I was happy to read a recent letter to the Dispatch that suggested that we try to inform our citizenry about the different types of governments. Some students are indeed learning this already, but this area of study has, unfortunately, left many adults out of the loop. If more people understood what socialism and communism are, it would take the potential for hysteria out of the phraseology used by right-wing operatives intended to cause loathing toward Democrats.
We are constantly exposed to narrow arguments and rash statements about democracy, socialism and communism. Most people have in their minds ideas about governments that are simplified to one or two words: communism = Marxism, socialism; socialism = collective ownership, communism. There are few things that can be thought of in such stark, painfully inadequate terms, especially governments. Does the following equation fully describe the U.S.? Democracy = freedom, equality. Not really.
Although communism and socialism are very different in many ways and you may not want either of them exclusively, each of them do try to solve the problems that emanate from capitalism, such as the exploitation of workers and a widening gulf between rich and poor. One cannot deny that these are just two of the pervasive problems in our society and there appears to be no solution forthcoming.
Socialism should not give rise to fear, but to curiosity.
October 14, 2021 - Stop prayer at public meetings
I am writing on behalf of the 24% of citizens in Pinal County who do not claim affiliation with any faith. The Pinal County Board of Supervisors opens its public meetings with a Christian prayer, which gives the impression that we have a Christian rather than a secular government. Many counties have no opening prayers or invocations, and it does not affect their ability to govern. This is the key point.
Why include something divisive if you don’t have to? Since this practice is not done in special sessions or work sessions, it appears that the prayer is done for the benefit of the audience.
We indeed are a melting pot, and whether we like it or not, we must learn to be tolerant. We have many colors, ethnic groups, nationalities, sizes, levels of education, degrees of intelligence, layers of complexity, amplitudes of kindness and diverse religious practices.
Our government has made it clear from the beginning that religion was not to be a factor in the governing process. And yet it is, and always has been, because that is our nature. However, I propose that governing without religion is not only possible but much more desirable. The laws govern everyone, not just Christians.
How about just a moment of silence?
September 4, 2021 - Abortion rights in danger
With the restrictive Texas abortion law being imposed upon the women of that state today, I am reminded of the times before Roe v. Wade when all abortions were also illegal. That was a very scary time for a woman of child-bearing age that wasn’t quite in the perfect set of circumstances to take care of a child. The pro-life rhetoric of those who think it’s OK to inflict their opinion and judgment (and now their laws) on women isn’t fooling anybody. The false narrative of holding life in such high regard is a coverup for wanting to control women and keep them in a subservient position.
Here’s what’s going to happen: Women who don’t want to have a baby, won’t. Period. They will either be financially or influencially powerful enough to get done what they want done. Other women will be on the lookout for some home remedy that causes miscarriage, a sympathetic doctor or other health care person willing to take on this task or be put in the sad situation of having to bear a child and give it up for adoption. You can see how all of these are fraught with danger and criminality.
Why do we still not trust women to make this decision for themselves? This is insulting, demeaning and maddening, as we happily pay for Viagra for the other half of the baby-making team but take away a woman’s right to have the final say in what happens in her reproductive cycle. If men were the ones having the babies, this would never even be discussed — they just wouldn’t put up with it.
Arizona women, watch out. Your rights are about to be curtailed. They’ve been trying to do this for a very long time and now they’ve got a foot in the door.
May 20, 2021 - The Goofy Old Party
The Republican Party — once called the Grand Old Party — today should be called the Goofy Old Party. Not goofy in a fun way but dangerously goofy. We all know the national cast of characters from the “Stable Genius” to the “Grim Reaper” and on and on.
But we need look no further than Arizona’s ludicrous election “audit” of Maricopa County to find local evidence of “GOP” goofiness. Only a goofy political party would authorize the turnover of public election records, ballots and election machines to a private company for any reason. To make matters goofier, this is the work of Republican leadership in the Arizona Senate. Apparently, no vote was taken on this goofiness. Surely a vote of the full Senate should be required for anything of this magnitude pertaining to an election.
We all know the “audit” is being conducted by a private company called, goofily enough, Cyber Ninjas. The name itself conjures images of bamboo. This company is reported to have never audited an election. From most accounts it will not be able to claim that it has done so when it finishes its current activity. Few will respect the result of this exercise in goofiness or its final goofy report — if there is one — purporting to give a thumbs up or a thumbs down to election integrity in Maricopa County in 2020.
The actions of today’s “GOP” seriously undermine our democracy and our political and electoral systems. We all will be affected by this infringement on the sanctity of our ballots and possibly our private information if the “GOP” can get it. The goofiest thing is they probably can. The next goofiest thing is some people will still vote for the Goofy Old Party.
I find it laughable and distressing that B. Branagan is opposed to one-party rule. It is laughable because his party — the Republican Party — has held the majority in the Arizona Legislature for almost 30 years, making it a prime example of one-party rule. He apparently is not aware of this.
It is distressing because during that time all the ills attributed to one-party rule by B. Branagan (Dispatch, Feb. 13) have been imposed on the populace by his party.
Examples include privatization of prisons, attempted privatization of public schools through underfunding and defunding, voter suppression, proposals to allow the Legislature to overturn election results, the expansion of vouchers for private and religious schools, more gun access with fewer safeguards, making access to initiatives and referenda more expensive and more difficult, eliminating face mask mandates, undermining local city and county government through HB1487, plans to undermine one of the best managed teacher retirement systems in the nation, new restrictions proposed on First Amendment rights to protest, and much more.
This one-party rule could only happen if voters like B. Branagan continued to send Republicans back to the Legislature election after election. Which they did and do. That indicates either ignorance of or approval of one-party rule or the habit of just voting “R” no matter what. Perhaps B. Branagan and others who oppose one-party rule will vote differently now that they know they are responsible for undermining our democratic republic in Arizona by voting for extended one-party Republican rule.
The ex-president of the United States has been 86’d from Twitter, YouTube and Facebook. Think about that for a minute. How bad do you have to be to be banned from social media, which will let just about anybody say anything about everything?
This is what our country has come to and it’s disgraceful. Everything seems to be acceptable now — lying, bullying, more lying, sedition, killing and more lying. We allow people like Paul Gosar to infect the halls of Congress pretending to be a representative of the people. Horseradish.
Gosar encouraged the mob that stormed the Capitol building and continues to agitate against the norms of our democratic republic. Through these actions Congressman Gosar has shown that he is not fit to protect the Constitution and needs to be removed from his congressional role. If no consequence is given for seditious acts they will continue, and the fabric of our country will unravel. His own family practically begged us to conduct an intervention back in 2018.
I’m so glad I’m not raising kids during these awful times. I wouldn’t know what to say to them about the former president or the people that follow him. They have forfeited the high ground that they used to claim and no longer can cite family values as belonging to the Republican Party. All they are now is the party of mean-spirited goofballs who live by alternative facts. (Oh, and they claim to be concerned about the deficit.) As a Republican, my dad is probably rolling in his grave right about now.
I always thought the point of government and law and order in America was to serve justice. By justice I mean fair and equal treatment under law. Justice was not served when Obama, a president elected by the “American people,” with almost a year left in his term, was denied a hearing — by one senator — for his moderate Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. Justice will not be served if Trump, also an elected president with much less time before the election, secures a hearing for his conservative Supreme Court nominee with the blessing of that same senator. Even those Americans who call themselves Republicans know that. It will be another stolen appointment.
While Trump, Mitch McConnell and the Republican Senate might have the power to install another conservative judge, they do not have the power to force Americans to respect that decision, or to respect any law decided by a blatantly politicized Supreme Court. Without balance, the Supreme Court speaks for less than half of the American people.
Using the power of government position to deny justice undermines the whole point of our government. It undermines even further the integrity of the U.S. Senate, the Supreme Court and respect for law itself. Should they do this, the president and the Republican Senate will continue to prove they are about power for power’s sake and are ready to do anything to get and keep it. With contempt for truth, law, justice and the people, Senate leader Mitch McConnell smirks at his own hypocrisy as he gleefully anticipates another “win” for himself and his party over the bedrock and sacred values of our country.
Voting by mail has been under attack, mainly by the Republican Party. They rely on scare tactics to try to dissuade us from using this convenient method of voting in hopes that this will somehow work out in favor of their candidates. Mr. Trump is obsessed with “rampant” voter fraud (which is almost non-existent, statistically speaking), and insists that mail-in voting favors Democrats. There is no evidence that either of these things is true.
After studying voter fraud for years, the Heritage Foundation (a right-leaning think tank) submitted a report that stated that “proven voter fraud cases swell to 1,295 in America” (in all of America, and that was over several years!). This is not enough to swing an election. And the task force that Trump created to investigate the issue after his 2016 election was disbanded after the first year because they found so few cases that it wasn’t worth it.
Vote-by-mail is necessary and helpful. This year going to the polling place is a potentially dangerous undertaking, so why not employ a service that we already have? We can do it this way so why not do it this way? So many more people would be interested in becoming part of the process instead of being a victim of it if they could avoid the risk and perhaps intimidation of voting in person. You can still request a mail-in ballot by going to https://servicearizona.com/ or https://azsos.gov/votebymail, which gives deadlines and ways to request a ballot.
We’ve all seen the video of George Lloyd’s last moments and the knee on his neck. Unbelievable. But the problem isn’t only with the knee guy, it’s with the other three who stood around and did nothing. But that’s us. All of us. We are afraid. We are brought up to “go with the flow,” “don’t make waves,” “stay out of it."
Where does this cowardice come from? Why don’t we possess the same amount of ferocity in defending what’s right as we do of complicity in approving the treatment of someone who is getting the life squeezed out of him?
Recall how many opportunities we’ve had to counter injustice on a small scale: when the bully is tormenting the wimp, when the boss repeatedly insults an employee in plain view, when we consistently ignore a member of the group as if they are invisible.
We can stop this. Yes, you will probably be punished. Just ask former Ukraine ambassador Marie Yovanovitch and any number of this administration’s former officeholders.
We can begin by teaching courage to our kids and by being an example of bravery to our peers. Then this would become the norm and displace the perverse inaction that looms over these reprehensible behaviors.
If just one of those three officers had shown courage to stand up for what was right, Mr. Lloyd would probably be alive today.
Have we, as a country, worked through the mistaken notion that a “businessman” will be a successful president? It was always a mystery to me why so many people thought this was a legitimate way to assess someone’s talent and ability to take on the massively difficult job of running the U.S. government.
Sure, entrepreneurial talent is valuable, but does it prove any real understanding of economics or even government? Businesses are competitive — that’s the whole point of a free-market economy, and that’s a good thing. But why do we believe the myth that success in business translates directly to competence in politics? It sounds like we think that politics is simple, that anybody can just get in there and fix everything just because he is the “outsider,” that he’ll come in and shake things up and get everything straightened out. We’ve lent legitimacy to the idea that success in politics comes from things like “common sense” and “American values,” and that’s absurd. This isn’t a family of four — it’s a country of 328 million.
Politics is extremely complex, and that’s what makes it interesting. And yes, there are the standard depictions of politicians as snakes, bottom feeders, knuckleheads, scammers, money-wasting scoundrels, crooks, etc., but there are businessmen who could fit into those categories too.
So let’s hope that we’ve learned our lesson that real estate familiarity can be helpful, but we might get a little closer to what we want if we take other qualifications into account, like political experience, education, general knowledge of history and government, years of service to our country, and yes, overall decency.
It is disturbing to read a letter to the editor that depicts the Democratic Party as suppressing votes. That’s an example of “both-sider-ism,” which is just not true. Despite the admirable loyalty that Sanders followers display, this is no time for Democrats to help re-elect the most despicable man that has ever held the office of the president by not voting and not getting behind whoever the Democratic candidate might be.
It takes time to change a party, especially a party with a big tent like the Democrats. It took 40 years for the Republican Party to become what it is today. It was once the party of Lincoln. Look at what it is now.
There's only one party that believes that government has a role in solving problems; there's only one party that is focused on equality for all groups of people; there's only one party that is working to provide equal pay for equal work for women; there's only one party that believes that science should be trusted rather than faith-based hope; there's only one party that is fighting to expand and save voting rights; and there is only one party that believes that our planet is in trouble and is willing to do something about it — and that is the Democratic Party.
So be angry about your guy not getting in, but take that passion and work toward helping others understand your reasoning and position. Help the party move forward so that there can be a more progressive candidate elected in the future. Baby steps.