Category Archives: Commentary

Inauguration Day

As the Hemingway of Twitter, Donald J. Trump, would tweet: “So true . . . SAD!

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Deference to the Founding Fathers: Need It Be Blind?

We Americans revere the founding fathers and instinctively defer to them.

Should we?

At best, the founding fathers were a group of really smart guys (literally, mind you, as no women were included). At worst, they were self-interested aristocrats who sought to create a system that would perpetuate their position (and that of their descendants) in American society.

They were not omniscient.

Their foresight was limited.

Expressions that justify half-assed legislation, such as “politics is the art of the possible” and “never let the perfect get in the way of the good,” all applied to the negotiation of the Constitution. Many, many compromises were required to reach a final product. Which means some of the Constitution’s provisions represent a least common denominator, rather than pearls of wisdom. Case in point: The three-fifths compromise.

Which means when you find yourself deferring to the wisdom of the founding fathers, you need to ask yourself if you’re just being intellectually lazy as a means of justifying the result you like, but can’t otherwise justify.

So it is with the current debate regarding the electoral college, which involves two distinct, yet often conflated, questions: Continue reading

Arizona Legislature – The coming week

By Craig McDermott, crossposted from Random Musings

They lege has “improved” its website, making it considerably more user-unfriendly.  As such, the format of this post may change over time as I figure out the best way to utilize the new website.

Notes:


All committees meetings and agendas are subject to change without notice, and frequently do.  If you plan to travel to the Capitol to observe or weigh in on the consideration of a particular measure, check with the lege ahead of time to confirm that the meeting that you are interested in is still on schedule and your item(s) of interest is still on the agenda for that meeting.


Meeting rooms designated “HHR” are in the House of Representatives building. Meeting rooms designated “SHR” are in the Senate building. 

When the phrase “looks harmless” is used, it only means that any harm to AZ that would be wrought by the bills on the agenda isn’t apparent to me as of this writing.  However, if you notice any nuggets of ugly that I miss, please leave a comment that makes me and other readers aware of the situation.

Most bills are assigned to at least two committees – one standing committee and the chambers’ rules committees.  A few are assigned to more than that because they cover areas that fall under the jurisdiction of more than one standing committee.  A select few are assigned to three or more standing committees.  That’s the way that a chamber’s leadership tells it membership that it doesn’t want a particular bill to pass.

Because of the MLK holiday, many of the committees that meet on Mondays will not meet this week or will meet on days other than Monday.

House side –

Appropriations – Tuesday, 9 a.m., HHR1.  House Appropriations and Senate Appropriation will be holding a joint meeting to receive thgovernor‘s 2017 budget proposal.

Continue reading

Brotherhood of Decents: Will Enough of Us Follow Them?

An often applied litmus test for a politician is if he or she is “someone we’d want to have a beer with”?

On my Facebook feed, my “friends” proudly post pictures of themselves from “grip and grins” with politicians and other celebrities.

When we seek guidance from opinion makers, many of us turn to the highly paid talking heads on television or the journalists with regular columns in the major newspapers.

I wish it were otherwise. I’ll never trust the politicians, talking heads, and syndicated columnists to lead us in the right direction. Sometimes, I don’t trust their intentions. Sometimes, I don’t trust their intellect. Other times, it’s their judgment. So the size of the crowds following their lead is discomforting, to say the least. I know they never will lead us to a good place.

Which means I’m not interested in joining them for a beer or having my photo taken with them. I will watch them yak on television and read their columns. That’s out of necessity. I don’t see any other way to stay abreast of the information that is shaping public opinion. But does it shape my opinion? Hardly.

Are there influencers out there whom I respect? Absolutely. Continue reading

2017 AZ Lege: Heads up – the train’s a comin’

By Craig McDermott, crossposted from Random Musings

This post is an information post with almost no “commentary” (but me being who I am, there may be one or two instances of wiseass-ery 🙂 ).

Scheduled start: January 9, 2017 (tomorrow, as I write this)

 

Approximate end: Third full week of April (“approximate” because while the 100th day of the session will fall during that week, and 100 days is the unofficial target for the length of a legislative session, 100 days is *not* a requirement).

Leadership:

House –

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Speaker – JD Mesnard.  Previously: David Gowan (ran for Congress, lost in primary)

Majority Leader – John Allen.  Previously: Steve Montenegro (elected to state senate)

Majority Whip – Kelly Townsend.  Previously: David Livingston (reelected to the state house, but no longer part of leadership; not sure why)

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Minority Leader – Rebecca Rios.  Previously: Eric Meyer (ran for state senate, lost a close race)

Assistant Minority Leader – Randy Friese.  Previously: Bruce Wheeler (did not run for reelection)

Minority Whip – Charlene Fernandez.  Previously: Rebecca Rios (now minority leader)

Senate –

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President – Steve Yarbrough.  Previously: Andy Biggs (elected to Congress)

Majority Leader – Kimberly Yee.  Previously: Steve Yarbrough (now senate president)

Majority Whip – Gail Griffin. Previously: Griffin

President Pro Tempore – Debbie Lesko.  Previously: Sylvia Allen (reelected to the state senate, but no longer part of leadership; not sure why)

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Minority Leader: Katie Hobbs.  Previously: Hobbs

Assistant Minority Leader: Steve Farley.  Previously: Farley

Minority Whip: Martin Quezada,  Previously: Quezada

Minority Whip: Lupe Contreras.  Previously: Contreras

First bill: SB1001, from State Senator John Kavanagh.  In a rare (rare for Arizona legislative Republicans, anyway) “good government” proposal.  If enacted, it would protect from civil liability a person who breaks into an unattended vehicle in order to rescue a minor or a domestic animal. Continue reading

The New Fourth Estate

Cross-posted from RestoreReason.com.

I recently read that today’s youth can’t determine whether or not a story is factual or fictional. Some of this no doubt is because there is just too much information available and there is no consequence of disseminating false information. I had an interesting conversation with a smart, older millennial recently and she didn’t know the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) once required holders of broadcast licenses to present controversial issues of public importance in a manner that was honest, equitable and balanced. The policy was called the Fairness Doctrine and its intent was to ensure viewers were exposed to a diversity of viewpoints. The FCC eliminated the Doctrine in 1987 and some believe its demise played a role in an increased level of party polarization.

Fast forward to 2016. We now have a President-Elect who tells outrageous falsehoods, (on TV no less), and then claims he didn’t say them. We have his surrogates who lied repeatedly during his campaign and continue to do so. We have Scottie Nell Hughes, Trump supporter and CNN commentator, who recently said “There’s no such thing, unfortunately, anymore of facts.” (Evidently, there’s no such thing as proper grammar either.) She followed that outrageous comment with “people believe they have the facts to back that [Trump’s tweets] up.” WHAAAAAAAT? No. Believing you have facts is not the same as well…ACTUALLY HAVING THE FREAKIN’ FACTS!!! Continue reading