Category Archives: Commentary

Back to the McCarthy Era for Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas

If teachers walk off the job on Thursday, April 26, Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas warned that “there may be investigations” if complaints come into the Department of Education. Furthermore, if the courts deem the walkout a “strike,” Douglas cautioned that teacher certifications may be revoked and censure notices placed on an instructor’s permanent record.

In an interview with Channel Three Arizona Family News (link below), Superintendent Douglas relayed that she is in favor of more money for education and increased salaries for instructors and support staff. She appeared receptive to ideas ranging from local governing boards setting local district salaries to education budget increases being placed as ballot initiatives.http://www.azfamily.com/clip/14295201/raw-video-diane-douglas-discusses-planned-teacher-walkout

However, Douglas urged teachers not to walk out on Thursday and suggested that they continue negotiations with the Governor and legislature, especially because there are proposals to bargain over. Furthermore, she pointed out that students with free and reduced lunch and special needs may suffer if a walkout occurs. Finally, Douglas intimated that instructors may themselves be blacklisted, have their certificates revoked, or be ostracized from future employment if complaints from the community to the department were processed.

That portion of the interview with Superintendent Douglas threatening potential reprisals against instructors shows an attitude that this country has not seen publicly since the McCarthy Era when many were blacklisted for their real or imagined beliefs. That attitude should not be ingrained in the public servants of our state or country in the year 2018. Fortunately, there are two Progressive Democrats (Kathy Hoffman and David Schapira)  just waiting for a chance, after one of them earns their party’s nomination, to replace her after the November elections.

Teachers do not want to walk out. Teachers want to educate and shape children’s hearts and minds. However, they cannot do it effectively when their salaries rank near the bottom of the country. They cannot do it passionately when they sometimes have to work a second job to put food on their table. They cannot do it competently when they are not provided the modern resources to do the job well.

This is about what is right for the children. It is a step in the right direction to make sure that the people who are responsible for them eight hours a day or longer are properly provided for. Making sure our schools are safe and provide all the features of Twenty-First Century culture and technology is another. The Superintendent and Governor are not going to get there by making idle threats or catering to the conservative whims of their alt right-reactionary sponsors who feel the McCarthy Era was “The Good Ole Days.” It is time to properly fund our schools, compensate our instructors and support staff, and prepare our children for tomorrow.

Van Jones Says Democrats and Progressives need to work on Winning and Not Take Anything for Granted.

Van Jones

CNN commentator and author Van Jones said that for Democrats and Progressives to win elections, they cannot just sit and wait for the people to follow them because the masses agree with them on the issues or because most agree that President Trump is unfit to serve. Instead, they need to speak out and make their views known and remain continually persistent and vigilant for the causes they believe in.

He spoke at the Fifth Annual Lecture Series on Delivering Democracy at the Fourteenth Street Pilgrim Rest Baptist church in Phoenix.

Jones said that Democrats and Progressives also can not take any group for granted. The poor white person in Appalachia wants the same life for their kids like the poor black person in the projects. People who believe in God also believe in helping the needy and oppressed. Democrats and Progressives would be wise to reconnect with these groups they have forgotten. If Democrats and Progressives can do all of these things (and it should not be a heavy lift), Progressives and Democrats will have a lot to celebrate after the next few election cycles as long as they remember that they can never stop being proactive and fight to move the country forward.

The lecture was sponsored by the Arizona State University Center for Race and Democracy and hosted by the congregation of Pilgrim Rest Baptist Church Ministries. Jones is a community and environmental activist, and former White House Aide to President Obama, and he offered his views on bringing different races, classes, and the religious and secular worlds in our country together.

At a packed Church hall, the congregants gathered for the fifth year to hear Van Jones’ views on Race and Democracy. Many still remembered the contributions of their late Pastor, Bishop Alexis Thomas, and progressive (both secular and religious) activists from organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, East Valley NACCP, The Pat Tillman’s Veterans Center, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, Red for Ed, and Outlawing Dirty Money (an irony because one of the sponsors of the event is APS)

After an excellent performance by the church choir and music group, the event started with the pivotal question, broadcast on a video “What is Democracy?” Following several varying answers from respondents on the video, the key message is that Democracy is the “responsibility of the people” to maintain.

Dr. Stanlie James, the Vice Provost for Inclusion and Community Engagement, echoed this sentiment by relaying the current issues our countries citizens’ face such as the incident with two African American patrons at a Philadelphia Starbucks (Mr. Jones would later ask in his presentation why the police did not arrest the person that made the erroneous/false complaint) or the rising mortality rate of African American Mothers in a “First World Country.” Calling the Center on Race and Democracy “an oasis in the desert” where these issues can be discussed, she cited support from the Obamas as proof that this center is doing good works.

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The Worst and the Dumbest in the Trump Administration

David Halberstam once wrote a book about the Kennedy and Johnson men called The Best and the Brightest. The theme of that book was despite the qualifications and acclaim these public servants had earned before and during most of their White House Service, most still offered the Presidents poor advice on how to handle the war in Vietnam.

Now if most of the people regarded as the best and the brightest at that time helped lead this country into one of the worst foreign and military policy periods in our countries history, imagine what the President’s aides, probably some of the worst and dumbest to serve, can do to us.

Saturday Night Live actually captured the problem with a segment (link below) with actor Bryan Cranston, reprising his role of Walter White from “Breaking Bad,” becoming the nominee to head the Drug Enforcement Agency (D.E.A.) illustrating that the Administration’s goal to put people who oppose these departments at the head of them.

It has become so bad with the Trump choices that most sane people are scared if Jeff “I never met an immigrant I liked” Sessions resigns as the Attorney General. Just who are among this cast of incompetents in or headed to the Trump Administration.

Betsy DeVos

This ultra-rightwing fanatic became our Secretary of Education despite promoting policies such as vouchers so religious schools can be partially subsidized with public monies. Since becoming the Secretary of Education (after a less than stellar performance at her confirmation hearings where she thought guns were needed in some schools to fight off grizzlies), she has been a champion for student loan companies who want to make the industry more profitable for them.

DeVos has also turned off people with her inattention to special education and civil rights. Walking out of a question and answer session with the Parkland High Students was not helpful either With no background in any sphere of public education, one has to ask, what is she doing there if not to undermine public education?

Scott Pruitt

Not a week goes by when there is not some controversy involving Scott Pruitt, the former anti-Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A) Oklahoma Attorney General who, wait for it, became the head of the E.P.A.  Pruitt has fashioned himself as a cross between a Sun King and a mob figure between not allowing scientists to speak their mind about the environment, making environmental rules and regulations more business-friendly and wasting public monies on first-class travel (to avoid contact with the people), installing a new “Bat Phone-Cone of Silence” communication system, and increased security detail that most other cabinet heads do not get.

This is all while he had a very nice residential rental arrangement courtesy of lobbyists whose pipeline expansion he approved. Finally, his arrogant behavior displayed when he asks his motor entourage to blast sirens so he can arrive at events quicker make people wonder if Scottie needs to be beamed out of the E.P.A. at the earliest opportunity.

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GOP Strategist Says Republicans May Lose in Races Across Arizona

Republican Strategist Sam Stone

Republican Strategist Sam Stone

Speaking on KVOI radio 1030 in Tucson, Republican strategist Sam Stone says there may be statewide losses for Republican candidates in the mid-term elections.

“I do think we’re heading into something of a [blue] wave. … If you’re in Wisconsin and other states, Democrats have been undervoting in the last three cycles now and they’re going to come out, absolutely. The question is, are Republicans? So far, the answer in the special elections has been ‘no.’ We’re fat and happy with the presidency,” he said. 

Stone is Chief of staff of Republican City Councilman Sal DiCiccio in Phoenix and a former campaign advisor to Martha McSally. He was interviewed on the John C. Scott political forum, which is now on the radio Saturdays 4 to 6 pm.

Asked if there will be a “blue wave” in Arizona, he said, “potentially a little bit.” He said Democrats may win the races for Secretary of State and Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The race for in Tucson’s CD2

He foresees a Republican defeat in Tucson’s Congressional District 2, even as he sneered, “the Democratic bench that is running in CD2 is pretty pathetically weak. You’ve got a carpetbagger and a bunch of people who Lea Marquez Peterson would normally slaughter. Whoever comes out of that may well win that race.”

The leading Republican contender is Lea Marquez-Peterson, the CEO of several Hispanic chambers of commerce and owner of bankrupt gas stations. See Fear Dominates Secret Tucson GOP CD 2 Congressional Candidate Forum.

Though people disagree, former congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick is seen as the Democratic front-runner in a primary contest with Mary Matiella, Billy Kovacs, Bruce Wheeler, Matt Heinz, Babara Sherry and others.

Stone said president Trump’s “waned popularity” is a problem for Marquez-Peterson. “Lea has the advantage of clarity that didn’t exist for Martha McSally in the last three years. … The electorate that first elected Martha McSally [in 2014], both in both the Republican primary and general election, is not the electorate that is enamored of Trump. You can run away from him. The electorate that is enamored of him is about 40% of the Republican primary base. She [Marquez-Peterson] has a relatively open primary, she really is not contested very much. So for her, doesn’t need to stray into Trump territory.”

President Trump’s base is “30% of the Republican primary base, and it incredibly strong with him. The rest of the folks who went along [with Trump] voted against Hillary Clinton and for Neil Gorsuch and for a conservative majority supreme court. If he continues to ignore and really inflame larger swaths of the country, those folks aren’t necessarily with him, that voted for him,” Stone said.

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50th Anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Updated)

1968 was a most awful, horrible, tragic year that left its events forever seared in my memories. I can still recall those events as if they occurred only yesterday. The sense of shock, loss and grief are revived and felt anew on days like today.

On April 3, 1968, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his last speech in Memphis, Tennessee, his now famous I’ve Been to the Mountaintop speech, in which Dr. King recalled a previous assassination attempt on his life that almost took his life, and the current threats to his life for coming to Memphis in support of a sanitation workers strike. His closing remarks proved to be prophetic:

Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it really doesn’t matter with me now, because I’ve been to the mountaintop.

And I don’t mind.

Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the Promised Land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land!

And so I’m happy, tonight.

I’m not worried about anything.

I’m not fearing any man!

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!!

At 6:01 p.m. on April 4, 1968, Dr. King was assassinated on the steps of his motel room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. The “breaking news” reports of his assassination on the network television news resulted in angry riots breaking out in American cities across the country.

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For Love of The Game: Opening Day 2018

The long winter of our discontent has finally come to an end with the start of the 2018 Major League Baseball season.

Today is Opening Day, otherwise known as the most beautiful phrase in the English language, with a full slate of games scheduled.

For the first time in decades, Major League Baseball is returning to tradition. All 30 teams will open the season on the same Opening Day: That’s right, a true Opening Day — i.e., no night-before game or an overseas contest to start things off — and that hasn’t happened since 1968. If you’re an Opening Day traditionalist, then this should be welcome news. Also, this is the earliest the MLB season has ever opened.

There has been something of a trend developing over the past couple of seasons. The Chicago Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years in 2016. The Houston Astros won their first World Series in their 52 year franchise history in 2017 (even longer if you count the predecessor Colt .45’s).

The Cleveland Indians have the current longest World Series Championship drought, 69 years (1948), and there are five expansion teams that have never won a World Series: Texas Rangers (57 years), Milwaukee Brewers (49 years), San Diego Padres (49 years), Washington Nationals (formerly Montreal Expos) (49 years), and Seattle Mariners (41 years). If the trend continues, one of these teams may break their World Series drought this season.

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