Category Archives: Elections

LWV Pros and Cons for Propositions 202 & 203, 204 and 406

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The role of social media propaganda in the rise of the Oligarchy

Jonathan Taplin, Director Emeritus of the Annenberg Innovation Lab at the University of Southern California, writes at the Political Animal blog, Why The 1 Percent Needs Google and Facebook:

When Charles Koch founded the Cato Institute in 1974, his mission (in words from Cato’s journal) was “protecting capitalism from government.” That meant the end of public education, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as cutting taxes on the rich and government regulations on business. It was a tall order—but now, for the first time in 44 years, Koch and his billionaire libertarian friends [now rivals] Robert Mercer and Peter Thiel are within sight of their goal of building a true oligarchy (Aristotle’s “rule by the rich”). The current Trump tax cut will deliver billions of dollars into the pockets of the Kochs, the Mercers, the Trumps, and their heirs. Creating a political economy in which the wealthy minority rule over the middle and lower class majority is a hard task. It requires mechanisms that suppress voting and mechanisms for propaganda that convince middle class voters that cultural divisions are more important than economic equality. In both these tasks, Google and Facebook have been a key to the success of the 1 percent.

The role of the internet in propaganda and voter suppression is a two-pronged attack. Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World foresaw our current dilemma—Huxley’s assertion was that technology would lead to passivity. The ease with which we could consume mind-numbing entertainment and distractions would ultimately rot our democracy [as bread and circuses did to the Roman Empire]. And this is exactly what may be happening. In the 2016 presidential election, 94 million citizens who were eligible to vote declined to exercise that privilege (compared to the 136 million who voted), according to the United States Election Project. And a much larger percentage of millennials are nonvoters. As Kevin Drum reported in Mother Jones, “In 1967 there was very little difference between the youngest and oldest voters. By 1987 a gap had opened up, and by 2014 that gap had become a chasm.” Beyond the extreme apathy, Republican legislatures in many states have instituted far more restrictive voter ID laws, which have also contributed to lower voting rates. But Steve Bannon wasn’t content to leave voter suppression to chance. One of his brilliant moves was to circulate memes on Facebook targeting only African American voters with the text: “Hillary Thinks African Americans are Super Predators.” By all accounts it was a successful voter suppression strategy.

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Follow the money: Robert and Rebekah Mercer

There has been a substantial amount of reporting in the past week or so on Stephen Bannon, the white nationalist crypto-fascist editor of Breitbart News and Trump adviserand his war on the GOP establishment.  At the entirely misappropriately named Values Voter Summit, Bannon declares ‘war’ on GOP establishment. He told Fox News’ propagandist Sean Hannity earlier in the week that he was declaring “war” on the Republican establishment.

The media mythologizing Bannon as the alt-right Svengali to Donald Trump is misplaced. Bannon would be “Stephen who?,” a political nobody, but for the “wingnut welfare” (the lavishly-funded ecosystem of right-wing billionaire-financed think tanks and media outlets) financial backing of far-right extremist billionaires Robert and Rebekah Mercer. Some say Bannon is their Svengali.

When the media focuses on the vicious barking dog, they ignore the owner holding the dog’s leash to the peril of the country. When the media reports on Stephen Bannon, it has an obligation to also report on Robert and Rebekkah Mercer in the same breath, exposing them to the bright light of public scrutiny that they seek to avoid.

Jane Mayer of the New Yorker did a deep-dive investigative report into The Reclusive Hedge-Fund Tycoon Behind the Trump Presidency back in March (excerpts):

People who know [Robert Mercer] say that he is painfully awkward socially, and rarely speaks. “He can barely look you in the eye when he talks,” an acquaintance said. “It’s probably helpful to be highly introverted when getting lost in code, but in politics you have to talk to people, in order to find out how the real world works.” In 2010, when the Wall Street Journal wrote about Mercer assuming a top role at Renaissance, he issued a terse statement: “I’m happy going through my life without saying anything to anybody.” According to the paper, he once told a colleague that he preferred the company of cats to humans.
Several people who have worked with Mercer believe that, despite his oddities, he has had surprising success in aligning the Republican Party, and consequently America, with his personal beliefs, and is now uniquely positioned to exert influence over the Trump Administration.

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AZ Daily Star endorses Democratic Councilman Steve Kozachik and Independent Gary Watson for City Council races

There are 2 contested races for Tucson City Council in Ward 3 and 6 on the General Election (Nov. 7, 2017) ballot.  The Arizona Daily Star endorsed Ward 6 Democratic Councilman Steve Kozachik, seeking his 3rd term.  And for Ward 3 the newspaper editorial board has endorsed political newcomer Gary Watson (I, former Republican) who is a Captain of a Northwest fire station and JTED instructor.  Read the endorsements here (page A8 print edition) :

http://tucson.com/opinion/local/star-opinion-steve-kozachik-and-gary-watson-for-tucson-city/article_16abbc2b-c3bd-5c8d-ac0b-1b2e368bbe1f.html

Ward 6 Councilman Steve Kozachik

Gary Watson

 

 

 

 

 

Ward 6 Councilman Kozachik is being challenged by Republican architect (political newcomer) Mariano Rodriguez and Green Party candidate Mike Cease (Chair of the Pima County Green Party)  who ran unsuccessfully for Pima County Recorder in Nov. 2016.

In Ward 3 the current Councilmember Karin Uhlich (D) is stepping down after 3 terms and retired attorney Democrat Paul Durham is running for that seat as well. In the August 2017 3-way Democratic primary, the AZ  Daily Star endorsed political newcomer Tom Tronsdal: http://blogforarizona.net/arizona-daily-star-endorses-businessman-tom-tronsdal-for-ward-3-council-seat/ (over Durham and Felicia Chew, also a political newcomer).

Ward 5 Councilman Richard Fimbres is also up for re-election to his 3rd term, but he is unopposed.

Vote wisely on or before Nov. 7, 2017. Mail-in-ballots went out on October 11, when early voting began. 3 polling places will be open on Nov. 7 (for drop off and provisional ballots).

 

General Election 2017: Watch Tucson City Council candidates on AZPM Metro Week

On October 13, AZPM Metro Week host Vanessa Barchfield interviewed candidates running for the Tucson City Council in  contested races in Wards 3 and 6.   In Ward 3 Democrat Paul Durham and Independent Gary Watson face off for the open seat; and incumbent (2 term) Councilmember Steve Kozachik is being challenged in Ward 6 –by Green Party candidate Mike Cease and Republican Mariano Rodriguez.  Both Ward 3 candidates and all 3 Ward 6 candidates met in studio with Ms. Barchfield.

View the Metro Week show here:

https://tv.azpm.org/metroweek/

Ward 5 Councilmember Richard Fimbres is also running for re-election, is unopposed, and thus was not interviewed.

Early voting began this week on October 11, the same day mail in ballots went out for the Nov. 7, 2017 General Election.

Five propositions are also on the ballot in Tucson:  Prop. 202 & 203 (proposed sales tax for Reid Park zoo), Prop. 204 (proposed sales tax for early childhood education), Prop. 406 (salary raises for the Mayor and 6 Councilmembers) and Prop. 458 (bonds for TUSD to be repaid by secondary property taxes).

Vote wisely on or before 11/7/17.

General Election 2017: Listen to Ward 3 Council candidates on Buckmaster show

Two candidates are vying for the open Ward 3 seat on the Tucson City Council. Democrat Paul Durham is a retired attorney and prevailed in the August Democratic primary over Felicia Chew and Tom Tronsdal. He will face off with Independent (former Republican) Gary Watson, Captain of a Northwest fire station.  There is no Republican or Green Party candidate in this Ward 3 race.

Paul Durham

Gary Watson

 

 

 

 

 

Both candidates were in a KVOI radio forum today, moderated by host Bill Buckmaster on 1030 AM on the dial.  Listen to the forum (click on link below), where they addressed their one big issue facing the City, the economy, education, renewal energy & solar, police & firefighter funding,  “bump stock” rifle banning, Prop. 204 Strong Start Tucson, Propositions for Reid Park Zoo, their choice/vote for US President in Nov. 2016,  listening to other opinions, plus closing statements.

http://www.buckmastershow.com/2017/10/11/buckmaster-show-10112017-ua-president-backs-troubled-basketball-program/

Ward 3 Councilmember Karin Uhlich is retiring after 3 terms (12 years) on the City Council.  She said at a SAAF (Southern Arizona Aids Foundation) farewell party last week to “vote for Paul.” Karin endorsed Felicia in the primary.

Campaign websites :

Paul Durham: https://www.paulforprogress.com/

Gary Watson:  https://www.watson4citycouncil.com/

Tonight  there is a League of Women Voters of Greater Tucson forum for all the City Council candidates running in Wards 3, 5, and 6 at the YWCA of Southern Arizona, 525 N. Bonita Ave., starting at 6 p.m.

Mail-in ballots also go out today and early voting has begun .  Vote wisely on or before 11/7/17.