September 21, 2020 / by 

 

Deficit Hawks Screeching In The Background

The deficit harpies are warming up in the background. [1] Inflation is just around the corner, they shriek, by which they mean Democrats might take over government. There must be a handbook in which their arguments are laid out probably in red ink. They claim that whatever the Fed and the Treasury do to help anyone has to be paid for sooner rather than later by increasing taxes. Those taxes will fall heavily on the capitalists, which (or who) will destroy economic growth. They claim the government is sucking up all the investment capital, which chokes growth. They say the vast amount of debt will hurt the standing of the US in international finance. It’s predictable and this time it’s silly.

1. The numbers. Congress has authorized $2.2 trillion in spending to deal with the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis. That’s on top of other spending in a budget originally proposing a deficit of $!.1 trillion. With other spending on Covid-19 issues and reduced tax revenue, the current estimate for fiscal 2020 is about $3.8 trillion. We can reasonably assume another $1 trillion will be needed for states and municipalities, treatments and vaccines, and support for hospitals.

2. Funding Covid-19 expenditures. The US deficit is funded by the sale of US Treasury obligations. Sales are handled by a group called Primary Dealers, who act as market makers in Treasury securities. [3] In the past most of the debt is has been purchased by financial institutions for their own accounts or for the accounts of investors, or by the central banks of other countries. In the current crisis, the Fed has promised to buy all the Treasury debt. Here’s a good explainer. [2]

To get a picture of the situation, in the two months ended 30 April 2020, the national debt held by the public increased by $1.645 trillion. In the comparable period the Fed’s holdings of Treasuries increased by $1.448 trillion. The projected deficit during that period was about $183 billion, so we should estimate the increase in the total debt includes that amount. If we deduct that, we get an estimate of the amount of debt issued on account of the Covid-19 crisis of $1.462 trillion, meaning that the Fed purchased substantially all of the Covid-19 debt.

3. So what? The fear-mongering is based on two speculations: that the federal debt will have to be paid, or that interest rates will somehow increase, and either will have to be paid out of current tax revenues. In either case, we will have to increase taxes. [5] Another theory is that the Fed will have to sell off the Treasuries it bought into the private markets which will be bad for some reason.

The good news is that the Fed can just return the Treasuries to the Treasury in the form of a dividend, or a remittance in Fed parlance, and the debt drops by a like amount. Or the Treasury could pay off the securities and the Fed could remit that payment to the Treasury. If the Fed wants to hold the securities to help it control interest rates or for other reasons, it can just remit the interest payments to the Treasury.

Why would anyone think otherwise? That is the power of neoliberal ideology, which has taken root in the minds of practically every media personality and Twitter economist. There was a moment after the Great Crash when similar questions were raised, but no one paid any attention to see what happened after that, which was a big fat nothing.

It’s possible that the Treasuries aren’t the problem, it’s all the trillions of new dollars flooding the world that will cause inflation. This might actually happen in different circumstances, so it requires a bit of explanation.

1. Demand has fallen dramatically as we cope with lockdown, and in turn, income to business and working people have collapsed. This new money is largely going to people and businesses who need it to replace part of the income they would usually derive from their normal business activities or from employment. It won’t create new demand as it might have six months ago. It just replaces lost income, enabling people and businesses to avoid bankruptcy. It’s true that there are inflationary pressures on certain things, such as medical supplies and equipment. That’s just normal capitalist price-gouging, and unlike similar cases, say, lumber after hurricanes, won’t be prosecuted.

2. Most US business sectors are oligopolies, meaning that three or four companies control 80% or more of revenues. This is certainly true in the medical sector, including the drug business. Thus, salvaged demand paid for by the new money will flow to capitalists. It may be that some will be needed to expand production in some areas and reduce production in others. The rest will go to capitalists, in the same way the Trump tax cuts did, in the form of dividends and stock buy-backs. It is highly unlikely to have a serious inflationary effect.

3. If, however, there were a problem, there is a solution. Congress can increase taxes. The good news is that it can do so in a way that won’t actually impact working people. Congress can hike taxes on the capitalists and on capital.

a. This makes sense in an oligopolistic economy, which is by definition not competitive. When capital flows into oligopolistic businesses, some of the money goes into some new productive use. The rest goes to capitalists. Taxing oligopolistic profits away means that there won’t be inflation in the things only capitalists buy, giant yachts, private jets, politicians, and political favors, for example. Taxing them is doing a service in tamping inflation that only affects them.

b. Republicans will choke on tax hikes. But if inflation driven by all the new money is a problem, it’s one they caused. They threw away any claim to their version of fiscal responsibility when they cut taxes on the rich in the middle of an expansion. If inflation arises, they can’t expect the Fed to fix it for them, because they wouldn’t be able to survive the depression that would cause, just as Carter couldn’t survive the Volcker recession.

c. If this sounds like a layman’s take on Modern Money Theory, well, it is. I hope I got it right.

Update: Shortly after I posted this I saw this headline in the Washington Post: Top White House advisers, unlike their boss, increasingly worry stimulus spending is costing too much.
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[1] Here are some examples. This is a fairly restrained version. Here’s one from the Federalisr; I read it so you don’t have to, it’s ridiculously wrong on everything, including the conclusion:

In summary, the newly proposed bailout and stimulus packages smack of big government welfarism and crony capitalism. These are the sort of policies that will move the needle toward socialism, impoverishing us and stripping the productive engines of our economy.

I think the writer is worried about our precious national bodily fluids.

Here’s one from a columnist for the Arizona Republic, saying that this is bad, bad, even if the guy has been expecting disaster his entire career. It’s easy to see how this guy scared himself with numbers.

Here’s one explaining that the Fed buying municipal securities from towns and states shifts tax burdens to national taxpayers. That’s aimed specifically at my home state, Illinois, and I hope every shithead who makes this argument loses 75% of their deferred income. Here’s one from the occasionally sober SeekingAlpha.

One more from USA Today, complete with towering red bar graphs.

[2] After the Great Crash, the Fed made a similar promise. Buying and selling Treasuries is one way the Fed controls interest rates. And it’s worth noting that Treasuries are often used by financial institutions in various short-term transactions, such as repurchase agreements, and as collateral for short-term loans, rather than as investments or savings.

[3] Here’s the Wikipedia entry on Primary Dealers, which lists the current dealers.

[4] The Fed’s weekly balance sheets are here. Debt figures from the Treasury are here.

[5] This idea never surfaced from the Republican wing of deficit hawkers when the Republicans insisted on tax cuts in the middle of an economic expansion. And for Grover Norquist, I note that a government small enough to drown in a bathtub has proven to be a nightmare in responding to Covid-19. Norquist and his groupies drowned the federal government’s administrative ability to cope with the pandemic.


Come On Down Paul Gosar, The Latest Arizona Embarrassment

You may have watched the House Oversight hearing with Michael Cohen last Wednesday (See here and here). One of the most hilarious moments came when Arizona Republican Representative Paul Gosar went off the rails to crazy town.

The original is here courtesy of CNN. It is batshit nuts.

Last night, Saturday Night Live did a sendup of Gosar’s insane nuttery. Even the local press recognized the moment for what it was.

Yes, this is the same Paul Gosar that came into the light as Sarah Palin’s dentist friend was in cahoots with the idiot fellow dentist Gosar. Yes, it is all really that stupid.

And, now, that is where we are and, like Louis Gohmert and Matt Gaetz, Arizona has one of the biggest and most ignorant buffoons in national politics. Happy to see SNL catching up, but Arizonans have understood what an ignorant and cancerous buffoon Gosar is for years.


Daylight Saving Time Trash Talk

If there has ever been an avatar as to the gimmickry and inane stupidity of those who govern in this country, it is Daylight Savings Time. Seriously, what is wrong with this picture? Golly, we will just pretend time and seasons don’t exist by willfully shifting them! What a load of shit. It was stupid when it was devised and it is stupid now. I wonder how people in Alaska, who live their lives with the truth of daylight versus darkness, feel about this inane nonsense? Well, at any rate, I am getting a bit of a late start this morning, and because Arizona does not engage in the fraud of Daylight Savings Time (one of the few smart things this state’s legislature has ever done) I never know what time it is other places in the world. Does anybody really care? Let’s get to the football now, because the KC Royals are glorious World Series Champions, and the F1 Circus is off this weekend.

In the collegiate ranks, this is moving weekend. The bigs are starting to play the other bigs. First and foremost is LSU at the Crimson Tide in Bama. If this was in Baton Rouge, I am taking the Tigers all day, because I think they are the better team at this point. Alas, the game is in Tuscaloosa. Undoubtedly going to regret this, but I am still tending to an upset by the Tigers, but it will depend on Fournette getting untracked against a Tide defense that rarely allows that.

Clemson versus FSU is a big game. Hard to find someone to root for here, but I will take Clemson. Because Jimbo Fisher and FSU are ciminal coddling scumbags. Think Northwestern’s Mighty Fighting Journalists may have a problem with a rejuvenated Christian Hackenberg and Penn State. The other big moving day game is TCU at Oklahoma State. Both are sitting at 8-0, and TCU is favored. Jerry Jones may not be winning squat (and given his constant coddling of a criminal like Greg Hardy, good) as a Cowboy, but I think his OSU Cowboys pull the upset here. Utah at Chris Peterson’s Washington Huskies is another trap game. Probably the game I am most interested in, curiously, is the Midshipmen of Navy cruising their flotilla into Memphis. If Memphis gets by this game, and I think they will, people are going to have to start taking them and QB Paxton Lynch for real. Let’s hope that is so.

In the pros, the game of the week has to be Green Bay at Carolina. Holy crap, the Pack sure stunk it up in Denver against the last undefeated team they played. Aaron Rodgers has never been more feckless that he was last week, including when he was carrying a clipboard for Grandpa Favre. Jeebus, that was truly ugly. Can that happen two weeks in a row to Mr. Rodgers? I don’t think so, but this IS in Carolina, and Luke Kuechly and Josh Norman will be patrolling the other side of the ball. Should be a great game, but I think the Pack won’t lay two eggs in a row. Which will help the Cardinals, who are on bye break waiting to head to the Emerald City for a showdown with the Squawks. Before they come home to take on the undefeated Bengals on a SNF flex game.

In other news and notes, Johnny Football did not look crappy Thursday against the Bengals. Didn’t look great, but he is certainly not the Brownies’ problem, a crappy team that is nowhere near as good as Cinci is the problem. Fish at Bills and Rams and Vikings both really are intriguing. If the locations were reversed, so too would my picks be. But I will take both home teams here. For once, ESPN is actually right about something, the battle between Todd Gurley and Adrian Peterson is truly compelling.

Raiders at the Steelers could be a great game. The Raiders are MUCH improved, and truly starting to play some decent ball. But this is Big Ben’s second game back, and he will have settled back in by now, and I think that is the difference. Look out for the Raiders in the future though. Peyton is going to his old home. Luck sucks lately. I’ll take Peyton here, though will note that Pagano is coaching for his job. So, maybe Chuck ‘n Luck will pull out some more of those dandy trick plays they used to such great success against Bill Bel and the Pats! Iggles at Cowboys? Are these two teams still in the NFL?

That’s it for this week lugnuts. Music by Terry Kath and Chicago.


Emptywheel’s Super Bowl XLIX Trash Talk

Welp, here we are for our last regularly scheduled Trash Talk for the football season. It may be the biggest game of the year, but it is always a tad melancholy because it means no more football. On that note, off we go.

Super Bowl XLIX is right here in the Phoenix Valley of the Sun. Except that it has not been that sunny; in fact, the end of the week has been nothing but rain, starting Thursday and through all day Friday, and it is overcast again this morning as I write. The temperature has been quite moderate and comfortable, but the overcast and rain a real downer. Curiously, none of the fans I have run into, and there are a lot of those, seem to mind in the least; but as a local, I sure hoped for better. That said, all the parties and festivities seem to have gone off just fine, and of course the gorgeous VIP crowd, between all the limos and controlled indoor settings, probably never noticed. In short, so far, so good, despite the inclement weather. I have also had great fun seeing all the Squawkers in their vaunted “12th Man” shirts. To a tee, so to speak, I see them and say “Love yer Number 12 Tom Brady Jersey!”. So far, I have not been punched yet, but there is still time.

There are so many different things to do if you are here and a fan, and it is spread out over the valley. There was the NFL Experience set up at the Phoenix Convention Center Downtown, the seemingly continuously running Super Bowl street party in and around downtown central square, and also the simply idiotic looking huge “Bud Light House of Whatever”, that appeared designed for hollow 20 something twits. 10-12 miles northwest, in Glendale, by the actual University of Phoenix Cardinals stadium, were more stages and whatnot sponsored primarily by DirecTV. I know some of the pretty people were bussed out there, and promptly bussed right out of there as soon as they could. Cause no one with any shred of common sense parties in freaking Glendale when you could be doing it in Scottsdale. Come on man. That is just the way it is, and the way it has always been. And it will always be that way, cause Glendale is a bag of Chalie Brown’s rocks on Halloween. People with money and the appropriate je ne sais quoi wouldn’t be caught dead hanging in Glendale, and that won’t be changing anytime soon.

The fact that the game is in Glendale, but all the real playahs and money somewhere else actually has some real implications locally. Yes, it is what it is, but Glendale has a problem as a result. You see, Glendale is its own municipality; it is not Phoenix, and it sure as hell is not Scottsdale or Tempe. It has its own tax and spending obligations, and it has fucked it up royally, as my friend, and the always excellent, Travis Waldron of Think Progress details:

In a world in which American cities have handed over billions of dollars in public money to finance sports arenas and stadiums, there is perhaps one city that stands above the rest as a warning for what can go wrong when they do so. It just so happens that place is Glendale, Ariz., which will host Super Bowl XLIX this Sunday.

Glendale has spent liberally on sports in the past decade and a half, luring professional hockey, football, and spring training baseball with millions of dollars of its own money and plenty of help from the state. Sunday will mark the second time it has hosted the Super Bowl, and the game’s biggest proponents are, in typical fashion, making the argument that helped sell all of this sporting infrastructure that brought teams and events to Glendale in the first place: it will be a boon for the local economy.
….
The problem is that the Super Bowl almost certainly won’t generate $500 million in economic benefits for Arizona. Economic research has shown that for a variety of reasons — among them: a failure to account for costs, money that leaks out of the local economy, and money that would have been spent anyway or, in the absence of such an event, elsewhere in the city — Super Bowls and other mega-events and the publicly-funded stadiums built to host them virtually never have such an effect. They may provide minimal gains, and sometimes losses, to host cities, but they’re never major shots in the arm. Cities that believe otherwise, about stadiums or the events themselves, run the risk of major trouble.

Travis is right, the “economic stimulus” from major events like Super Bowls, NCAA National Championship games, in both football and basketball (both of which are here in the immediate future), are just never what they are cracked up to be when you factor in the hard costs to host cities. But, it goes a little further than even Travis lets on when the hard costs of the game itself, and ridiculous security therefore, are being paid by a, frankly, minor municipality like Glendale and the real big bucks are being spent in Scottsdale/Paradise Valley and Phoenix. And that, my friends, is exactly what is going on here.

And, then, there is Scottsdale/Paradise Valley. That is where the real players and action are. I live, literally, on the intersection of East Phoenix/Arcadia, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley. Even with an old rotator cuff, I can throw a rock and hit all of them. So, I went to all the glitzy parties and can tell you about them, right? Nope. For one thing, I just don’t care as much anymore, and certainly not enough to work it to get to them. But, secondly, the big money, and exclusivity, is so pervasive now that it is really hard, much more so than it once was, whether for Super Bowl XXX or even XLII.

I didn’t miss the Playboy, Victoria’s Secret or Jerry Jones parties in either of those, but trying to get into the equivalent this year was insane, and I am not going to pay to do so. You think bmaz is gonna pay $350 to go to a Scottsdale bar to hang with lowlife B-level celebs like Drake, Brody Jenner and some idiot, I never in my life heard about, named “William Lifestyle”? Uh, no. I wouldn’t pay a lousy buck to see that trashy shit like that. So, save for a one day pass I got into the ESPN live set gig at Scottsdale Fashion Square, about two miles down the road, I just didn’t partake in the festivities. (Couple pictures from that, here, here and here; featuring mostly my new friend, and totally awesome guy, Tom Jackson) Your Phoenix based Roving Reporter has failed you. Sorry about that. And, no, I won’t be going to the game either. Tickets are, in even the cheapest markets, going for $7,500 – $10,000 for any seat, and WAY more for a reasonable seat, to the game. If I had tickets, I would sell them and buy a new car, or a Cessna, or something.

Alright, let us get to the only thing that matters in a game between the two best teams in football. Deflategate. Roger Goodell was his normal sack of salted dicks self in his press conference here. What a bullshit joke. Goodell is an embarrassment. He and the NFL have ignorantly, stupidly, and against the interests of the league and the Super Bowl, weakly and cravenly not just allowed, but actively encouraged, the ginning up of the non-story of Deflategate into something that has consumed the oxygen of the Super Bowl. The only thing that matters to tight ass billionaire owner driven cracker like Roger Goodell is the money. First he looks at the purse. Players health, and fans’ desires are not even really on the list.

If that is not enough incompetence to get Goodell fired, on the heels of the ignorant and incompetent handling of the Ray Rice situation, I guess there is no such thing as incompetence to the beyond hubristic and arrogant NFL owners. As a fan, fuck that shit. Goodell and the vaunted “NFL Shield” are craven, self serving, pathetic reactionaries worried far more about covering their gravy train asses than being positive, proactive, forces for good in society. Oh, and by the way, their “evidence” and “investigation” is, once, as always, total shit. So far, the NFL has a an equipment manager that had the misfortune of taking a piss in a bathroom and a bunch of physics that even all the best scientists now admit actually could support the Patriots. What a load of sensationalistic crap. Without more (which Goodell and his crying ass stooge Ted Wells may well try to falsely gin up, same as the asinine “Mueller Report”), Bob Kraft, Tom Brady and BillBel are indeed owed an apology. As Bill Simmons said in a couple of tweets on Twitter:

The NFL is searching for a person of interest who dressed like a referee and didn’t write down the measurements of 12 footballs. We spent 3 days talking about a ball boy taking a piss. Meanwhile Walt Anderson was approving footballs with his gut feelings. What a farce.

Alright. As to the game. Yeah, sorry, there are no more cheap ass platitudes on the elusiveness and brains of Russell Wilson, the strength of the Squawks defense, the greatness of Brady and the brilliance of BillBel’s game scheming. It is all out there, but I am done with that tripe, cause at this point it is all bullshit. These are two different and both wonderfully constructed and coached teams. One will win, and one won’t. We’ll see.

Music today, at the top, is INXS. Irrespective of the team you support, sometimes you kick, and sometimes you get kicked (as lifelong Packers fan, trust me). Also, the Brady’s Balls AC/DC thing is really well done. Don’t miss the J. Geils I added late, cause it is everything. Lastly, I especially love the Favre and Carve spot (one of several related Wix spots), though, truth be told, Headmistress, and my boss, Ms. Wheel made me do it! So, thanks to one and all for a great football season. We will see you again when the start of the F1 Circus begins and/or the force moves us. You are, all, truly and always, the greatest.

Let’s rock this joint lug nuts! Gronk on bitchezz!!


Meet Adam Kwasman, Arizona’s Racist Bigot Politician of the Month

With the latest furor over minor children and the border already in full swing on top of all the other immigration fear mongering going on in this election year, you would think you had about heard it all when it comes to preening idiotic nonsense from “conservative” politicians.

Think again.

Exhibit A: This somewhat beyond amazing story of Adam Kwasman, a current member of the Arizona State Legislature and a candidate for Congress in Arizona LD-1. Kwasman, in a mad rush to the gun nut bigot fest protest of immigrant children in southern Arizona, inspired by the Murietta hatred, saw a bus load of YMCA campers in a school bus on their way to summer camp. Kwasman, displaying every ounce of his razor sharp Einstein like brilliance, immediately concluded they were evil immigrants.

From Brahm Resnik and the Arizona Republic:

He [Kwasman] had tweeted from the scene, “Bus coming in. This is not compassion. This is the abrogation of the rule of law.” He included a photo of the back of a yellow school bus.

Kwasman later told me he saw the migrant children. “I was actually able to see some of the children in the buses. The fear on their faces…. This is not compassion,” he said.

But there was a problem with Kwasman’s story: There was no fear on their faces. Those weren’t the migrant children in the school bus. Those were children from the Marana school district. They were heading to the YMCA’s Triangle Y Camp, not far from the Rite of Passage shelter for the migrants, at the base of Mt. Lemmon.

12 News reporter Will Pitts, who is at the protest scene, says he saw the children laughing and taking pictures of the media.

Watch Brahm Resnik make an idiot of Kwasman at this link. I will not embed the video because I cannot get rid of the auto play command.


The Ugly Political Sock Puppetry of Arizona’s Top Educator

Screen Shot 2014-06-17 at 6.18.50 PMDespite the obvious heat surplus and water shortage issues, Arizona continues to be one of the most growth intensive states, and has pegged much of its future on what can be loosely called “smart sectors” such as information technology, solar, chip making and, indeed, higher education itself as evidenced by the recent Starbucks/Arizona State University partnership.

You would think, given the above factors, and many more, Arizonans would be meticulous and scrupulous about the leaders they elect to shepherd the state’s educational system. But you would be wrong.

The power and control of Arizona’s education system rests in the hands of an elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Sadly, it has been a position occupied by common, and morally bankrupt, conservative political hacks of late. From 2003 through 2011, the office, the fifth highest elected office in Arizona, was held by Tom Horne, the current embattled Attorney General of Arizona. Horne was a line construction lawyer who up and got elected Superintendent of Public Instruction. But, hey, how much worse is that than when a podunk lawn mower repairman got elected Maricopa County Sheriff (which was before the office went totally into the sewer with former travel agent Joe Arpaio).

Okay, Horne was awful as Superintendent of Public Instruction (and has disgraced the office of AG even worse since), but once he left, one John Huppenthal was elected to cover the educational interests of Arizona’s children. And since January 2011, Huppenthal has been the one in charge of Arizona’s education.

Who is John Huppenthal? Pretty much an up through the ranks of the bat shit crazy Arizona state legislature right wing political climber. People who lived in Huppenthal’s district in the late 90’s, when he was an Arizona State Senator, can attest that the man compulsively and inexplicably robo-called with all kinds of dogmatic messages, at all hours of the day and night. To the point to where some literally were forced to contact his office and threaten suit if it did not stop on their phone. Huppenthal and his office were stunningly cavalier and arrogant about Huppenthal’s compulsive robo-calling. Yet he took to it again as Superintendent of Public Instruction in an effort to undermine the public schools he was entrusted with protecting and, instead, cravenly support private vouchers taking money away from public schools.

Such is great flavor as to the “measure of the man” that is John Huppenthal, but still mostly ancient history. How has the aggressively dogmatic Huppenthal done as Superintendent of Public Instruction, i.e. Arizona’s top educator? Same old story; same old song and dogmatic nutjob dance. You may remember the controversy over “banned textbooks” by the Tucson Unified School District a little over two years ago from the somewhat hyperbolic and inaccurate “Jeff Biggers Salon expose“. Well, that whole ordeal, contrary to Biggers’ Salon framing, was never the fault of the Tucson Unified School District, but, was nearly completely the doing of the compulsively dogmatic conservative John Huppenthal. That is who John Huppenthal is.

To sum up, Arizona is a growing state, aggressively seeking the educated, who in turn want quality education for their young. Instead we give them the likes of Tom Horne and John Huppenthal. As a result, Arizona, for all the luster, is lagging pathetically in education because of dogmatically blinded and visionless leaders.

So, who is this “education leader” John Huppenthal that has led Arizona to barely be above Mississippi and Arkansas in the bottom ten of American education? Well, as hinted above, he is an obsessive/compulsive right wing political animal. And, it turns out, his compulsive behavior is so obsessive that it carries well over into his duties as Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction. In the form of Huppenthal being an obsessive political sock puppet blog troll.

Okay, granted, political blog sock puppets are a dime a dozen, or, you know, less. But it is a far different story when multiple anonymous sock puppets are being run by a major state’s Superintendent of Public Instruction. In this case Arizona’s one and only John Huppenthal. From Bob Lord, who has done yeoman’s work on this at Blog For Arizona:

Okay, for the few of you who have not figured this out yet, by all indication our friend Thucky is John Huppenthal, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, which is the fifth highest elected office in the state.

This may be a first. I don’t know of any other elected official who has led a double life as a serial blog troll besides John Huppenthal. Chalk that up to Arizona having the market cornered on political craziness, I guess.

The story here is that Blog For Arizona is a small, but quite important and statewide, progressive political blog in Arizona. For years it has taken on the assortment of right wing “conservative” nut jobs that have been dragging Arizona’s present, and future, down. Including, of course, John Huppenthal. For quite some time, a couple of aggressively defiant and apologetic “commenters” have appeared at Blog for Arizona to defend Huppenthal under, at a minimum, the screen names “Thucydides” and “Falcon9”.

Turns out both sock puppet screen names are almost surely none other than Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal. In the Phoenix New Times, Stephen Lemons (aka the “Feathered Bastard”) relates many of Huppenthal’s erstwhile greatest sock puppet hits.

Here is a great video report by Brahm Resnik, and featuring excerpts from an interview he did with Bob Lord as well as comments by media expert Dan Gillmor of the ASU Cronkite School of Journalism. [I would embed it but for the fact there are no available reasonable embed controls and the thing auto plays, which just is not permissible on this site. Extremely poor form by Arizona Central and KPNX 12 News]

So, not only is Huppenthal a book banning right wing nut job, he is an anonymous political blog troll – with multiple identities – obsessively, albeit covertly, policing reporting on his own true life self. Not only does Huppenthal, through his sock puppets, aggressively defend himself at all cost, he also attacks other politicians he dislikes, like the outstanding current Democratic candidate for Arizona Attorney General, Felecia Rotellini.

Think Huppenthal is a disgrace to his public office, and position as the leader of Arizona public education? Sure. But, wait, there is more! Much more. Huppenthal has done this on, arguably, taxpayer time on the job, and unquestionably via the misuse of state equipment and resources.

Arizona Administrative Code Title Two, Chapter Five provides, inter alia:

R2-5A-501. Standards of Conduct
A. Required conduct. A state employee shall at all times:
1. Comply with federal and state laws and rules, and agency policies and directives;
2. Maintain high standards of honesty, integrity, and impartiality, free from personal considerations, or favoritism;
….
4. Conduct himself or herself in a manner that will not bring discredit or embarrassment to the state.
B. Prohibited conduct. A state employee shall not:
1. Use his or her official position for personal gain, or attempt to use, or use, confidential information for personal advantage;
….
5. Directly or indirectly use or allow the use of state equipment or property of any kind, including equipment and property leased to the state, for other than official activities unless authorized by written agency policy or as otherwise allowed by these rules;

The Arizona Republic and local Channel 12 NBC News, through the excellent Brahm Resnik, has reported Huppenthal used his office at the Department of Education in his anonymous sock puppet political blog trolling and commenting (see the video linked above). I have independently confirmed, via Bob Lord at Blog For Arizona – where many (but far from all) of the comments were made – that dedicated Arizona Department of Education IP addresses were used.

Pretty hard to look at Huppenthal’s putative conduct here and not see how, at a minimum, it is in direct violation of R2-5A-501(A)(2 and 4), maintaining honesty and integrity and conducting oneself so as to not discredit and/or embarrass the state, not to mention R2-5A-501(B)(5) misuse of state property and equipment for other than official activities. The putative technical violations are patently obvious.

Most damningly, there is precedent for investigation, sanction and termination of governmental officials in Arizona for violative conduct such as misuse of governmental computer networks and political hatcheting. In 2008, high ranking Maricopa County official Al Macias was terminated for conduct directly analogous to that which Huppenthal stands accused of, and under directly similar ethical guidelines.

While the firing of a county official is a far different thing than removal of a top elected state official, the previous standard should serve as a wake up call to both the press and state ethics officials in Arizona on the purported conduct of State Superintendent of Public Instruction John Huppenthal.

Should the students, teachers and citizens of Arizona expect any substantive investigation into Huppenthal’s ethical lapses in conduct? Of course not, because that would almost certainly have to come from the Arizona Attorney General’s Office run by fellow embattled conservative Republican, and Huppenthal’s direct predecessor, Tom Horne. Hard to envision the scenario where Horne is not so busy fighting off his own charges of impropriety that he would be willing to take on a fellow kindred wing nut.

It is a story worth telling and investigating, and one the citizens of Arizona should hear; let’s hope more of the press, both state and national, follow up on where Brahm Resnik, Stephen Lemons and Bob Lord have had the courage to lead.


The Naked and Unbound Ambition of Kyrsten Sinema

4d2ce6002fa58.preview-300As the kerfuffle over SB-1062 dies down, politics march on here at ground zero in Arizona. The GOP runs the key Executive Branch offices such as governor and Secretary of State but, more importantly in many respects, also the state legislature, and as long as they do state politics will continue to be dominated by clusterfucks and cleanups. But Arizona has issues with their statewide federal elected officials too. The current manifestation is not McCain, Flake, nor even the Pleistocene era brainfart known as Trent Franks.

No, today’s issue is the once and forever self proclaimed liberal Democrat, Kyrsten Sinema. The transformation of Sinema, who aggressively sold herself as progressive liberal when seeking election, to a conservative Blue Dog toadie of the Minority centrist Dem leadership has been nothing short of astounding, especially for those of us who reside in her district and voted for her in 2012. She completely betrayed her base constituents in Arizona District 9. That is mostly a story for another day though, today’s story is not about discrete policy issues, but wholesale admission of the deceptive nature of Kyrsten Sinema’s incursion into AZ-9 to start with.

The baseline is this: Thursday, longtime Arizona Democratic Congressman Ed Pastor of AZ-7 announced his decision to retire and not seek reelection in 2014. Local politicians, from seemingly forever Maricopa Board of Supervisor’s member Mary Rose Wilcox to new and fairly refreshing voices like state legislature member Ruben Gallego, were literally stepping over one another to announce they would be running for Pastor’s seat. They are almost all minorities vying to represent a solidly minority district. And this is no small thing, as most all of them have to give up their current position to do so under Arizona’s “resign to run” law.

I was asked early on Thursday, not long after Pastor’s announcement, by a friend who supports liberal Dems nationwide, about Kyrsten Sinema jumping in. I thought it was a joke question and said so. Because it was crazy talk. The joke, however, was squarely on me and her other constituents in AZ-09. Yeah, Kysten Sinema, who pledged herself to AZ-09, started lusting after AZ-07 the second it was announced available.

Not that Kyrsten Sinema (see her Twitter feed, which is a litany of everything but her contemplated district switch) or her managers/spokespeople will admit it, or even address the subject, but she was ready to walk from second one. How do we know? Because the Arizona Republic/12 News (via the excellent Brahm Resnik) got a copy of an email to Sinema’s inside staff proving it.

So, why is this a big deal? Because it shows that, for first term congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema, her own raw narcissistic ambition, in a dynamic situation, immediately trumps loyalty to her constituents and her party.

How it trumps her constituents is easy. Sinema represents AZ-09, which though a new district emanating out of redistricting from the 2010 Census, consists of a significant portion of John Shadegg’s old district that was taken over by Ben Quayle after Shadegg’s retirement. Sinema did not live in the still leaning conservative district, and explicitly came from an out of district seat in the state legislature to run for the seat when it opened for the 2012 election. She painted herself as a classic liberal of the old Tucson school, who was a progressive and sexually liberated voice. It was a bill of goods, but Sinema was an extremely aggressive campaigner who worked her ass off thusly selling herself. She eked out a victory over a very weak Republican thanks in part to a helpful diversion of votes by a third party Libertarian candidate.

And, though she has been a disappointment to any liberal, at least we thought we had a Democratic representative of some sort for the foreseeable future. Sinema came here and took our votes, surely she was ours at least until she could run for a Senate seat or something larger, right? Apparently not.

Kyrsten Sinema has proved herself willing to leave her, apparently carpetbagged, home in AZ-09 at a moment’s notice before even consummating a whole two year Congressional term.

But Kyrsten Sinema’s knee jerk willingness to dally with AZ-07 does not just sell out her constituents in AZ-09, no it is contemplated treachery to her Democratic party and Congressional caucus as well. Why? Because there is no Democratic alternative to replace Sinema in AZ-09. None. Over the last few months, several of us Democrats here in AZ-09 toyed with the idea of finding a primary challenger for Sinema, because she has been so awful as to genuinely progressive ideas and votes in the House. But there simply are none; it was either Sinema or turn the seat back over to the GOP, which was a non-starter. At least for us. So, if Sinema leaves, AZ-09 is going to flip and the House Democrats are going to lose yet another precious seat.

What’s worse is that if Kyrsten Sinema takes her big campaign war chest to try to claim AZ-07, she will be trying to suck up a seat that has been held by a member of the Latino minority, Ed Pastor, for over 22 years. Again, Arizona’s Congressional districts have evolved over that time, and AZ-07 is a somewhat a new creation. But the core that Pastor now represents, and has always represented, is well over 60% minority, with the majority of those being Hispanic.

Kyrsten Sinema is not only thinking HARD about abandoning her current constituents that she just came to represent, and abandoning a seat for Democratic caucus to the Republicans, she is thinking hard about trying to pilfer a minority seat away from what would otherwise almost surely be a minority Democratic replacement for Ed Pastor.

Why would Kyrsten Sinema think about doing such a loathsome thing? Raw, naked, selfish ambition is the only explanation. Sinema is an aggressive political climber. And her ability to get her mug in between any scene and the TV camera was clearly learned from the great Chuck Schumer and/or John McCain. She has that skill. What it boils down to is that Sinema is on the move, but a real higher office is not in the offing, either this election or next, as Arizona’s two Senate seats are locked up – McCain appears to be running again in 2016, and Jeff Flake is young, just got elected, and may never leave.

So, Kyrsten Sinema is left to ply her trade in the House for the time being. Thing is, AZ-07, once you are in, is a lifetime sinecure for a Democrat. You wouldn’t even have to work your ass off to stay elected, like Sinema will have to in the conservative trending AZ-09. In AZ-07, Sinema could kick back and build up her warchest for the future ambition she most surely holds, and if she never gets there, can ride out eternity in the seat easily and safely. That’s why Kyrsten Sinema wants it. Oh, and it was effectively where she came from before she so benevolently decided to insincerely grace the good folks in AZ-09 with her naked ambition.

What Kyrsten Sinema does at this point is anybody’s guess, and she is certainly not telling even top political reporters here in Phoenix (see: here and here). She is, however, push polling aggressively in AZ-07 over the weekend. Whatever it may be, the real Kyrsten Sinema has been exposed, and it is not a pretty sight for whatever lucky duckies that may be her future district constituents. Blue dogs are going to hunt I guess.

[UPDATE: I was negligent in my attribution. I have been discussing, on Twitter and off, the Pastor/Sinema dynamic since news of Ed Pastor’s retirement broke last Thursday. A lot of us were talking about Sinema from the start, but the actual first to go to print with the speculation was Rebekah Sanders of the Arizona Republic, who had this report Friday night, the 28th of February.]


Jan Brewer’s Veto of SB-1062, Timing and Best Interests of Arizona

Grand Canyon SunriseYes, I framed the title of this article as if Governor Brewer has already vetoed the discriminatory piece of legislation known as SB-1062. Because it is a done deal and, frankly, has been from the start. I am thankful for all the support that national people, and regular citizens and groups from all over the country, have given to the veto effort, it has been extremely helpful in giving Brewer cover for the veto to come.

But it was coming anyway, and that was the case from the moment the bill was passed out of the state legislature late in the day last Thursday, February 20.

Indeed, as I write this, MSNBC has Joy Reid on the air babbling about “WHAT HAS TAKEN BREWER SO LONG!”. But that is symbolic of the hyperventilating demagoguery that has also been part of this discussion. The simple fact of the matter is that the bill was not even transmitted to the Governor’s office until Monday the 24th and Brewer did not return from her trip to Washington with other governors until late Tuesday the 25th. So, despite the hue and cry, the first real opportunity for Brewer to formally enter her veto is today. So, what is “taking so long”, at least until today, is not really a mystery in the least.

Now, let’s talk about why the veto was a foregone conclusion if you really understand Arizona politics. First off, let me start by saying that the often popular characterization of Jan Brewer as a raging ideological shrew is not particularly accurate on the whole. In fact, my take on her going back to the 1980s, when she was a somewhat amusingly unfiltered voice in the state house of Representatives, is that she is personally a decent lady, albeit one of a conservative bent. She is, however, an aggressively pragmatic politician, which factors into the following reasons she was going to veto SB-1062 from the get go.

Here are several of the critical reasons why:

1) Brewer took some hard lumps, and rightfully so, in the matter of SB 1070, the 2010 immigration enforcement law that was discriminatory in animus, and saw up close and personal what wrath could be generated by business and the national public on an issue like this. And, by the way, it should be noted that SB-1062 does not just provide enhanced sanction of discrimination against the LGBT community, but potentially a whole spectrum of other groups. These groups matter, and Brewer knows it.

2) Brewer has, for pretty much the entirety of her career been shepherded and advised by a close group of advisors, with the most primary one being Chuck Coughlin. There are others of current significance, including Grant Woods and Matthew Benson. Any move Brewer makes has involved advice from her inner circle and she listens to them. And she should, they have taken her way further than ever was imaginable when she started off in the legislature. What is one defining focus among all these critical advisors, but, again, notably Coughlin? The Arizona business community. Always. And the advisors, too, remember the 1070 strife and have seen the trend and movement in the country and courts on LGBT rights. Coughlin et. al are the definition of conservative, but they are not stupid.

3) The Arizona business community was hoping they never had to get to this point, but once SB-1062 was passed, there was simply no question but that they would lobby hard against signature by the Governor. It was far from just me who realized this, so too did one of the best local political reporters, Brahm Resnik. So too did long time Republican PR and political specialist Barrett Marson:

Just a few hours after passage of #SB1062, can there be any doubt that @GovBrewer will veto it? Biz groups en masse coming out against.

And boy have they. As a native here, it has actually been pretty refreshing to see big business step up on this one as they have. The Arizona Chamber of Commerce, Phoenix Chamber of Commerce, Southern Arizona Leadership Council, Intel, Apple, JPMorgan Chase, GoDaddy Group, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, Marriott Hotels, all major newspapers and a plethora of others started stepping up almost immediately on passage

There are other reasons, including the nearly across the spectrum outcry of major Arizona politicians, including both US senators, and even several of the state legislators who originally voted for the pernicious SB-1062. But my original analysis, along with many here in the Copper State, was that veto was inevitable because of the business interest.

Once the issue of “if” there will be a veto was out of the way, the real question became “when”. As described above, the timing of the veto did not even start until presentment to the Governor’s office Monday, and, really, last night when Jan Brewer returned to Phoenix. But now it is time. The damage and unnecessary humiliation from the whackadoodle legislature is already significant. Governor Brewer IS going to veto this thing, and she should do herself, and the state, a serious favor and do so immediately. I started agitating for this before Brewer even returned from Washington DC.

The point was also made this morning by a prominent Democrat in the state senate, Anna Tovar:

Well, we are very optimistic she will veto the bill, but again, every second she doesn’t veto the bill is a black mark on the state of Arizona. We’ve asked the governor as of yesterday to swiftly veto this bill when she arrived yesterday, the second she got off the plane.

Arizona is in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, we want to focus on the priorities of our state.

That is a fact. Republicans are saying it, Democrats are saying it, the business community is saying it, I am saying it. Brewer has until late Saturday night to issue the veto before SB-1062 becomes law. It is widely expected she will do it, at a minimum, before Friday night’s Arizona Chamber of Commerce dinner honoring her, and that is almost certainly correct. But Friday afternoon is not soon enough. Not at all.

It is absolutely in the best interests of both the state of Arizona and Jan Brewer to issue her veto of SB-1062 immediately.

Do it now. Do not wait one more painful and damaging second.


Super Bowl Sex Trafficking Trash Talk 2014

Now that the super exciting Pro Bowl is over (shoot that thing and put us all out of its worthless misery), we are down to just one last football game. But it is a good one, with the top ranked team in each conference representing, and the best offense versus the best defense. And all that jazz.

And, really, what else is there to say about the game at this point? It has been the fascination of sports, general and entertainment media for two weeks of hype now. I could take you through the normal rundown on the teams, but why? My one real take is that the game boils down not to Denver’s offense or Seattle’s defense, but rather to Denver’s defense. Peyton and the Broncos will score some points no matter how well they are defended. The same cannot necessarily be said about the Seahawks. So, if the Broncos defense plays big, Denver wins. If not, they don’t.

Can’t wait to find out; will be one hell of an exciting game to watch. If you can’t wait and want a simulation, this Breaking Madden piece is pretty great.

So, let’s talk for a bit about the game itself in terms of what it means and does for the host city. Does hosting a Super Bowl mean as much to a city as is commonly claimed?

Here is a report on the effects of 2008 Super Bowl XLII on the greater Phoenix area by the Arizona State University WP Carey School of Business. The results claim:

Super Bowl festivities generated a record $500.6 million in direct and indirect spending by visiting fans and organizations, according to the newly released Super Bowl impact study produced by the W. P. Carey MBA Sports Business program.

The gross impact of a half billion dollars in the Arizona marketplace brings rejuvenation to an economy that has been weakened by a recession.

The ripple effect of return visits, family and company relocations, and word-of-mouth marketing nationally could equal or exceed the record Super Bowl spending in years to come.

That is in line with many of the claims that are commonly pitched for Super Bowls, but is that right?

Well, maybe not. There are a lot of demands on a host city, and they really add up. One of the best journalists out there writing on the intersection of sports and society is Travis Waldron, and he reported this on the eve of last year’s Super Bowl in New Orleans:

Those estimates, though, are likely fool’s gold, according to an assortment of academic research into the actual economic impact of Super Bowls and other major sporting events. When professors Victor Matheson and Robert Baade studied the economic impact of Super Bowls from 1973 to 1997, they found that the games boosted city economies by about $30 million, “roughly one-tenth the figures touted by the NFL” and an even smaller fraction of what New Orleans officials predict. A later Baade and Matheson study found that the economic impact of a Super Bowl is “on average one-quarter or less the magnitude of the most recent NFL estimates.”

Similarly, a 1999 paper from professor Philip Porter found that the Super Bowl had virtually no effect on a city’s economy. Research on other events New Orleans has hosted, including the men’s Final Four, is similar. When Baade and Matheson studied Final Fours, they found that the events tend “not to translate into any measurable benefits to the host cities.”

There are multiple reasons the estimates are often overstated. Impact estimates usually take into account how much money will be spent in the city during an event like the Super Bowl without examining how much potential spending will be lost because people don’t visit or leave the city to avoid the crowd — that is, the impact studies account for gross spending, but not net spending. And the estimates rarely include the additional cost of putting on the event, further distorting the disparity between gross and net spending figures.

Frankly, I find the Williams College study undergirding Travis’ argument far more persuasive than the happy face one put out here by ASU that is cited above. Still, even if the net impact is “only” 150-200 million dollars, that is a good thing for a city’s economy. And I don’t know what people going to the Super Bowl in cold weather place like New Jersey/New York are going to come away with, but I know for a fact that people that have come to the two held here have left gushing about their stay and promising to return. The best I can figure, hosting a Super Bowl is not nearly as lucrative for a city as advertised, but it is still a pretty positive thing.

BfUXOhNIUAAdJq0What about those “other costs” to cities a Super Bowl entails? There are a lot. Just the preparation and presentation of an official bid years ahead of time costs a small fortune. But once awarded, the demands made of the host city really start. Which is how I came to this issue today.

Yesterday I had a bit of a discussion on Twitter with Dave Zirin and Melissa Gira Grant about the “sex trafficking” aspect of the Super Bowl, which is currently a trending topic in the New York/New Jersey area because, inter alia, the stepped up prostitution enforcement. Here is a New York times op-ed dated yesterday on the topic:

No data actually support the notion that increased sex trafficking accompanies the Super Bowl. The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women, a network of nongovernmental organizations, published a report in 2011 examining the record on sex trafficking related to World Cup soccer games, the Olympics and the Super Bowl. It found that, “despite massive media attention, law enforcement measures and efforts by prostitution abolitionist groups, there is no empirical evidence that trafficking for prostitution increases around large sporting events.”

Even with this lack of evidence, the myth has taken hold through sheer force of repetition, playing on desires to rescue trafficking victims and appear tough on crime. Whether the game is in Dallas, Indianapolis or New Orleans, the pattern is the same: Each Super Bowl host state forms a trafficking task force to “respond” to the issue; the task force issues a foreboding statement; the National Football League pledges to work with local law enforcement to address trafficking; and news conference after news conference is held. The actual number of traffickers investigated or prosecuted hovers around zero.

The Super Bowl sex-trafficking hype isn’t just unfounded, though — it is actively harmful because it creates bad policy. In the days leading up to Sunday’s game, local law enforcement dedicated tremendous resources to targeting everyone engaged in prostitution. (emphasis added)

So, there you have it, the “Global Alliance” has said there is none, so there isn’t! Now the author of the NYT op-ed did not have the courtesy to link the actual report she was referring to, but it would appear to be this one and it, too, is pretty darn short and bereft of anything close to “empirical evidence”. So, we are back to anecdotal evidence.

It is not maybe an abundance, but I have some anecdotal evidence and experience on Super Bowls and their their host cities from two Super Bowls here and the preparation for the one on the direct horizon in Phoenix next year. That will be three in less than twenty years, which is not bad by host city parameters. Go figure: great stadiums, great weather, fourth biggest county in the US, great airport, Scottsdale, Paradise Valley, and all the pretty things, why not?

For a lot of cities, the “why not” is because the NFL doesn’t think they and/or their facilities qualify. Here is a recent description from Seattle, who is contemplating making a bid on a Super Bowl in the future:

The NFL has a few requirements for any city that wants to host a Super Bowl. The league likes the stadium to seat at least 70,000 and the hosting city needs to have at least 25,000 hotel rooms. CenturyLink Field can be expanded to fit 72,000 and King County has 34,000 hotel rooms. Check and check.

The NFL also likes the average February temperature in the Super Bowl city to be above 50 degrees. Obviously, this year’s Super Bowl doesn’t have that, but this year’s Super Bowl is an experiment. Seattle doesn’t meet the weather threshold either, the average February temperature in the city is 44 degrees.

“If you decide to put in a bid and you don’t meet one requirement then you better knock it out of the park in another area,” Morton said.

That is really but the very tip of the iceberg for a viable bid to host a Super Bowl. Here are the actual NFL host bid specifications that were applicable in 1998 when Jacksonville was bidding. There are specific bid requirements for the stadium facility, available hotel rooms and facilities in the surrounding area, local transportation and telecommunication capacity and capability, available practice sites for the teams, government/police capability and anti-scalping laws, provisions for a separate “NFL Experience” event, provisions for staged Friday and Saturday Night parties, provisions for additional facilities, and provision for a separate “NFL Youth Education Town”.

Read through all the bid spec details. They are many and onerous. But there is a catchall for other things the NFL wants too:

These Bid Specifications do not specify all of the local assistance necessary to the successful staging of the Super Bowl Game. Additional assistance may be requested from or proposed to the Host Committees from time to time.

And that is where we get back to the sex trafficking bit where we started. Making a local public show of sex trafficking and merchandise/ticket fraud enforcement is something the NFL actively promotes and demands, whether the host city is Phoenix or New York. It may be demagoguery to a large extent but, by the same token, there is increased activity surrounding a Super Bowl of those vices.

It may be anecdotal, but from my sampling of the parties, resorts and bars in the East Phoenix, Scottsdale and Paradise Valley area during the two Super bowls that have been here, and that is the part of town I live in and where all the festivities are, there is absolutely an infusion of, shall we say, “out of town talent”. If you don’t see it, you simply are not hanging out in the right places.

Here is the thing though, while there is increased sex trade activity, the “right places” are not the kind of places the NFL is concerned about, nor are they the ones the local cops roust and police. This is not just my observation from a lot of time out on the town, it is what was stated to me by local detectives in the course of my representation of a prostitution defendant from the last Super Bowl here in 2008.

So, at least from my experience, the author of the New York Times op-ed, Kate Mogulescu, is both wrong…..and right. She is wrong because there is increased activity, but she is very right to claim that all the hype and media attention about it is bullshit. The real activity is where neither the NFL nor police, nor local government and business leaders, want disturbed. Because it is where the rich, pretty and powerful are. It is where the big money is. That is holy ground, and especially so during a Super Bowl. It is a class based double standard, but there it is, and it exists.

UPDATE: Marcy made a couple of points in comments that further, and quite well, flesh out my point about the hypocrisy of the yearly NFL bullshit hype on “sex trafficking”. I am going to put them here in the body of the post as well:

One of the problems with the whole “sex trafficking” discussion is the agency implied by the words used. There are sex workers. Many of them will travel to where there are lots of rich customers–that’s called capitalism. There are sex buyers. They are left entirely out of the agency and even further out of the criminalization of this discussion, yet without the buyers, there are not the workers.

Both of those things are very different from “sex trafficking,” which is a term law enforcement uses so that people will use the word “vice” to collapse the distinction between sex workers selling to sex buyers — which is a market prone to abuse but also a market that will always exist — and the more nefarious parts of the industry, which involve underage pimping and slavery and the like. That is the point of the people objecting to the use of the term. It is tried and true way for law enforcement to use the specter of child pimping and slavery to criminalize sex workers but not their customers.

You want to start putting the rich johns in busses and sending them to jail for the weekend so they can’t use their $2,000 tickets, do it. But until you do, that the framing of it is wrong.

One reason I put a great deal of stock in Melissa Gira Grant on this issue (aside from the fact that she has experience in the subject almost none of the people commenting on the subject have) is when I was trying to figure out why FBI’s “sex trafficking” numbers were so obviously flawed, when they boasted about the number of people they had saved. They would point to a few underage girls and claim a great deal of success and also provide a general number of all the other people “saved,” which they didn’t break out but which were very very clearly all female.

If anyone is talking about sex trafficking and yet can’t find a single man or boy “trafficked,” then the entire concept is broken. Melissa, who does track this stuff, confirmed my suspicions. Not only doesn’t the FBI consider men–whether selling to men or women–part of the trade, but it doesn’t consider boys needing to be saved.

You do the math. “Sex trafficking,” as used, does not include all the abusive parts of the sex trade, and it includes a lot of the sex trade that is not abusive.

Exactly. And exactly why I call the hype and hypocrisy of the NFL bullshit.

Okay, that is it for this season’s weekly Emptywheel Football Trash Talk. Until football starts up in earnest next fall, there will be periodic Trash, and certainly for the start of the Formula One circus and maybe March Madness. Until then, rock on people….and Go Broncos!


Federal Judge Blasts Joe Arpaio’s Racial Profiling and Detention Policy

In a scathing decision just entered by Judge Murray Snow in the District Court for the District of Arizona, the court has hammered the racial profiling and detention policies of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. The case is Melendres v. Arpaio, and the Arizona Republic described the decision thusly:

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office has engaged in racial profiling and must not use Hispanic ancestry as a factor when making law-enforcement decisions, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Murray Snow issued the ruling Friday, more than eight months after a seven-day trial on the subject concluded. The trial examined longstanding allegations that Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s emphasis on immigration enforcement led deputies to target Latino drivers based on their race, and that by doing so, they violated the constitutional rights of Maricopa County residents and the sheriff’s own policies requiring constitutional policing.
….
The class of Hispanic citizens that brought the racial-profiling lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Office never sought monetary damages. Instead, the group asked for the court to issue injunctions barring Arpaio’s office from discriminatory policing.

Snow obliged — and indicated more remedies could be ordered in the future.

Here is a link to the full decision.

The decision is long at 142 pages, but it is beautiful and contains specific findings of fact and conclusions of law that will make it hard to reverse on appeal to the 9th Circuit. There is no question but that Arpaio will appeal, but he will not be doing so from a good position in light of this decision.

Here are some quick highlights:

As is set forth below, in light of ICE’s cancellation of the MCSO’s 287(g) authority, the MCSO has no authority to detain people based only on reasonable suspicion, or probable cause, without more, that such persons are in this country without authorization.

Thus, the MCSO’s LEAR policy that requires a deputy (1) to detain persons she or he believes only to be in the country without authorization, (2) to contact MCSO supervisors, and then (3) to await contact with ICE pending a determination how to proceed, results in an unreasonable seizure under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution.

And

Thus, to the extent it uses race as a factor in arriving at reasonable suspicion or forming probable cause to stop or investigate persons of Latino ancestry for being in the country without authorization, it violates the Fourth Amendment. In addition, it violates the Plaintiff class’s right to equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

And

Finally, the knowledge that a person is in the country without authorization does not, without more, provide sufficient reasonable suspicion that a person has violated Arizona criminal laws relating to immigration, such as the Arizona Human Smuggling Act, to justify a Terry stop for purposes of investigative detention. To the extent the MCSO is authorized to investigate violations of the Arizona Employer Sanctions law, that law does not provide criminal sanctions against either employers or employees. A statute that provides only civil sanctions is not a sufficient basis on which the MCSO can arrest or conduct Terry stops of either employers or employees.

There is a LOT of prime substance to this decision, and it all needed to be said. The fact that it comes with specific and articulated findings of fact and conclusions of law, after a trial, makes all the difference in the world as to strength. It is a treat for the Memorial Day weekend.

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Originally Posted @ https://www.emptywheel.net/arizona-politics-2/