Category 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 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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Live Blogging Election Results

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In an hour, the polls will close. The big question is: Will dark money from the Koch Brothers and their multinational corporate brothers win or will the people win? Will millions of dollars — more than $25 million to buy each Senate seat for Republicans and more than $15 million in Arizona for Republicans — take this election? Or will the “little guy” (as my Mom would say) win?

Watch this post on Blog for Arizona as we fan out and cover the elections. Most of the bloggers here volunteered their time today to win this election for the people, for the Democratic Party, the party of “the little guy”. Tonight we will be working (actually volunteering) to give you interesting tidbits and photos from the parties and results as they come in.

Look for comments to this post and look for other stories later as results come in. On Facebook and Twitter look for Tweets and photos from @P2Hannley, @Good4AZ, @Bad4AZ, and @BlogForArizona. (Tweets are below for those of you not on Twitter.)

According to the Pima County Democratic Party, local Dem volunteers have made more phone calls and knocked on more doors than anyone else in the US. Since October 1, Pima Dems volunteers have made 80,000 phone calls and led the nation in door-to-door canvassing. This is something we can be proud of. (So, why is the national media ignoring Arizona?) From the Dems…

Since October 1, Pima County has led the way in Southern Arizona with a record-breaking 80,000 phone calls and we led the NATION in canvassing with 80,000 door knocks. We have out-planned, out-paced and out-worked our competition in every measurable way and we have you to thank for that. From food donations to lit drops to sign installations, it has been a team effort— start to finish.

We may not win every race, but as members of the Pima County Democratic Party we can hold our head up high with the knowledge that we gave it our all. Our cause is just, our goals are worthwhile and the arc of History bends toward progress. We will prevail because we will persist.

It is great to be a Democrat.

Look for live blog the election results here tonight at Blog for Arizona. The bloggers will post comments to this post which will stay at the top of the blog. Follow the comments to this post for updates of resuls.

Arizona early ballot counts will be posted after 8:00 p.m.

Terrifying GOP Hypocrisy for Halloween

By Michael Bryan

For Halloween this year, my high-propensity voter wife, Lauren, got a creepy mailer about ‘scary’ Congressman Ron Barber. You might think that some ultra-left wing group had sent this message because the ‘scary’ thing noted about Barber was his alleged vote “for” the “terrifying Ryan budget”.

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But you would be wrong. This electoral trick was courtesy of the Arizona Republican Party.

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Now why would the AZGOP want to warn solid Democratic voters like my wife that Ron Barber voted for the Ryan budget? Is it because they opposed the Ryan budget? Not that I noticed. Could it be because they want Democrat to support their candidate Martha McSally, who simply refuses to say clearly whether she would have supported the Ryan budget, but almost certainly would have? They don’t say that.

Rather, they ask my wife to “Vote Against Ron Barber.” on election day. How can my wife do that, given that she sure as hell is not voting for Martha McSally? Well, stay home and don’t vote, of course. I guess they didn’t chase the early ballots very carefully, as we long ago voted early by mail and are on the PEVL.

Regardless of it’s political malpractice level of ineptness, this mailer is a blatant example of voter demotivation and bone-deep political hypocrisy. If you can’t get Democrats to vote for your terrible candidate, get them to be so disgusted with the Democrat that they stay home rather than vote. This mailer would be an excellent teaching tool for a Voter Suppression 101 case study on how to do it poorly.

Well, at least now the AZGOP is on record as saying the Ryan budget is “terrifying” and “bone-chilling” and that its effect would have been “hair-raising for Arizona.” That should be useful to any Arizona Democratic candidate worth the name in future debates. “Sir or Madame, do you agree with the AZ GOP [hold up the mailer] that the Ryan budget was terrifying for Arizona in that it would have cut veterans pensions, put food assistance to millions of Americans on the chopping block, jeopardized Medicare and Social Security benefits, and denied unemployment benefits for those who needed it most? Would you support those policies in future budgets?”

Thanks for denigrating your own party’ policies on the record AZGOP! I suppose that’s a Halloween treat.