ScreenshotFirst, an aside. The local Tucson media is pretty much stenographers who rehash the press releases they receive from the campaigns, and maybe get a quote from the campaign spokesperson who sent them the press release. What is typically missing from their reporting is any pressing question(s) to “the candidate” from the reporter.

For a classic example of this stenographic style of reporting, see today’s Arizona Daily Star. Pay-gap controversy fuels scrap after article by Barber (sorry Joe, but no, duelling press releases to local reporters do not constitute “a fever pitch.” I guarantee you that very few Southern Arizonans know, or even much care about a ridiculous press release from the NRCC that you are shilling for your former Star colleague Daniel Scarpinato, who is now at the NRCC.)


The only real political reporter we have left in Southern Arizona is Jim Nintzel at the Tucson Weekly. The fake reporters in the local Tucson media couldn’t hold his jock strap. Jim Nintzel actually asks “the candidate” questions, and when that candidate says something ridiculous, as Tea-Publican candidate Martha McSally is wont to do, Nintzel will tell the candidate so and press the candidate for a substantive response.

For example, last week I posted about McSally’s non-responsive answer to the Arizona Republic about the Paul Ryan Budget. The Arizona Republic asks Martha McSally a question, does not get a substantive response. McSally made the ridiculous statement that “I will not support any budget that does not include specific language funding the A-10.” The Republic dutifully reported her statement like a good stenographer.

Jim Nintzel, on the other hand, wrote in his feature column last week, Budget Battle | Currents Feature:

McSally said last week that she would not have voted to support the GOP budget resolution this year.

But she did not cite the issues surrounding changes to the Medicare program as the reason, although she said last week that she “had concerns” about changing the basic structure of Medicare.

Asked point-blank whether she’d vote to oppose those changes to Medicare, McSally sidestepped the question and instead focused on the future of the A-10 combat jet, which is slated for retirement by the Pentagon.

McSally said that because the A-10 is not included in the GOP’s budget resolution, she would not have voted for it.

Screenshot from 2014-04-19 09:46:19“I do not support any budget that does not include the A-10,” said McSally, a former A-10 squadron leader who has been persistent in her criticism of Barber for being “asleep at the switch” when it came to protecting the jet’s mission, especially with Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.

But the budget resolution passed by GOP lawmakers doesn’t reference any specific weapons programs; it’s a general statement of principles. When the Weekly pointed out to McSally that no specific weapons systems are mentioned in the document, she said simply: “There can be.” Then she moved away and refused to answer any more questions.

The Weekly later asked Team McSally deputy campaign manager Kristen Douglas via email if McSally would vote against all budget resolutions until GOP leaders changed the nature of the document.

* * *

Douglas conceded that including language to save the A-10 in a budget resolution was “not common but not implausible” and noted the budget resolution did include a call to maintain at least 11 aircraft carriers.

“It could happen” is not a substantive response, and indicates that McSally is ill-prepared and not knowledgeable about the budget process, the primary function of Congress. The cavalier “who cares?” attitude she conveys should disturb voters.

Today Jim Nintzel trips up “the candidate” on the budget again in his The Skinny column:

The Ryan budget plan recently passed by the House of Representatives calls for the nationwide repeal of the Medicaid expansion and proposes to replace federal standards for Medicaid with block grants to states, which could then determine their own standards for providing health care to low-income residents.

Barber backed Gov. Brewer’s decision to push for the expansion. In general, Barber supports the Medicaid expansion that was part of the Affordable Care Act, although he also—like every other politician in the country—opposes waste, fraud and abuse in the system, according to Barber campaign spokeswoman Ashley Nash-Hahn, who noted legislation that Barber has supported to reduce those problems.

McSally told the Weekly a few months ago that the Medicaid expansion was a state issue that she didn’t think she should weigh in on.

But the issue is linked to McSally’s promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, given that scrapping Obamacare would mean those federal dollars attached to the [Medicaid] expansion would go away.

McSally said she was “not a big fan of Medicaid. I just think there are other ways to help people who are seriously in need … You can just give people a subsidy, for crying out loud. Let them go buy their own health insurance.”

That’s actually what the Affordable Care Act does for people who make too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but McSally also wants to repeal that portion of the Affordable Care Act. While she has committed to repeal of the ACA, she has yet to put forward a plan for replacement, other than to say that the popular parts of the Affordable Care Act (such as protections for people with pre-existing conditions or allowing kids to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they reach age 26) should be part of any replacement strategy and unpopular elements (such as the mandate to purchase health insurance) should be done away with.

McSally said she didn’t like Medicaid because it’s a “government-run program that has not shown itself to be incredible effective.”* She prefers allowing the private sector to provide a solution.

But Arizona actually doesn’t do a traditional Medicaid program. Instead, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, or AHCCCS, contracts with private health insurers to provide health coverage to low-income Arizonans. Reminded of Arizona’s innovative program, which is often held up as a model for the nation, McSally said she was not an expert on healthcare policy and suggested the best way to solve the problem of providing low-income Arizonans with health coverage was to ensure that there were no low-income Arizonans.

“We need to do the best we can to help people find better jobs so they can actually afford their health care while we try to bring the costs down,” McSally said. “We need to have thoughtful solutions.”

McSally’s ignorance about Medicaid (AHCCCS) would be laughable if it wer not disturbing. She clearly supports taking access to medical care away from hundreds of thousands of Arizonans who now have it thanks to “ObamaCare,” and replace it . . .  with what exactly? This clueless candidate does not have an answer.

McSally says “we need to ensure that there [are] no low-income Arizonans?” I don’t think she intended this to be eliminationist rhetoric, but it certainly can be interpreted that way. This is the GOP health care plan: “perhaps they should die and decrease the surplus population.”

Arizona has long been among the poorest states in the nation (Google it). This is largely due to GOP economic policies in a GOP-dominated Arizona legislature. McSally’s “thoughtful solution” is to “help people find better jobs” that do not exist in Arizona? This is non-responsive, and is either naive or delusional.

I have said for some time “it is painfully obvious that Martha McSally is a vacuous candidate who does not know enough about any subject to offer a thoughtful and detailed explanation of her positions. So she continues to hide in the bunker and refuses to offer any detailed explanations of her positions.” McSally knows little about the job which she seeks, and is too intellectually incurious and lazy to learn anything about it.

There is no “there” there. McSally is unfit to be a candidate for Congress.

Is it too much to expect that reporters do their job the way that Jim Nintzel does? Show some professionalism.

* The Arizona Republic’s AZFactCheck recently looked into McSally’s claim that the mandates and regulations under the federal Affordable Care Act constitute a government takeover of one-sixth of the U.S. economy. The issue: Candidate Martha McSally’s comments about ‘Obamacare’. AZFactCheck rated her claim “misleading” after noting that PolitiFact declared references to a “government takeover” of health care was its “2010 Lie of the Year.” Yeah, I’m going with lie of the year.