Tuesday, December 10, 2013

LISTEN: Sen. McCain Likens Obama/Castro Handshake To Chamberlain/Hitler; RELATED(!): Arizona's Raul Castro Receiving "Global Diplomat Award" Tomorrow

When I heard on the news that President Obama had shaken hands with Cuba's Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela's memorial service today, it did not take much to know that that would prompt a lot of chatter.  And that, with Arizona's two Senators, some would emanate from our political scene. What I did NOT anticipate is that Arizona's former Governor of the same name as Fidel's brother would also be in the news.

Sure enough, senior Senator John McCain (R-AZ) was asked by PRI reporter Todd Zwillich his
opinion of the Obama/Castro handshake.  McCain actually dug deep to pull out the oft-controversial comparison to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain shaking Adolf Hitler's hand.  Here's the raw audio:

We have not yet heard from Arizona's other Senator, Jeff Flake (R-AZ), who has been front and center in efforts to end the U.S. embargo against the Castros' Communist Cuba.  When he does comment, it is unlikely to echo McCain's.

In Tweeting about @SenJohnMcCain's quote (and with tongue firmly in cheek) I noted the "context and little-known fact" that Castro had been Arizona's Governor in the 1970's. I included a link to Gov. Raul Castro's Wikipedia page, but neglected to put a winky-faced emoticon.  (In fairness, I should have noted that Sen. McCain was probably not in Arizona when Castro was Governor; while that is saying something in itself, the Senator could be excused for not catching the attempted "pun.")

I had actually met Arizona Gov. Raul Castro when he was Governor, and realized today that - like Obama - I had also shaken Raul Castro's hand!

Minutes after the Twitter exchange, I received - apparently, coincidentally - a news release about an event tomorrow night in Phoenix.  97-year old Raul Castro - former Arizona Governor and former U.S. Ambassador - is being presented with the Global Diplomat Award, by the Consular Corps of Arizona.

Awesome coincidence, and I am very glad that it gave me the opportunity to point out the honoring of one of Arizona's icons.  Congratulations, Governor!

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Monday, December 9, 2013

Former Arizona Rep. Jim Kolbe Leads GOP LGBT Push-Back Against "Outrageous" Effort By Republican Congressman To Prevent Party Funding Of Gay House Candidates

Former Arizona Congressman Jim Kolbe is the most prominent co-host on a new joint fundraising effort for two gay Republican Congressional candidates, after last week's "outrageous" comments by Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) that the national GOP party should not fund gay candidates.

Forbes' anti-gay views were made public last week by Politico, and were quickly knocked down by many other Republican leaders.  Forbes expressed his concerns that GOP Congressmen are required to contribute money to the National Republican Congressional Committee ("NRCC"), and could thus be forced to support candidates that go against their moral beliefs.

The invitation from an ad hoc joint fundraising group for the two gay candidates cited in the article - Carl DeMaio in San Diego and Richard Tisei in Massachusetts.  Both are touted in the article as "promising openly gay" candidates for seats currently held by Democrats.

In the Washington Blade, Kolbe called Forbes' comments "outrageous" and called for NRCC leadership to "condemn" them.

Tisei and DeMaio have yet to file the paperwork with the Federal Election Commission (as of this writing, it is not listed on the FEC's website), but the invitation from the newly-minted Equality Leadership Fund (reproduced below, courtesy of the Sunlight Foundation's Political Party Time site) and donation web page are up and running.

Kolbe is among 13 co-hosts listed, but the only one with an honorific in front of his name.  He served southern Arizona in Congress between 1985 and 2007, acknowledging his homosexuality midway through his tenure.

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READ: Sheriff Arpaio Fundraising For Tom Tancredo's Colorado Campaign: "If Anyone Can Solve America's Immigration Problem, It's Him."

Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio is putting his fundraising muscle into another campaign today, calling "good friend and fellow immigration crusader" Tom Tancredo the right man to lead Colorado and the nation in solving "America's immigration problem."

(Arpaio's entire fundraising e-mail is below the jump.)

Arpaio, who has already been fundraising for his 2016 reelection campaign and for a Super PAC dedicated to preventing Hillary Clinton from becoming President in 2016, sent out the fundraising e-mail to his vast e-mailing list today on behalf of Tancredo for Governor in 2014.

Tancredo was a Republican Congressman who largely based his campaign for President in 2008 on fighting illegal immigration.  He was an unsuccessful third party candidate for Colorado Governor in 2010, and is currently leading in the Republican primary for a re-match against current Governor John Hickenlooper.

Arpaio calls Colorado "frighteningly soft on illegal aliens", and says that Tancredo is fighting "the liberal elite and Open Borders (caps his) crowd."

Of course, Arpaio has to reference his (self-perpetuated) "America's Toughest Sheriff" nickname, noting that he has "made tremendous inroads in cracking down on immigration across the country as a sheriff (emphasis his).... But think about the impact Tom Tancredo could make as the governor of a state with a self-proclaimed immigration problem!"

Arpaio raised funds for Tancredo's 2010 campaign, as well.

(Arpaio's fundraising e-mail is below the jump.)

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

WATCH: Rep. Sinema Loses Outreach Director/DREAMer Erika Andiola To Fight Mother's Deportation

Erika Andiola, prominent DREAMer and Outreach Director for Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9), has announced her resignation as a House staffer, so that she can help her mother in her upcoming deportation hearing.

Her departure was first profiled yesterday on BuzzFeed.com, and she was interviewed on MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" last night (below).

Later on the day that Sinema hired Andiola as Outreach Director, Andiola's mother and brother were detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in Mesa.  (Arizona's Politics was first to report that the hiring preceded the raid, and was not in response to - or, to capitalize on - the raid and ensuing publicity.)

Andiola's mother was on an ICE bus headed to being deported a few days later when the Justice Department exercised its prosecutorial discretion to release her.  The publicity from Andiola's YouTube plea and her Congressional hiring helped bring pressure to (temporarily) abort the deport.

Her mother now faces a January 2 hearing on deportation.  Andiola again hopes that she will be able to help keep her mother in the country.  In addition to providing support to her, Andiola has started an online petition to convince the immigration judge (or, the prosecution).

Sinema gave the following statement to BuzzFeed:
“While I am disappointed to lose Erika as a member of our staff, I understand that she needs to focus 100% on her mom’s case. We are hopeful that Erika’s mother can remain in the country because we believe families should stay together. Arizona families just like Erika’s are waiting for this Congress to pass commonsense comprehensive immigration reform that secures our borders, keeps families together, and grows our economy. Arizona has been waiting for too long already; we owe it to our state to pass immigration reform this year.”
Here is the MSNBC interview (begins about 3 minutes in, although the first three minutes are related)

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READ: Arizona Rep. Sinema Leading Bi-Partisan Effort To Get ENDA Vote In House; "We Are Not Seeking Special Privileges - Just Equal Protections"

Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-CD9) and New York Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) led a group of 10 Republican and Democratic lawmakers in sending a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), urging him to bring the Senate-passed Employment Non-Discrimination Act ("ENDA") to a vote in the House within the next year.

(The full text of the first page of the letter is reproduced below.)

ENDA seeks to ban workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  It passed the Senate one month ago on a 64-32 vote (neither of Arizona Republican Senators voted for it - in fact, Sen. John McCain skipped town to tape Late Night With David Letterman that night).

Sinema and Maloney are both members of the LGBT that could be protected by the legislation, but not all of the 10 Representatives - five Republicans and five Democrats - are.

The letter emphasizes the "fairness" and "equality" that they say would be provided by the law, and that it "prohibits preferential treatment or hiring quotas".  It does not address the concern that many of the GOP opponents in the Senate - and Boehner himself - noted: that it would prompt a flood of lawsuits.

"An innate sense of fairness compels our country to rise above all forms of workplace discrimination. ENDA would help us move towards this goal in a manner that balances worker protections with respect for religious employers. Keeping with the notion that employees should be judged on their merits alone, the bill explicitly prohibits preferential treatment or hiring quotas. We are not seeking special privileges – just equal protections."
On the second page of the letter (not shown here), the signers are Democratic Reps. Jared Polis, Ron Kind and Kurt Schrader.  The other Republican signers are Reps. Chris Gibson, Jon Runyan and Richard Hanna.

Although the letter asks for a vote by the end of the 113th Congress (January 2015), Rep. Sinema would like a vote "today":  “Americans deserve to be judged in the workplace by their job performance, not their sexual orientation. I call on the House to ensure that all workers are treated the same by bringing ENDA to the House floor today.”

Her statement is from a news release out of Rep. Maloney's office;  Sinema did re-tweet Maloney's tweet on the subject.

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