In the flurry of news and opinion gusting out of our computer screens and smart phones, it is easy to become 'news blind' - so focused on the flakes and flurries that we forget where we are headed. We stumble confusedly ahead with no map to our destination. It's easy to get lost in the storm.
I personally read almost every news source in Arizona - and keep up with national reaction to our politics, as well - in bringing to readers of BlogForArizona the Arizona Donkey Feed, which appears on our right-hand sidebar every day (you may also have the Feed emailed to you daily). So I, too, often find myself in that blizzard without a map.
I decided I might like to sit down once a week and take some time to look around, and identify what I think are the most significant landmarks around where we stand now. It might not be a map that will tell us where we are headed, but maybe I can get some idea of where we are. Over time, perhaps it will become a map of sorts. You can even look back to all the editorials I have done so far, which isn't that many, yet...
I would also like to let you all know that Cam Juarez, candidate for Tucson Unified School Board, will be guest-host at Drinking Liberally in Tucson. Come down to the Shanty of 4th Avenue this Wednesday at 6pm and enjoy a beer with Cam.
This week, I write about:
An excellent peice of must-see political television presided over by Jim Nintzel,
The Chik-Fil-A culture war comes home to Arizona,
Brewer's decision on Medicaid expansion will be a matter of life and death for Arizonans, and
The Best New Thing in Arizona Politics has something to do with Ben Quayle...
See it all after the click...
As primary PEVL ballots drop around the state this week, many of us will be making our decisions about party primaries. Our choices reflect not only our opinion on who the strongest candidates for the General Election might be, but also say something about what we want our Parties to stand for.
Perhaps the most compelling political discussion on that topic occured this week on Kim Nintzel's Arizona Illustrated Roundtable. The discussion presented some very good information on who is winning and who is losing in Arizona, but also highlighted Tucson Councilman Steve Kozachik's stong disagreement with Tea Partier Trent Humphries over the direction of the GOP in Arizona. It is really some of the most compelling political television I've seen in a while. Great job, Jim! I strongly recommend watching:
Chik-Fil-A controversy and hypocrisy comes to Tucson.
Tucsonan Adam Smith got his junk caught in the gears of the Chik-Fil-A culture war when he recorded and posted his confrontation with a local Chik-Fil-A employee. Smith was ultimately dismissed from his job as CFO of Vante as a result of the ensuing controversy.
Here's the original video:
As a trial attorney, I could tell right off the bat that no matter how correct Smith's views of the corporation might be, this was not going to end well for him. Juries (including the jury of public opinion) hate a bully. Smith's rant comes off not as striking a blow against a hate-mongering corporation, but as bullying an innocent employee. If Smith had walked into the restaurant and simply filmed himself making similar statements to the camera, he would have been fine. When he directed his opinion at a polite and completely innocent employee, he fucked up. Suddenly, he was the bad guy, not Chik-Fil-A.
The story blew up online and in local news coverage:The resulting mess even got coverage internationally, as demonstrated by this English article. There were hundreds of thousands of views on Smith's original video and hundreds of mostly abusive comments.
To his great credit, Smith had the class and guts to issue a public apology to the Chik-Fil-A employee he berated, even after his own life had been pulled apart by the resulting firestorm:
What is most interesting to me about this whole ordeal is Smith's experience at work following the incident, which he speaks about in the above video starting at about 2:15. Smith relates that he learned that his company had received hundreds of irate and threatening voicemails, and even threats against other Vante employees, as a result of his video. How did the gay-haters respond to Smith's inappropriately-targeted, but wholly peaceable response to a corporation whose policies that he disagreed with? By intimidating the corporation that employed Smith, including other innocent employees of that corporation, with angry, hate-filled rants and threats, of course.
Smith (with some justification) became the bad guy in the media coverage for stupidly bullying an innocent employee about the hatred promoted by her employer. But somehow the very personal backlash against him through his employer doesn't get any critical coverage or examination. The disproportionality of the retaliation against Mr. Smith is frightening. And that's the point. The sheer hatred and intolerance of those supporting Chik-Fil-A is manifest in how they retaliated against Mr. Smith for expressing his opinion, however misplaced and clumsy, about Chik-Fil-A's intolerance.
Mr. Smith surely learned a valuable, if very expensive, lesson that we should all pay heed to. Don't leave yourself vulnerable when pushing back against the hatred and intolerance of the right wing. They will make you pay dearly for having the temerity to criticize them, if they possibly can. And that was Mr. Smith's big mistake; his poor choice of how to present his criticism left him utterly vulnerable to retaliation by the hate-fueled bigots he sought to criticize. As a result, the content of his message (which I entirely agree with, BTW) was completely negated by the style of its presentation. This incident, in a nutshell, demonstrates the absolute worst of American politics in the age of right wing fascism.
Brewer's Medicaid expansion decision a matter of life and death.
Jan Brewer announced that she would not make a decision whether Arizona would expand Medicaid eligibility in accord with the ACA until January. She cites as a reason for the delay that her staff has consider the budget impact on the 2013 budget she will present to the legislature. My own belief is that she wishes to take the issue off the table in upcoming state elections. If Democrats run hard on the expansion, it might make a difference in some of the new swing districts resulting from redistricting.
To my mind, the critical framing of this issue is the cost in Arizonans lives if the Medicaid expansion is refused. We know from a NEJM study of past Medicaid expansion in Arizona that expanding Medicaid saves lives. When Brewer makes her recomendation in January, the framing she must be presented with is how many lives wil be lost if she puts political posturing over the health and welfare of Arizona citizens. To make that choice a reality, Democrats must begin talking about the Obamacare Medicaid expansion in terms of lives saved and avoidable deaths right now.
The Best New Thing in Arizona Politics.
It's been 36 years since two incumbent members of congress faced off, and the Schweikert / Quayle contest has been satisfying as hell for pundits like me. It looks like Schweikert is kicking Quayle's bottom by wide margins. One of the independent committees has provided this week's Best New Thing: the Little Prince ad...
Indidentally, this ad also provided one of the most illuminating, and for Ben, most humiliating episodes in the campaign: Ben's Daddy's intervention on his behalf with a major donor. Still helicopter parenting after all these years...