Trump’s Written Response to Mueller

trump-toilet

On April 30, 2018 word leaked that the Trump defense team had in fact received written questions for Donald Trump regarding the Mueller investigation. Some suspected that Rudy Giuliani was the one who leaked the questions, but nobody is sure who did or even if these were the questions.

On November 16, 2018 Donald Trump stated emphatically that his lawyers didn’t write his response to the questions, that he wrote his own answers and hadn’t tweeted, er sent them yet. Below are the questions the New York Times indicated that the Mueller team wanted to ask Trump and his apparent responses, in 240 characters or less of course.

Questions related to Michael T. Flynn, the former national security advisor:

What did you know about phone calls that Mr. Flynn made with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, in late December 2016?

              #FAKENEWS, Flynn is an innocent fine young man who only did what he was supposed to do. It was legal, trust me, I’ll tell you, nothing to see here! #WitchHunt.

What was you reaction to news reports on Jan. 12, 2017, and Feb 8-9, 2017?

              @FOXandFriends are the only real news team with the truth. The failing New York Times and CNN are #FAKENEWS!!!

What did you know about Sally Yate’s meeting about Mr. Flynn?

              She’s only a four at best. I know beauty.

How was the decision made to fire Mr. Flynn on Feb 13, 2017?

              Flynn never had anything to do with my campaign, I barely ever met him. Can’t identify him if we were in the same room. He’s a nobody.

After the resignations, what efforts were made to reach out to Mr. Flynn about seeking immunity or possible pardon?

              Sheriff Joe is a true patriot being hounded by the angry democrats in the Justice Department. Who’s Flynn?

Questions related to James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director:

What was your opinion of Mr. Comey during the transition?

              I never met Lester Holt, that interview was fake, #FAKENEWS created by a 300 pound guy on a couch. Comey’s a lying Democrat who colluded with Russia. That’s what people are saying.

What did you think about Mr. Comey’s intelligence briefing on Jan. 6, 2017, about Russian election interference?

              Comey’s a low IQ guy for a non Black. Hillary colluded with Russia, no collusion here, none, trust me, you can believe me, no collusion #WitchHunt

What was your reaction to Mr. Comey’s briefing that day about other intelligence matters?

              Intelligence doesn’t matter, look at me!!!

What was the purpose of your Jan. 27, 2017, dinner with Mr. Comey, and what was said?

              They made the most beautiful chocolate cake. Comey wanted two scoops of ice cream. I don’t him only I get two scoops, he has to settle for one. That was a beautiful cake.

What was the purpose of your Feb 14, 2017, meeting with Mr. Comey, and what was said?

              Would you be my valentine and give me complete loyalty? No? You’re Fired!!!

What did you know about the F.B.I.’s investigation into Mr. Flynn and Russia in the days leading up to Mr. Comey’s testimony on March 20, 2017?

              The F.B.I. are a disorganized group of angry Democrats working for Hillary covering up her collusion with Putin. Putin loves Hillary. I’m the toughest president against Putin, ask Sean Hannity!!!

What did you do in reaction to the March 20 testimony? Describe your contacts with intelligence officials.

              I don’t wear contacts, Obama wears contacts but not me. I have 20/20 vision, unless it’s fine print then I need readers.

What did you think and do in reaction to the news that the special counsel was speaking to Mr. Rogers, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Coats?

              That’s spelled council. Isn’t Mr. Rogers dead?

What was the purpose of your calls to Mr. Comey on March 30 and April 11, 2017?

              They were prank calls. He answered and I asked him if his refrigerator was running. Comey said yes. I told him to go chase it before it got away. I’m the funniest president since Lincoln.

What was the purpose of your April 11, 2017, statement to Maria Bartiromo?

              Fox Business needed more propaganda so I delivered.

What did you think and do about Mr. Comey’s May 3, 2017, testimony?

              Comey lied, I know, I know all about lies and liars. I’m an expert on lying!!!

Regarding the decision to fire Mr. Comey: When was it made? Why? Who played a role?

              That’s spelled roll. There was no good time to fire Comey but you know this fake Rusher thing… wait, does Lester Holt work for you?

What did you mean when you told Russian diplomats on May 10, 2017, that firing Mr. Comey had taken the pressure off?

              I was telling them that now I can really get tough with Putin now that Comey wasn’t blocking me from getting the FBI to finish investigating the emails.

What did you mean in your interview with Lester Holt about Mr. Comey and Russia?

              It’s Rusher.

What was the purpose of your May 12, 2017, tweet?

              I tweet to keep America informed and great again. I have the best words on Twitter and I have more followers than Obama. #MAGA

What did you think about Mr. Comey’s June 8, 2017, testimony regarding Mr. Flynn, and what did you do about it?

              Comey lied and I tweet.

What was the purpose of the September and October 2017 statements, including tweets, regarding an investigation of Mr. Comey?

              Comey is a secret Democrat and Russian hacker working for Hillary. People tell me that so I was going to prove it to the world.

What is the reason for your continued criticism of Mr. Comey and his former deputy, Andrew G. McCabe?

              They started it!!!! #MAGA

Questions related to Attorney General Jeff Sessions:

What did you think and do regarding the recusal of Mr. Sessions?

              If he had told me he would do the right thing and recuse himself I wouldn’t have hired him. I want loyal people, not honest people doing their jobs. Glad I have Whitaker now. #MAGA!!!

What efforts did you make to try to get him to change his mind?

              Into what?

Did you discuss whether Mr. Sessions would protect you, and reference past attorneys general?

              He’s my Attorney General and it’s my Justice Department, Mine Mine, Mine!!!

What did you think and what did you do in reaction to the news of the appointment of the special counsel?

              I told you before, that’s council. All those angry Democrats. So I tweeted.

Why did you hold Mr. Session’s resignation until May 31, 2017, and with whom did you discuss it?

              I only discuss things with myself. I have a great mind. I was being nice to that little Keebler elfish low IQ back stabbing ingrate!!!

What discussion did you have with Reince Priebus in July 2017 about obtaining the Sessions resignation? With whom did you discuss it?

              Reince Priebus? Who’s that? I run my own White House and I only discuss things with the greatest mind in the White House, mine.

What discussions did you have regarding terminating the special counsel, and what did you do when that consideration was reported in January 2018?

              We’ll see Robert.

What was the purpose of your July 2017 criticism of Mr. Sessions?

              He’s too easy to criticize. I was just being me.

Campaign Coordination With Russia:

When did you become aware of the Trump Tower meeting?

              When Melania told me we couldn’t adopt any more children from Russia to give Eric and Donald Jr. a little brother. Barron kind of freaks me out.

What involvement did you have in the communication strategy, including the release of Donald Trump Jr.’s emails?

              Junior’s emails being released, that’s the real crime of the Clinton administration.

During a 2013 trip to Russia, what communication and relationship did you have with the Agalarovs and Russian government officials?

              We discussed going into a business venture supplying Trump resorts, the best resorts on the planet with rubber sheets and special maid service. I came away with this plan after how I was treated in Moscow.

What communication did you have with Michael D. Cohen, Felix Sater and others, including foreign nationals, about Russian real estate developments during the campaign?

              That’s all #FAKENEWS everybody knows it. There’s no collusion, NO COLLUSION!!!!!

What discussions did you have during the campaign regarding any meeting with Mr. Putin? Did you discuss it with others?

              I wasn’t asked to help Mr. Putin with his campaign. Besides, he was too busy helping me with mine. #MAGA

What discussions did you have during the campaign regarding Russian sanctions?

              The sanctions lifted against Trump Tower Moscow? We’re still working on that.

What involvement did you have concerning platform changes regarding arming Ukraine?

              That was all Obama’s and Hillary’s fault that Ukraine got armed. I had to explain that to Putin.

During the campaign, what did you know about Russian hacking, use of social media or other acts aimed at the campaign?

              All hacking and social media acts were done by a 350 pound fat guy on a couch. Heard he’s kind of orange and has a bad hairstyle.

What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?

              Everybody knows Manafort, who’s a wonderful guy, had nothing to do with my campaign for the six months he ran it. #MAGA #WitchHunt No Collusion!!!

 What did you know about communication between Roger Stone, his associates, Julian Assange or WikiLeaks?

              I LOVE WIKILEAKS!!!!

What did you know during the transition about an attempt to establish back-channel communication to Russia, and Jared Kushner’s efforts?

              #FAKENEWS the 12 angry Democrats can’t find any collusion, not collusion. Only Hillary colluded with Rusher. Comey lied. #MAGA

What do you know about a 2017 meeting in Seychelles involving Erik Prince?

              Where’s Seychelles? Do they have a Trump Tower there?

What do you know about a Ukrainian peace proposal provided to Mr. Cohen in 2017?

I don’t know Cohen, never met him, he never did any work for me, none at all. No Collusion.

Three Simple Fixes for our Elections

It seems like every year lately where we have a major election, the same problems, complaints and suggestions come up. People complain about no paper backup for electronic voting, people using their elected office (especially if they’re Secretary of State) to influence the election for another office they run for and finally third party candidates influencing the outcome where possibly the worst option ends up winning. I won’t go into the issue of voter suppression (though it is part of those using their elected office to influence elections for their party’s benefit) but the three I mention impact everyone who truly cares about the integrity of the election process and the power of their vote.

The problems listed above play a major role in why voter turnout is lower than most Democratic nations. People believe their votes don’t count or it’s too hard to vote. Well here are some simple fixes already used around the world and in many parts of our nation that could improve matters for everyone regardless of party who’s interested in fair and transparent elections being held where those who are truly supported by the majority wins.

In the United States there are no national standards for how local States and communities gather and count votes. There’s a mishmash of jurisdictions that are completely paper ballots that are hand counted and others that are completely electronic with no paper trail that can be used to challenge the electronic tabulation. Even Donald Trump is on record saying there should be a paper trail for elections. In my State and County we use paper ballots that feed into electronic counting machines to tabulate votes. The paper ballots are then collected and stored for a period of time. In fact in Arizona 75% of all our votes in the last election were mail-in paper ballots. After they were confirmed as legitimate via signature comparison on the envelopes for which they are sent, it turned out that Kyrsten Sinema has (as of this writing) a growing lead over Martha McSally. In fact due to the way the voting is done, verified and tabulated even the Republican Governor and McSally herself are acknowledging that Sinema is in the lead and could win based on the concept that every vote should be counted. Nothing prevents a similar war of accepting, verifying and tabulating votes like this from being done throughout the entire nation. Nothing except election officials not interested in using a simple, economical and accurate means to collect votes from using this method in their jurisdictions. Perhaps national standards should be considered via legislation that Trump is already on record supporting. Check his twitter feed.

In Georgia we have the ongoing drama of the Secretary of State (who controls the election) using his office to suppress votes in areas of the State that would benefit his democratic opponent. This was also the case in Kansas. Now Kemp is claiming victory and only after the election resigned his office while Abrams has refused to concede and the vote remains close (as of this writing). Kemp certainly did some unsavory and suspicious things as Secretary of State as did Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Now fortunately in Kansas, Kobach lost decisively as many Republicans found his actions unpalatable. In Arizona if an elected official wishes to run for another elected office in the State, they are required by law to resign that office. However, this doesn’t apply to State office holders running for Federal office. Well the fix is obvious, anyone holding office should be required to resign that office if they choose to run for a different office regardless if it’s local, State or Federal. That eliminates any perception of abuse of power to influence the vote. Besides, if you want to go on to another office, why keep the one you already have?

Now for the big one (in my opinion) third party candidates. We as a nation always complain that we are a two party system that prevents third party or independent candidates from ever winning office. Well there are some independents who have won office, but go on to caucus with one or the other major party (Bernie Sanders for one), but this complaint is essentially true. In 2000 Ralph Nader ran as a third party candidate and although he had no chance of winning was able to draw off enough votes away from Al Gore to give George W. Bush the election via the Electoral College (despite losing the popular vote). In 2016 Green Party candidate Jill Stein was able to draw off enough votes away from Hillary Clinton to permit Donald Trump to win via the Electoral College (despite losing the popular vote), and finally in 1992 Ross Perot drew off enough votes from Bush to permit Bill Clinton to win (but he did win the popular vote). Some argue that there shouldn’t be third or fourth party candidates since our system is built to only accommodate two major parties. Many disagree with that proposal as unfair to the wishes of those who don’t want to vote for any Republican or Democrat they don’t like or support for whatever reason. So how to resolve this issue?

One already exists. Instant Runoff Voting. It’s used in Democratic nations around the world and even in certain offices in the State of Maine. Essentially if you have more than two candidates for an office, you just don’t select one, you rank the candidates in order of your preference. If your primary candidate doesn’t collect enough votes to overtake the top two candidates, your second choice is then selected as your choice. Too often voters complain that although they don’t like their Republican or Democratic candidate they’re not going to waste a vote on a third party candidate and hold their nose and vote for someone they really don’t like. Or they don’t like either candidate then vote for the one that has no chance of collecting enough votes to overtake the other two, thus possibly giving the election over to the greater of two evils. With Instant Runoff Voting people would feel more at ease voting for who they really want and if that person doesn’t get enough vote, their second choice gets their vote. Every vote counts and the candidate with the most overall support wins. It actually helps third party candidates get a greater chance of possibly winning since voters know they can choose who they really want first, but have a backup just in case.

Seems to me that Republicans, Democrats, Third Party and Independents would all like this option unless the candidate wants to dilute the vote from the populous hoping to eke out a win like LePage or Abbot who never get anywhere near a majority vote when they ran for office against multiple candidates. This option is economic too since some jurisdictions require that if no single candidate gets over 50% of the vote and second election is held for the top two vote getters. Why hold a second election when you can resolve in in one?

Ideally there should be national standards for our elections and better yet, a constitutional guaranteed right to vote in our country. Some say we already have that via the 15th Amendment. In reality we don’t since as long as voting suppression measures can be shown to impact people beyond their race or ethnicity, it’s permissible. For example, everyone needs to get Voter ID. Now theoretically this applies to Whites and Minorities (despite the reality that most minorities can’t afford or obtain what’s needed for the ID). Voting suppression laws remain legal if you can’t prove the measure was designed specifically to suppress certain minorities from voting. So a simple “Every citizen has a right to vote” clause in the 15th Amendment would resolve the problem instead of the current wording of “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” As long as they can say the provision isn’t denying the vote because of race or color, it’s constitutional. The 15th Amendment needs to be amended.

In the meantime, until fixes are made, continue to vote the entire ballot in all races. It’s the best we can do in the meantime to make sure our voices are heard.

Serf’s Up!!!

Between the 9th and 15th Centuries in Europe Feudalism was the societal norm. Merriam-Webster defines Feudalism as “the system of political organization prevailing in Europe from the 9th to about the 15th centuries having as its basis the relation of lord to vassal with all land held in fee and as chief characteristics homage, the service of tenants under arms and in court, wardship and forfeiture.”

The Feudal lords and monarchs were the wealthy landowners of the time. All the wealth of Europe were in their families’ hands and were passed down from generation to generation for centuries. The Monarchs controlled the Church who controlled the people by claiming they spoke for God himself and it was heresy to deny their authority. The Monarchs in turn permitted the noble families, the land owners status and power in exchange for their allegiance to the crown and military assistance when demanded. The Feudal lords had control of the population living on their lands. They were known as villeins or Serfs. They were permitted to live on the Feudal lords’ family land in exchange for their homage to the Lords, labor, a share of what they produced and military service when called upon. Serfs had no rights, were not allowed to organize, and were required to pay homage and a share of their wealth to the Lords as well as risk their lives in the Lord’s defense. They weren’t slaves in the traditional sense, but if they were to live on the land owned by the Feudal Lords, they had to work the land and give the Lords a share of what they produced. They were totally beholden to the Lords for their lives.

Feudalism effectively ended around 1500 due to numerous causes such as the Black Death which curtailed the nobilities control of the serfs due to the numerous deaths, the creation of professional armies for the Crown as opposed to armies of the Nobles and their serfs, and the banding together of the serfs in various regions of Europe over the next 300 years. They organized, demanded rights and forced the Monarchy and Feudal Lords to abide. It wasn’t abolished in France until the French Revolution in 1789. The last remnants of Feudalism ended in Russia in 1861 when the Tsar officially ended Serfdom. When Serfdom ended, the people were able to own their land, if they could. Former Serfs were able to work for their own identity and existence. Most couldn’t, but a growing number of the people did over the Centuries when they weren’t totally beholden as a matter of law to the wealthy landowners and Church.

In the years following the collapse of Feudalism and Serfdom, the power of the Monarchs and wealthy elite began to give way to the power of the people. Those with the initiative, drive and luck were able to progress up the ladder to wealth and power themselves. A middle class came into being. Many don’t realize that although some of the founders were wealthy men in the colonies, most were actually what was considered the middle-class of the time. Our founding was among many things creating a government free from influence of the wealthiest people and church. Although it was true that you had to be a male property owner to be part of the political process during this time, becoming a property owner was achievable for many of the colonists.

By the latter part of the 19th century in America, the families of those who made fortunes began to secure power and began to flex it. Although called the Gilded Age, it was essentially a revival of a mine feudalistic society where the working class worked for slave wages, in company owned housing, shopping at company owned stores and were in reality the new Serfs. Although the wealthy class fought it with armed thugs, the union movement began in America and by demanding and getting rights for labor, along with the help of some States like Wisconsin, the lives and rights of labor improved and they became a powerful political force. After World War II, following imposition of a progressive tax code to pay for the war, pay for rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure and the power of the unions, the size, wealth and political strength of the American middle-class became the envy of the world. Europe began to adopt the same institutions and policies as we had here. With the exception of minorities due to continued racism, the lives of all Americans improved immensely.

By the 1960’s the civil rights movement began. It wasn’t the wealthy elite who pushed this through, it was the growing middle-class using their political power to push those in the various States and Washington DC to provide for the workers. Not all labor groups were pro-civil rights, but enough were to make a difference. After imposition of the civil and voting rights acts of the 1960’s, the Democratic Southern base peeled away from Democratic Leadership. Wealthy Republicans fearful of losing power and influence in the nation saw this opportunity to win over Southern Democrats to their side. The infamous Southern Strategy was formed. In the 50 plus years that have followed, the Dixiecrats became the Tea Party and the Tea Party recently became the MAGAts (Make American Great Again trolls). It’s easy to say that this is at its heart a racism issue for political power, but it’s not that simple.

Since Reagan, the Republican Party under the financial support of the billionaires in this country, those whose families made it rich in fossil fuels, the military industrial complex, casino gambling and real estate used their money to guide Republican henchmen like Newt Gingrich and Lee Atwater to get GOP party leaders to push agendas that weakened the labor movement. Since Americans had become complacent due to how well they were living, few saw the problem over the many years this was underway. By a combination of the wealthy taking over media, using religion to bring God back into the equation as it was during the feudal years, weakening the labor movement, the wealthy elite in this nation have successfully created a narrative that God has blessed these wealthy family, they deserve the power over the working class and the working class is dependent upon the continued growing wealth of the top 1% and corporations for their own person success. Government is now in debt thanks to what the wealthy elite have pushed through government and as a result, they’re justifying to the people that those programs that helped create and sustained the middle and working class since FDR, through Ike and later LBJ (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, Education, Social Safety Net) are too expensive and must be cut or eliminated so the wealthy can get richer and that wealth will “trickle-down.

Where has that left us? Donald Trump, a man who owes his wealth to his real estate father is now President working to help his kind get richer with the financial assistance of other Billionaires like the Mercers, Prince, DeVos, Wynn, Adelson, and the most notorious and successful Neo-Feudal Lords, Charles and David Koch, who also owe their wealth to their father. When I say Neo Feudal I’m referring to families who have handed down wealth and influence to their children for multiple generations, control the workings of government, insert religion to justify their actions and in effect control the lives of millions of Americans who are now dependent upon them. We are become a new Serfdom if this is allowed to continue.

The only antidote to prevent this disaster is to regain what the wealthy have paid the Republicans to take away. Labor rights, Civil Rights, Voting Rights, Healthcare Rights and the only way to do this is to be as active as the Labor movement was before and after the Great Depression. We must take control of government away from the wealthy elite few and give it back to the majority. There are three possible outcomes to our current political state, re-imposition of a feudal state after it ended hundreds of years ago, a fascist state ala what Hitler, Mussolini and Franco imposed in Europe (many believe we’re already there) or re-imposition of government of the people, by the people and for the people that Lincoln spoke of where government works for us and provides for us because we the people control it, not the Neo-Feudal Lords.

It’s only our Democratic Republic that’s at stake.

My Personal 2018 Midterm Voting Guide

I reside in Arizona’s Congressional District #06 and Arizona Legislative District #15. I’m filling out my Early Ballot and thought I would give any of you who are interested my votes for these ballot races and my reasoning behind them. Your ballots and mileage may vary.

First race is for Arizona U.S. Senator to replace Jeff Flake. The choices are Martha McSally (R), Kyrsten Sinema (D) and Angela Green (Green Party no joke). I’m voting for Sinema. Her voting record in both the Arizona State House and recently in the U.S. House of representatives has been essentially conservative. However she does support maintaining and fully funding Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and keeping all the protections in place under the Affordable Care Act. McSally has voted to eliminate protections for those with pre-existing conditions and other provisions of the ACA. She also voted to extend the GOP tax cut to permanent status although 88% of those cuts went to the wealthiest and the corporations and what she recently voted for would add trillions more to the annual deficit on top of what they already have resulting in cuts to social programs. That vote was of course a dog and pony show as the Republican Control Senate has already said that legislation is dead on arrival as fiscally irresponsible. Finally a vote for Angela Green and any other Green is in reality a vote to keep a Republican in office.

Second race is for U.S. Representative in District #06. The choices are David Schweikert (R) and Anita Malik (D). I’m voting for Malik. She’s a business professional with an impressive record of success. She advocates for fiscal responsibility as well as protections for ordinary Americans regarding their Social Security, employment and most importantly healthcare. Schweikert has been and continues to be Missing in Action in our district. He won’t meet with constituents from this district and won’t hold town hall meetings. He voted to gut the ACA and wants to provide what he and his GOP handlers call cheaper better healthcare. In reality he’s pushing for the “junk plans” that have low premiums but extremely high deductibles and no coverage for those things most Americans need coverage for. In effect, those plans essentially have you paying little in and getting nothing in return while the insurance company cashes in all your checks. Schweikert only votes as he is told to. Again, he won’t listen to his constituents, only his big money donors and bosses in the GOP.

Third race is for Arizona Governor. The choices are Doug Ducey (R), David Garcia (D), and Angel Torres (Grn). I’m voting for Garcia. Like me, Garcia is a fourth generation Arizonan. He served in the infantry. He also graduated from Arizona State University but then went on to the University of Chicago and is recognized nationally as an expert in education research and policy. His strengths include legislative experience, serving as a research analyst for the Arizona State Senate and leading the Arizona Department of Education as Associate Superintendent.  Ducey prior to being our Governor was our State Treasurer and prior to that he sold Ice Cream. Ducey has slashed our State’s budget resulting in funding cuts to important programs such as Education and AHCCCS (our version of Medicaid). Many State departments have lost funding to effectively do their jobs. Arizona teachers are ranked 49th out of 50 states in terms of funding. Ducey was unresponsive to providing a living wage to those who see to our children’s education. He provided very little after the teachers went on strike and is working to take back what was given. He’s fiscally irresponsible. Torres is in the Green Party and has zero chance of winning so a vote for him is a vote for Ducey.

Fourth race is for State Senator in District 15. The choices are Heather Carter (R) and Kristin Dybvig-Pawelko (D). I’m voting for Dybvig-Pawelko. She’s an Arizona State University and Cornell graduate with a specialty in Education. She was president of the PTO. She’s committed to providing the best public education to our children as well as affordable college education. She has administrative experience. Carter has been in the State House for years and has been a rubber stamp for all GOP tax cutting and program slashing agenda to the detriment of our citizens’ healthcare, education, law-enforcement and court system. A little side story, a few years back as a registered Republican I ended up on her email list and was inundated with campaign emails from her touting her experience and love for the people of this district. I found some of her claims to be shall we say exaggerated and not supported by the facts. I asked her to remove me from her email list. The next day I began to get spam emails from all sorts of nasty people. Was she responsible? Can’t say but the timing was suspicious.

Fifth race is for State Representative for District 15. Here you can select two representatives. The choices are Nancy Barto (R), John Allen (R), Jennifer Samuels (D) and Julie Gunnigle (D). I’m voting for Samuels and Gunnigle. Gunnigle was raised in this district and is a former prosecutor who specialized in prosecuting politicians. She’s a graduate of Notre Dame Law School. Samuels is another Arizona native. She’s a teacher at a school I’ve often substituted at and is on the Board of Directors for the Arizona Federal Credit Union. Both are extremely intelligent, experienced and represent more of what we need in our State House, independent thinking Democratic Women. Barto is in my opinion a disingenuous fraud. She’s the only candidate I’ve actually met. Several years ago I went with a delegation of Diabetics to the State House to advocate for the American Diabetes Association. I had a few minutes with her trying to give her our talking points regarding research and insurance reform. I never had her attention and of course she did nothing after that meeting. His current ads talk about her plan to end ACA in Arizona and replace it with the same “Junk Policies” I spoke of above. She opposes affordable universal healthcare but supports cheap plans with high deductibles and no coverage. Allen is another GOP rubber stamp.

Sixth race is for Secretary of State. As you know in addition to controlling the voting system in our state, the Secretary is also next in line for Governor should the current office holder leaves. The choices are Steve Gaynor (R) and Katie Hobbs (D). I’m voting for Hobbs. She’s been in the State House as both a Representative and Senator. She’s been among the few there to actually draft and pass legislation that benefitted ordinary Arizonans to include Medicaid expansion, victim rights for victims of sexual and domestic violence and most importantly for this office, voter rights in Arizona. She has been and continues to be an advocate for the citizens, not the big money donors. Gaynor has opposed laws to protect LGBTQ from employment discrimination. He spent his own money to defeat our current Secretary of State using the old “she’s not conservative enough” argument for the bigoted GOP base. He’s a mean, bigoted man who would like many Republican Secretary of States before him from all across the nation, rig the elections against anyone not Republican White Male via voter suppression and other scams.

Seventh race is for Attorney General. The two choices are Mark Brnovich (R) and January Contreras (D). I’m voting for Contreras. Contreras has served in both the County Attorney and Attorney Generals’ office. Her history has been one of using the law to not only prosecute offenders, but advocate for the victims. She’s established a nonprofit assistance group for victims of human trafficking. She’s experienced and balanced in her approach. Brnovich is the incumbent who’s literally done little to nothing since taking office. He claims in his ads to go after both Democrats and Republicans for victimizing people. An interesting claim that isn’t supported by any data to clarify or validate that claim. He had issues as a deputy county attorney prior to taking office.

Eighth race is for State Treasurer. The two choices are Kimberly Yee (R) and Mark Manoil (D). This is an interesting office considering our current State legislature does more to cut incoming revenues than raise them so Arizona can pay her bills. Hopefully our next legislature will fix that problem. I’m voting for Manoil. Manoil is another fourth generation Arizonan like me. He’s another Arizona State University graduate in both business and law and is a small business owner. He committed to go after tax cheats that Republican treasures have traditionally given a wink and a nod to. He’s interested in establishing a local community banking system that is free from Wall Street Influence and corruption. This could be of some importance in Arizona should we experience another 2008 (which we will). Now interestingly enough, Yee (who was appointed by Ducey as current Treasurer) agrees with many of Manoil’s positions especially opposition to two of Ducey’s and GOP ballot initiatives that would limit local communities ability to tax for services and moving State Land Trust fund away from public education to private schools. However, as a legislator, Yee has voted to cut taxes for those who make the most placing a higher burden on those who don’t.

Ninth race is for State Mine Inspector. The two choices are Joe Hart (R) and William “Bill” Pierce (D). This office always gives me a chuckle because I went to High School with the son of the Republican State Mine Inspector at the time. He held that office for many terms and I saw him constantly throughout my time in High School and college when I visited my friend. I can honestly say that this office does nothing. A trained chimp can be elected to it and nothing will change. The man I knew in office was actually worse than a trained chimp for a trained chimp had talent and did things. He just collected a check. In reality the State Legislature does everything involving the mines and the career staff in the office follows through with the Legislature’s instructions. That being said and in keeping with the trend, I’m still voting for Pierce the Democrat. Maybe he could do something but honestly this shouldn’t be an elected office, it should be an appointed position.

Tenth race is for Corporation Commission. You can vote for any two of the candidates. They are Rodney Glassman (R), Justin Olson (R), Sandra Kennedy (D) and Kiana Maria Sears (D). Now this is the office that oversees the corporations and regulates them to include APS and the Salt River Project. Let’s be honest, Republicans see corporations as people who deserve more than the people they’re supposed to cater to while Democrats want corporations regulated to see to the needs and protection of the consumers. So this is a no brainer, I’m voting for Kennedy and Sears.

Eleventh race is Maricopa County Clerk of the Superior Court. As a former 30 year employee of the Maricopa County Adult Probation Department I worked with the Superior Court closely and I’m very familiar of the needs this position requires. The two choices are Jeff Fine (R) and Roberta Miller (D). Both are actually qualified and would do well in a job that is entirely administrative record keeping. So again, in keeping with the trend, I’m voting for the Democrat Miller.

Twelve race is for the Justice of the Peace for the McDowell Mountain Court. There’s only one candidate running, Michael Reagan (R) so Michael will be a republican vote from me because I have no choice and a write in ballot serves no purpose in this case.

Eleventh race is Constable for the McDowell Mountain Court. Again, there’s only one candidate running David Lester (R) and for the same reason as above, I’m voting for him.

The following races are “nonpartisan” so the party affiliation isn’t listed and there’s little to no available information on any of the candidates.

Central AZ Water Conservation District: You can vote for up to five of the following candidates: Alan Dulaney, Kerry Giangobbe, Terry Goddard, Jim Iannuzo, Heather Macre, Jennifer Martin, April Pinger, Daniel Schweiker, Ronald Sereny, Rory Vanpoucke, Chris Will, Frank Archer, Lisa Atkins and Jim Ballinger. I’m voting for Goddard who is an old time Democrat who was once our Attorney General. I’m also voting for Heather Macre, Jennifer Martin, April Pinger and Lisa Atkins for my own reasons. See if you can guess.

Maricopa County Community College At-Large is between Roc Arnett and Kathleen Winn. I’m voting for Winn because of her history with the Community College district.

Maricopa County Community College District 3 is between Debi Vandenboom, Sherman Elliott and Marie Sullivan. I’m voting for Sullivan because of her history with the Community College district.

Paradise Valley Unified School District is between Julie Bacon and Susan Matura. Although I substitute in this district I honestly don’t know anything substantive of either candidate so sadly on a coin toss I’m voting for Bacon (I always go for bacon).

Phoenix Mayor is between Kate Gallego, Moses Sanchez, Nicholas Sarwark and Daniel Valenzuela. Phoenix Mayor is a nonpartisan office. Kate Gallego comes with the best resume in my opinion so she has my vote.

Proposition 419 is an initiative for the City of Phoenix requiring any person trying influence the results of a city election to disclose where the money is coming from. I’m voting yes because we need to follow the money to see whose behind these initiatives and candidates to gauge their legitimacy.

Proposition 125 is an initiative that would allow the State to adjust benefits in the CORP Pension plan used by Corrections Officers, Probation Officers and State Legislators that includes tying cost of living adjustments to inflation. I’m having mixed feelings on this proposition. I’m not collecting my pension through CORP but through the larger, better ran and more financially sound ASRS system. However, many of my former coworkers are in the CORP system and on its face, this seems like a good idea. However, State Legislators who don’t work the years correction and probation officers do get the same benefits they do. Giving them carte blanche ability to change the governing rules could present problems for anyone in the system who isn’t a politician. I’m voting No on this one.

Proposition 126 is an initiative that would prohibit local governments from imposing service taxes should they see a need for it in the future due to cuts in funding from say the State Legislature. This is short sighted considering local governments need to collect money to pay the bills if they fall short of their revenues. Both candidates for State Treasurer oppose this proposition and so do I.

Proposition 127 is an initiative that would essentially expand the development and use of renewable energy in Arizona like Solar. APS is opposed to it saying it would raise utility bills which is an interesting argument since they would be the ones getting more money if that were true. In fact it would reduce the need of the energy sources APS and the Salt River Project are invested in thus cutting their revenues and saving the consumer money by getting solar power. My bills have been much lower since switching to solar to supplement my APS power usage so I’m voting Yes.

Proposition 305 is an initiative that would essentially rob from the Public Schools to give money to for profit private schools. Both candidates for the State Treasurer oppose this bill as do I. I’m voting No.

Proposition 306 is an initiative that would prohibit candidates in Arizona who receive funding from the publicly funded Citizens Clean Election Commission from transferring any of those funds to a political party or PAC. I think this is a no brainer. I’m voting Yes.

Finally there are the Justices and Judges of the Supreme and Superior Courts. These people are either retained or removed from the bench. I’ve worked with or know of most of these Judges and Justices and all deserve to keep their seats.

That’s all I have. Thank you for taking the time to read this. I’m not asking any of you to vote as I did. Your vote is your own business. However, please vote the entire ballot based on what’s best for you, the state and nation. Place State and Nation above party and remember, all elections have consequences as we’ve seen the past two years. A blue wave in my personal opinion would help mend the State and Nation.

Thanks.

Polling versus Balloting: The Two Are Not the Same

We’ve all heard the line, “the only important poll is the one on election day.” That is true, but too many Americans and media personalities place too much emphases on polling as the indicator about how the race is going to end up, despite the fact that more and more over the last several election cycles, the polls did not predict exactly what the outcome was. People don’t understand that scientific polling and balloting are by design two different things and the only actual accurate measurement is the results of the ballot box tabulation (computer hacking, suppression, cheating and fraud not withstanding). Polling involves asking a fraction of the number of people who may or may not vote and predicting what the outcome would be. However, it’s not as simple as you would think.

              Representative sample doesn’t mean that the answer everyone gives is counted equally to the others asked. In true scientific polling, the demographics of the person asked are subjected to historic voting trends. Those demographic measures taken, applied to a complex algorithm and each participant’s answer is weighted differently. Some think that if 25% of 100 people asked said they would vote Democratic then 25 of the 100 people asked said they would vote Democratic. That’s not how it works. Demographics coupled with historic trends give each respondent a different statistical weight.

              The demographics measured include party affiliation, sex, race, age, socioeconomic status, voting history, etc. and those demographics are measured and weighted to determine the likelihood of that person actually voting the way they said they would or even at all. Demographics and historic voting trends are measured and placed in an ever changing algorithm of data to determine the relevant statistical weight of the response given, compared to the statistical weight of the response from people with different demographics. The outcome of the weighted results is what you see when polls say 25% of the people in a certain region support John Smith over Alice Jones.

              The problem in today’s scientific polling results reliability is that not only are the demographic factors changing, resulting in the algorithms needing change for an accurate result, they’re changing faster that the pollsters can keep up with. As a result, they may keep a certain statistical trend in the algorithm that no longer applies to today’s world. You will note that the say that Democrats are far less likely to vote in midterms of special elections and as a result, Republican voters who are polled get a higher statistical weight in the algorithm. However, recent election results have shown higher Democratic support than the polling indicated. Why? Because there is record enthusiasm for Democrats and Independents to vote in this cycle, more so than ever before and the algorithms haven’t kept up with that changing dynamic so Democratic responses are weighted lower than Conservative Republican results.

              Another constant trend that’s changing and Pollsters haven’t been able to compensate for is how the data is collected. Traditionally polls are done by phone. Only recently have pollsters gone from landlines for polling to cellphones. Elderly people tend to be regular reliable voters and often have no problem responding to polls. Younger people use mostly cellphones and are not likely to vote or answer polls. However, there’s indication that younger people are energized to vote this midterm, more so than ever before but that’s not to say they are so willing to answer pollsters calling them on their cellphones. Younger voters, millennials do not have a high historic trend of voting so their results aren’t weighted as high as elderly folks with landlines. If in fact that’s no longer the case, polling results will be undercounting pro Democratic responses. So in short, today’s “representative samples” used by pollsters to present results to the public may not be as representative as they were last year since the demographics are changing and the algorithms used are outdated.

              Now I like to look at poll results as much as the next guy, but I don’t take them as Gospel, never have and never will. For any voter out there the only opinion that you should rely upon for voting is your own, regardless of what other people may or may not believe. If you want your views to be taken seriously, to be acted upon and passed by your government you have to register and demand your right to vote in each and every election regardless of whether the polls are going your way or against. Even if polling was 100% accurate, those results are only opinions of a sample representation of people taken regarding an issue or issues. They mean nothing if the voters don’t come out and vote their views.

              Take polls, good or bad with a grain of salt and vote. Your views and our democracy depend on it and you.

Stock Market Bullet Points for Fun and Profit

As you know, Donald J. Trump and his Republican coconspirators like to justify their existence at the helm of government by citing the Stock Market. They talk about it like it’s the sole indicator of the value and success of an entire nation that everything hinges on its success.

Of course they leave out a few little things regarding the Market, not the least of it being that the crashes of 1929 and 2008 occurred while the Republicans controlled both the White House and Congress and their economic policies were in full swing and that the current rise in the Market began in late 2009 after Barack Obama and a Democratic Controlled Congress implemented (despite obstructions from the Republicans) economic spending and banking regulations that helped the Market recover and expand. In fact the rate of the Market Increase though still rising, is rising slower than it was under Obama. But no matter, here are some bullet points to consider when debating the Market and politics with your Republican friends.

  • Only 54% of the nation have any money invested in the stock market, down from 64% in 2008. Though the market is at record highs, only a few Americans benefit directly from it. Most Americans who have money in the Market don’t have enough to impact their financial portfolios to any great extent or are invested via 401K’s or pension plans.
  • More Americans are surviving paycheck to paycheck which means they don’t have extra money to invest heavily in the Market when they have to pay for housing, utilities, education, food, medicine, healthcare, etc.
  • The value of stock depends on the financial success of the company that is publicly traded on the market. The more successful that company, the more value to that stock. Another way of increasing the value of the publicly traded stock, is for the company to buy back the stock from the public. That is what most of the corporations did after the GOP tax cut plan of which 88% of the benefits went to corporations and the wealthiest Americans. Although stock shares increased in value, fewer of those stocks are available to the general public. In fact, the stock prices are beyond most American’s ability to purchase and invest.
  • Conservatives say Americans need to invest what money they have in the Market in order to benefit from an expanding market. Now, if you’re going paycheck to paycheck most extra money that exists, or borrowing you undertake goes to purchasing consumer items such as cell phones, television, computers, tablets, appliances, cars, etc. If instead of borrowing to purchase those items and you invest in the market instead, sales for the corporations dependent on consumer spending begin to fall. If sales fall, then the corporations aren’t doing as well as they did before. Less consumer spending on consumer goods leads to recession and recession leads to Market crashes. Recession and Market crashes are almost a symbiotic phenomenon.
  • The Stock Market is not the entire economy, it’s merely a factor of the economy that can and does touch on other factors. The major driving force in an expanding economy is wide spread consumer spending. Increased consumer spending results in more successful corporations which results in high stock share prices. However, higher cost of living for the necessities in life like housing, food, medicine, healthcare, transportation, etc. leads to less consumer spending if wages are stagnant. Wages have been stagnate for middle and working class since before Clinton whereas the wealth of the top 1% has grown exponentially. Too few people are taking in the extra wealth to contribute to the economy. This will result in recession as it has time and time again since the founding of our capitalistic society.
  • The Market will crash, it is inevitable due to stagnant wages of the working and middle class which in conjunction of the higher cost of living will result in less consumer spending for the products major corporations sell which will result in stock share values falling despite corporations buying them back from the public resulting in another crash. Problem this time, the massive debt incurred by the United States by passing the GOP Tax Cuts means the United States will not be able to insert money back into the economy as it has in years past to get us out of recession. Our national debt and deficit has passed the point of no return. The only solution to recover would be either major cuts to social programs which the GOP are today pushing for that will actually take more money out of the economy expanding the recession or raising taxes. If taxes are raised, it cannot be on the middle and working class for then they’ll have even less to spend, it must be raised on the wealthiest Americans and the Corporations who have the money to spare, but won’t let their Republican shills in Congress touch. That’s the stand-off.
  • It’s not the Market dummy, it’s the financial security of the working and middle-class that drives the economy for everyone rich and poor and that must be the focus. Increase wages, cut costs of the necessities of life like health insurance and rebuilt the middle class like Roosevelt, Truman and Republican Eisenhower did via their taxation of the wealthy and corporations to fund programs to support ordinary Americans and provide jobs. Everyone benefitted from it then and can again now if the greedy rich would just allow their purses to be opened for the public good.

Major Issues for 2018: Party Positions for Midterms

As we approach the midterms it’s accepted that turnout will surpass previous midterms. Usually the Republicans show up more during the midterms giving them the electoral advantage in both national and state legislatures and some governorships. However, in the era of Donald Trump and GOP complacency/complicity in his actions the Democrats are expected to turn out in record numbers. Now the Washington Examiner, a solidly Right Wing, Conservative, Republican supporting newspaper recently ran a story where they said that Democrats nationally outnumber Republicans by 12 million. They stated that 40% of the nation are registered Democratic, 29% are registered Republican and 28% are registered Independent or other. Now most polling shows that GOP registration is down to less than 23% and Independents/Others surpass both Democrats and Republicans, but the trend is clear, the Republicans are losing support among registered voters.  

Regardless of party affiliation or lack thereof, the real issue in any election are the political leanings (conservative/liberal) of registered voters who will turn out. Here’s the thing that most of us understand, issue by issue people have views that may or may not follow the standard stated positions of their parties or even the self-identified political leanings.

Here is a recent breakdown of the top issues/concerns for voters in this midterm by registered voters, Democratic or Democratic leaning voters and Republican or Republican leaning voters.

2018Concerns

Now using the above as a guide, what are the policy positions of the Democrats and the Republicans for these issues? Sadly most vote by party affiliation ignorant of what their party stands for or worse yet, not caring. If you’re going to vote for your interest then you need to research and reconcile in your mind who and which party has the best plan or position to address your concerns.

Regarding healthcare: Republicans are on record wanting to slash Medicare and Medicaid funding to cut the deficit to help pay for their recent and future taxcuts. Further, they’re on record wanting to cut if not completely eliminate provisions of the Affordable Care Act to include removing protections for those who have pre-existing conditions. Democrats want to increase funding and coverage of Medicare, Medicaid and correct the problems in the Affordable Care Act to ensure most if not all Americans have affordable healthcare and those with pre-existing conditions are not denied coverage or priced out of the market. Some Democrats are pushing for Medicare for All. They also accept that this would require higher taxes. Interesting to note that if Medicare for all is passed, it would add trillions more in costs to the program over the next ten years. However, studies show that doing nothing, leaving the system as is under the mandate of private for profit insurance companies would add even more trillions in costs than Medicare for all would and would be pricing more Americans out of the market completely.

Regarding Gun Policies: Republicans are on record in full support of the NRA’s agenda of making gun ownership even less restrictive than it is now and pushing for national legislation of Stand Your Ground, limited if not eliminated universal background checks, lowering the age for purchasing guns, allowing those who are charged with or have a history of domestic violence in owning a gun, allowing those diagnosed with mental health issues to still own a gun, arming teachers, conceal carry, deregulating sale of assault style weapons, high capacity magazines, “cop killing” bullets, etc. Democrats are on record supporting restrictions in sales of high capacity magazines and assault style weapons. They support universal background checks for all gun sales, raising the age for which you can purchase a weapon and denying gun ownership to those with a history of domestic violence, mental health issues, or violent criminal record.

Regarding Immigration: Republicans are on record to not only end illegal immigration in our nation, but limit legal immigration to our nation. They support bans from people from certain areas of the world from entry, deny entry to those claiming asylum, support separating children from the parents, setting up expanded detention centers for families and building a Southern Border Wall at taxpayer expense hoping that Mexico will reimburse us later. Democrats also want border security to reduce if not eliminate illegal immigration. However they oppose the border wall as a waste of taxpayer dollars that would have little if any impact on illegal immigration or drug smuggling. Democrats want to honor international treaties involving those seeking asylum and expand legal immigration to our nation with enhanced vetting procedures to replace an aging workforce.

Regarding the Economy, the Republicans are taking full credit of our expanding economy we’re experiencing today that began in 2009 after the last recession under policies enacted by Barack Obama and a Democratic control Congress. However, they are working to eliminate banking and investing regulations imposed by Obama and the Democrats to prevent another crash as we experienced in 2008. Republicans want to eliminate regulations on big business designed to protect the consumers and environment in order to expand their profit margins in the theory it would result in more jobs. Although the official policy of the GOP is free trade, they’re doing nothing to prevent Donald Trump from engaging in a trade war with China, Canada and Europe via tariffs which in reality are a tax on American Consumers.

Regarding Partisanship, the Republicans have made no secret of the fact that it’s their way or the highway. They are on record saying and doing whatever they can to push policies of their making while doing everything they can to stop anything coming from the Democrats, even if it’s something their party had supported in the past. As a result, the Democrats are now pushing for a Blue Wave or Vote Blue no matter who. In the past the Democrats have invited Republicans in to help craft legislation. The best example of this was the Affordable Care Act. The final bill was full of items from the Republicans but not one member of the GOP voted for the final bill. Mitch McConnell on the night Barack Obama was inaugurated President told other GOP leaders that he would do everything to block everything Obama and the Democrats presented, regardless of what it was in order to make “Obama a one term President”. That’s the nature of the GOP and if you want a working government in Washington DC you must have bipartisanship, not winner take all. Historically the Democrats have been better at this than the Republicans, but the Republicans are driving the Democrats in their direction. Both parties need to go back to the days of Country before Party.

Regarding Trump’s record. The Republicans in office are doing little to hold Trump in check. They are doing all they can to obstruct a transparent and thorough investigation into his alleged crimes, his unethical behavior and his possible collusion with Russia to win not only the 2016 election, but the GOP primary that year. Even though Donald Trump is on record doing things the Republicans in the past say they opposed, none of them are holding him to account. They are clearly being hypocritical in their treatment of the President. The Democrats want a full accounting of the Trump administration in terms of possible collusion, crimes and abuse of power. This is the major role of Congress, checks and balance and holding the executive in check no matter what party they’re a member of.

Finally regarding Tax Reform. Taxes are a necessary evil for a functioning government in order to see to the needs of the nation and her people. You cannot provide needed services to the people like infrastructure, healthcare, social security, law and order, national security, protection of the environment, education, equal rights etc. unless you have revenue coming in. Both parties push for tax cuts. The last series of tax cuts had 88% of them going to corporations and the wealthiest people in the nation who have the greatest ability to pay taxes while only 12% went to those who are going paycheck to paycheck. Although both parties claim to want lower deficits and debt, historically only the Democrats have worked to lower the deficit. The greatest taxcuts to middleclass Americans came under the Obama administration, not the Trump administration. The increase to our deficit and debt comes more from the taxcuts than from spending on the social safety net and the Republicans are on record wanting to cut social safety net programs in order to keep and increase taxcuts provided to the wealthiest Americans and corporations. Democrats are on record for going back to a fairer progressive tax code and maintaining key programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid without adding to the deficit and national debt which means taxing those who have the greater wealth to easily pay those taxes without impacting their standard of living.

Those are the most pressing concerns of the people for this year’s midterms. I didn’t list all the ones shown in the above chart, only the first eight. However, the party positions are easily obtainable to see if they match what you believe. Question is, do you support the policies of the parties in question because you truly support those positions, or because as a Republican leaning or Democratic leaning person, you believe what you are told to believe? Your needs or the party’s needs? Country before party or party before country and ignore those who aren’t members of that party and believers in their ideology?

I still consider myself a moderate strangely enough because I still hold to some old time traditional conservative values mixed in with some traditional old style social liberal values. However of the two parties today, my views are best represented and fought for by the Democrats and the Republicans by choice want to be obstinate to what the majority of the nation wants and needs. So I’m voting Blue no matter who until such time as another viable political party comes into being or the Republicans step back and begin to represent people of all ideologies within their ranks as they did prior to idiots like Newt Gingrich, Mitch McConnell and of course Donald J. Trump.

A Suggestion to improve all Arizona Public Schools

In November, there will be a ballot initiative on the Arizona Ballot to increase funding for Arizona’s public schools. It was a voter driven initiative that came from the #RedForEd campaign last school year after Governor Ducey and the Republican Control State legislature’s piecemeal pay increase for teachers. Prop 207 would raise an additional $690 million to our public school budget via increased taxes on Arizonans who earn more than $250,000.00 a year. Although I like the intent, it barely addresses the problem regarding our State’s budget for properly and effectively educating our students.

Currently Arizona ranks 49th of 50 States for public school education. Arizona spends $7,737.00 per student per year K-12 in public schools. However, here are some other interesting statistics to look at while considering where the problem lies.

Statewide we collect taxes to commit $7,737.00 per student per year, but that’s not what each student is getting in direct benefits. Arizona has an elected Superintendent of Public Education who oversees 227 separate Public School Districts governed by elected school boards. The individual schoolboards are funded based on the number of students they have enrolled but they allocate the funding as they see fit. From principle pay, teacher pay, administrative staff pay, infrastructure, textbooks, computers, supplies, etc. etc. each of the 227 separate districts decide how the money is spent.

These 227 school districts cover 2,421 schools. Some districts only have one school under their jurisdiction. These schools have 1,080,319 students enrolled and employ 50,800 teachers. In addition to the public schools, Arizona subsidizes 567 charter schools with approximately 150,000 students enrolled. Remember, the charter schools are for profit unlike the public schools. Using these numbers, there is a ratio of 21.2 students per teacher, but that’s an average. In reality we have some very small and some very large classrooms with only one teacher.

Now let’s look at salaries. The average salary of a school principle in Arizona is $99,339.00 with a range of $87,741.00 to $111,747.00. The average salary of a teacher in Arizona is $53,560.00 with a range of $46,761 to $61,835.00. Remember, each individual school district determines the individual pay for administrators, support staff, teachers, paras and substitute teachers. They also determine what in the money allotted them goes to building maintenance, school supplies, meals, resources for students etc.

The point I’m trying to make here is two-fold; although overall budget for Arizona schools is substandard, as a state, we are too top heavy in terms of the numbers of school districts and the administrative staff employed to manage the schools. Further, all these schoolboards are filled with those who are elected to office. Let’s be honest, when you go down ballot on election day to the races for Superintendent of Public Education and local school boards, most are just picking names, perhaps party affiliation, not actual resumes. Few take the time to research the candidates for these positions in terms of experience in education, best practices, budgets, experience, etc. We are too often placing the wrong people in charge of managing the system we have to educate our children.

In addition to allocating money, the elected officials determine school curriculum and policy for handling the enrolled students. Too often instead of making curriculum and policy decisions based on evidenced based practices for success, the decisions carry more of a political ideology that can run counter to best practices.

So, my modest proposal for Arizona which I know most likely won’t go anywhere past this blog is:

1)      Pass Prop 207 to increase funding for public education.

2)      Consolidate School Districts across the State.

3)      Established market value pay for all administrative staff, teachers and support that is in keeping with the cost of living in the areas they live and work, not on arbitrary methodology of the school districts.

4)      Eliminate the process of electing the Superintendent of Public Education and Schoolboard members and instead create a bipartisan panel of experts in the field of education who would submit a list of candidates to the Governor to fill those positions based on advice and consent of the State Legislature. Further, those who are placed in those positions will undergo annual performance reviews based on the success of the students in their charge and face removal if they don’t measure up.

We all agree there are serious problems in the public education system. I suggest that a major factor in our failing schools is that we have too much politics involved for a matter where we need more expertise. If we want success in our schools with financial responsibility, more bang for the buck let’s consolidate the districts and from the top down, bring in the best qualified people and pay them what they deserve.

But first, vote yes on Prop 207, it’s a start.

Dear Mr. Trump, regarding your invitation to be on your “Honor Roll”…

Those who follow me on Twitter know that I am still a registered Republican. Now because I believe in Civil Rights, Women’s Rights, Voting Rights, Minority Rights, LGBTQ Rights, Worker Rights, Human Rights, Rule of Law, Morality and Ethics the current GOP base who so adore Donald Trump call me a RINO (Republican in Name Only) and for that I say Thank You!!!

Now, because I’m still registered as a Republican, I get campaign ads and donation requests all the time from the GOP and their candidates. This weekend I received one from supposedly Donald J. Trump himself. Now it was full of lies and misrepresentations so it’s possible it came from his desk, but it was also written in grammatically correct English so I’m not so sure. Actually it comes from the “Trump Make America Great Again Committee” who’s tag line on their ads is “He brought us back” which should actually read, “He’s bringing us backwards”. But no matter. Below I scanned the mailer and added some commentary to what they are lying about. Thought you may enjoy this.

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Right versus Wrong, Good versus Evil

People often say that we are born inherently good but learn to become “evil” as we grow older or conversely some say that we are born inherently evil and self-serving only to learn to control our reptilian brains and be kinder to others. I don’t accept either premise. I know there are scientific studies out there that purport to prove either proposition. Some studies reference animal behavior showing how by nature they work together, that it’s instinctual and they will say that we as animals are the same. However, you can show how some animals are instinctually self-serving and go by survival of the fittest. So as animals, why wouldn’t that also apply to us? Now it’s true we as animals do have instinctual tendencies. However, unlike most in the animal kingdom, our brains grasp far more about our environment, our existence and our place in it than other species. The nature of our so-called developed brains often override any instinctual characteristics the human race may have. That being said, I’m of the opinion that as humans, we are born with a clean slate regarding how we view the world, our environment, our place in it and from the time of birth throughout our developmental years and beyond, how we are raised by our families (or lack thereof) and our environment determines what kind of person we become and more importantly, what kind of society we end up with.

Environment determines how the people who exist within it will think and those people together determine the values not only of the society they are a part of, but what is considered right or wrong, good or evil as those terms do tend more times than not to be relative, determined by the collective of the society as a whole. Environment is the physical locality where you exist, the views of those who raise you (what they consider good, evil, right, wrong, productive, unproductive, important, unimportant, ethical, unethical, moral, immoral etc. etc. etc.) and the views of your neighborhood, city or town, county, state, nation as presented to you by media, social media, word of mouth, etc.

Over time, societies develop a sense of what is considered right and wrong, good and evil from their environment. The “movers and shakers” of society influence the “clean slates” of the new humans in that society. They begin to teach, they begin to preach, they begin to set examples, they begin to get airtime and/or social media time and certain behavior is either rewarded, punished or held indifferently.

As we develop we begin with a clean slate on just about everything short of breathing, eating and defecating. Learning to do certain things like driving, cooking, hunting, playing instruments, math, etc. we have to learn and often we must choose to learn them or not. At first, those skills are difficult and confusing. However over time and practice we become better at them, we improve the more we practice such skills. It’s the same with human interactions with others and doing what is considered to be right or wrong.

From a young age we all quickly learn what our society considers to be right and wrong. You then have a choice. You chose to start doing what is considered right and good. The more you do it, the better you get at it and it becomes habit. You chose to start doing things that are wrong and evil, the more you do it, the more that behavior becomes habit and second nature. The environment around you often present rewards and/or consequences for such behaviors that determine if you continue to go with one path or another. If the nature of your environment simply ignores you doing certain behavior, then there’s no consequence beyond possible getting some recognition for doing it, but no punishment. So for the desire of getting attention and not getting in trouble for it, you continue to act in the same way until it becomes habit. And as we all know, habits are tough to break.

Recently I began substituting. I’ve been working at various schools covering a wide array of neighborhoods of varied socioeconomic strengths and weaknesses. Prior to this, I worked over 30 years with the probation department, supervising at different times both adult and juveniles and getting to know the backgrounds of these people that led to them ending up in the system.  I was substituting for a 5th grade class in a rather affluent neighborhood. The day prior to me substituting for this class, there was an incident in the cafeteria where the majority of students were loud and disrespectful to the staff trying to maintain order. They began to taunt and harass one women to the point where she was in tears. So the next morning one of the school counselors came to each class to reprimand the students for their behavior and advised that it would no longer be tolerated. However, as this is a public school the students knew very little beyond calling their parents would be the consequence. After she left some of the kids started laughing about the threat. They laughed about the woman who cried the day before. They started talking about why it was empty, why their parents wouldn’t care, and all this with me listening, as if I wasn’t there. These kids were choosing to be disrespectful towards adults

Now we all know how we as kids treated our substitutes and little has changed. So I had problems trying to maintain order in the class. A few of the kids continued to do the same “wrong” things in class despite me calling it to their attention and trying to get them to focus on their assignments. As these kids were getting my attention, some of the other students appeared upset over the situation, while others enjoyed it and tried to get the same attention by exhibiting the same behavior.

So I decided to have a talk with them, using the same forceful tone of voice I used with convicted criminals. It got their attention so I then explained to them what I once did for a living. I explained to them that they all know the difference between right and wrong and that by continuing to do the wrong thing all the time makes that habit. It ends up getting worse, like a rolling snowball.

Then I told them that the behavior some of them were choosing to involve themselves in, by their own personal choice would likely lead them into running afoul of the law they if they choose to not change it. I told them that even though they are children, they are legally required to abide by all the same laws adults do and that I’ve worked with ten and eleven year olds held in a Juvenile Probation Detention Center. I told them their current behavior reminded me of the kids held on detention. Most took what I said seriously and I could see the wheels spinning in their heads. However, as to be expected a couple of these kids just continued on. One child try to draw more attention to himself by acting out more. I told the rest of the class to ignore him. So he said something to the effect of “fine, then I’ll just kill myself” and mimicked shooting himself in the head. He then went to his next class and did the same thing there but also rummaged through his backpack like he was trying to find a gun. The school went into lockdown.

I found out the next day that this was a new student who had been causing problems since starting, he’s been a “ring-leader” of other students getting into trouble and his parents won’t hold him accountable. He was suspended and his parents are upset for how he was treated and singled out.

Reflecting on this, it occurred to me that our society is devolving into what we once considered to be wrong and evil is now permissible and such behavior is a means towards success. More people have been raised and permitted to get away with such bad behavior as children and then through their adult years. They have never been held accountable for that behavior, even rescued for doing it. Some have become powerful.

They end up being followed and praised by others who also have never been accountable for behavior most of us find abhorrent. They present an argument, belief, ideology that such behavior is acceptable, and is the “new normal” and should be permitted. I’m of course speaking of Donald Trump, his family and his base of support from people who have grown up thinking and doing racist, corrupt, evil, cruel things to others without serious consequence. Their behavior and beliefs are now habit and part of their nature. They’re trying to recruit more people to join their ranks. If successful, we can expect our society to become one where bullying, corruption, theft, racism, bigotry, misogyny, hatred becomes the norm for the majority. The leadership in the GOP, Fox News and Social Media is working to spread this belief and few if any are trying to counteract it.

The society we live in is the product on the values our citizens learn and make second nature. Too many of us are comfortable living in a society where all the things we were raised on, that were considered good for growth and stability are now tossed aside for a society where self-centeredness, cruelty to others, obtaining personal wealth by all means legal or otherwise is acceptable regardless of the cost to others. If we as a society continue to say and do nothing to punish bad behavior and reward good behavior, that’s where we’re heading.

If on the other hand you want to maintain and grow a society where good works and deeds are second nature, then start rewarding people for exhibiting positive qualities and punish those who do the opposite. Don’t excuse evil behavior at home, work, school, the streets, our halls of government, media or social media. Call out bad behavior and reward good behavior. We can’t escape the society we are born into and raised in, but we can determine what kind of society it is by being involved. Oh, and maybe it is time to bring back corporal punishment in Public Schools. Just a thought.