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Doug Douchey

 

The Arizona Republic meekly followed the will of our corporate overlords.

They could’ve picked former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith, a solid conservative. After all, in their own words, Smith “did a spectacular job leading Mesa from being an afterthought to a city brimming with excitement about its future. He would be a fine Arizona governor.”

But they chose instead to endorse Doug “Cold Stones” Ducey for Governor, apparently for two simple reasons.

1. All the boys at the country clubs and in the board rooms are backing the guy. What the heck? Maybe he ain’t so bad.

2. He’s the pick of the Koch Brothers. Infamous dark-money dude Sean Noble is part of Ducey’s inner circle. No one’s done a better job of shining the light on this cockroach nest of darkness than Pro Publica. Ya really ought to read it and draw your own conclusions.

At any rate, Noble has been busily pumping out polls designed to portray Ducey as the next inevitable leader for our fair state. There’s also the usual spate of nasty dark-money attack ads. They’ve mostly focused on Christine “Go Daddy” Jones, who seems to be running a close second in legitimate polling.

Oh, but Ducey is ready. In the Editorialist’s own words, Ducey has “lined up support from Arizona’s business community, as well as from the state’s top GOP political leaders from social to fiscal conservatives.” And who are we to argue with them?

Well, Ducey’s also been a good student, the Republic sez. He’s studied at the feet of such fine leaders as Scott Walker of Indiana and Mitch Daniels of Indiana.

Yeah. Great examples. Scott Walker is a bitterly divisive Wisconsin governor who busy stamping out scandals based on clear evidence that he broke his state’s campaign laws. His pledge to create a quarter million jobs in his first term hasn’t hit the half-way mark after three years. Indiana ranks is a bright-red state in which economic growth is “sub-par,” according to the Indiana Business Review.

But what the hell? The Republic’s fellow ruling class lemmings are heading over the Ducey cliff, so we might as well follow – right?

Well, maybe that’s not fair. Let’s look at what Ducey’s done.

Well, he managed to keep the books balanced as State Treasurer, and he led a drive to kill a plan that would’ve created a dedicated funding source for education. The Republic called this effort “clumsy and misguided.” Uh, if you think Arizona is spending too much on schools, you might agree. Sure, per-pupil spending in AZ is down 25 percent, we rank 48th nationally in school funding – oh, and a federal judge has ruled that the state is ignoring a voter-approved mandate and owes K-12 schools somewhere between $1.5 billion and $2.5 billion.

Oh, but Ducey was a successful businessman. Sure, Cold Stone Creameries as a corporation grew fast under his tutelage, but its franchises have a 41.93 percent failure rate. They lead most other businesses in soured loans from the Small Business Administration (so much for keeping gummint out of business).

What does Ducey have to say? It’s their own damn fault. No one’s guaranteed success in business, he told the Republic. Ya only get an opportunity.

Some opportunity. In 2012, 185 Cold Stone franchisees sued the company, The Wall Street Journal reports, alleging that company withheld information and charged excessively high  fees. In 2008, franchisees told the journal that a defective business model pushed the cost of running a store so high that it was impossible to make a profit.

Yeah. That sounds like the kind of successful business owner that Arizona needs.

And what has Ducey promised?

Well, he promised to phase out the state income tax. Never mind that Arizona gets about 50 percent of its revenue from its bite on our paychecks. Never mind that current leaders don’t know how they’ll meet the court order to restore school funding, based on existing revenues. How in the hell will they meet it if they eliminate the income tax?

Ducey’s answer? Pixie dust. “It will take great growth in our economy and it will take a plan to grow our economy,” Ducey told da press. At a forum last week, Ducey said he’d privatize the lottery, cut “waste” and, oh yeah, the economy will respond to his leadership so well that revenues will pour in.

On immigration, this year’s red meat issue for the far-right, Ducey’s promised to do everything necessary to shut down the border – even though it’s already tighter than a mortgage officer’s heart. He’s matched Jones in impossible seal-the-border promises – even while them dark-money ads accuse Jones of being “dishonest” in her pledges.

I could go on, but what’s the point? The Republic’s endorsement was not based on facts. It probably was not even based on Ducey’s fiction. It’s based on one thing: The Big Guys who run this state say he’s our next governor, people. Shut up and vote right.

Far right.

Andys Wall

I covered Ev Mecham, so you’d think I’d seen it all. Ev complained about listening devices focused on his 9th floor office, and told reporters “don’t ever ask me for a true statement again.” He railed against libruhls, repealed a Martin Luther King holiday and spoke glowingly of “Pickaninnies.”

He’s a tough act to follow.

But now we have Andy Thomas, the disbarred former Maricopa County Attorney.

Earlier in the week he declared that the answer to Arizona’s economic problems was to send all them browns back to Mexico, which would free up jobs for real ‘Merikans. He’s got a TV ad in which a Messican Flag swallows Arizona, so vote for him “Before it’s too late.”

OK. Fair enough.

But then, while the rest of Phoenix was cowering in our A/C boxes, Andy bravely stood in the heat for 15 minutes on Wednesday to tell us all about “Patton’s Wall.” Well slap me silly and call me a cab!

Actually, Andy’s plan might actually suck in a buncha votes from da left and da right. Let me ‘splain!

Y’see, Andy is promising to deploy 3,000 National Guard troops along a border, and he’ll build a fence ‘cross every mountain, cactus, coyote and Injun Reservation to keep them varmints out! Uh, there’s a kinda-secret military communications/Drone operation at Ft. Huachuca so da feds might not wanna switch sides.  And the O’odham turf actually extends into Messico, so they might also have a problem with this idea.

Oh, no problem, Andy sez. He’ll just move Andy’s Patton’s Wall to the Northern end of O’odham territory.

That would put it pretty much up against Interstate-8… and that, my fellow Commies, means Tucson, Willcox and a whole buncha of folks will be on the wrong side of the wall.

That might even win him some votes. Back in the Pleistocene Era, when I did a stint as a Washington correspondent, I had a bumper sticker on my door: 

Free Baja Sonora

 

Yup. It was a movement started among we Sonoran Desert Hippies to split our end of the state off from the Great State of Maricopa, or as John McCain sometimes calls it, “The People’s Republic of Tucson.”

Now Andy seems to be on board with the Free Baja AZ movement. That can win him votes south of the Gila. It might be enough to get my vote.

Um, Nahhh!

Now a wall about 200 miles north of the Messican border might sound a little, uh, far-fetched.

It would also be expensive – about $150 million or two – but that’s no problem.

Andy will just pay for it by kicking them-thar freeloaders off welfare!

Yup. Want food stamps? Obamacare Medicaid? Work for ‘em, one weekend a month, plus two weeks a year. Put a five-year cap on them gummint benefits!

That’ll get him a passel of votes from da right.

Hey: Maybe Andy is the great uniter! He can unify tea baggers and lefties, Militia types and Stoners, Survivalists in Lake Havasu and granola eaters in the Tucson Mountains.

I remember that during the 1986 election, I started talking about “Governor Mecham” a few weeks before the election was held. People thought I was nuts. I told ‘em that Mecham was gonna win the three-way race between him, a Democrat and an independent. And I was right.

Governor Thomas.

Maybe we should get used to the sound.

Not my problem

So they finally put a nail in that nasty Obamacare coffin.

The GOPers repealed the law – what, Eighty Bazillion times? They said it was illegal. They refused to expand Medicaid (Not applicable in AZ yet) and they passed laws trying to block da feds from reaching out to poor people who qualify.

Now they’ve gotten a pair of reactionary Appeals Court judges to twist the law like a soggy pretzel. Apparently they believe you can’t provide health-care subsidies if your state refused to provide a health-care exchange. 

Whoopee. Now 4.7 million or so poors will lose access to subsidies that make health care insurance affordable. Now they can flood Emergency Rooms, fail to pay hospital bills that total a decade of their earnings, and the hospitals can pass it on to thee, me, and the conservative hiding behind that tree.

Victory!

Y’know, the polls still show that Obama’s ratings are lower than a sewer rat. The mere mention of his name generates hisses, boos, and a stampede among gutless Dems trying to hide their pink-tinged undies.

But ya know what?

Shhhh. Don’t tell anyone.

But Obamacare is working; not perfectly, but it’s absolutely taking health care in the right direction.

What? Commie! Nazi! Socialist-loving libruhl!

Uh, yeah. Except for the Nazi part. Seems my German relatives were Jews from the Sudatenland, and they were among the first to go.

But I digress. Let’s look at the numbers:

  • Health coverage: The percentage of uninsured has dropped from 18 percent to 13.4 percent, Gallup sez. The largest drops were among African-Americans, Latinos and the poor.
  • Here in AZ, the uninsured fell from 20 percent to 16.4 percent.
  • The cost of “uncompensated care.” Huh! The amount of unpaid hospital bills in AZ dropped by 31 percent. That’s $76 million that won’t be added to bills for everyone else to make up for the loss.

I could go on – but get the point?

So, now the reactionaries have a “victory” that will show that damn Kenyan who’s the boss.

A whole bunch folks losing health coverage? Collateral damage.

More unpaid hospital bills passed on to thee and me? C’mon, fella, suck it up!

More lives saved? The Annals of Internal Medicine, published a study on the impact of Romneycare, uh expanded healthcare in Massachusetts. It found that it reduced deaths by 4.5 percent.

Oh, right, leftist rhetoric seeking to distort the truth.

We won!

Well, there’s that pesky ruling out of a Virginia Court of Appeals just a few hours later. It found that the feds can provide healthcare subsidies.

Ah, thass OK. It’ll go to the U.S. Supreme Court. And those five (far) right-thinking men will overwhelm the four mush leftists!

So we’ll win! Fewer people will get health coverage. Deaths will rise. Hospital costs will go up.

Yea.

Gubernatorial GOPers

 

Did ya catch the show last night? A gaggle of pachyderms who wanna be Guv paraded their stuff in front of KAET-TV Horizon’s Ted Simons and his viewers.

Only we political junkies watch Horizon faithfully. That’s because its weekday programs are often dust-dry discussions or empty showcases for some gummint program or local non-profit. Or even worse, an informed discussion of an important issue.

It’s not exactly a big rating draw.

But if you want to see past all the crap that will be thrown at your TV screen.; if ya want to figure out who’s actually qualified to run this state, the Horizon debate is must-see TV (pardon the cliché).

At any rate I’ll give you my take, but ya oughta see it for yourself. Here is a link to a rebroadcast of the one-hour debate.

Here’s what I saw:

First, Ted Simons ain’t your typical TV Ken Doll. He clearly studies up, and his job exposes him to a wide range of personalities and ideas. Second, his debate format works. There’s no rigid template. You don’t have to sit and listen to a panel of political wannabes give canned answers to dull questions.

Third, Simons is a smart dude. He also allows candidates to pick and probe at each other, which always provides the best answers. Sure the candidates frequently talk over each other, but Simons is pretty good at un-tangling those verbal clinches, sending everyone to neutral corners so they can spar again.

So what did we get last night? For the most part, a battle of “I’m tougher than you” between Republicans who were playing kissy-kissy with their party’s far right.

Ask them about growing the economy? Well, yuh see here, we gotta get our borders under control.

Balance the budget? Well, said Doug “Cold Stones” Ducey, I built a profitable business (at least for the corporation, not the franchise-holders) and I can get our budget under control by stopping them gummint bureaucrats from imposing new regulations. Frank “Bare Chest” Riggs said he’ll create more business tax breaks. Ken “Guitar Crooner” Bennett said that the last time the state really balance the budget he was the top dog in the state Senate. If he did it then, he can do it now.

But mostly we heard lots of border thumping. Christine “Go Daddy” Jones repeated her pixie dust pledge to call out the National Guard, just like Rick Perry did in Texas, build more miles of fence that doesn’t stop anyone, and send the bill to Obama. Oh then there was Andy Thomas – remember him? The disbarred former County Attorney? The guy who warns us in TV ads that Arizona is gonna be taken over by gay Messicans? Well, he says, our economy won’t get better until we stop them browns from stealing our jobs.

My favorite moment: Riggs told us we should elect him because when he goes to Congress, “I know where the bathroom is.” I’m sure that’s valuable information, Frank.

What did we not hear?

Well, what about education? The Children’s Action Alliance and the Annie Casey Foundation just warned us that our state ranks 47th in terms of conditions for raising kids.  The 25 percent cut in school funding plays a big role in that. Oh, and a federal judge just told the Lege that they have to stop ignoring laws and put $1.6 billion or so back into school funding.

Oh, there was some vapid nonsense about how they would come up with the additional schools money through some magic budget voodoo – right after they give free candy to all the businesses in sight. Trust ‘em. They’re fiscal conservatives. Uh-huh.

Once again we’re reminded that the voters who control Republican primaries simply don’t think schools, health care or caring for kids in need are worthy of discussion.

Actually there’s one candidate who stood out as the only sane person: Former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith. He built a record of successfully reinvigorating his city using conservative principles. He slashed away at bureaucracy, attracted businesses like Apple, and even kept Da Cubs in Arizona for Spring Training.

Smith has this silly idea that you talk about real solutions and offer leadership. Never mind impossible promises like doing away with the income tax, salting the border with nuclear land mines or beating up Common Core education standards.

“I would love to say as governor I’m going to wave the magic wand,” he said. “But then reality sets in, and the fact here is that nobody’s talking reality.”

So of course Smith is running a distant third, drawing about 10-15 percent among the hard-core crazies who will turn out in the GOP primary.

So  watch last night’s Horizon debateThen vote like your future depends on the next election – because it does.

Christines wall

I got into a little Tweet-for-Tweet last week with Christine Jones.

It started with her tweet about her “all-new” border plan. If you own a TV in AZ you’ve seen her ad. She’s gonna call out da National Guard. She’s gonna build that dang fence, and she’s gonna send an invoice to the White House Kenyan.

No excuses.

I Tweeted back. I asked if the yokels who wanna be our 9th Floor Goober have ever visited the border – and I wasn’t talkin’ bout those photo ops in which they’re surrounded by dudes in green uniforms, armed with enough guns to retake Omaha Beach.

Christine must’ve thought I was calling her a girly-girl. She wrote back  that she don’ need no guards to visit the border. She’s been there many times, armed with only her dazzling smile.

I tried to clarify. I wanted to know if she ever visited the border like a normal human being. Has she ever talked to someone who has to live under the Border Patrol’s thumb?

She politely directed me to her website. Told me to go see her plan.

So I did. I found phony factoids, BS bravado, and a warmed-over pledge to finish the job that da feds ain’t gonna do.

Phony factoids y’say? From her website:

“Between 1996 and 2010, the Federal Government estimates the illegal immigrant population in Arizona increased 213%….From 2001 to 2010, an average of 1,374 illegal immigrants were apprehended in the Arizona border sector EVERY DAY – and that number represents only the illegal immigrants we caught.”

 Uh, Yeah. More proof – if ya need it – that there’s statistics, and then there’s reality.

 Did ya notice how her citation for the brown tide ended in 2010 – four years ago? That wasn’t an accident. Illegal crossings through Arizona peaked that year. Let’s go back to 2009 – the year that our White House was usurped by that African phony!

Well, in 2009 they caught 241,000 immigrants in the Tucson sector. In 2013 the feds caught 120,939. So Tucson-sector busts are down by half under the Kenyan’s watch. Huh. That’s not very convenient for campaign red meat.

Oh, and ya know how the Tucson Sector is supposedly the “Busiest” part of the border for illegal crossings? Not so much. The Associated Press sez McAllen, Texas sector was the busiest in 2014. Maybe that’s because the pipeline bringing all them Central American kiddies to el Norte follows a train track that ends there.

Oh, well, harumph. Why I’m just another pinko twisting facts that aren’t good enough to make Fox News! Damn libruhl! Ya can’t deny that Obama hasn’t sealed the border!

Well, to quote Obama’s unofficial campaign song, Yes we can. Let’s go to the facts. In 2010 La Migra made 616,346 border arrests. In 2014 there were 420,789 busts. That’s a 30 percent drop. If you’re looking to seal da border, that’s progress.

 I won’t even get into deportations. Look it up for yourself, and see why Latinos have taken to calling Da Prez the Deporter in Chief.

So let’s go to my basic premise. I try to deal with it through a book I done-wrote about the AZ Lege. Yup. I don’t do enough to tout it, but it’s called The Cactus Caucus, And it’s available in Kindle format on Amazon. Go buy it if you read my blog. It’s only $2.95 for heck’s sake!

The main character is a dim-wit lawyer who has to finish the final weeks of his uncle’s term in Da Lege. Since this lawyer is from Arivaca I’ve spent some time there. It’s a cool little hideout full of burned-out hippies, cowboys, and weirdos just tryin’ to get away from so-called civilization. I’ve spent a little time in Arivaca.

I lay out my perspective on the border in Chapter 16 (Wanna see it? Buy the damn book). Basically they’ve turned a swath of Southern Arizona into a demilitarized zone that swarms with guys on horseback, in 4X4s, in helicopters, and scruntched over electronic toys that capture every Palo Verde Beetle looking to get lucky.

 Seal the border? If it was sealed any more it would create a vacuum that would make air locks and space suits mandatory. Just ask the good people of Arivaca. They face daily checks that, in their opinion, are downright intrusive. The New York Times talked to them. This is what they heard:

 “You don’t know what’s going to happen when you pull up to the checkpoint at any given time, and that’s very unnerving,” said Carlota Wray, 57, who has lived in Arivaca for 33 years.

And then, coincidence upon coincidence, I found that Slate has just been to Arivaca. They sum it up fairly well.

 So no, Christine and Adam Kwansman, R-Stubble Farm. This area is saturated with feds. A few thousand guardsman – or even more Border Patrol troops – ain’t gonna make a difference.

 What would? Well, that’s where it gets complicated. Give ‘em a reason to stay home. Unfortunately I part ways with my fellow Commies on this. Pouring Uncle Sam’s Greenbacks into Mexico and Central America just creates a bigger pool of cash that will just be stolen.

I wish I had a better answer. I don’t.

So in the meantime, can we show some good ole compassion? I was gonna call it Christian, but then I realized that every religion, especially the Muslim one, preaches hospitality, especially to people in need.

I don’t know about you, but when I see yahoos shouting at buses full of kids and their moms, I gotta shake my head. The nuns of SS Simon and Jude pounded a different form of compassion into my noggin back in Brooklyn .

MIA

 

I was out of action for a while. It seems that I tried to sell my soul like a good little whore, only my soul was marked return to sender!  So I’m baaack!

That’s what I get for sleeping with serpents. All I have to show is a few bite-marks, some damage to my already shaky reputation, and a bad case of yuck!

But, when the bills pile up, and the state demands repayment for a screw-up they committed, ya do what ya gotta do.

Enough whining. Let’s get back to basics.

In my absence the Gubernatorial Klown Kar has been busy making promises they could never keep. Eliminate the income tax? Seal the border and send the bill to that White House Kenyan? Create jobs by selling more ice cream franchises?

Duh, sure. I’ll buy that! Go any Unicorns to go with it?

As we move closer to the primary the political brown stuff is starting to fly on TV – maybe even stick.

Da Lege is outraged – Pissed Off! – that they might have to abide by the Constitution, and the will of voters. Some meddlesome judges actually said they’re obligated to put a few bucks into our cash-starved K-12 education system. Why we can’t have that! How could we eliminate the income tax if we throw money at schools? Can’t afford to send your kid to a private academy? Well, don’t have them, ya irresponsible libruhls!

Speaking of kids, hoards of little brown ones have been flooding the border lately. Maybe someone read them that leftie propaganda poem about bring us your tired, your sick, yer huddled masses… So now they expect us to give ‘em food, clothing and a home! What do they think we are? Bleeding hearts?

Of course that led to an entire circus act in which gun-toting loose screws, pot bellies hanging over their belts, showed up in Oracle, AZ, just a few minutes north of Tucson, to tell them brown young’uns to take their disease-ridden, swollen-bellied butts back where they came from.

And then, state Rep. Adam Kwansman, who will forever be known as R-Stubble Farm thanks to Stephen Colbert, tried to besiege a busload of kiddies from the Marana Y who were on a camping trip. Then he bragged to da media about seeing “the fear in their eyes.” Yeah, well, any kiddos who had that loon banging on the side of their bus might get a little anxious.

But Kwansman is running for Congress, so don’t think a little humiliation is gonna slow down a crazy pol who smells higher office! I’m sure he’ll keep palling around with opportunists like Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, R-Tightie Whitie Underpants, who helped whip up a mob frenzy – and then launched a fund-raising effort, declaring that “we have enough problems with drug cartels and illegals, and we don’t need (tiny little) illegals sent to us by President Obama.”

Is this a great state or what? What? I can’t hear you. Sheriff tight underwear is yelling something through a bullhorn.

And back in Phoenix, not to be upstaged just because she needs to start packing her office, Da Guv is fighting to keep them slightly older Messican-type Dreamer kids from getting a driver’s license. A meddlng federal appeals court sez the feds have given these kids a quasi-legal status, and that means they should be allowed to drive legally, maybe even use that privilege to get a job and get off welfare.

I mean: you’d think they grew up in this country and belong here just because they have a high school diploma, want to attend college or served in the military!

So. Lots has been going on while I was whoring myself out. The bureaucrats I was trying to defend are good people, but my personal ethics will keep me from writing about it right now.

At any rate it’s good to be back – still poor, none the wiser. At least now I know the answer to an eternal question: What do ya do when you try to sell out, and discover there ain’t no buyers?

Answer: Ya blog!

 

 

 

 

 

No dreamers

I had a reminder this weekend of what it means to be without transportation. The A/C on my trusty ride went out. The good news is that it was covered by an extended warranty, which saved me a grand or two on the cost of installing a new compressor.

 

The bad news: for several days I had to drive in our wonderful mid-July triple digits with windows open. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. But then I had to bring my ride to the dealership to have the new A/C installed.

 

I might as well have been wheelchair-bound.

 

Seriously. When was the last time you had to make your away around the Phoenix sprawl relying on mass transit? It’s either costly (hiring a cab) or it’s inconvenient, requiring you to take the summer heat straight in your face while you wait – and wait – for a bus to show up. (In my case I can also take the light rail, but the nearest station is about three miles away).

 

And that brings me to the first media splash of the week: a decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals blocking Da Guv and the Arizona Department of Transportation/Motor Vehicles Division from denying a driver’s license to Dreamers who have work permits and permission to stay in the only country they know – AKA the Dreamers.

Thanks to the White House Kenyan, these kids who grew up here, went to school here, and are silly enough to think they are REAL ‘Merikans (even though their skin is brown ) have permission to stay here.

That is they can stay if they file papers showing they came to Los Estados Unidos before they turned 16, are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, are in school or have graduated from high school or a GED program, or have served in the military. They also were allowed to apply for a two-year renewable work permit. 

But Da Guv, in a reach-around to the whack-job neo-know-nothings among her fellow GOPers, has acted repeatedly to deny them such basic things as access to an affordable college education – and the right to drive legally in this-here country.

Now I ask you: How in Hades do you get a job in AZ if you can’t drive? How many job applications ask if you have a driver’s license? (Answer: All of ‘em, Katie!) How do you get to work if you can’t drive? (Answer: either with great difficulty, meaning more than one bus and lots of walking … or you just drive illegally).

So in effect, Da Guv is denying these young people the freedumbs to improve their productivity by getting a college degree, and she also is preventing them from even getting a minimum-wage job by preventing them from driving legally. God Bless ‘Merika!

Now I can already detect the rumbles from the flat earth inhabited by the mouth-breathing racists. Why, harumph. What ever happened to the rule of law. If we don’t send these punk kids back to some country they can’t remember, why they’ll think they have the same rights as we white people! Why don’t they get in line and wait an eternity or three to enter legally? My parents or grandparents, why they hauled their white asses onto some boat in Europe and came to this-here country! Of course since they were white the rules were kinda different – but ya gotta follow the rules!

Now let’s not get carried away. This was a major legal victory, but this ain’t over. Nope! Not by a long-shot. Da Guv will spend the waning months of her tenure on the top floor filing legal challenges. Eventually this will likely end up before those Five Cranky Old Men (and four judgment-impaired libruhls) on the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Yeah. Ain’t that reassuring? The same people who think Hobby Lobby has a right to dictate your access to birth control will decide whether Dreamers have a right to stay, work and improve the country they love. How could that go wrong?

In the meantime, I hope all the Dreamers flood down to MVD and apply for a license. You’ll probably be told to pound sand, but it’s an excellent statement, one that says your skin may be brown, but your hearts are Red White and Blue.

God Bless ‘Merika!

 

SCOTUS War on Women

 

The nasty old men who dominate our U.S. Supreme Court have decided that a woman’s right to control her own body, and make decisions about her own health-care, are trumped by corporate oligarchs who are also religious extremists.

 

Indie Women: Still think there’s no good reason to vote?

 

Now I ain’t no lawyer. Maybe that’s why I can’t understand why an employer has the right to tell you what to do with the benefits you earned with your daily labors. But in effect, that’s what the knuckle-dragging conservative majority declared Monday in one of those 5-4 rulings.

 

GOPer-leaning justices Scalia, Alito, Thomas, Kennedy and Roberts said that pseudo-Christian extremists can refuse to pay for health coverage that allows women to obtain birth control through employee healthcare. Apparently a few morons think that some forms of contraception are tantamount to abortion ‘cause they prevent a fertilized egg from implanting itself in the uterus.

 

In my ill-informed libruhl view of the world, you go to work, do your job, and you’re paid – mostly in money, but also with benefits. Once you’re paid, your boss has no right to dictate how you use the fruit of your labors. You should have a right to do whatever the hell you want with those benefits, as long as it’s legal, I guess. But these five old coots say corporate rights trump your rights. In other words, corporations are people – only with more power and fewer consequences for illegal acts.

 

In the bad old days Henry Ford, who did some good things like pay employees a living wage, also sent around a “Social Organization” to check on your personal life. Ford wanted to make sure workers were doing things in “the American Way. “

 

But that was a century ago. No one thinks a company has that right today – well, except for the five-member knuckle-dragging majority on our high court.

 

Let’s be clear. This is just another knot in a long, ugly string of terrible decisions by idiots like Alito, Roberts and Thomas, extremist ideologues whose decisions reflect their own politics instead of the Constitution.

 

Appropriately enough it was Alito who wrote the majority opinion, which states that, well, maybe Hobby Lobby types can’t refuse to provide coverage for other stuff, like vaccinations or even blood transfusions, which some religions think are a violation of their god’s law.

 

But the law already allows some businesses to use some Orwellian interpretation of health-care coverage in which the insurer can refuse to provide coverage for such sinful (but legal) things like abortion if they get a court’s permission. In Alito’s view this merely moves the Camel’s nose a few inches deeper into the good ole’ tent.

 

Translation: You wimmen-folk can still get contraception coverage – if you wanna pay for for a policy rider. So in effect you have to pay more for health insurance simply because you have ovaries. Yeah, that sounds fair to some people who stand up when they go pee-pee.

 

Now heathen that I am, I find all this stuff silly as hell. If you want to worship the sun, eat peyote or chomp on a wafer in a bizarre belief that you’re actually eating a hunk of your god’s body, fine. Just don’t force me to buy into your silly spiritual belief.

 

But that’s what we’ve got this with court.

 

Now you don’t elect judges, but you do elect the politicians who select members of the state and federal court.

 

So if you vote for a whack-job who thinks this Supreme Court is doing a fine job, then you’re voting to keep women barefoot, pregnant, and subservient to men.

 

But if you think women have a right to make decisions about their own health, and their own bodies, you’ve gotta vote, and you’ve gotta vote for pols who won’t appoint extremists to the bench.

 

So, as I’ve said many times, and as I’ll continue to say as long as I can blog my fool head off…

 

Ya gotta vote – not just once every four years for president, not just once every two years in a general election, but also in the primaries, where the vast majority of races get decided.

 

If you don’t, I don’t wanna hear you whine about politicians. You had your chance to do something, and you blew it, so STFU.

 


Power of Stoopid

 

 

Pretty soon they’ll be sending out the early-voting ballots for the Aug. 26 primaries.

 

If you’re a registered Independent you CAN – and in my opinion you MUST – cast a ballot, especially for the Legislature, where you can vote not once … not twice … but UP TO THREE TIMES!!!!

 

True Story. Read on to see what I mean.

 

We send 90 fools to the Legislative Klown Kar, three from each district (One state Senator, Two members of the House). So you can vote for One Senator from your district, and up to TWO members of the House. In other words, you can vote up to three times. So there.

 

Now except for just a few anomalies, the winner of the primaries will be representing YOU in the Legislature, whether you like or not.

 

In fact, the winner will represent you even if you don’t vote. Ain’t that a scary thought? So you might as well vote – or STFU.

 

For the most part, the general election is pretty much an afterthought when it comes to Da Lege. Currently two members of the House got elected even though their party is the minority in their district. They are Rep. Eric Meyer, a Democrat from District 28 (North Central Phoenix, Paradise Valley and a little Scottsdale), and Rep. Ethan Orr, a Republican from District 9 (Tucson/Oro Valley). The other 88 basically won their seats once they won their primary.

 

You can argue about whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, but you can’t ignore that reality, which bears repeating: Only two out of 90 Legislators beat the voter-registration odds to get elected. So you better vote in the primary if ya give a crap.

 

For the most part, we Indies seem not to care, because we ignore the primaries. Because of that, we deserve much – maybe most – of the blame for the nests of fools, idiots, klowns and weasels who populate the Arizona Legislature.

 

Why? Well, primaries are dominated by whack-jobs. On the left it’s folks who sound like me, but ain’t me. I’m a lefty Indie, but I’m not a Dem. Frankly they have too many lying weasels carrying the Dem. banner to deserve my loyalty.  But in Dem. primaries, lefties dominate.

 

GOPer Legislators, conversely, are elected by far-right lunatics – screw-jobs who think it’s good to:

  •  Restrict abortion rights. They think that’s more important than protecting children in crisis and investing in education.
  • Demonize poor people as “lazy pigs” but refuse to help them get off the poverty merry-go-round. For example they refuse to subsidize child-care services that allow poor parents to get a job, get an education and achieve financial independence from gummint hand-outs.
  • Legalize discrimination under the guise of religious Freedumbs (SB1062) instead of providing equal protections under the law
  • Attack Common Core education standards instead of restoring a 25 percent cut in per-capita K-12 education funding since 2008.
  • (Speaking of education) Ignore voter-approved mandates to adjust school funding to offset inflation, and then arguing that the law is invalid just because they don’t like it.
  • Espouse goofy ideas that defy science (global warming, evolution, “chemtrails”) while slashing college funding, ignoring a Constitutional mandate to make a college degree as close to free as possible, and driving tuition costs out of reach for the average working family.
  • (Speaking of Goofy) Try to pass laws governing which bathroom we use.
  • Befriend tax scofflaws like Nevada rancher Clive Bundy, who thinks he doesn’t have to pay for the use of federally owned grazing lands, while refusing to stop Big Utilities from pushing taxes on solar power, which poses a threat to their monopoly on electricity.
  • Repeal an expansion of Medicaid (better known as AHCCCS) even though the cost of emergency care for the uninsured is driving up health-care costs for everyone else.
  • Steal funding from voter-approved funding for parks, education and highway maintenance.

 

I could go on. Frankly this list just scratches the surface of legislative stupidity. But I think you get the point.

 

We Indies can influence this tilt toward the extreme, this obsession with goofy stuff, this refusal to deal with the issues of interest to real human beings… if we cast enough votes to swing some of the partisan primaries.

 

Now for the most part the action is in Republican primaries. Given that the GOPers are the biggest political gang, and gerrymandering assures that they elect a majority of legislators, most of we Indies need to ask for a Republican primary ballot.

 

Oh, there’s a bunch of partisan Dem primaries too. If you live in a Latino area in particular, take a hard look at your candidates.

 

But no matter where you live, you need to vote if you’re an Indie.

 

Take a hard look at a candidate’s positions. Look past their campaign BS. People like John “cry me a river” Huppenthal got elected to the Lege repeatedly by lying. They told us they were a friend of education, but voted repeatedly to support school-funding cuts. Then they pee on our leg, and tell us it’s raining, by falsely claiming that they actually voted to increase education funding.

 

Remember that you have two choices to make in state House races – but if only one candidate meets your standards, it’s OK to pick only one. In fact that might be a good idea. Frankly, it’s called a “single shot,” and it actually amplifies your support of that one person. Trust me on this. I’ll try to explain the complexities of a “single-shot” vote in a future blog post.

 

Whatever. Just vote. Do something to thin out the Klown Kar. Throw your shoulder into efforts to change the Lege. If you don’t vote, you are responsible for the world-class stupid that makes Arizona the source of so many laughs at the hands of John Stewart, Stephen Colbert and all those other late-night comics.

 

If you don’t vote in the primary, you are responsible for the power of stupid so prominently on display down at the state Capitol.

 

So if you don’t vote, STFU about our stupid gumming. You are forfeiting your right to complain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AZ Chimp Act

 

Dammit, Laurie Roberts! You’re gonna make me defend Don Shooter!

 

Well not really, but I will point to a certain reality about our hard-drinking, sombrero-donning, teacher-intimidating Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

 

He has a hell of a commute.

 

Shooter lives somewhere in Yuma. That’s about a three-hour drive from Phoenix – though if I know Shooter he probably shaves 25 minutes or so off that by breaking the sound barrier along I-8.

 

But think about it. That’s about 190 to 200-plus hot, dreary miles of driving. One way.

 

Then you get to Phoenix, Arizona’s so-called center of civilization (There’s a gruesome thought!).

 

Do ya turn an eight-hour day (bear with me; I know these yokels don’t put in 40-hour weeks) into a 14-hour day by driving home again?

 

No, ya find a place to sleep. What does a half-decent apartment cost these days? Plenty. Back in the 80s I had a pal who was a Tucson legislator. He used to sleep in one of those hotels where ya slide your cash (no credit cards) beneath a bullet-proof window, and once you were in the room, lock the door! Pay no attention to the constant foot traffic and loud conversation all night long.

 

He was an exception. Most of ‘em find what passes for reasonable rent, often via one of those in-law cottages you’ll see in some of the ritzier neighborhoods. Some buy run-down condos or townhouses as a second home. But whatever they do, finding a safe place to sleep in Phoenix ain’t cheap!

 

For all that, ya get $24,000, plus per diem and mileage. OK, yeah. That brings Don Shooter up to, oh, $42,000 to $43,000 a year. Gail Griffin is that right-wing loon from Hereford who thinks ranchers oughta shoot critters that might consume cows before they’re turned into hamburger. We kinda diverge in our definitions of sanity, but the woman does have a three-hour commute to the Lege. And yeah, she rakes in nearly $53,000.

 

Even for those elected from the Empire of Maricopa County, the costs can add up. They probably commute, so they only collect an extra $8,000 on top of $24,000, thanks to mileage and per diem. That comes to $32,000 a year.

 

But seriously. Put aside their stupid ideas and whacko ideology (for the moment, anyway). Do you think it’s outrageous to pay someone $40,000 to $50,000 to drive three or four hours one-way, maintain two homes, and deal with all the crap that’s thrown at our Legislature?

 

Ya gotta be crazy or stupid, so yeah. That explains people like Gail Griffin and Don Shooter.

 

Now I’ve had this argument a zillion times with my fellow political junkies. Better pay doesn’t necessarily lead to better politicians. The poster child for this argument is California, where legislative take-home is $90,000 to more than $105,000 a year. Are they any better than our own local Klown Kar? That’s worthy of debate I suppose. 

 

And debate it we will, because apparently there will be a proposal on the November ballot proposing that we raise that $24,000 base legislative salary to $35,000. That’s an $11,000 pay bump. Of course my jaundiced pals still in da media prefer to call it a 45 percent pay raise.

 

And who, including those in a legislator’s immediate family, think these morons deserve any pay hike, let along a 45 percent increase?

 

Well, I’ve earned my bleeding heart credentials the honest way. Our legislators are dumb, craven and have the collective IQ of your grocer’s produce display. But they are entertaining.

 

And I have sympathy for anyone who faces that drive, that stress – yes, and that temptation.

 

For about nine years I had to drive from Tucson to Phoenix every day. I got driven out of journalism and the only people stupid enough to hire me worked for the state. Since I shared custody of my son, I chose a loooong commute over being an absentee dad.

 

I used to put 50,000 miles a year on a car. That’s a lot of gas, tires, and maintenance and car payments. And I had more than a couple of scary moments on the interstate thanks to road rage, dust storms and other unanticipated adventures.

 

So yeah. I’ll take issue with Laurie, who thinks a pay raise for these fools is some kinda bad joke, or as she puts it, “Or she puts it: “I fear it’ll just bring us the same old suspects in nicer suits.”

 

Ah, whathehell? I vote Aye. Give Shooter, Griffin and all those other loons an $11,000 pay raise.

 

Will it attract a better class of politician? I dunno. Maybe.

 

But I always recall the saying of one of my first Arizona friends, a guy named Paul Sullivan, a gruff but truly wonderful guy who looked like Hagar the Horrible but had the heart of Mother Theresa.

 

Whenever you brought up salaries for elected officials, Paul had a unforgettable saying:

 

When ya pay peanuts, ya hire chimps.

 

After more than 30 years of watching Arizona politicians eat bananas with their feet, I’d kinda like to try and pay them a living wage.

 

Maybe it won’t help, but it sure as hell can’t lower the quality of the help we hire.

 

 

 

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