Author Archives: Michael Bryan

AZ Donkey Feed Fired Up, Ready to Go!

By Michael Bryan

Some of you may have noticed, and others not-so-much, the widget on the sidebar called AZ Donkey Feed. That is a live feed of the news and information that I take note of every day though my Digg RSS Reader. I follow several hundred RSS feeds from around Arizona and the national media, including traditional media, online, blogs, and institutional and government information sources, in order to get a reasonable picture of what’s happening in the world, with a special emphasis on politics here in Arizona and nationally.

Yes, I know… I might have a problem. But my obsession might save you some time in ferreting through your own rss feeds, bookmarks, and daily web rambling.

However, I will freely admit, I’m also damned lazy. There has been some problems with the link structure in the Arizona Donkey Feed for some time, but I think I finally have it all fixed and running properly. So if you have had some difficulty in the past with dead links, be assured, anything you click on should now land you on the source I intended and not dead link limbo.

The feed should be properly updating from now on – please let me know, if otherwise. So feel free to save yourself some time and benefit from my dysfunctional news obsession. Just click on the big “kiss my ass” donkey in the sidebar to visit my full feed (which you could just bookmark, if you like), or just take a gander at the latest twenty links in the sidebar. Come back often, as I usually update my Digg Reader a few times a day. I know… as the Cheeto Twittler might say, “Sad!”

Trump’s Muslim Ban Executive Order Reveals an Administration Ready to Lie About Absolutely Everything

By Michael Bryan

Many have identified the reasons why Trump’s Executive Order (EO) suspending travel from seven Muslim majority counties is ineffective, illegal, and just plain stupid: it is clearly discriminatory toward Muslims, it harms our counter-terror efforts made in conjunction with those nations’s governments, it is a propaganda win for the terrorists, and there haven’t actually been any terror attacks in America by visitors from the targeted countries since 1975, among many other reasons.

But what I find most disquieting about the EO is something that I have not seen a lot of commentary on, thus far: it demonstrates that this Administration is ready and willing to take ill-considered and deleterious actions regarding national security for purely political reasons, and then blatantly lie about classified intelligence to justify it.

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A Warning to Martha McSally

By Michael Bryan

Martha McSally ought to be looking to reign-in Mr. Trump’s worst impulses, and demand her caucus provide the strict oversight of the Executive that the Constitution requires. Instead, she merely seems determined to remain vague and indeterminate regarding her support for Trump. She must not forget that her electoral fate lies in the hands of voters who voted for Secretary Clinton by almost a 5% margin; we voters certainly will not forget.

As you can see in the chart below, 23 Republican members sit in districts that voted for Clinton, and McSally is one.

These Representatives will be among the most vulnerable incumbents in 2018, and would all do well to take seriously the institutional role of Congress to check and balance the Presidency.

McSally must stop cowering in her bunker and listen carefully to the concerns of her constituency regarding ethical and constitutional over-reach by this President. If McSally will not serve as an ally in ensuring that this unqualified, bullying, reckless President is constrained and checked by close Congressional oversight and a vigorous assertion of Congressional constitutional prerogatives, voters of her district will certainly find someone who will.

Mr. Trump, just a few weeks into his term, is increasingly unpopular. Smart money is on Congressional incumbents who stand up to his reckless and unpopular agenda. Mr. Trump promised his voters a populist economic agenda that would “drain the swamp” and “make American great again,” but has delivered a cabinet of billionaires and unqualified ideologues, and a dangerously incestuous and radical inner-circle, headed by avowed white nationalist Bannon, who are pushing an extremist right-wing agenda through executive orders. His popularity, even among his supporters, is falling off because his own voters recognize they have been delivered a classic bait and switch.

McSally had best get off the Trump train before it derails, and make it clear to voters of CD02 that she has disembarked.

“The Night Of” and Prosecutorial Ethics

By Michael Bryan

TheNightOf_Weiss-1024x576Like so many others, I watched the limited HBO series “The Night Of” and loved every minute of it… except the last 30 or so. I was reduced to screaming at the television for those minutes. Not only was the suspension of disbelief destroyed for me, but a major opportunity to engage a serious societal issue regarding the justice system was lost. It is through entertainment such as this show that much of the public learns and thinks about the difficult issues raised by our system of justice, it is therefore important that it be done responsibly and accurately.

The show was lovely over-all — compelling characters, great performances, wonderful direction and writing, great cinematography — but it seemed to lack a reasonably competent legal advisor. I know that legal accuracy is generally not what people tune in to watch a legal drama for, but there was one major legal and ethical lapse that deserved to be depicted accurately and highlighted in the plot itself — and it was not.

There are major plot spoilers in the remainder of this post, so don’t click through if you haven’t finished watching…

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Lying Jan “Heads in the Desert” Brewer Calls Hillary Clinton a “Lying Killer”

By Michael Bryan

clownbrewerFormer Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, she of the lie that immigrants had been beheading people in the deserts of Arizona, called Hillary Clinton a “lying killer” on the Mac and Gaydos show on KTAR.

She was assuring the the hosts that Clinton could not win Arizona when she said, “they’re tired of the lying killer, uh, Hillary Clinton and Bill Clintons of the world.” She later tried to walk the comment back when asked about it by Buzzfeed:

“I was trying to say Hillary Clinton, It was a stumble of the tongue. Good grief.”

Yeah, I can sympathize. Every time I try to say Donald Trump, it comes out as “the cinnamon Hitler, uh, Donald Trump.” And every time I try to say Jan Brewer, it comes out as “the embarrassing clown, uh, Jan Brewer.”

The New Normal: Discrimination and Suppression of the Vote in Arizona

tried_to_vote_rectI was reading the complaint in Feldman, et al v. Reagan, the case challenging HB2023, which criminalizes the collection of ballots from early voters, as well as some of the voting procedures established in Maricopa county regarding the number of polling places. I won’t write much about HB2023 (pdf link) — suffice it to say that the legislative history and bill itself evinces a clear intent by the state legislature to make it more burdensome for some minority groups to vote, and not any concern for the wing-nut fantasy of voter fraud, which even the lawyer for the State in this case admitted there was zero evidence of in his arguments before the court in this case.

This suit is important as it clearly demonstrates the kind of harm to the constitutional rights of citizens that pre-clearance under the VRA’s Section V was intended to avoid. The Supreme Court held in 2013 that the pre-clearance formula in the VRA’s Section V was outdated because it based inclusion of jurisdictions on the status of voting rights in 1975, despite Congress renewing the formula in 2006 for 25 more years, and despite 50 years of great results and institutional expertise in the Justice Department protecting American voters, and despite there being clear termination criteria to exit any and all pre-clearance requirements.

This lawsuit also exemplifies just how necessary it is to reinstate pre-clearance in states like Arizona (read as: states controlled by the GOP…) to protect the rights of voters. I certainly expect that future Congresses will consider the passage of legislation like HB2023, and lawsuits like this one across the country as criteria for inclusion in a new pre-clearance formula: Arizona’s government has certainly demonstrated that we deserve pre-clearance status.

Perhaps it would be best if, instead of creating a new formula, pre-clearance were imposed on every state and voting jurisdiction in the United States. That way there can be no issue of treating states differently, no formula that must be updated, and there will be strong and positive pressure to adopt standardized nation-wide voting laws and best-practices. Such universal pre-clearance could be the only positive result of the Supreme Court’s foolish, and demonstrably short-sighted decision in Shelby County v. Holder. Justice Ginsberg’s dissent in that case is a master course in the history, purpose, and on-going need of the federal government to oversee state and local election to protect the right to vote in our nation.

Back to the case at hand: I was moved and shocked by the stories of some of the plaintiffs in the case. I knew there were problems in Maricopa County with a lack of polling places and long waits during this year’s Presidential Preference Elections (PPE, or the primaries), but I have to admit, I was surprised by some of the granular impact of that seemingly intentional debacle. I wanted to share some of those personal stories with readers, as specific stories are always more powerful than arid and abstract policy. I doubt anyone, Democrat or Republican, can justify what happened to some of these citizens.

Just for context, according to the complaint, Maricopa County operated 403 polling locations in the 2008 PPE, 211 in the 2008 PPE (in which there was only one party with an actively contested primary), and only 60 in the 2016 PPE, which was hotly contested in both parties. That’s only 15% the number of polling places compared to 2008 for one of the most hotly contested PPEs in recent memory .

After the fold are some of the plaintiffs’ personal experiences that resulted from that disastrous decision.

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