Author Archives: Michael Bryan

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 The Supreme Court held in 2013 that the pre-clearance formula in the VRA’s Section V was outdated because it based inclusion of jurisdictions on the status of voting rights in 1975, despite Congress renewing the formula in 2006 for 25 more years, and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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Women Leaders: What’s the World Coming To?

By Dianne Post

Recently, several glass ceilings have been broken and others wacked hard. Internationally, women are 29% of the UN peacekeepers. Five women lead peacekeeping operations. Three completely female units are in Haiti, Liberia and DR Congo. The UN has found that the presence of women helps reduce conflict and confrontation, protects local women and helps lift their status, and makes the peacekeepers more approachable.

On the political side, Theresa Mary May just became the second woman Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party. Margaret Thatcher was the first woman Prime Minster from 1979 to 1990 and leader of the Conservative Party. Angela Dorothea Merkel, a former research scientist, is the longest serving woman leader. She has been the Chancellor of Germany since 2005 and the leader of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000. When Hillary Clinton is elected, three of the top four most powerful countries in the world will have women leaders. China will be the outlier.

In 2014, twenty-two women world leaders represented a new high. The longest serving is Merkel in Germany with Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, president of Liberia, close behind since 2006 and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner of Argentina since 2007. The newest were the appointed president Simonetta Somaruga in Switzerland and Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic elected in Croatia in 2015. The countries where women rule range from European (6) and Eastern European countries (5) to Central and South American (5) to Africa (3), Asia (2) and the Mid-East (1). North America is conspicuously missing.

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The Price of Apathy is to be Ruled by Evil Men

By Dianne Post

As the events in Ferguson illustrated, injustice is as American as motherhood and apple pie.  From our inception, the Constitution counted African-Americans as only three-fifths of a person and Native Americans were not counted at all.  Neither group could vote nor could women or people who didn’t own property.

Likewise, law enforcement developed from a very flawed beginning, slave patrols sent out by plantation owners to capture escapees.  After the Civil War, sheriffs and justices of the peace were not paid by the government but were provided lists of workers needed by plantations, mines and the railroad.  The sheriff then arrested and the justice of the peace convicted African-Americans and “leased” them to the businesses.  Pinkerton thugs hired by corporations attacked labor union strikers in factories and plants while law enforcement turned their backs.

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No on Prop 123 – not sustainable and not a solution

By Dianne Post

[Note from the Editor: TLDR summary- the author opposes Prop 123 and encourages you to vote NO.]

How the fight started

In 2000, the state legislature wanted to increase revenue but didn’t want to be blamed for a tax increase so they referred the question of a statewide sales tax for education to the voters. The referendum, now Prop 301, also included the 2% annual inflation adjustment for education. The voters approved Prop 301 and every year thereafter the legislature did as the voters ordered – raised education funding by at least 2% – until 2010. In 2010, they only approved an increase for the transportation support and not the base level or inflation

In October 2010, several school districts sued because any referendum is protected by the Voter Protection Act that says a referendum passed by the voters cannot be repealed and can only be amended if the amendment furthers the purpose of the law and has 75% of the legislators approval. Adopted in 1998, the VPA arose out of concerns that the legislature was abusing its power to amend and repeal voter-endorsed measures. The principal purpose of the VPA is to preclude the legislature from overriding the intent of the people. With the adoption of the VPA, voter-approved measures are now superior to enactments of the legislature in that they cannot be repealed by legislative act, and they cannot be easily amended. Yet that is what the legislature did by refusing to fund the mandatory 2% inflation increase. By not funding the base level, the legislature re-directed (stole) the money specifically earmarked for education by the voters and used it for other things. In other words, they continue to abuse their power by repealing voter-endorsed measures by their actions i.e. failure to appropriate the monies.

Their dislike of voter approved measures and their intent to eliminate them is nakedly visible with four bills introduced this session to reduce citizen powers. HCR2043 would allow a legislature to revoke a voter passed measure – exactly the reason we passed the Voter Protection Act in the first place. HCR2023 would lower the obstacles for legislators to repeal the voters’ intent and put more hurdles in the way of voters getting their wishes on the ballot in the first place. HCR2024 would require a super majority of voters to pass an initiative and HCR2047 would require 25% of the signatures to come from rural counties. Thus it is clear that the legislators fear the voters – when in fact they work for us!

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Republicans Curse the American Cursus Honorum

By Michael Bryan

We are seeing something very unusual in the history of American politics in this cycle’s GOP Presidential primary: a complete abandonment of the American Cursus Honorum on the Right. I believe it gives significant insights into a building crisis of legitimacy in the democratic process on the Right.

Many will not know what I mean by Cursus Honorum, and if they do, may dispute that even it applies to American politics. I will explain the concept, argue for how it has historically been normative in the American political system, and then describe why I think current events are violating those norms, and what that may mean.

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