Shereen Lerner

Commissioner Derrick Watchman

Commissioner Douglas York

WHEN: Thursday, Jan. 14, 2021 at 11:15 a.m.

WHERE: The commission will conduct the meeting virtually from the Office of the Arizona Secretary of State. This

meeting is open to press and public via Zoom, register to attend at this


Additionally, the meeting will be streamed on Facebook Live at

Commissioners will accept public comments [ONLY?] between 12 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. on Jan. 14, 2021. Comments are limited to 4000 characters and will be accepted electronically in writing only on the following form:


The main items on the agenda are the swearing in of the new commissioners, interviewing the five people on the short list for the commission chair, and selecting the chairwoman/man.

Thursday, January 7, 2021

2021 Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission set to convene

Further details to follow, but for now, information I have received from Secretary of State Katie Hobbs' office is that the initial meeting of the AIRC will take place at 11am, January 14, 2021. (It's not official until 48 hour official notice and agenda is posted).

The primary (sole?) purpose of this meeting is for the four commissioners -- already appointed by Minority Leaders as well as the Senate President and Speaker of the House of the Arizona Legislature -- to confer and vote on which of the five people on the list of unaffiliated voters to choose to be the chair for the next ten years.

The four new commissioners are Democrats Derrick Watchman (Apache County) and Shereen Lerner (Maricopa) as well as Republicans Douglas York (Maricopa) and David Mehl (Pima).

The five names on the short list (registered Independent) for chair are:

Gregory Teesdale (Pima)

Megan Carollo (Maricopa)

Erika Neuberg, Ph.D. (Maricopa)

Thomas Loquvam (Maricopa)

Robert Wilson (Coconino)

Insurrection Day or not?

Yesterday, our Nation was brought to the brink. Valarie Kaur wrote See No Stranger, her memoir and manifesto of Revolutionary Love, one of the best books I read in 2020. Kaur would characterize what happened at the Capitol as the darkness of the womb, rather than the darkness of the tomb. I believe we will see a new nation be born, figuratively speaking, in the days ahead.

It was troubling to watch the rioting. But more than that, it was encouraging to witness what transpired afterward as the joint session of Congress counted the votes of the Electoral College. Rather than describe it myself, I present to you Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah). 

Saturday, January 2, 2021

One Party States: Antithesis to Democracy?

One Lucky Bastard* by John Lithgow (read above by Joseph Gordon-Levitt)

I'm one lucky bastard! I'm John McEntee!
A staffer as callow as callow can be!
From a preppie career as a star quarterback,
I followed my dream as a government hack.

With family pull, my ascendance began
When Dumpty made be his ace body man.
I never received my security clearance
But with Dumpty around, no one called interference.

John Kelly, that dick, threw me out on my can,
But it turned out the POTUS was my biggest fan.
With everyone else either fired or retiring,
He hired me as head of all hiring and firing.

Keeping my job is as easy as pie:
I make sure all appointees are dumber than I.
Their job application is simple to pass,
A promise to constantly kiss Dumpty's ass.

Everyone tells me I'm doing just fine,
And who would've figured? I'm just twenty-nine!
I'm a staffer as callow as callow can be!
I'm one lucky bastard! I'm John McEntee!

McEntee’s name may sound familiar to hard-core White House–personnel watchers. He was fired back in May 2018 and suddenly escorted from the White House at the order of then–chief of staff John Kelly, after a federal investigation revealed that McEntee had committed “serious financial crimes.”


It's true that there were other parties in apartheid South Africa. But a one-party state is not necessarily a state with no opposition parties at all. Although Lenin's Communist Party and Hitler's Nazi Party arrested and murdered their opponents, there are plenty of examples of one-party states, even quite vicious one-party states, that permitted some limited opposition, if only for show. Between 1945 and 1989, many of the communist parties of Eastern Europe allowed opponents--peasants' parties, pseudo-Christian Democrats, or in the case of Poland, a small Catholic party--to play roles in the state, in the rigged "parliaments," or in public life. In recent decades, there have been many examples, from Ben Ali's Tunisia to Hugo Chavez's Venezuela, of de factor one-party states that controlled state institutions and limited freedom of association and speech, but allowed a token opposition to exist, so long as that opposition didn't actually threaten the ruling party.
This form of soft dictatorship does not require mass violence to stay in power. Instead, it relies upon a cadre of elites to run the bureaucracy, the state media, the courts, and, in some places, state companies. These modern-day clercs understand their role, which is to defend the leaders, however dishonest their statements, however great their corruption, and however disastrous their impact on ordinnary people and institutions. In exchange, they know that they will be rewarded and advanced. Close associates of the party leader can become very wealthy... -- Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism, by Anne Applebaum, pgs 25-26.


Twentieth-century history is replete with examples of one-party states, both nation-states and some among the 50 subdivisions of the United States of America.

Russia, under Lenin; China, under Mao; Venezuela, under Hugo Chavez; the US Deep South; anecdotally, Illinois; Arizona. What's common among those states? Well, not their economic systems.

In Illinois, it has been by, through, and from the Democratic Party. A friend of mine from the 1980s in Arizona now lives in Illinois. When I tried to converse with him about politics (on Facebook, not back in the 80s), he got quickly aroused with anger because he perceived corruption of the Democrats to be the reason. Given what we learned from Rod Blagojevich, the Ill. governor who was convicted of trying to sell the US Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama when he became US president, that's kind of understandable. 

Of course, soon-to-be-former president Trump recently pardoned Blago. 

The state I am most familiar with, Arizona, is certainly not overtly communist or socialist. But for years, the dominant (exclusive) influence over public policy, at least as implemented by elected officials at the state level, has been by, through, and from elected officials affiliated with the Republican Party.

Rarely do Democratic Arizona state lawmakers have their proposed legislation, unless it addresses something that caters to Republican interests, even get heard in legislative committees, let alone get implemented into law. 

Arizona reeks of being a one-party state. But one saving grace through the years has been our state constitution, which provides for citizens initiatives and referenda. The PEOPLE have brought us Clean Elections, which has been attacked by the one-party bullies in the courts until it is mostly impotent. 

Also from citizen initiative, the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission, has likewise been attacked by the same bullies. But thus far, independent redistricting has fared much better against the onslaughts. Now that we are in a year ending in ONE, the third iteration of the AIRC will once again commence its work soon. In a capsule, the first iteration (2001) was successfully co-opted by parochial corporate interests. By the end of that decade, Republicans enjoyed a supermajority in both chambers of the state legislature, which allowed them to try to decapitate the 2011 commission. In 2012, the first election with the 2011's newly adopted district maps, the GOP lost its supermajority. 

Because the interests that co-opted the process in 2001 could not succeed the same way in 2011, they took the fight to the courts, both federal and state courts. They lost every one of those skirmishes, including two that went all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. The story of the 2011 commission was recorded in roughly 400 posts to this blog, beginning on December 10, 2010.

I am excited for the battle over the course of 2021 and 2022. It will be fierce. If it works out well, Arizona will again become a two-party state.


One Lucky Bastard is found on p. 66 of Trumpty Dumpty Wanted a Crown, by John Lithgow

Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year, so far we've Survived Autocracy, let's continue to do so!

Yes, Happy New Year. We can and now do have hope for the future of America. The people have spoken and will have an actual president in less than three weeks. But there's substantive work that can and must be done even if/as/when we are still isolated in our homes.

Getting that job done is NOT a matter of simply trusting a new federal administration to do it all. I'm confident that President Biden will provide genuine, legitimate leadership. But so must you and I. Elected officials still, based on the governmental model of the constitutional republic, obtain their authority from the consent of the people. That consent must be active, and must be exercised with critical analysis. To that end, I recommend Russian-born New Yorker journalist Masha Gessen's latest book. The first parts of the book recap the Trump administration. But then provides key prescriptions for active citizenship.

From Surviving Autocracy,

When the time for recovery comes, as it inevitably will, we will need to do the work of rebuilding a sense of shared reality. For journalists, the task is much bigger than returning to an imagined state of normalcy before Trump, or even than deciding to retire some words and rehabilitate others. A new focus on using words intentionally will not be a matter for usage manuals but rather will require that journalists accept a responsibility that anodyne [solutions to what ails America will not necessarily be painless] headlines, equivocal statements and the style of extreme restraint have helped avoid. To state directly what they are seeing, journalists will have to reveal where they stand. To tell stories that situation the current moment in history, journalists will have to acknowledge that the media is inherently a political actor and decisions journalists make--which words to use and which stories to tell--are political decisions. And to make these decisions, journalists, too, will need to abandon the idea that politics is the province of technocrats--and accept their responsibility for shaping and facilitating the political conversation citizens must have in a democracy.

In their relationship to the next president, journalists will have to reassert their position as representatives of the American people, guarantors of the people's right to know. Journalists will have to do their part to rebuild the expectation that statements made by the president have immediate meaning. Meaning is distinct from consequences, but their meaning is often secondary to their tone, hard to discern, or downright [unintelligible]. Political speech--that is, speech intended to find common ground across difference, to negotiate the rules of living together in society-- is speech that, on the one hand, brings reality into focus and, on the other, activates the imagination. The job of revitalizing the language of politics will fall primarily to political leaders, It will be the job of journalists to embody and enforce the expectation of meaning. It will also be the job of journalists to create a communications sphere in which people feel not like spectators to a disaster that defies understanding but like participants in creating a common future with their fellow citizens. This is the fundamental project of democracy, and the reason it requires media. -- Surviving Autocracy, pps 163, 164 by Masha Gessen.  

Let's travel this journey together. One aspect of those travels is the upcoming iteration of the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission. I expect that process, for redrawing district maps for the state legislature and the AZ delegation to Congress to be no less contentious than the 2011 process proved to be. Though the players (commissioners and staff) will be different, it's still political blood sport.

Expect new challenges.

Mask UP, Arizona. Wash your hands frequently. And by all means get the Covid19 vaccination as soon as you can.