Daily Archives: February 26, 2018

Voters Who Can’t (or Won’t) Think Critically + Unimaginable Greed + Corrupt Politicians = Mass Shootings and Tragic Deaths

American acceptance of gun violence seems a lot like the frog in the pot of boiling water. If the frequency of mass shootings went from 1960 levels to 2018 levels in one year, the reaction by the public and political leaders would have been swift and decisive.

Yet, somehow, a gradual rise in the same degree has taken place, with precious little pushback. Until, of course, clear-thinking high school students started to scream “enough.”

How could this be?

I submit there are three ingredients to the madness.

First, there’s the unmitigated greed of the gun industry and its trade association, the NRA. Gun industry executives and major shareholders by and large are not gun nuts. To them, it’s not really about “freedom” or some bastardized reading of the second amendment or a sick fetish for guns and ammunition. Rather, it’s about money, their love of it, and their willingness to place their avarice above all norms of human decency. They don’t go to shooting ranges on the weekend for the thrill of firing an assault weapon; they go to country clubs to play golf, then to high-end restaurants. Other than the source of their wealth — mass death and destruction — the major shareholders and C suite occupants of gun manufacturers are no different than their counterparts in other industries. And, make no mistake, the NRA represents the gun industry, not hunters and other gun owners. Continue reading

DACA program is in limbo in the courts after Congress fails to act, Supreme Court declines review

President Trump gave Congress until March 5, 2018 – next Monday – to enact legislation pertaining to the legal status of DREAMers after he ended President Obama’s DACA program by executive order last September.

Dara Lind at Vox.com explains, The Senate failed on immigration. Now a deadline looms for DACA.

The date March 5 looms over the immigration debate.

That’s the deadline that President Trump set last September when he announced that his administration was winding down the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protected young unauthorized immigrants from deportation and allowed them to work legally in the United States.

Politicians and the press have repeatedly cited March 5 as an “expiration date” of sorts to force Congress to finally find a solution for the 690,000 undocumented immigrants covered by the program.

But DACA recipients’ work permits don’t expire en masse on March 5.

The way the program actually works is far more complicated — and with it looking vanishingly unlikely that Congress will pass a bill before the March 5 “deadline,” understanding what DACA will look like after that date is more important than ever.

What March 5 means

The short answer is: not a ton.

The way some people talk about the March 5 “expiration,” you’d be forgiven for thinking that the hundreds of thousands of unauthorized immigrants protected under DACA will all lose their protections after that date — or, worse, that they’ll all be rounded up for deportation. But that’s not the case.

Continue reading

Marijuana to Bump Stocks to Tax Giveaways: How Did your #AZHouse Rep Vote?

Arizona House Democrats

There have been many lively debates in the Arizona House in 2018. This team of House Democrats fought for consumer protections and fought against risky financial deals in a “regulatory sandbox.” (Pictured are Reps. Mitzi Epstein, Kelli Butler, Athena Salman, Pamela Powers Hannley, Ken Clark and Isela Blanc.)

In the middle of each Legislative Session, there is a frenetic time period called “crossover week”. It is characterized by a flurry of debates and votes in a compressed timeframe. The purpose is to pass on as many wacky bills as possible in each chamber of the Legislature before successful bills are passed to the other chamber. (Hence, the name “crossover week”).

In the last two weeks, the Arizona House has voted on more than 100 bills. I think the House is up to ~250 bills that we have sent to the Senate. Of course, this list includes the good, the bad and the ugly. Below the fold are a few of the recent votes on gun violence, tax giveaways, mandatory sentencing, and drugs. All of these bills are still alive and have been sent to the Arizona Senate. If you don’t like these bills, tell your Senators and Representatives. (On the voting below, green = yes, red = no, purple = excused absence, yellow = absent.)

Continue reading

Ann Kirkpatrick is Front Runner at Candidates Forum for Tucson’s Congressman

https://blogforarizona.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/02/candidates.jpg

Tucson congressional candidates Mary Matiella, Matt Heinz, Barbara Sherry, Bruce Wheeler, Ann Kirkpatrick and Bill Kovacs unanimously raise their hands in favor of supporting renewable energy.

Former Congressman Ann Kirkpatrick emerged as the Democratic candidate with the best chance to be elected to Congress in Tucson at a candidates forum watched by 400 people Sunday in Green Valley.

I’ve studied and met all the candidates and heard them three times at previous candidate forums. My conclusion is that Kirkpatrick has the Congressional experience, common-sense positions, and key political backing to beat the upcoming river of poisonous money from the Koch brothers during this year’s elections.

The Democrat who wins the August 28 primary will likely oppose Lea Márquez-Peterson, a Republican who is closely linked to Kochbot Gov. Doug Ducey. She operates several Hispanic chambers of commerce and is noted for her business bankruptcies.

Knows the job & has support

Kirkpatrick knows the job, having served in Congress from 2013 to 2017 in northern Arizona. Impressively, she has raised a record $750,000 in the campaign’s first five months, with $465,000 cash on hand. She has the endorsement of former Congress members Gabby Giffords and Ron Barber, and she has the backing of the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

She disagreed with all the other candidates on the subject of Medicare for All, an idea that Progressives cheer but which has no known funding source. “I don’t support Medicare for all in a single-payer system because I don’t see a way to pay for it all,” she said, noting that 140 million people already get health insurance from their employers. However, she said people should be able to buy into Medicare especially when there is no reasonable option to get health insurance under the Affordable Care Act.

Regarding gun safety, Kirkpatrick says she has changed her position. Nine years ago she had an “A” rating from the NRA, but in 2016 she was given a “D” rating by the gun lobby. Continue reading

Plutocrats, free-riders, and the GOP war on organized labor (and the Democratic Party) in the Supreme Court today

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral argument today in Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, Council 31, the third attempt by wealthy anti-labor interests to overrule Abood v. Detroit Board of Education (1977), and public-sector “agency shop” arrangements under the First Amendment.

Amy Howe at SCOTUSblog has the history and legal posture of this case in Argument preview: For the third time, justices take on union-fee issue:

In 1977, in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruled that government employees like Janus who do not belong to a union can be required to pay a fee – often known as a “fair share” or “agency” fee – to cover the union’s costs to negotiate a contract that applies to all public employees, including those who are not union members. The justices reasoned then that allowing the fees would help to avoid both labor strife and the prospect that nonmembers could be “free-riders” who benefit from the union’s collective bargaining efforts without having to pay for them.

But in recent years, conservative think tanks proposing expansive (novel) interpretations of the First Amendment well beyond the original meaning and purpose intended by the Founding Fathers, financed by conservative billionaires, are using the First Amendment in much the same way they used “substantive due process” during the Lochner era (circa 1897–1937) to strike down minimum wage and labor laws to protect “freedom of contract.” While the Lochner era approach has long since been discredited and abandoned by the court, the right-wing keeps trying to bring it back and to revive it. See George Will, Why liberals fear the ‘Lochner’ decision (2011).

An example of this is the Illinois Policy Institute, one prong of a broader campaign against public-sector unions, backed by some of the biggest donors on the right. Behind a Key Anti-Labor Case, a Web of Conservative Donors:

It is an effort that will reach its apex on Monday, when the Supreme Court hears a case that could cripple public-sector unions by allowing the workers they represent to avoid paying fees.

Continue reading