August 17, 2021
My husband and I have been vaccinated against COVID-19. We accept the duty of wearing masks when required or appropriate. Because this is a highly contagious disease that will decimate our population and our way of life if not controlled, the idea of personal choice in the matter of fighting it should be set aside. Instead, Americans should accept a united responsibility to defeat this virus. It is the virus, not our government, that threatens our freedom. Not one of us wants for ourselves, our children or others the kind of freedom found in a hospital bed.
Our government provides COVID vaccines at no cost to us and manages the logistics required to deliver them. Having tried to convince all Americans of the necessity of vaccinations and masks, eventually government will have to mandate both for those who have not accepted personal responsibility for their own survival and the survival of fellow Americans. In a democracy, medical mandates are only imposed as a last resort and only needed when the health and safety of all is threatened. Responsible government will have no choice about mandates if it is to lead our nation to final victory.
Those who have enlisted in the fight against COVID-19 and its variants by following common sense medical and scientific guidelines need the support of the rest of their fellow Americans. We should not be fighting each other; we should be united in our fight against COVID. COVID is our common enemy. Vax-up! Mask-up! Form up! Wash-up! Don’t wait to be drafted. Don’t aid the enemy. Just think of us all as COVID freedom fighters and brothers and sisters in this war against a deadly and sinister shape-shifting alien invader.
July 10, 2021
I sincerely believe Arizona voters are not stupid enough to vote to further weaken their own constitutional right to make laws through initiative and referendum. Apparently Arizona’s Republican majority believes there is a good chance they are. Republican legislators will be asking voters to give up more rights with two legislative ballot measures in the 2022 election.
According to Donovan Kramer’s editorial (Dispatch July 1), “The new bills referred by legislators to the ballot would change the state constitution to require initiatives to be approved by a super majority of 55% of voters and also confine them to a single subject. Another measure referred last week would allow legislators to alter citizen initiatives if any part were found to be unconstitutional.” The editor notes that “Legislators have already stiffened rules for initiatives, making it harder to get them on the ballot and easier to remove them.”
For debatable reasons offered in his editorial, the editor believes these changes deserve consideration and he urges citizens to study them. As the editor of the only local newspaper, Mr. Kramer can aid voters in their study of these ballot propositions by running a series of articles in the Casa Grande Dispatch exploring the history of direct democracy in Arizona. Included should be mention of its benefit to the public. For instance, an increase in the minimum wage would not have happened without the initiative process. Republican legislative efforts to weaken the people’s constitutional right to initiatives should also be explored. To my knowledge Democrats have always supported the right of voters to easily access the initiative and referendum process. Mr. Kramer has a unique opportunity to responsibly educate voters on this topic well before the 2022 election.
June 2, 2021
After reading Sen. Shope’s inspired defense of the U.S. Senate’s filibuster rule (Casa Grande Dispatch May 22), I am hopeful he will soon introduce a filibuster rule for the Arizona Senate.
But why would Sen. Shope want to do that when the Arizona Senate operates on majority rule and Republicans have been in the majority and passing bills on party-line votes since Mr. Shope was a toddler?
First, Shope believes a filibuster would encourage unity, bipartisanship and cooperation. All good. Also he says, “The filibuster is a vehicle for conversation and cooperation across party lines and serves to provoke meaningful legislation that betters our country as a whole.” Also good. We could sure use some of that in the Arizona Legislature.
Shope knows the filibuster as it is used today in Washington is a minority tool for blocking the majority agenda. He also knows it would work the same way in Arizona, and he is good with the idea of majority rule, so he would never consider a filibuster rule here as long as Republicans are in the majority. Darn.
Sen. Shope applauds Democratic Sen. Sinema for standing up for democracy by protecting the filibuster and the minority voice in the U.S. Senate. The minority voice is protected by its ability to speak, not by its ability to gain the power of an elected majority through invoking a Senate rule. Majority status is won through election, not through Senate rules.
As long as the filibuster remains, the Senate minority has no incentive to seek unity, bipartisanship or cooperation. It gets what it wants by throttling the majority voice. Sen. Sinema can better serve democracy by voting to remove the filibuster so the Democratic agenda approved by a majority of Americans can go forward.
May 1, 2021
I must take issue with Kevin Holten’s use of a New England Journal of Medicine quote to support his contention that those who wear masks do so because they suffer from some sort of paranoia or “generalized anxiety disorder” and that masking is neither a necessary nor effective means to hinder the spread of COVID-19. (Dispatch, April 27) The article he cited was published in the medical journal on May 21, 2020 — almost a year ago — and found its way to Facebook.
Mr. Holten correctly cited the paragraph but failed to mention that three of the five doctors he cites (Drs. Michael Klompas, Charles Morris and Erica Shenoy) immediately objected in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine, that the article was being used “as support for discrediting wide-spread masking.” In fact they said the intent of their article was to push for more masking, not less. Mr. Holten’s failure to mention this leaves the reader with a distorted view of the truth. For the full story, go online to the New England Journal of Medicine: Universal Masking In the COVID-19 Era. Also check out the USA Today Fact Check article by Stephen Gruber-Miller (July 22, 2020).
To Mr. Holten’s point that we have an anxiety disorder in America, I agree, but that is a result of a pandemic of politicized and misleading information to which Mr. Holten contributed in his recent column. It makes sense to follow prudent steps recommended by the CDC and the medical establishment to safeguard the health of all against COVID-19. It also makes sense to be wary of columnists who, through intention or less than careful work, mask the truth.
LD 11 Sen. Vince Leach consistently denies he is opposed to the initiative process. His record shows he is the leader in introducing and voting for legislation to make that constitutional right more expensive and more difficult for citizens to exercise.
Leach’s latest attempt to weaken initiatives is SCR 1034. This legislative initiative would give legislators permission, by a simple majority, to effectively rewrite or repeal an entire voter-enacted law if any part were found to be illegal or unconstitutional by a court. (Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services, March 15)
SCR 1034 would do away with the common “severance clause” — the clause that allows that if one part of a measure is voided by a court the balance remains in full effect. In addition, if the ballot measure raised money, that money could be diverted from the original program by lawmakers and used elsewhere.
During an interview on voter initiatives, Leach said the following: “The citizens have a right to initiate laws and not only initiate laws but to veto laws we pass. All that’s good. My effort is to slow that down. I don’t want to take that opportunity or responsibility away from the people, it just needs to be fine-tuned.” (Reid Wilson, Hill, March 17, 2019, https://thehill.com/home)
“Fine-tuning” a constitutional right works two ways: make it more difficult to access and exercise — make it easier to access and exercise. I see no instance where Vince Leach has acted to make initiative access easier but many instances where he has acted to make it more difficult. Actions speak louder than words and reveal the credibility of the person speaking the words. With SCR 1034 Leach again acts to undermine our constitutional right to citizen initiatives while continuing to “fine-tune” his words.
After telling the mob that he would be walking to the Capitol Building with them, the great leader of the MAGA movement led from behind as he speedily returned to the White House to watch the storming of the Capitol on TV. He knew his mob would do his bidding no matter what he asked of them, and they did.
They placed their trust in one man who told them only he could fix everything — only he could make America great again. They apparently did not know enough of history to understand that blind loyalty to one self-styled strongman had destroyed great nations and democracies in the past and could destroy ours today.
Trump was impeached by those who know history and who predicted that if the Senate did not find Trump guilty, this president would engage in actions even worse than those in the Articles of Impeachment they had presented. The Republican Senate staged a sham trial where evidence was not admitted and witnesses were not heard. Republicans found Trump not guilty. That day the Republican Party and Republican Senate majority emboldened the Republican mob and enabled the storming of our U.S. Capitol building, the terrorizing of our duly elected representatives and the injury and deaths of Americans.
Once again Democrats are doing their part through constitutional means to hold this president accountable and save our democracy. Once again Republicans through blind loyalty or partisan self-interest show signs they will obstruct all efforts to hold this president accountable. If they do so, they will once again embolden him and his mob and enable them to complete the dismemberment and destruction of our nation and our government.
Voting for ALEC in 2020? You are if you vote for LD11’s Vince Leach or Mark Finchem. Both are members of ALEC (American Legislative Executive Council). ALEC is an unelected, private organization that connects our elected legislators with corporate operatives to write corporate-directed laws for our state. ALEC uses elected state legislators to advance its political agenda without full transparency or public accountability. This poses a danger to our democracy.
ALEC promotes dark money, voter suppression, privatization of public schools and prisons and public lands, state preemption of local government, opposition to unions, opposition to the minimum wage, opposition to citizen initiatives and referendums, opposition to the Affordable Care Act, opposition to federal relief for states and cities during the pandemic and much more. Leach and Finchem are on board with ALEC’s agenda since as members they promote and oppose the same things.
Don’t take my word for it. Do your own research. Check your legislators’ records. Learn more about the danger of ALEC to our democracy online at the Center for Media and Democracy and click on ALEC Exposed and Source Watch. Click on the YouTube video of ALEC’s co-founder Paul Weyrich advocating voter suppression and read the book "State Capture" by Alexander Hertel-Fernandez. Protect our democracy. Stop ALEC in Arizona by not reelecting ALEC members Leach and Finchem.
It is time to elect new representatives to speak for “We the People.” Vote for Democratic legislative candidates who will be directed by Arizona citizens, not by a private out-of-state organization supported by corporate funding that peddles a corporate and far-right agenda. Vote for Democrats JoAnna Mendoza for Senate and Dr. Felipe Perez, M.D., for the House. Check out their websites at mendoza4Arizona.com and perez4Arizona.com.
In my letter (Progressives for people; Dispatch, Aug. 15-16) I noted that “Progressives — regardless of party — promote the advancement of human rights and human dignity.” I wrote “regardless of party” because each party has at different times in our history been a vital force behind forward-moving, people-centered, progressive national policy. In her response, Ms. Rodriguez overlooked this essential point.
A political party regresses when power for the party becomes more important than sound policy for the country. That is the Republican Party today. Its regressive and authoritarian policies and insensitivity to racial justice, promoted by Donald Trump, are undermining American norms, values, institutions and the very idea of a government of, by and for the people.
The Republican Party was a progressive force against slavery during President Lincoln’s time. We can thank Republicans for the establishment of the 13th and 14th Amendments. Republicans supported woman’s suffrage for decades until the 19th Amendment passed in 1919 and was ratified in 1920. That Republican Party is long gone. It sold its soul to the oligarchic aristocracy of corporate interests and the super wealthy.
The progressive torch passed to the Democratic Party with the New Deal in 1933. It was Democrats who gave us Social Security and Medicare, the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the Affordable Care Act and support of the LGBTQ and environmental movements.
If elected in 2020, Democrats will continue the fight to establish racial justice and to move the ERA forward. Today it is the Democratic Party that promotes the ideas of human rights and human dignity enshrined in the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution and offers the best hope for the future of our planet, our country and Ms. Rodriguez.
To progress is to go forward. To regress is to go backward. The opposite of progressive is not conservative — it is regressive. The term “conservative” distinguishes politically regressive Americans from politically “progressive” Americans. Forward-looking progressives preserve democracy. Conservatives look backward to conserve aristocracy and oligarchy. The United States of America is a forward-looking nation. The backward-looking will always be on the wrong side of our history.
What do conservatives conserve? They conserve the wealth and position of the politico-religious aristocracy — just like it was in the old days before that reality was rejected by the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. They conserve the authority of wealthy men in power who claim a divine mandate for dominion over the Earth and all its creatures. They conserve the ability of men of wealth and position to decide who in this country should be fettered and who should be free. The archaic, aristocratic and privileged order is, at bottom, what conservatives conserve.
Progressives continually strive for a future where all can be free of that old order. Progress for them means fully realizing the promise of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. It is a promise of freedom and justice for all people, protected by a government whose very existence depends on the consent of the people. The abolition of slavery, the 14th Amendment, Woman’s Suffrage, the New Deal, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the LGBTQ movement and the environmental movement are a few examples of major progressive actions that moved and are moving democracy and the people of our country forward. Progressives — regardless of party — promote the advancement of human rights and human dignity secured by a government of, by and for the people.
With Donald Trump running for a second term, interest is high for the 2020 general election. High turnout is likely across the entire partisan spectrum. While national issues grab our attention, voting for Arizona state offices in both the primary and the general election is just as important.
Consider: Do we want state legislators who pander to big money and the interests of corporations or do we want public servants who focus on the needs of families and children and the hardworking constituents who elected them? Will it take teachers striking in the streets again to make a difference in public education funding for Arizona, or is it time to elect to both legislative chambers Democratic majorities who will support public education as a common good, making future teacher strikes unnecessary. At stake is how “We the people” will be served by those elected to represent “We the people” at the state level.
The LD11 state Senate race has far-right-wing Republican career politician and incumbent Vince Leach opposing one of two very capable Democrats who are running for the first time. Both are women with careers of service to their country and their communities. Which of these women will face Leach in the general election depends on which one is victorious in the important LD11 Democratic primary election.
The Clean Elections “Voter Education Guide” provides information about both LD11 Democratic primary candidates. Read it and check them out online. (JoAnna Mendoza, www.mendoza4arizona.com) (Linda Patterson, lindapatterson4azstatesenate2020.com).
Vote in the primary election and the general election, keeping in mind the importance of the state Legislature and state offices. Remember, 2020 is not just about the president.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has asked senior federal judges to retire early so that the U.S. Senate might install more and younger “right of center” judges, thus securing for Republicans a “right of center” judiciary for decades into the future. As with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s refusal to consider moderate Judge Garland for the Supreme Court during the Obama administration, this is further proof — if any is needed — that Republicans support party over country. It is Republican political power these senators and the Republican Senate majority are after at the expense of every American’s right to an independent judiciary.
America is not well served by a judiciary that is either right of center or left of center. Our judges should be politically neutral and independent. That is the ideal Americans expect and our lawmakers should be seeking. The promise over the front entrance to the Supreme Court is: “Equal Justice Under Law.” Over the back entrance it is “Justice, the Guardian of Liberty.”
These promises of justice, equality and liberty cannot be realized when every effort is made by the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate to blatantly secure a “right of center” judiciary. The more politicized our courts and justice system become, the less respect Americans will have for law, the judiciary and senators who undermine our ideals and our government to serve the interests of their own political part