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Reposted from Maggie's Farm by Mother Mags

Over the last week, local and national news stories, including a handful of my diaries here, have focused on the anti-Islam protest at the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix. Our TV screens were filled with camouflaged militia goons with AK-15s hanging from their shoulders, while they shouted spittle-laced profanities at worshippers and hoisted inflammatory signs denigrating Islam. The hate and vitriol were a bit too much but thankfully, even with guns in abundance and nerves on edge, no violence occurred during the demonstration Friday. That's one piece of good news, but that wasn't all.

When the anti-Islam group planned the Muhammad cartoon contest at the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix (chosen because the Garland, Texas shooters had attended its mosque), the announcement appeared on Facebook and initially only a few people RSVP'd. Then the story went national and within a couple days the total spiked to more than 800 Islamophobes. But the other thing the broader coverage did was alert the progressive community to the protest, and the 250 anti-Islam demonstrators who actually turned out Friday were met by as many or more counter protestors who, the media said, brought a "message of love."

That, in fact, was the real story Friday, not the hate. A multicultural city that is much more liberal than Arizona's national reputation, Phoenix celebrates its diversity and that message came through Friday. The mosque's President Usami Shami spoke to the city's penchant for finding strength in its many cultures when he said, "This story is about the community of Phoenix standing up against bigotry." Then today a unity rally was held at the same location:

"We ask that you bring a FLOWER as a symbol of love and care," reads the Facebook event page. "We are better together, and together we are strong." Organizers say they want to illustrate how their members respond when they are mistreated — with a message of love, not hate. With nearly two dozen sponsors, the gathering is an interfaith one. Christian and Jewish leaders from all over the Valley are expected to join the Muslim community at the mosque.
But there was an even more poignant lesson learned Friday by several men who came to protest the mosque, attired in their "F*ck Islam" T-shirts. And then, as Blog for Arizona tells it, something happened.
Jason Leger, a Phoenix resident wearing one of the profanity-laced shirts, accepted an invitation to join the evening prayer inside the mosque, and said the experience changed him.

"It was something I've never seen before. I took my shoes off. I kneeled. I saw a bunch of peaceful people. We all got along," Leger said. "They made me feel welcome, you know. I just think everybody’s points are getting misconstrued, saying things out of emotion, saying things they don’t believe."

Usami Shami, who has frequently condemned terrorism, ISIS and all forms of religious extremism, has made this point over and over: For many the only image of Islam they know is TV beheadings, Fox News's scary drumbeat to war or the fear-mongering on rightwing websites. Many know nothing about the religion, nor do they know a single Muslim. "So when you sit down and talk like rational people," he said, "without all these slogans, without being bigots, without bringing guns, they will find out that they’re talking to another human." Another protestor invited into the mosque on Friday discovered a slice of his own humanity:
Paul Griffin, who had earlier said he didn’t care if his t-shirt was offensive, assured a small crowd of Muslims at the end of the rally that he wouldn't wear it again.

"I promise, the next time you see me, I won’t be wearing this shirt," he told one man while shaking his hand and smiling. "I won't wear it again."

Shaking his hand and smiling. And so it begins.
Reposted from Maggie's Farm by Mother Mags

See a pattern here? Do or say something that's batshit crazily offensive, like refusing to serve pizza to a gay couple, then complain when the not-insane world says nasty things about you and boycotts your establishment, then set up a GoFundMe page so other goobers who share your smarmy beliefs can send you a few dollars and feel good about being the bigots that they are.

We're used to that in Arizona, where for years Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio has operated a Legal Defense Fund that allows haters from all over the country to put their money where their racist mouth is. Currently Arpaio is in the middle of a contempt hearing, which is not looking good for him, and his fundraising campaign echoes the victimization of the GoFundMe scams: Obama, the Feds, the media and liberals everywhere are out to get me! Here's your chance to stand up for America, for the flag and decent [i.e., white] people everywhere! Please send $25, $50, or more.

As Sarah Palin taught the world, a grifter's gotta grift, and the latest installment in the Do-Dumb-Shit-Then-Exploit-Hate category is Jon Ritzheimer, the anti-Islam screwball who organized his rally of hate at the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix last Friday. More than 800 armed bikers, skinheads, Islamophobes, white supremacists, anti-immigration clowns and other fine citizens RSVP'd on Ritzheimer's Facebook page to say they'd attend his Muhammad cartoon drawing contest, where everyone was encouraged to bring a gun, but only about 250 showed up and they were greeted by "messages of love" from an equal number of counter protesters. Today at the same site a large unity celebration is planned. (Speaking of love, read this story about Muslim haters who were invited into the mosque on Friday.)

Now Ritzheimer says he is taking his family and going into hiding, because he's been threatened. Surprise! Surprise! Wear a "F*ck Islam" T-shirt on mosque property, shout profanity at the worshippers, wave your guns in children's faces, go on CNN's Anderson Cooper and say the most vile and stupid shit about a religion practiced by 1.5 billion people, and then express shock when people threaten you? I certainly don't condone the threats, but neither did the Phoenix mosque deserve the threatening letters it has received.

Ritzheimer stuck his bigoted chin out and now somebody's taking a swing at it. He said himself that he knew his actions were akin to poking a stick in a hornet's nest, yet he maintained all along that the reason he wants all Muslims deported, the reason he took up this cause and organized the event, was to "keep his children safe." Bonehead! There are a lot of things that might hurt his children, from a bicycle accident to slipping in a bathtub, but being attacked by Islamic extremists is not one of them — unless of course you do something to agitate said extremists.

To facilitate his flight to who knows where, KPNX reporter Brahm Resnik says Ritzheimer has set up a GoFundMe page where he hopes to raise $10 million. Most of us could probably disappear with a lot less, but Ritzheimer says if enough cash flows in, he's also considering a run against Sen. John McCain. Let me get this straight: On the one hand he wants to disappear in order "to provide security for my family," yet he's also thinking of entering a very high-profile US Senate race — not exactly the best way to hide. (In case he doesn't know it, Cliven Bundy's BFF Sen. Kelli Ward may take on McCain in the GOP primary, and boy-howdy does she have the nutjob coalition already sewed up.)

Shortly after Resnik tweeted the news about Ritzheimer's GoFundMe page, it was taken down and it's still not operational. On his Facebook page Ritzheimer says he's appealing its removal and his fundraising campaign is "not totally dead in the water," and then he ends on this note:

I've decided that if I die, it will be as a free man, and not as a coward. You will not find me in a hole like we found Saddam Hussein. I'm going to keep living free but keep my protection close and near. I'm a Marine and we don't run and hide. We hunker down in our fighting hole and we stick it out!

So, we won't find him "in a hole like we found Saddam Hussein," he'll just "hunker down in our fighting hole." Tell me again, which is the good hole?

Reposted from Maggie's Farm by Mother Mags

Friday night approximately 500 demonstrators faced off at the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix. While more than 800 people RSVP'd on the anti-Islam Facebook page to say they would attend, about 250 showed up, with an equal number of counter protestors. Well into late Friday night there was a lot of shouting, profanity and posturing, but thankfully no violence occurred, since Phoenix police kept the two groups separated, and worshippers did not engage the demonstrators.

As I wrote Friday, the Islamic Community Center is the mosque that Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi attended until a few years ago. They were the two men who drove from Phoenix to Garland, Texas earlier this month to shoot up the Muhammad cartoon contest that Pamela Geller's group sponsored, but it was they who were shot dead. Because of their connection to the Phoenix mosque, the organizer of Friday's event, Jon Ritzheimer, chose that site to hold a similar cartoon contest.

Ritzheimer makes no bones that he hates Islam and believes the religion promotes terrorism. He would like to see the faith outlawed and every Muslim deported. Ritzheimer proudly wears a "F*ck Islam" T-shirt in public, while hoisting a large American flag. He is a member of an armed biker group called RidersUSA, and on his rather ungrammatical Facebook page he encouraged them and other "patriots" to bring guns to the protest.

People are also encouraged to utilize there second amendment right at this event just incase our first amendment comes under the much anticipated attack.
The story received wall-to-wall media coverage Friday and Saturday in Phoenix, and from the videos it's clear what constituted most of the anti-Islam demonstrators: Islamophobes, white supremacists, skinheads, militia nutballs, anti-immigration goons, and haters of all stripes. They were met by "messages of love" from 250 or more counter protestors.
Several people that took part in the "Love Rally" also brought signs of support for Islam. Some of the signs simple read, "Love not hate" while others preached tolerance, "I came to show support for religious tolerance," said Zach Arrington. The counter-protesters appeared to outnumber the anti-Islam protest group.
Some criticized me and others for even covering the protest, since we were "giving them a platform," or writing about it is "encouraging and promoting it." But had there been no coverage few if any counter protestors would have known about the event, and according to the Islamic Community Center's President Usami Shami that was the real story Friday:
"This story is about the community of Phoenix standing up against bigotry."
Ritzheimer organized his protest under the banner of the First Amendment, calling it a "Freedom of Speech Rally," and indeed his group has every right to assemble and protest. I don't like it, but since this is Arizona they also have a right to do so while packing heat. The First Amendment, however, which provides for freedom of speech and worship, is not something Ritzheimer is willing to extend to the Muslim community, who he'd like to silence in America. Islamic Community Center President Usami Shami actually displayed a better understanding of the Bill of Rights, since his worshippers did not try to stop the protest: "Everybody has a right to be a bigot."

Now Pamela Geller says the Phoenix mosque should be investigated because of its link to Simpson and Soofi. First of all, the Islamic Community Center in Phoenix vigorously denounced the potentially murderous actions of those two jerks. Center President Shami has spoken out against ISIS and terrorism, promoting a religion of peace and tolerance. In fact, Saturday in Tempe Muslims and other faith members gathered to condemn extremism since, "The biggest victims of ISIS are actually Muslims themselves."

In case Geller needs a reminder, the Phoenix mosque did not call for the demonstration Friday; the mosque did not encourage people to bring guns to a volatile public event; the mosque did not put a large, diverse neighborhood on edge for an entire weekend; the mosque did not try to deny other Americans their rights. The mosque only wanted to open its doors for Friday prayer.

Jon Ritzheimer and his cronies inflamed the situation, not the mosque, but Pamela Geller describes them as First Amendment heroes we should applaud, even though she admits she knows nothing about Ritzhiemer's group, and she completely ignores the potentially incendiary nature of their provocations. I won't link to it, but if you saw the Anderson Cooper interview with Ritzheimer, it's obvious he's no First Amendment scholar but rather a hater with a gun. That he attacks Islam to "keep his children safe" is an example of his boneheaded thinking, since his brazen actions are making him and his family far less safe. Most Americans have a much greater chance of being shot by a family member than an Islamic terrorist, so maybe his priorities are, say, out of whack.

In Geller's twisted universe, it's the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix that should be investigated, not the people who send threatening letters to the mosque or armed bullies who accost its worshippers, all because of the connection to Simpson and Soofi. Funny, I don't recall her encouraging authorities to investigate the Sovereign Citizen Movement after its member Scott Roeder killed abortion provider George Tiller. Did she call for an investigation of the Good Shepherd Catholic Church in New York, where Timothy McVeigh was confirmed? How about the Lutheran church that Columbine shooter Dylan Klebold attended? Or Sandy Hook killer Adam Lanza's St. Rose Catholic School? By far most murders in America are committed by non-Muslims, but do we hear Geller call for investigations of their churches, synagogues, schools, or families?

Reposted from Laura Clawson by Azazello
People at an immigration rally with signs saying
Republicans say that before Congress can possibly think about passing immigration reform with a path to citizenship, the United States needs to secure the borders and perhaps even build a dang fence. To hear them talk, you would think that the borders were being flooded, but reality is that:
As the Department of Homeland Security continues to pour money into border security, evidence is emerging that illegal immigration flows have fallen to their lowest level in at least two decades. The nation’s population of illegal immigrants, which more than tripled, to 12.2 million, between 1990 and 2007, has dropped by about 1 million, according to demographers at the Pew Research Center.

A key — but largely overlooked — sign of these ebbing flows is the changing makeup of the undocumented population. Until recent years, illegal immigrants tended to be young men streaming across the Southern border in pursuit of work. But demographic data show that the typical illegal immigrant now is much more likely someone who is 35 or older and has lived in the United States for a decade or more.

Beefed-up border security isn't the only explanation for that—when the U.S. economy cratered, fewer people thought it was a great place to come to find economic opportunity, and demographic changes in Mexico could also account for part of the drop. But whatever the explanation, the drop in undocumented immigrants coming in, and the fact that many of those who are here have been here long enough to become embedded in their communities, means that the Republican emphasis on border security is not just inhumane but outdated. While it's not the only outdated position Republicans like to promote, at some point the general public starts to notice these things and national political debates shift with or without Republicans.
Reposted from Maggie's Farm by Mother Mags

Let's hope nothing does go wrong, but so far more than 500 800 people have RSVP'd to attend a Muhammad cartoon drawing contest in Phoenix on Friday, similar to the contest in Garland, Texas. That event, organized by incendiary fruitcake Pamela Geller, ended in the deaths of two Muslims who intended their own violent protest.

Those men, Elton Simpson and Nadir Soofi, lived together in Arizona and until recently attended the Islamic Community Center in north Phoenix, which this week received threatening letters that are being investigated by the FBI. Friday's cartoon contest organizers, who are armed bikers associated with RidersUSA, have also chosen the Islamic Community Center for the site of their provocative protest, which has not gone unnoticed.

Phoenix police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation say they are aware of a man's plans for a Muhammad cartoon drawing contest scheduled for Friday in front of a Phoenix mosque.
The Islamic Community Center condemned the actions of Simpson and Soofi in Garland, as well as ISIS and terrorism in general, but that doesn't matter to contest organizer Jon Ritzheimer, who earlier this year held an anti-Islam rally outside the mosque during prayer time.
"These are the measures that we have to take to expose the true colors of this religion," he said. "Unfortunately, we have to hold the cartoon contest, as silly as it sounds, to be able to show the true colors of Islam."

Ritzheimer labeled Islam an "intolerant religion."

To demonstrate his tolerance, Ritzheimer proudly wears a T-shirt that shouts "F*ck Islam" as he stands outside the mosque (only his has no asterisk). He'll be selling the shirt Friday at the event. Ritzheimer says he plans for the cartoon contest and protest to remain peaceful, but just in case, on his Facebook page he urges everyone to bring a gun — after all, it's Arizona.
People are also encouraged to utilize there second amendment right at this event just incase our first amendment comes under the much anticipated attack.
Ritzheimer said he "would not shoulder any responsibility" if the event turns violent. Of course not. Why should he? He's only insulting a large Muslim community, profanely accosting worshippers, encouraging hundreds of people to pack heat, and he already thinks an attack on him is "much anticipated."

Evidently the organizers, who want to silence Muslim voices, see no irony in calling this a "Freedom of Speech Rally." A truer understanding of the First Amendment was provided by the Islamic Center's Usama Shami, who said Ritzheimer has every right to protest:

"Everybody has a right to be a bigot. Everybody has a right to be a racist. Everybody has a right to be an idiot."

Shami encouraged worshippers not to be intimidated and attend mosque Friday as usual. Authorities are being proactive, which Arizona's Council on American-Islamic Relations appreciates.

"We thank law enforcement authorities for their proactive effort to ensure the safety of the mosque's congregation from hate-filled and armed protesters," said CAIR-AZ Chairman Imraan Siddiqi. "The promise of a heavy police presence at the rally of armed biker gang members will help calm fears of harassment and even attacks on worshipers."
These yahoos are not too different from the intolerant extremists they condemn. Hate is hate and bigotry is bigotry, regardless of which book, deity or ideology one uses to justify it.
UPDATES, h/t to commenters: The organizer's Facebook page says they'll gather first at Denny's then meet after the protest for a party at Wild Bills. Both establishments have uninvited them and those events have been canceled. Anderson Cooper conducted an interview with Jon Ritzheimer, which Raw Story has here. The controversy has been all over the news in Phoenix today, and counter protests are planned.
Reposted from Daily Kos Elections by Azazello
Pinal County sheriff officer Paul Babeu (R) and Maricopa County sheriff officer Joe Arpaio (L) speak at a news conference after a Pinal County sheriff officer was shot with an AK-47-type style weapon by suspected drug smugglers in Pinal County, Arizona April 30, 2010. Officers are searching the area for 5 men who were involved in the shooting along Interstate 8. REUTERS/Joshua Lott (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW CIVIL UNREST) - RTR2DBIV
Republican Paul Babeu may get a shot at redemption after his 2012 House campaign collapsed
Both parties were caught by surprise on Tuesday when Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick announced her Senate campaign. There are plenty of potential candidates from each party who are eyeing her swingy northern Arizona seat, but most of them are waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court decision to rule on the constitutionality of the state's independent redistricting commission. If the court rules the GOP's way, they'll have the opportunity to make this district as tough for Democrats to win as they can.

On the blue side, state Sen. Catherine Miranda wasted little time making her interest known, though she represents almost none of AZ-01 in the legislature. Former state Rep. Chris Deschene, who lost the 2010 secretary of state race 58-42, is also considering according to his spokeswoman. Deschene got plenty of attention last year when he ran for president of the Navajo Nation but was disqualified for not speaking Navajo fluently. Local Democrats say he'd be a top recruit, though he'd need to give up his post at the U.S. Department of Energy. Coconino County Board Chair Elizabeth Archuleta also says she's thinking about running, while Navajo County Attorney Brad Carlyon hasn't ruled anything out.

The Arizona Republic's Rebekah Sanders also mentions two other potential Democratic candidates, though there's no word if they're interested. State Sen. Carlyle Begay's district is entirely located in the 1st, though his support for this year's GOP state budget could be a liability in a primary. State Sen. Barbara McGuire's seat is split between AZ-01 and the safely red AZ-04, but she'd be an interesting recruit. In the last two cycles, McGuire pulled off narrow wins in a district that Romney carried 53-45, so she has experience winning in a difficult seat. Democratic consultant Andy Barr also tossed in 2014 gubernatorial nominee Fred DuVal's name, though DuVal previously said he's only interested in another statewide bid.

On the GOP side, rancher and 2014 candidate Gary Kiehne so far has the primary to himself, but he should have company soon. Ex-state House Speaker Andy Tobin, who narrowly beat Kiehne in the primary, confirms that he's interested but he's waiting for the redistricting case to play out. State Senate Majority Whip Steve Pierce has also confirmed his interest, and Speaker David Gowan's office has also said he might go for it. Most of Gowan's seat is in AZ-02 and he could also challenge Republican Rep. Martha McSally in the primary, but Gowan is likely to carve out a district for himself if he gets the chance.

Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu also didn't rule anything out. Babeu's 2012 bid for the neighboring AZ-04 ended after it emerged that he had dated an undocumented immigrant and then threatened to deport him. Babeu did win re-election that November and he went on to star in a spot for 2014 gubernatorial candidate Christine Jones, so maybe enough time has passed that he can run another serious House campaign. Some other potential GOP contenders include ex-Secretary of State and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Ken Bennett, Payson Mayor Kenny Evans, 2012 nominee Jonathan Paton, state Sen. Steve Smith, and state Residential Utility Consumer Office Director David Tenney.

Reposted from pdc by poopdogcomedy
Former Bush Trade Representative & U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R. OH) took the most pro-TPP corporate cash.
The Guardian has a great article out about which U.S. Senators took the most corporate cash to help fast track the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Three of them are Democratic U.S. Senators up for re-election, (Patty Murray (D. WA), Michael Bennet (D. CO) and Ron Wyden (D. OR)) and they took in a combined $105,900. That's pretty bad but the list of GOP U.S. Senators up for re-election next year is much linger and took a lot more corporate cash. Here they are:

Almost 100% of the Republicans in the US Senate voted for fast-track – the only two non-votes on TPA were a Republican from Louisiana and a Republican from Alaska.

Senator Rob Portman of Ohio, who is the former US trade representative, has been one of the loudest proponents of the TPP. He received $119,700 from 14 different corporations between January and March, most of which comes from donations from Goldman Sachs ($70,600), Pfizer ($15,700), and Procter & Gamble ($12,900). Portman is expected to run against former Ohio governor Ted Strickland in 2016 in one of the most politically competitive states in the country.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R. Monsanto)
Seven Republicans who voted “yea” to fast-track and are also running for re-election next year cleaned up between January and March. Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia received $102,500 in corporate contributions. Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, best known for proposing a Monsanto-written bill in 2013 that became known as the Monsanto Protection Act, received $77,900 – $13,500 of which came from Monsanto.
UNITED STATES - JUNE 3: Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Richard Burr, R-N.C., conduct a news conference in the Capitol on the Veterans Choice Act, which would provide veterans
Senators John McCain (R. AZ) & Richard Burr (R. NC)
Arizona senator and former presidential candidate John McCain received $51,700 in the first quarter of 2015. Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina received $60,000 in corporate donations. Eighty-one-year-old senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who is running for his seventh Senate term, received $35,000. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, who will be running for his first full six-year term in 2016, received $67,500 from pro-TPP corporations. - The Guardian, 5/27/15
While Senators Isakson, Scott and Grassley all look safe for re-election, Senators Portman, McCain and Burr are top targets next year and Senator Blunt has a potentially stronger challenger in Secretary of State Jason Kander (D. MO) who is heavily against the TPP. Former Governor Ted Strickland (D. OH) has been making the TPP a campaign issue and Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D. AZ) is against fast tracking the TPP. We don't have a challenger to go up against Burr yet but hopefully soon. But if you want to donate and get involved with Strickland, Kander and Kirkpatrick's campaigns, you can do so here:
Reposted from Daily Kos Elections by sneakers563
Ann Kirkpatrick
Ann Kirkpatrick
Tuesday morning brought some exciting news for Arizona Democrats, as Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick announced she'd run against veteran GOP Sen. John McCain, who is seeking a sixth term in the Senate. It's a welcome but unexpected development: Kirkpatrick, who holds a vast, GOP-leaning seat in the state's northeast, had long been on the DSCC's wish list but had never spoken publicly about her interest in taking on McCain. Her entry instantly makes this race competitive, as a recent PPP poll showed McCain with a horrific 36-51 statewide approval rating and just a 42-36 lead on Kirkpatrick.

Those are very weak numbers for an incumbent, particularly in a red state like Arizona, but McCain actually faces a double-barreled threat. Hardcore conservatives have long despised McCain for his many apostasies—he's always preferred hobnobbing with the Sunday talk show set rather than party with the tea partiers—and he's already earned a primary challenge from state Sen. Kelli Ward. That same PPP poll found McCain up just 44-31 on the unknown Ward among Republican voters, another terribly weak result.

Ward's not a strong candidate, though (she's a "chemtrail" conspiracy theorist who's been spurned by anti-establishment groups like the Club for Growth), and McCain handily dispatched a similarly unimpressive primary opponent back in 2010. But Ward could keep McCain occupied, draining his coffers and dragging him to the right, as Kirkpatrick travels the state and raises money. And if a better option emerges in the GOP primary for the purity brigades, it's possible McCain might not even earn his party's nomination.

Democrats, though, can only hope for so much, and they're already quite fortunate that they've landed someone like Kirkpatrick, who has experience winning on difficult turf. However, her candidacy comes at a price. Kirkpatrick's 1st Congressional District went for Mitt Romney by a 50-48 margin, making it one of just five red seats held by a Democrat anywhere in the country, and odds are it will now return to the Republicans.

That's not just because it's a tough district for a Democrat to win: A case pending before the Supreme Court could invalidate Arizona's entire congressional map if the justices decide that the state's independent redistricting commission runs afoul of the constitution. If that happens, the GOP-dominated legislature would get to redraw the lines, and they'd make Kirkpatrick's district even more inhospitable for Democrats.

So the Senate race actually offers Kirkpatrick something of an escape hatch. A statewide win won't be easy, but when you combine McCain's unpopularity, the possibility that he gets dinged up in his primary, and the fact that Democrats nationwide should benefit from increased presidential turnout, that gives Kirkpatrick a real chance. (In 2012, Team Blue fell just 3 points short in Arizona's Senate race.) What's more, it improves Democratic odds of retaking the Senate, where the party needs a minimum of four seats to return to the majority.

There's also the outside chance that if Hillary Clinton tries expanding the presidential playing field, she could look to Arizona as a "reach" state. Kirkpatrick and Senate Democrats would love to see that, but whether or not that happens, we've got a real race on our hands. And for once, my friends, there's no way even the most sycophantic Beltway blowhard can spin this as good news for John McCain.

Reposted from pdc by Azazello

Things just got a whole lot more exciting in the Arizona U.S. Senate Race:

Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick will challenge Republican Sen. John McCain for Senate, according to a source with knowledge of Kirkpatrick’s plans, giving Democrats a top recruit and a potential pickup opportunity.

Kirkpatrick made calls Monday to inform people of her plans, the source told CQ Roll Call. Her bid also opens up Arizona’s 1st District, a GOP-leaning seat spanning the northeast quadrant of the state.

An hour after this story was published, Kirkpatrick sent out an email making it official. “I love this state, and I’ve worked hard all my life to put Arizona first,” she said in a video. “From the timber towns of the White Mountains to the tech hubs of Phoenix and Tucson, we are working to build a strong, diverse economy. I’m fighting for Arizona every single day, and I’d be humbled to represent our state in the United States Senate.”

She touted her service on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee and work on a project she described as aimed at wildfire prevention and job creation in Arizona. - Roll Call, 5/26/15

McCain himself already has a primary battle to look forward to:

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, May 5,2015, before a GOP luncheon.  (AP Photo/Brett Carlsen)
For months, there have been rumblings of a conservative primary challenge to McCain. A Public Policy Polling survey in early May found Rep. David Schweikert (R-AZ) running just one point behind McCain, while Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) polled two points behind the senator and state Sen. Kelli Ward (R) trailing McCain 44 percent to 31 percent.

If one of those conservative Republicans challenge McCain —especially Schweikert or Salmon— they would likely have the backing of powerful outside groups like the Senate Conservatives Fund (SCF) or Club for Growth, which heavily backed tea party primary challengers in the last cycle. Less than a week ago, SCF sent an email to supporters titled "Time to Replace John McCain."

"John McCain lost his way a long time ago and it's time to replace him with a strong conservative leader who will support and defend the Constitution," SCF President Ken Cuccinelli wrote in the email. - TPM, 5/26/15

It's looking like McCain has overstayed his welcome but of course it's still too early to really say anything. But if you would like to get involved with Kirkpatrick's campaign, you can do so here:
Reposted from Maggie's Farm by Mother Mags
Sheriff Joe Arpaio
I'm shocked! Shocked! Joe Arpaio is attempting to "manipulate the judicial system"
Oh, gawd. This is breaking this morning in Phoenix: lawyers for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio filed a motion today to remove Federal Judge Murray Snow from an ongoing contempt of court case that was due to continue next month. Clearly Arpaio's ruse is an attempt to derail a hearing that did not begin well for him, with the sheriff's own lawyer quitting and former deputies turning on him.

Anyone concerned about justice was not disappointed in the hearing's first phase, which concluded in late April. Some quick background: Although Joe Arpaio's 23-year career as Maricopa County Sheriff includes a long backlog of crimes and misdemeanors—falsely arresting journalists, intimidating political enemies, murdering inmates guilty of nothing, ignoring hundreds of child sex crimes—the four-day contempt hearing that began April 21 stems from a specific case and its resulting court orders.

In Melendres v. Arpaio, based on a 2007 arrest of two Mexican men in the country legally, the court found that the sheriff's office did indeed use race as a factor when carrying out traffic stops, conducting immigration patrols, detaining suspects and arresting people. In other words, the very definition of racial profiling.

As a result of that case, which was argued before US District Judge Murray Snow, a George W. Bush appointee, Arpaio was ordered to halt his immigration enforcement programs. However, being the arrogant media-seeking blowhard that he is, Arpaio bragged to the press that he'd continue the unconstitutional immigration sweeps, which he did.

By 2013, Judge Snow was near the end of his patience, and issued three court orders: Arpaio must end his immigration patrols, turn over video evidence from traffic stops, and install a court-appointed monitor to oversee compliance with the judge's orders. Arpaio did none of this and by March 2015 Judge Snow had had enough and scheduled a contempt of court hearing, to begin in late April.

When Judge Snow announced the hearing, Sheriff Arpaio tried to head it off by apologizing and admitting that he had not complied with the court orders. He even said he'd donate $100,000 to a civil rights group if Judge Snow would cancel the hearing. ACLU lawyers, victims and Judge Snow dismissed Arpaio's offer, and the proceedings began last month. During the four-day hearing we learned, as expected, that the sheriff's office willfully ignored court orders. But the sheriff also dropped this bombshell on the last day while Judge Snow himself was questioning him: one of Arpaio's lawyers had hired a private detective to investigate Judge Snow's wife!


That little ditty led to today's developments. Why investigate a judge's wife? In 2013, a supporter of Arpaio's contacted him on Facebook to say that in 2012 she and her husband overhead Judge Snow's wife at a restaurant tell a friend that she and the judge did not like the sheriff. That tip kicked off the probe, since it provided Arpaio an opportunity to demonstrate Judge Snow's bias, although in the end the investigation went nowhere and proved nothing.

There's another stinker that's about to explode, the so-called "Seattle Operation," which also involves Judge Snow. This conspiracy theory holds that Judge Snow, former Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon, former AG Eric Holder and others spied on Arpaio in an attempt to gather information that could take him down. Again, paranoid Arpaio jumped at the chance to prove that others are out to get him, especially Judge Snow. So his office paid the Seattle computer guru who told Arpaio about the conspiracy to investigate the allegations, which turned out to be an empty and costly sham.

When Judge Snow learned of this development, he ordered the court-appointed monitor to look into the Seattle case even more, calling it another "attempt to construct a conspiracy involving this court." That's probably another reason Sheriff Arpaio wants the judge removed, because if the court digs deeper into the Seattle Operation, authorities are likely to find that the sheriff spent up to $1 million to investigate a fake conspiracy theory in order to discredit Judge Snow. It's all familiar Arpaio territory: investigate, intimidate, manipulate, stall stall stall.

Civil rights attorneys today are having none of Arpaio's conflict-of-interest shenanigans, which he invented himself. ACLU lawyer Cecilla Wong said the motion is little more than "an effort to manipulate the judicial system and derail the contempt proceedings." She also pointed out that all of Judge Snow's findings in the case have been upheld on appeal, so the bias charge is without merit. Gee, Arpaio is attempting to "manipulate the judicial system"—we haven't seen that before!

BTW, if you are so inclined, millionaire Joe Arpaio needs cash for his legal battles, so he's set up a Defense Fund—appealing to "patriots" suckers to help him out:

Dear Patriot,
I'm going to cut right to the chase because I really need your help.

You've been a tremendous supporter of my campaigns through the years and because of that I'm asking for your help with my legal defense fund.

You see, in the daily exercise of doing my job I am often targeted by groups that file legal actions against me for a variety of reasons.

A "variety of reasons" that are illegal, ineffective, costly, unconstitutional and immoral.
Reposted from Maggie's Farm by Mother Mags
exit sign for Welfare, Texas
Arizonans not welcome.
Today the Arizona legislature did what no other state in the nation has been mean-spirited enough to do: they cut lifetime welfare benefits to one year for everyone—adults and children, the physically and mentally disabled. Most states have a five-year limit, while thirteen others impose a two-year cutoff. Texas (of course) has a flexible limit that can be as short as one year, but even children are exempt in the Lone Star State. Not so for Arizona! We're Number 1!
As a result, the Arizona Department of Economic Security will drop at least 1,600 families — including more than 2,700 children — from the state's federally funded welfare program when the budget year begins in July.
No doubt you'll continue to hear from the Cato Institute, Rush Limbaugh and other goonballs that lazy moochers sit at home because welfare pays more than work, but Arizona's payments were never generous to begin with, a whopping $275 per month for a two-person household. Now even that will be gone in a couple months for thousands of people—and as many as 300,000 total if legislators follow through with all their planned cuts to welfare, Medicaid and ACA.

The far-right fundies, who absolutely control Arizona's legislature, made the usual unproven arguments before voting to cut vulnerable families off at the knees:

"I tell my kids all the time that the decisions we make have rewards or consequences, and if I don't ever let them face those consequences they can't get back on the path to rewards," Republican Sen. Kelli Ward of Lake Havasu City said during debate on the budget. "As a society we are encouraging people at times to make poor decisions and then we reward them."
"... make poor decisions and then we reward them." Oh, you mean like we did for Wall Street banksters?

Head below the fold for more.

Continue Reading
Reposted from Maggie's Farm by Mother Mags
Arizona State Treasurer Doug Ducey speaking at FreePac, hosted by FreedomWorks, in Phoenix, Arizona.
Il Ducey
One thing Arizonans have learned in the few months that Gov. Doug Ducey has been in office is that the Koch-fueled pinhead does not like people questioning his decisions.

When educators and families protested the governor's draconian cuts to schools, Ducey and his dark-money backers brought the hammer down on officials who disagreed with him. In Mesa, they used a robocall campaign to smear Superintendent Dr. Michael Cowan, who had sent parents in his district an email describing the terrible consequences of Ducey's policies. When more than 230 superintendents signed a joint letter to legislators asking them to reject the governor's appalling education budget, he and the GOP tried to ram through a bill that would make their criticism illegal, which happily did not pass.

Bottom line: don't speak out, don't criticize, even if you're upholding the law by doing so. That was the predicament in which former acting director of Arizona's Weights and Measures Shawn Marquez found himself earlier this year. Marquez had worked for the department for 28 years and was two years short of retirement, but now he's out of a job because he enforced a law that Gov. Ducey and his business lackeys did not like.

Ducey is all for "the rule of law" when it's a law he supports. For instance, Bisbee was the first town in Arizona to enact a ban on plastic bags, like hundreds of other communities across the country, and Tempe and Flagstaff were considering a similar ordinance. But Ducey and his chamber of commerce chums did not like the idea that Arizona's blue communities might set stricter environmental standards, so he signed legislation that prohibits all municipalities in the state from banning plastic bags and other disposable packaging. If towns ignore the new state law, Gov. Ducey has said he'll prosecute because, you know, it's the law.

Other laws he's okay with ignoring, especially if doing so benefits the governor's business cronies. Until recently, Arizona law said that ride-sharing companies like Uber must license their drivers with the state, similar to taxis. So when the Super Bowl was here this year, and acting director Marquez suspected that Uber and Lyft were not complying with the state statute during the busy tourist season, he planned a sting operation to snare unlawful drivers.

When Gov. Ducey heard of the plan he fired Marquez, which we first learned of yesterday when the governor bragged about sacking the longtime employee at the RNC meeting in Scottsdale:

Ducey, a big supporter of the popular ride-sharing companies, told the audience that plan didn't sit well with him. "I'm happy to tell you that director is now in the private sector," Ducey said to the applause of a packed ballroom.
When reporters asked Gov. Ducey if he had fired the agency head for simply enforcing a law that was on the books at the time, he blathered some BS about government regulations killing innovation, but he did not answer the question, only stating, "We’re not looking to sting or surprise companies." Since the Super Bowl in February, Ducey has rolled back almost all regulations for ride-sharing firms, pushing through legislation that eliminates licensing and insurance requirements, business-friendly measures that even Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed.

So Ducey doesn't want to "surprise" companies with checkups. I guess now he'll eliminate all inspections so government agents don't "surprise" filthy restaurants, contaminated meat packers or manufacturers selling toxic products. In other words, it's still okay to surprise consumers. Because Doug Ducey said so, the law be damned.

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