Thursday, February 14, 2019

BREAKING: Here Are the Border Barrier Restrictions In Today's Agreement

8:10pm: BREAKING: All 4 AZ GOP Reps. vote against spending bill compromise. @RepRaulGrijalva only AZ Dem to vote against.

19 Dems, 109 Republicans voted no. GOP breakdown, 87-109. Dem breakdown,  213-19.

http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2019/roll087.xml

Here are a few of the pages of the 1,169 bill that Congress is voting on today to keep the government funded past tomorrow and provide $1.375B for border barriers. These are the pages specific to the border wall funding that President Trump was insisting on.
(Reuters-Jose Luis Gonzalez)

It restricts the barriers to steel bollards and other designs previously approved. It restricts it to the Rio Grande Valley Sector of the U.S.-Mexico border, rules out some sensitive areas and gives border towns a say in what happens within their jurisdictions.

The bill passed the Senate this afternoon, 83-16, and is slated to be voted on in the House tonight. Both Arizona Senators voted "aye" and at least two House members (Biggs, Gosar) have indicated that they oppose the agreement.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated this afternoon that the President will sign the measure and will concurrently declare a national emergency in a controversial effort to free up other funds for more border wall.




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ARIZONA'S POLITICAL SHORTS: Sinema Joins Republicans To Confirm AG William Barr

11:38am: Arizona Senator Kyrsten Sinema joined two other Democrats and all Republicans in confirming William Barr to become the new Attorney General this afternoon. The final vote was 54-45.

This was not a surprise today, as Sinema, Joe Manchin (WV) and Doug Jones (AL) also voted to close debate on the nomination yesterday. (Kentucky Republican Rand Paul crossed the aisle to oppose the nomination today.)

Sinema explained her support - "As Arizona’s senior Senator, I will evaluate every presidential nominee based on whether he or she is professionally qualified, believes in the mission of his or her agency, and can be trusted to faithfully execute and uphold the law as it exists. After meeting with Mr. Barr and thoughtfully considering his nomination, I believe Mr. Barr meets this criteria.”

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Tuesday, February 12, 2019

TOMORROW: Senate Judiciary Committee To Question Mike Liburdi For Judgeship; Nomination Bypassed Arizona Senators

Mike Liburdi will have his hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee tomorrow morning. Liburdi was nominated last month by Presdient Donald Trump to fill one of the two judicial vacancies on Arizona's U.S. District Court bench.

Liburdi was Governor Doug Ducey's General Counsel between 2015-2018. He applied for the lifetime appointment in August of last year by going directly to the Department of Justice. In 2016-17, he had not been considered by a judicial selection committee that had been set up by Arizona's two Senators.

Typically, the Senators recommend individuals to the Administration for such nominations in their home states - particularly when the Senators and the President are of the same party. For example, the other pending judicial nomination from Arizona was vetted and recommended by McCain and Flake in early 2017.
Hon. Bridget Bade's nomination for a position on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee last week on a remarkably bipartisan vote of 17-5. Her nomination is now ready to be voted on by the entire Senate.

The differing pathways for the Bade and Liburdi nominations was set forth in their written submissions to the Committee, and lays bare some of the tension that existed between Trump, McCain and Flake.

Bade is an uncontroversial pick both because of her judicial experience as a U.S. Magistrate Judge and her lack of political involvement. Liburdi will be more controversial because of his political experience, including his role as the Chairman of Arizona's Right To Life PAC.

His hearing is scheduled to begin at 8am, Arizona Time, and he is on the second panel of nominees. The proceedings can be viewed here.

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Thursday, February 7, 2019

LISTEN/DOWNLOAD/SUPPORT: "Border Cowboys", Investigative Report On Howard Buffett's Adventures & Spending On Arizona/Mexico Border

Well, we're trying something new here, that will hopefully serve a couple of purposes. Co-founder Paul Weich spends a couple of hours a week volunteering at Sun Sounds of Arizona, which is a statewide nonprofit reading service for people who have difficulty holding and/or reading print material because of a disability. It is part of the KJZZ/KBAQ/Spot 127 nonprofit operation operated by Rio Salado College and the Maricopa Community Colleges.

In addition to filling in and reading the Arizona Republic, Wall Street Journal and various magazines, Paul records the Phoenix New Times (which is never boring) each week. Most of the articles would not be appropriate to post here, but some of the award-winning reporting meshes well with Arizona's Politics.

The two-part series published last month is among the latter, and inaugurates this new feature. "Border Cowboys" delves into what is going on down on the Cochise County portion of the U.S./Mexico border, and how the heck billionaire Howard Buffett fits into the vigilante history there. Throw in the Sheriff's Offices in Cochise County and a couple of Illinois operations and conservation districts, and you have an article that must be heard (or, read) to be believed.

The Fund for Investigative Journalism, Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting, and the Center for Media and Democracy contributed financial support to this reporting. And, those are all worthy of your support.

However, the 2nd purpose of offering this article for listening/downloading is to raise awareness and funds for Sun Sounds of Arizona. If you know of someone who would benefit from listening to these newspapers, magazines and more, take a moment to let them know. And, since it is a member-supported nonprofit community service, take another moment and become a member.

Paul spoke this week with Beau Hodai, the reporter for "Border Cowboys". It took more than three years to research, report and get it published, and we asked him to tell our readers a little bit more about the effort:
"A large factor contributing to this prolonged period of gestation was the impoverished state of the American news media. 
"Independent investigative journalism is in serious peril. Due to the weakened state of newsrooms and their budgets, there is a diminished appetite among publishers for potentially unflattering reporting pertaining to wealthy and influential interests. 
"As much as this particular story sits at the crossroads of so many issues weighing heavily on us in these times, it was rejected and dropped by a long string of publishers before it reached its final home with the Phoenix New Times. We should never take the existence of such publications-- willing to take on this kind of reporting-- for granted.
"Simply put, the number of those in this profession who are able to "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable" has been decimated, several times over, in the course of these past few decades (though, to be honest, I'm not sure it was ever our job to comfort anybody). 
"Do what you can to support investigative reporting. Support your local independent news outlets (if you have any). And-- wherever practicable-- seek out information yourself. Ask questions. Assert the truth-- especially amid a chorus of lies and misinformation."


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WATCH, NOT OFF-TOPIC: Willie On Stage Last Night - "Living In the Promiseland" (w/ sons, Dave Matthews, more)

Mighty glad to see Willie Nelson on stage last night, pluckin' his guitar and belting out the lyrics as he's done for years. (Even if his mic wasn't turned up at first... in a room full of producers and engineers, no less.) He's joined in this video by Dave Matthews, his sons Micah and Lukas, and Lukas' bandmates (Promise of the Real).

And this is not quite off-topic because of the lyrics - written by David Lynn Jones - for "Living In the PromiseLand", which are re-posted below.

(h/t to @L4LM, @LyndseyParker, and @LyricCullAZ)


"Living In the Promiseland"
Give us your tired and weak and we will make them strong
Bring us your foreign songs and we will sing along
Leave us your broken dreams we'll give them to mend
There's still a lot of love living in the promised land
Living in the promiseland
Our dreams are made of steel
The prayer of every man is to know how freedom feels
There is a winding road across the shifting sand
And room for everyone living in the promiseland
So they came from a distant isle
Nameless woman, faithless child like a bad dream
Until there was no room at all
No place to run and no place to fall
Give us our daily bread
We have no shoes to wear
No place to call our home
Only this cross to bear
We are the multitudes
Lend us a helping hand
Is there no love anymore
Living in the promiseland
Living in the promiseland
Our dreams are made of steel
The prayer of every man is to know how freedom feels
There is a winding road across the shifting sand
And room for everyone living in the promiseland

Songwriters: David Lynn Jones

Living in the Promiseland lyrics © BLUEWATER MUSIC CORP. OBO MIGHTY NICE MUSIC, BLUEWATER MUSIC CORP. OBO SKUNK DEVILLE MUSIC

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Wednesday, February 6, 2019

MOMENTS AGO: Rep. Lesko Part Of Effort To Bring "Born Alive" Anti-Abortion Measure To Floor


MOMENTS AGO: Arizona @RepDLesko is backing up @GOPLeader McCarthy on trying to interrupt House schedule to consider "Born Alive" anti-abortion measure.

Here's the title of the bill (text not yet available) that McCarthy tried to raise. It was introduced yesterday - and today's move appears to be an effort to emphasize the line in yesterday's #SOTU:

H.R.962 - To amend title 18, United States Code, to prohibit a health care practitioner from failing to exercise the proper degree of care in the case of a child who survives an abortion or attempted abortion.

Lesko is not (yet) a co-sponsor of the measure, although Arizona's @RepGosar is. Only 3 of the 48 co-sponsors are female, so it appears @GOPLeader had to stretch to provide the all-female background.

Basically, McCarthy asked that the measure introduced yesterday be brought immediately to a vote. The Chair noted that that would require unanimous approval from both parties' leadership and committee chairs.
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Tuesday, February 5, 2019

UPDATE: Sinema, McSally Both Vote "Aye" To Help Pass Mideast Bill Package

Arizona's Senators both voted to help pass the Senate's Mideast Bill Package this afternoon.  S.1 passed by a 77-23 vote as Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) first legislative priority for this session - began while avoiding a vote on the then-shutdown; its future in the Democratic-controlled House is uncertain.

While all of the Republican Senators but one (KY's Rand Paul) supported the measure, the Democrats were split, 25-22. Martha McSally and Kyrsten Sinema have consistently voted in favor. Recent attention focused on the rebuke to the President's desires to withdraw most/all troops from Syria and Afghanistan, but that is not what divided the Democrats.

Rather, it was the piece of the bill that gives support to state and local governments passing measures to thwart the BDS movement targeting Israel over its control over areas won in 1967. The American Civil Liberties Union and pro-Palestinian factions believe it targets their rights under the First Amendment.

Arizona has had such an "anti-BDS" measure for the past three years, and is presently involved in a challenge in the 9th Circuit over its provisions.


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Friday, February 1, 2019

Arizona Governor Doug Ducey VETOS Tax Conformity Bill

Arizona remains one of the last four states to have not conformed to the tax changes passed by Congress at the end of 2017.* Governor Doug Ducey today vetoed the measured passed by both houses earlier this week.

Here was his message:



*According to Politico, only four states had not conformed either the individual or corporate changes.

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