Republicans should be embarrassed by vouchers for all and should pay the political price

Cross-posted from skyislandscriber.com

Greg Miller, a Republican, charter school founder, and past president of the AZ Board of Education, holds the GOP support of voucher expansion bill an insult to most students. And it is an insult to the rest of us who understand, what our state supreme court does not, that the AZ voucher program is a scam. It is nothing more than money laundering to get around the constitutional prohibition against giving public money to private, religious schools. As such the voucher program is an assault on public education. Period.

Here is Miller’s opinion piece in the Arizona Capitol Times (subscription required) – emphases added.

As an advocate for education reform for the past 35 years, a co-founder of a very successful charter school, a lifelong Republican, and the most recent past president of the Arizona State Board of Education, I have never been more embarrassed, outraged, disappointed, and angry to call myself a Republican. How on earth do the Republicans in the state Legislature who voted for the Empowerment Scholarship Account (voucher) bill, or our governor, who signed it, look in the mirror and in good faith, not understand what they have just done.

This is an outrageous attack against public education. This out-and-out transfer of state taxpayer money to private education through “school choice” is just what it seems, political rhetoric and very bad financial policy. It even blurs the separation of church and state line defined in the U.S. Constitution by our founders. Public education has been the equalizer for 150 years of economic growth and assimilation of immigrants into the culture that we enjoy today. This is an insult to the hundreds of thousands of students who do not have the resources to pay the additional thousands of dollars for the tuition these private schools will be charging above the state subsidy, and without the opportunity of a quality education provided in their local schools where due process and common goals of expectation drive the continued development of economic expansion for everyone, not just a privileged few.

Does the existing system have its troubles? Yes it does. Has the education reform movement of the past 25 years made a difference? Yes, but with miles left to go. Is money the only answer to solve the major issues in public education? No, but as a state you can starve the system to death. Without adequate funding for public education we have: 35 or more students in classrooms, teacher shortages resulting in 2,000 to 3,000 classrooms going without teachers, hundreds of teachers walking away from their existing classrooms (500 this past fall) because of the stress of the job, the politics of the institutions, and the low pay in one of the highest stress professions. This is our current situation, but instead of finding solutions we are letting more state tax money flow out of the existing system without accountability or transparency.

Are our classroom teachers getting the job done? Many are not! But their efforts are not the only reason: first generation immigrants, exaggerated federal rules and requirements, poverty, highly mobile student populations, uninvolved parents, teaching resources, a lack of commitment to children by their families and the state, and the list goes on! But in a state that is ranked at, or near, the bottom in every category of financial support for public education, how on earth can anyone, let alone those who are responsible for the stewardship of our children’s education and our tax dollars, support or even condone this disgraceful attack on our state’s economic future?

A great big thank you to my fellow Republicans at the Legislature who held ground and used common sense by not giving in to the pressure of those who have crafted and moved this bill to signature. All Republicans that share this view use your vote in next summer’s Republican primary to replace anyone who supported this transfer of economic wealth from our public school system to the private schools of the wealthy.

— Greg Miller is president and superintendent of Challenge Charter School and a former president of the state Board of Education.

Arizona fails its future as Doug Ducey, our "Education governor", goes mum on teacher exodus

Cross-posted from skyislandscriber.com

Actually I’m not being fair. Dougie proposed a 0.4%raise (which works out to a couple of dollars a week) and then signed off on vouchers for everyone (that siphons off several thousand public dollars to private, religious schools). That’s what an “education governor” does. It gets worse. Read on and weep.

Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy has released a fact sheet highlighting the key findings of an upcoming report on Finding & Keeping Educators for Arizona’s Classrooms. (h/t BlueMeanie.) Here are the bullet points.

  • Arizona annually is losing more teachers than bachelor of education degrees produced by its three universities.
  • When adjusted for cost-of-living, Arizona elementary school teacher pay is the lowest in the nation. High
    school teacher pay ranks 48th of the 50 states.
  • When adjusted for inflation, elementary school teachers here are paid 14% less than in 2001. Arizona secondary teachers are being paid 11% less.
  • 74% of Arizona school administrators surveyed said their campuses are experiencing a shortage of teachers.
  • Arizona teacher rosters do not reflect state demographics, offering limited role models for children of color.

And on top of all that, Ducey sticks it to our teachers by proposing a niggardly, insulting 0.4% raise. See Laurie Roberts’ comments in Is Ducey joking? A 4/10th’s of a percent pay raise for teachers?

I know Ducey’s in a tough spot because money’s tight due to a quarter century of tax cuts and due to the fact that he wants to continue cutting taxes every year.

But Ducey could have proposed delaying previously approved corporate tax cuts set to be phased in next year, allowing him to double his proposed investment in public education. Even freezing automatic 20 percent increases in the corporate tax credit that funds private school tuition would have signaled a commitment to public education.

But a 4/10s of a percent pay raise?

This, again, is Ducey … :

“This is an investment by the state of Arizona in recognizing and rewarding the work of our teachers in a way that is fair, permanent and fiscally responsible.”

And they can take that to the bank …

Or maybe to a payday loan center.

If this isn’t a crisis, I don’t know what is. AZBlueMeanie agrees: New study: ‘Arizona teacher recruitment, retention and pay are at crisis levels’

David Fitzsimmons uses his sharp wit to expose the problems facing public education in Arizona as State Senator Rip Fiddler talks public education

The most piercing comments again come from Laurie Roberts at azcentral.com: Teachers fed up? In Arizona? Noooo. (h/t AZBlueMeanie)

The study – funded by the Arizona Community Foundation, Helios Education Foundation and The Pike and Susan Sullivan Foundation – concluded that teachers are leaving the profession for a variety of reasons – retirement, disillusionment, low pay and a belief that they aren’t supported.

Me? I don’t see how they can say that.

Our governor has proclaimed himself the education governor.

But wait: Look at all this help they’re getting

Why, just three months ago, Ducey, in his State of the State address, said he had “a new appreciation for the excellence occurring in our school system.” He attributed that success to teachers.

“I want teachers in our state to know: You make a difference. I value your work and it’s time we return the favor.”

Four days later, he proposed a pay raise that amounts to about $2 a week.

Three months later, he signed a universal voucher bill that’ll divert more public money to private schools.

This, in a state that already spends $1,365 less, when adjusted for inflation, to educate a child than it did in 2008.

Me? I can’t imagine why teachers are feeling slighted.

Here are selected observations from the Morrison Institute’s Report: AZ in crisis over teacher pay, retention

“Teacher pay and support is a proxy for how highly we think of students and their education,” said Steve Seleznow, President & CEO of Arizona Community Foundation and a former school administrator. “When we undervalue our educators, we under educate our children. This problem will not go away without fundamental change in the ways we support our teachers. If we value the education our children receive, we must provide teachers compensation commensurate with those values.”

Teachers are leaving the profession for many reasons – retirement, disillusionment, low pay and a feeling of lack of support.

"The teacher shortage is urgent, critical and very real,” said Rachel Yanof, Senior Director of Educational Initiatives for the Pike and Susan Sullivan Foundation. “It is imperative that those with the position to influence policy read this report and act in a manner that will stem this crisis as quickly as possible. Our children deserve it.”

Arizona, you see, is not just failing its teachers. Arizona is failing its future.

Ducey should sign SB 1080 (texting while driving). Here’s why.

Cross-posted from skyislandscriber.com.

Howard Fischer (Arizona Capitol Times, subscription required) reports that Texting ban on teenage drivers now only needs Ducey’s signature to become law.

Arizona is just one signature away from imposing its first-ever limits on the use of cell phones by teens.

On a 32–24 margin, the state House today gave final approval to legislation banning teens with a learner’s driving permit from texting or making calls from their cell phones while behind the wheel. SB1080 also extends that to the first six months they have their actual Class G license, which is reserved for the newest drivers.

The measure, which previously was approved by the Senate on a 24–6 margin, now goes to Gov. Doug Ducey.

Gubernatorial press aide Daniel Scarpinato said only that his boss will review the bill.

But the issue could be more personal for Ducey. He has three sons, two of whom are of driving age.

Thursday’s vote came over the objection of some legislators who want Arizona to remain one of only two states in the country with no limits at all on cell phone use by motorists. They said their fear is that once Arizona restricts what teens can do, it’s just a small step to extending that to adults.

Exactly. It should be extended to all drivers. Here is why.

In the early 2000’s, Psychologist David Strayer at the University of Utah investigated the influence of cell phone use on driving errors. Here is some of a review of that research by the American Psychological Association Driven to Distraction. Driving and cell phones don’t mix.

Cell phones may be convenient but there’s one place they seem to do more harm than good – and that’s behind the steering wheel. Psychological research is showing that when drivers use cell phones, whether hand-held or hands-off, their attention to the road drops and driving skills become even worse than if they had too much to drink. Epidemiological research has found that cell-phone use is associated with a four-fold increase in the odds of getting into an accident – a risk comparable to that of driving with blood alcohol at the legal limit.

In one study, when drivers talked on a cell phone, their reactions to imperative events (such as braking for a traffic light or a decelerating vehicle) were significantly slower than when they were not talking on the cell phone. Sometimes, drivers were so impaired that they were involved in a traffic accident. Listening to the radio or books on tape did not impair driving performance, suggesting that listening per se is not enough to interfere. However, being involved in a conversation takes attention away from the ability to process information about the driving environment well enough to safely operate a motor vehicle.

According to Strayer’s laboratory research, cell-phone drivers were also more likely to miss traffic signals and often failed to see billboards and other signs. A special eye-tracking device measured where, exactly, drivers looked while driving. Even when drivers directed their gaze at objects on the road (during simulations), they still didn’t “see” them because their attention – during a cell-phone call – was elsewhere.

The Utah lab is also measuring the increased risk associated with cell-phone use relative to other real-world activities – most recently, alcohol consumption. Disturbingly, forthcoming research will show that talking on a cell phone (even hands-free) hurts driving even more than driving with blood alcohol at the legal limit (.08 wt/vol). When talking on a cell phone, drivers using a high-fidelity simulator were slower to brake and had more “accidents” than when they weren’t on the phone. Their impairment level was actually a little higher than that of people intoxicated by ethanol (alcohol).

Strayer and his colleagues compared data for hand-held and hands-free devices and found no difference in the impairment to driving, thus, they say, raising doubts about the scientific basis for regulations that prohibit only hand-held cell phones.

Real life implications

… drivers should also be aware that whether a cell phone is hands-on or hands-free makes no difference in terms of mental distraction. According to the research, the mental activity of conversation, whether in person or over the phone, is what takes one’s mind off the road. What happens in the head happens regardless of what happens with the hands.

… drivers need to remember that warnings (and, in some localities, legislation) about cell-phones and driving are prompted by cross-sectional studies of drivers of varied ages, educational levels, and years of driving. Susceptibility to distraction while driving has nothing to do with smarts or skill

Arizona SB 1080 now sits on Gov. Ducey’s desk. It is not perfect – far from it because of its failure to accommodate the above two lessons from applied research. Nevertheless, it is an important first step. We have laws aimed at prevention of driving while drunk. We should have parallel laws aimed at prevention of driving while distracted. Ducey should sign SB 1080.

The Voucher Expansion is Not About Our Kids!

After I started this post, it was somewhat overcome by events. The preamble below gives the latest and then I dive into my original thoughts.

As of this posting, the AZ Senate had voted for the full expansion of vouchers and the House was on the cusp of doing the same. To all those who voted against our kids, our system of public education, and the foundation of our democracy, just know that public district school parents and advocates will not forget your choice to be on the wrong side of this issue. November 2018 is right around the corner and despite all the dark money corporate profiteers have poured into this fight, we each still have our vote and will use it wisely!

In a futile effort this morning to shift the hearts and minds of my LD11 legislators, I sent the following email to Senator Steve Smith and Representatives Vince Leach and Mark Finchem.

Hello Gentlemen,
I implore you to reconsider your position on the full expansion of vouchers. There is plenty of evidence that they do not produce better results, they do not provide any info on return on investment, they will cost the state general fund more than student attendance at district schools, and 75% of ESAs are used by parents who could have sent their kids to the private schools without taxpayer help. Additionally, as a taxpayer, I object to my tax dollars being siphoned off to private and parochial schools without any information available on return on investment. PLEASE do the right thing and vote NO!

I appreciate Representative Finchem’s reply (his was the only), but have some real problems with much of his response, especially this part:

Thank you for writing to share your thoughts. I think we can all agree that we want to see a quality education for as many children as possible. What I find troublesome is the call for an overwhelming number of parents -as high as 70% according to some polls- who are demanding choices in education. The top reasons for these demands include such feedback as:
* Objectionable content taught ranging from sex ed to Islamic studies
* Poor quality instruction from teachers bent on injecting political ideology into their classrooms
* School district level insistence on adopting the Common Core Standards package

Firstly, I’m wondering if he is conflating his 70 percent statistic. The 70 percentile statistic I know is the Dec 2016 poll that showed 77 percent of Arizona voters believe we need to better fund our public schools. The poll also revealed that 61 percent of voters are willing to pay more in taxes to do that.

Again, not sure where he is getting his facts, but Arizona requires board and parental approval for district schools to teach sex ed, so parents have control of whether this is taught to their children. As for his reference to “poor quality instruction from teachers bent on injecting political ideology into their classroom”, I would love to see his data and learn where it is coming from. I’m sure there are parents who feel this way (Finchem would no doubt be one of them), but I refuse to believe there are a significant number of them.

Finally, his assertion that school districts have taken it upon themselves to adopt Common Core is ludicrous. The Legislature after all, originally mandated districts implement the Common Core before they renamed them the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards. They then essentially worked to rescind the mandate but districts had already fully implemented them. To change again, would have wasted resources and wreaked havoc on student learning.

Finchem then asked why aren’t parents choosing to stay at public schools? Well, actually, over 80 percent of Arizona students have chosen to stay in public district schools. This, despite a quarter century of charter schools in our state. He also surmised district schools are inattentive to the customer. District schools though, with their locally elected governing boards, are the only schools that are completely transparent and fully accountable to all their customers, i.e., parents, voters, taxpayers and community members. Additionally, he writes “Parents have been very clear that they do not want their children to be treated or referred to as ‘human capital’.” I have to say that I’ve never heard a student referred to as human capital, at least not in our district schools. The “churn and burn” environment of some “high performing, no excuses” for-profit charter chains might think of them this way, but district schools, who take all comers, want to educate each child.

Finchem also wrote:

“So again I have to ask the question that nobody is asking but for me, and it is a critical policy question, why aren’t parents rushing to public schools? If the matter is rooted in a call for competition to be the best, then ESA’s are one tool to draw public schools into the arena of excellence. I am interested in knowing your thoughts on how public schools can move away from delivering what parents know intuitively is wrong, and toward what parents expect? This is not a question of money; it is a question of performance.”

To the above, let me just say that I’ll concede some competition is good to help fine tune our districts, but ultimately competition is about producing winners and losers. Shouldn’t we want all our students to be winners? As for “Parents know what public schools are delivering is inherently wrong?” REALLY???. Who says? And on what parents expect from public schools, I think it looks something like: a safe environment; a full curriculum to include art, music, language, and physical education; highly effective teachers; sufficient support staff to meet student needs; reasonable class sizes; up-to-date technology; reliable buses; and well-maintained facilities conducive to learning. What parents know about what is wrong in district schools is that over 2,000 classrooms are without a teacher and another 2,000 are without a certified teacher; that being forced to rely more heavily on locally supported funding means some districts can’t afford music or art or physical education; and that maintenance and repair funding for infrastructure is woefully inadequate.

Finally, Finchem tries to make the point that this is not a question of money, but of performance. But, all of the above inadequacies are a result of inadequate funding. And that inadequate funding is due to decisions made by the Arizona Legislature. They are the ones after all, who affected the highest cuts in per pupil funding in the nation from 2008 to 2014. They are also the ones who seem to think that having an educational performance ranking between 38th and 44th (depending on who you ask) is a good enough return on investment for a 48th investment in per pupil funding and 50th in teacher salaries. But I really doubt the majority of parents think either the investment or the return is “good enough.”  I certainly don’t, nor do I think many of our legislators are…starting with Smith, Leach and Finchem. #TimeForChange

 

 

ESA (Voucher) Vote Tomorrow!

Arizona’s public district school children (all one million plus), need your help! Both chambers of the AZ Legislature are scheduled to vote on the full expansion of Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESAs) tomorrow and district school advocates aren’t sure we have enough votes to kill the bills (SB1431 and HB2394.)

Please act now to help! Here’s information on how from the Arizona School Boards Association:

This is It! ESAs Going to a Vote

SB1431 and HB294 empowerment scholarship accounts; phase in
 The ESA expansion bills are going to a vote tomorrow. ESAs may have the one vote they need to pass the Senate but we still have a chance to stop them in the House. If we can help the House hold strong, it will be a victory for education advocates. Below are our friends and potential supporters who should know their constituents are watching! Take a moment to call and/or email and let them know:

  • Arizona cannot afford universal ESAs
  • ESAs are not a savings and will take general fund dollars away from all other state priorities, not just education.
  • No amendments will make universal ESAs an acceptable use of public funds. Tax dollars are still diverted for private use
  • ASBA considers this a fundamental indication of which members truly support public education

Thank/Stay Strong/Continue Support

LD 15 Rep. Heather Carter hcarter@azleg.gov 602-926-5503

LD10 Rep. Todd Clodfelter tclodfelter@azleg.gov 602-926-4850

LD 5 Rep. Regina Cobb rcobb@azleg.gov 602-926-3126

LD 16 Rep. Doug Coleman dcoleman@azleg.gov 602-926-3160

LD14 Rep. Drew John djohn@azleg.gov 602-926-5154

LD25 Rep. Michelle Udall mudall@azleg.gov 602-926-4856

LD28 Sen. Kate Brophy-McGee kbrophymcgee@azleg.gov 602-926-4486

Potenial No Votes

LD13 Rep. Darrin Mitchell dmitchell@azleg.gov 602-926-5894

LD28 Rep. Maria Syms msyms@azleg.gov 602-926-4840

LD8 Rep. David Cook dcook@azleg.gov 602-926-5162

ASBA *can* help stop ESAs. These members need to know that they will be supported for doing the right thing! Call and/or email now!

Trump reverses stand on EPA, orders trillion dollar investment in solar energy

Cross-posted from skyislandscriber.com

April Fool!

(I wrote most of this post yesterday – April 1.)

Let’s try a different headline. China, Chile, America – which does not belong?

If you picked America, you would be correct. China and Chile are leading the way in solar energy investment. This is another way in which Trump’s MAGA is a race to the bottom.

The Washington Post reports that While Trump promotes coal, Chile and others are turning to cheap sun power. Chile, the main focus of the report, aims to be “A solar Saudi Arabia.”

The Atacama desert in Chile is possibly the driest, sunniest place on the planet. It also is a popular tourist destination being home to some of the most interesting geological formations and ecologies: check out flocks of flamingos in the high plains salt flats, volcanoes, valley of the moon, the Andes, and more things to do in San Pedro de Atacama.

The Atacama is also interesting because of Chile’s immense national copper mine. Chile put this mine in place where no rational person would want to live – and then built a whole city to house the (well-paid) miners.

In addition to tourist cash and copper, the Atacama is an ideal place to situate massive solar arrays. No rain means no atmospheric interference with sun light. And that means super efficient solar production.

The sun is so intense and the air so dry that seemingly nothing survives. Across vast, rocky wastes blanched of color, there are no cactuses or other visible signs of life. It’s Mars, with better cellphone reception.

It is also the world’s best place to produce solar energy, with the most potent sun power on the planet.

So powerful, in fact, that something extraordinary happened last year when the Chilean government invited utility companies to bid on public contracts. Solar producers dominated the auction, offering to supply electricity at about half the cost of coal-fired plants.

It wasn’t because of a government subsidy for alternative energy. In Chile and a growing list of nations, the price of solar energy has fallen so much that it is increasingly beating out conventional sources of power. Industry experts and government regulators hail this moment as a turning point in the history of human electricity-making.

“This is the beginning of a trend that will only accelerate,” said Chilean Energy Minister Andrés Rebolledo. “We’re talking about an infinite fuel source.”

President Trump ordered U.S. regulators this week to reverse Obama-era policies aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, and he has promised to “bring back” the U.S. coal industry. But construction of coal-fired power plants dropped 62 percent over the past year worldwide, according to a survey by the Sierra Club and other activist groups. In China last year, the number of new permits for coal-fired plants fell by 85 percent.

More worldwide generating capacity is now being added from clean sources than coal and natural gas combined, according to a December report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, which closely tracks investment in renewables.

An investor in Chile wanting to build a hydroelectric dam or coal-fired plant potentially faces years of costly political battles and fierce resistance from nearby communities. In contrast, a solar company can lay out acres of automated sun-tracking panels across an isolated stretch of desert and have them firing quiet, clean electricity in less than a year, with no worries about fluctuating fuel prices or droughts. The sunlight is free and shows up for work on time, every morning.

Long dependent on energy imports, Chilean officials now envision their country turning into a “solar Saudi Arabia.” Chile’s solar energy production has increased sixfold since 2014, and last year it was the top-scoring clean-energy producer in the Americas, and second in the world to China, according to the Bloomberg rankings. (China is the world’s largest producer of greenhouse gases but also the leading investor in renewable energy.)

Driving the global shift to cheap sun power is a dramatic decline in the cost of the photovoltaic (PV) panels that can be used to create giant desert solar farms or rooftop home installations. China produces more than two-thirds of the world’s PV panels, and their price has fallen more than 80 percent since 2008.

Unlike many of South America’s other major countries, Chile has virtually no oil or gas deposits. With a heavy dependence on imported fuel, Chileans have been paying some of the highest electricity rates in the region, but prices are falling as renewable sources come online.

The Atacama is well-suited to solar energy production for the same reasons astronomers put high-powered telescopes in northern Chile for the clearest possible Earth-based views of the cosmos.

In nations such as Japan and Germany, which are some of the world leaders in solar energy production, the sun’s rays are partly diffused by water molecules floating in the air, even on days when it isn’t cloudy.

But in the super-dry Atacama, where it virtually never rains, the photons beam straight down. Put a solar panel beneath them and it’s like plugging into the sun.

At the Finis Terrae solar plant near the tiny town of Maria Elena, more than 500,000 PV panels blanket the desert. The 160-megawatt plant was the largest solar installation in Latin America when it went online last summer, capable of powering nearly 200,000 homes. Since then, another Chilean plant has surpassed it.

I am skipping over some of the hassles Chile faces because of the harsh conditions – the extreme radiation – in the Atacama. But the biggest problem with solar is what to do when the sun goes down. Chile is working on it. “Chile could generate all of its electricity with about 4 percent of the desert’s surface area, if there were a way to efficiently store and distribute that energy.”

A company looking to bridge this gap in Chile is building Latin America’s first solar thermal plant. You can see its solitary tower rising from the desert for miles around, like some sort of alien religious shrine. At nearly 700 feet, it is the second-tallest building in Chile.

Instead of PV panels, the solar thermal plant will have 10,000 giant, rotating mirrors set in concentric circles around the tower. They will concentrate the sun’s rays on a huge boiler at the top, filled with molten salts, that reaches more than 1,000 degrees and glows like the Eye of Sauron in “The Lord of the Rings.”

The superheated salts ooze downward to steam turbines at the base of the tower, retaining enough energy to generate electricity all night. It’s essentially a giant, rechargeable $1.4 billion battery.

The plant’s owner, Cerro Dominador, a subsidiary of U.S.-based EIG Global Energy Partners, says it will be completed in 2019. Larger solar thermal facilities based on the technology are in operation in California, and Chile has issued permits for others.

Ivan Araneda, the company’s top executive, said such solar thermal facilities can transform the industry.

“The attack on renewables is that they’re too expensive, but this is efficient, proven technology,” Araneda said. “On an even playing field, renewables can compete with anything.”

Nobody can beat McSally … until we find the right Nobody

Cross-posted from skyislandscriber.com

Blake Morlock writes a column “What the Devil won’t tell you” for the Tucson Sentinel. His latest is an argument that the Dems’ best hope to beat McSally could be a complete nobody. However, goes the subtitle, Harnassing midterm anger isn’t in establishment Democrat DNA.

So. Let’s do some genetic engineering. Here are snippets.

[Republicans] whiffed on doing something — anything — to Obamacare because apparently drafting a ready-to-go bill was too much work for Republicans during the seven years they railed against the Affordable Care Act as a freedom-destroying, job-killing socialism. I guess they had other things to do.

It’s going to take more than a golden retriever in a pickup truck to get U.S. Rep. Martha McSally out of this one. We can all agree that Boomer is, in fact, “a good boy,” but Obamacare was supposed to be the easy victory.

Republicans run the risk of failing to get any real changes through Congress before the 2018 midterms as President Donald Trump seems to prefer pissing off the losers across the country who don’t see his genius.

They would be smarter to move the goal posts to the 45 than try to deliver “comprehensive tax reform.” The idea of border adjustment tax is likely political hokum at best and the trigger of a trade war at worst. They gotta win something so they might just pass a standard-issue tax cut and call it The New Deal.

If they don’t, then they’re looking at an 0-Fer and they can’t be (deep breath) that stupid. The 2018 midterm was going to be hard for McSally when it looked like the GOP could run the legislative table. Political failures only make her prospects worse.

McSally is in trouble but to do something about it, the Democrats – the national Democratic establishment – may have to break form and follow their base. By national Democrats, I mean the big Washington money and shiney-shoed consultants who decide what’s what out here where plants bite.

The obvious candidates don’t yet inspire much fear in the GOP. Former state Rep. Matt Heinz suffered a double-digit loss to McSally and former state Rep. Victoria Steele couldn’t raise any money or beat Heinz in the primary. State Rep. Randall Friese might be an interesting choice but he’s just in his second term.

Why does it have to be a state lawmaker? Because that’s a safe bet and national Democrats will only dance with a safe bet.

I guarantee you that D.C. establishment looks at Martha McSally and doesn’t see a woman who won her seat in 2014 by a few hundred votes. They don’t see her serving a district Hillary Clinton won by five points. They see a congresswoman who raised a stupefying $7 million in 2016.

Then they look at the Democratic landscape and see no obvious candidate who can raise enough money to match because all the obvious candidates can be “called a liberal.”

They may try to coax Green Valley pecan grower Nan Walden to run for office (again). She’ll probably play coy and then say no (again). They may even try to get Ann Kirkpatrick to move from Flagstaff to Tucson to take on McSally (a lot of Dems seem giddy about this possibility). In which case, McSally may just be able to land this thing on autopilot.

A nobody may be their best bet but “nobody” will be a tough candidate for the D.C. types to swallow.

If that does not kickstart your depression, then you are the emotional equivalent of a cinder block. So let’s get over the get-mad and do the get-even.

The first step out of the downer mode, Morlock continues, is to understand mid-term elections.

Midterm elections with an unpopular president turn on one message: Wrath.

Voters don’t want to hear about a 10-point plan for inter-modal transit that moves Southern Arizona forward again. They want to hear “I’m pissed too and I’ll stand up to Donald Trump in Congress.”

Democrats have long preferred the resume to the voice and that has cost them.

So we need a candidate who will broadcast the Greats of Wrath.

An improving economy would improve the 2018 climate for the GOP, if Trump could stop creating his own weather. Yet all he seems to know is how to be a one-man pressure front happiest in storm and squall.

Those are the elements McSally is left to and her tenure in Congress could fall victim to the exposure.

Democrats don’t need a Latina, business-owning combat veteran who “can’t be called a liberal” who will drive out the base on identity alone. What they need is The Voice promising to be The Wrath. See: Sanders, Bernie.

Who can beat McSally? It may be a nobody out there thinking “I’m sick of this … I’m gonna run without apology" because no Democrat will beat McSally.

Donald Trump might.

[Especially] … If [McSally] keeps supporting him 100 percent of the time …

The obvious candidate? Sure, maybe a guy like Randy Friese could make a go of it. But anyone who says a loudmouth outsider channeling voter anger can’t win federal office against an establishment type has been living in a glass jar the last two years.

And voters have a lot to be angry about. All the BS spouted by Trump and defended by McSally’s 100% votes just got proven to be empty promises by the failure of the GOPlins to pass their own health care bill. That hurts. Health care is a very personal thing. McSally was poised to vote for that atrocity. Will she vote to support a budget that cuts cancer research in favor of a not-so-beautiful wall that will screw things up with Arizona’s southern trading partner? And, BTW, said research is the hope that Uncle Joe will get some life-saving treatment. Not to mention the economic injustice of Trumpcare being a transfer of working class wealth to Trump’s billionaire BFFs. Voting for this stuff is a slap in the face of CD2 voters. Take that, McSally.

And, let’s not forget that there is a scandal dominating the nightly news that is not going away – the Trump connection to Russia. For example, check out AZBlueMeanie’s report today Follow the money: USA Today’s investigation into Donald Trump’s Russian mob money connections. Will McSally vote against our national security?

Probably. Check out this Letter to the Editor by Kathy Krucker in this morning’s Daily Star.

Re: the March 26 letter “Where is McSally on Trump’s Misbehavior”

Excellent point about Rep. Martha McSally ignoring our Commander-in-Chief’s shameless history of denigrating women! McSally is an Air Force Academy graduate and served our country with honor. Hopefully, her Academy oath would carry over into Congressional governance: not tolerating those who lie and cheat.

Why won’t McSally call out the President on his denial of facts reported by our intelligence agencies and reputable news outlets? McSally is silent on the tweets of a president who accepts as true what he learns from Brietbart, Fox News and conspiracy outlets. She is silent about the ethical violations of her own chairman of the House Intelligence Committee (Devin Nunes), who seems more interested in protecting the president than conducting a bipartisan investigation into Russia’s interference in our democracy and elections. She is silent about a president, White House, and a cabinet with significant financial and ethical conflicts of interest.

The questions raised in the letter may not in themselves be enough to win the midterm but it might not hurt to pile on.

Below is a copy of a comment in response to Morlock’s column by “bettsph.” I edited it to flip the gender. Assume that the “I” in this comment is me.

I know of a “nobody” that I think would be perfect for the job, frankly… She is an ex military person (such an obviously better choice for rural arizona than an anti-gun female or a gay guy: apologies for stereotypes here but the margins seem to indicate that at least SOME thought needs to head in that direction….) with good solid values that are accessible to both sides, and is unabashedly AGAINST TRUMP. She has run a political campaign before and lost, despite being a fantastic communicator. She has a little more recognition than nobody, but a) she could do the job and b) she could win the district if she had some money and professional campaign consultants who wouldn’t try to get her to sell herself down the river in order to win. She is authentic. I am not interested in outing her if she doesn’t choose to run, I’m just saying’, keep your eyes open for Nobody. She’s out there!