The best guide for the citizen interested (as few are) in making an informed vote on judicial retention is the Arizona Commission on Judicial Performance Review. Unlike voting based on party affiliation like the ideologues over at Sonora Alliance are advocating, retention should be based on ability, not ideology.
I'm not kidding myself that many people will actually bother. The drop-off for this section of the ballot is astronomical. Of course, that means that relatively few informed votes can carry a lot of weight. If you want to be such a voter, I'm here to help.
Unlike most of you, I actually clicked through to the JPR. Then I looked at the scores, and then I looked at the reviews by attorney's who appeared in the judges courtrooms, the juries who sat in the jury boxes, and the witnesses who took the stands in their courts. It is rare for the jurors or witnesses to complain; they don't actually spend all the much time with the judge, and they are usually fairly indulgent toward these parties. Where the real friction happens is with the attorneys whom they deal with repeatedly and garner a reputation amongst. That's where to look for signs of trouble.
The standards by which the judges are, well, judged are comprehensive, but frankly, the standards aren't that hard to meet if you are capable of getting appointed in the first place. It shouldn't therefore be too surprising that every single judge up for review in Arizona received a nearly unanimous "Meets Standards" from the Commission.
So, I will only bother to highlight those rare individuals who did not get a unanimous score. At the most, only 1 or 2 commissioners gave any judge a "Does Not Meet Standards." It is important to realize that even 1 such vote is unusual, and could possibly mean that there is a significant problem with the performance of the judge. This isn't a popularity contest; the commissioners only vote that way if they see a serious issue.
So, who got flagged?
The Honorable Janet E. Barton of the Maricopa Superior Court collected 2 "Does Not Meet" votes. Based on attorney surveys, it seems that she has some issues with her judicial temperament. 22% of attorneys surveyed gave her a "Poor" (PO) or "Unsatisfactory" (UN). The main beef seems to be that she has demonstrated to some attorneys a lack of compassion, understanding, or courtesy. She's probably doesn't tolerate fools lightly (lord knows enough of them are attorneys), but this doesn't seem like a reason not to retain her.
The Honorable Edward O. Burke of the Maricopa Superior Court also caught 2 "Does Not Meet" votes. Based on the attorney surveys, there is a slight issue with his legal ability (19% of those surveyed gave him a PO or UN) and with his temperament (15% PO or UN). In my view, if 20% of your colleagues DON'T think you an idiot, you're probably a mute.
The Honorable John M. Gaylord of the Maricopa Superior Court got dinged with just 1 "Does Not Meet" vote. Looking at the surveys, I can't imagine why. Maybe the commissioner didn't like his name...
The Honorable Bethany G. Hicks of the Maricopa Superior Court had one commissioner slap her with a "Does Not Meet" vote. Looking at the surveys, I can't imagine why it was only one commissioner. Fully 38% of attorney respondents gave her UN or PO for her legal ability. The is by far the lowest of any current judge. She also had 27% UN or PO for communication skills, and an impressive 18% who gave her UN or PO marks for judicial temperament. Those are some seriously troubling numbers.
The Honorable Jonathan H. Schwartz of the Maricopa Superior Court Juvenile Division got "Does Not Meet" from 2 commissioners. 14% of attorneys responding rated Judge Schwartz as PO for legal ability. 29% gave his a PO or UN for his judicial temperament. And 23% gave him PO or UN for his administrative performance - most of those complaints seem to center around his punctuality and calendar management.
That's it. Just five judges had issues serious enough that at least 1 commissioner couldn't in good conscience give him or her a "Meets Standard" vote. Make of it what you will, but at least now you won't face that long list of names completely without information.
UPDATE 10/30: The Arizona Education Association just issued a press release announcing that it has filed two complaints with the Maricopa County Elections Department regarding these incidents on behalf of their over 32,000 members. This is good news. A good scandal seems to be the only way to get voters to seriously consider a down-ticket race like SPI. Jason William has a good chance of knocking Horne off if he plays the hand he's been dealt skillfully with the press over the coming week.
UPDATE 10/30: An alert and enterprising reader (aren't all my readers?) went ahead and looked up the statute restricting campaign activity in the schools. State Statute §15-511 says: "A person acting on behalf of a school district or a person who aids another person acting on behalf of a school district shall not use school district or charter school personnel, equipment, materials, buildings or other resources for the purpose of influencing the outcomes of elections." Therefore, Horne has essentially admitted in the public media that he broke the law. What an idiot.
Unfortunately, the penalty for breaking this law is only a civil penalty not to exceed $500 and the value of any misappropriated resources. Still, there may be Clean Elections repercussions for using unapproved resources to campaign.
The Arizona Education Association, the state's teacher union, filed three complaints Thursday against Republican Horne and a charter school principal. On Oct. 12, Horne sent an e-mail to employees of the Arizona Department of Education that contained an Arizona Republic editorial endorsing him for a second term.
On Oct. 19 and 24, teachers' union President John Wright attended his son's concerts at the Arizona School for the Arts, a Phoenix charter school, where he claimed the school principal encouraged the audience to vote for Horne and sign up as campaign volunteers.
Those lists included the names of state education department staff. The complaint alleged that the actions violate state laws that prohibit schools from influencing elections and candidates from using their office to influence an election.
Horne countered that employees receive department wide e-mails every day containing education stories, good or bad, appearing in local newspapers. Horne claimed that state laws prohibiting schools from influencing elections apply to district schools, not charters, and that agency staff volunteered to work polling sites.
So Tom's defense is that he breaks the law all the time, and that charter school jobs are meant to be sinecures for political cronies. Now we have yet another reason to oppose charter schools and private schools funded by tax payer dollars - the GOP seeks to turn them into political ward halls, just as they have many churches. No institution exists but to serve their ideological agenda, apparently. Their will to power is truly of Nietzschean proportions
AZ Republic: 3 GOP mayors asked to quit.
GOP leaders from Legislative District 4 on Friday called for the resignations of three West Valley mayors, all registered Republicans, because of their endorsement of Gov. Janet Napolitano, a Democrat...
Conservative members hope to pressure those holding more moderate views to remain silent in deference to Len Munsil, Napolitano's Republican challenger.
City council, school board and other local elected offices traditionally are nonpartisan. But District 4 party leaders said they followed orders from Arizona Republican Party Chairman Matt Salmon in demanding the resignation of any GOP elected official who endorsed a candidate from another party.
On Friday, District 4 GOP leaders hand-delivered letters to the offices of Mayors Elaine Scruggs of Glendale, Joan Shafer of Surprise and Ron Badowski of Wickenburg, demanding that they step down for publicly supporting Napolitano.
"We're letting the public know that if you are a Republican, you should stand by your party or remain silent," said Lyle Tuttle, chairman of the Republican Party of District 4, which includes parts of Phoenix, Glendale, Peoria and Surprise. "It's fine if they want to vote for someone else, but for them to endorse a non-Republican is not following the party line."
If you are a Republican you have the right to remain silent if you disagree with your party. Yeah, that about sums it up.
The intolerance that the Republican party has for so many years focused outward, is now focusing inward as they creep ever closer to losing their grip on power.
Their instinct in the face of adversity is not to embrace differences and grow their coalition, but to purge it of any internal dissent. This is the behavior of ideological zealots, not a pragmatic governing coalition.
This is clearly magical thinking, "If only I can ensure that everyone in my group agrees with me, then everyone everywhere will agree with me." It's truly sad to see a major American political party have a psychic melt-down like this.
Why are comedians recently the only ones who seem to be telling the whole, unvarnished truth about politics? I think it may be because the truth is so bad, that it's either going to make you laugh, or it's going to make you cry. Nobody wants to listen to the version that comes with tears, so we'll take our truth with a dose of laughter, thanks.
Is America still #1? Bill says:
The chief target for this effort in Arizona is Ed Pastor. He has only token Republican opposition, in the form of the risable perennial candidate Don Karg, and has over a million bucks in the bank. He is also behind on his DCCC dues. Pastor chairs the Hispanic caucus and is protesting lack of support by the DCCC for Hispanic challengers. Well and fine. Protest all you want, Ed, but right now we have a fight on our hands and an incredible opportunity. We want a third of your kitty.
Call Ed at 602-604-0909 or 202-225-4065 and ask him to pay it forward. Specifically, we want 30% of his warchest given to the DCCC for emergency funding of newly competitive races. Be polite, but don't accept the "we gave at the office" excuse.
I'm sure many of you have seen the ad by Kyl attacking Pederson's honesty over a form that Kyl alleges was an attempt to defraud investors. My Mom saw it, and a doubt was planted in her mind as to Pederson's honesty. I had to reassure her that the attack was utter bullshit before she felt comfortable voting for Jim. I take my Mom as the average Democratic voter. She watches TV, she doesn't read the paper or frolic on the internet, she feels it's her civic duty to vote and thus votes in every election. She generally votes for the Democrat unless she has a reason not to.
Jon Kyl's misleading attack ad (second down from the top) claims that Pederson willfully sought to defraud investors by concealing a past bankruptcy.
And here's Pederson's response ad. It doesn't refute the charges, and my Mom still had doubts after seeing it. It's positive and a good message, but it's a non-responsive response:
Pederson's campaign issued a press release addressing the substance of Kyl's charges, but it didn't get wide attention, and obviously there is a residue of concern out there about Kyl's distortions. Here is Pederson's press release: (emphases added)
Jon Kyl's new attack ad against Jim Pederson's business reputation was discredited in a Friday news conference attended by Jim's company's accountant, Phoenix-area bank officials, a prominent area contractor and homeowner's association members, who worked with Jim on a project in Scottsdale.
Kyl has alleged that Jim attempted to deceive lenders and investors about his bankruptcy in the early 1990s, by failing to fill out paperwork with the Arizona Corporation Commission.
But in the news conference, Pederson Group accountant Don Leo explained that a lower level employee in the Pederson Group made an inadvertent mistake in Corporation Commission disclosure documents. The language about bankruptcy in those forms changed in the mid-1990s, and the employee, copying old forms that pre-dated the language change, failed to check the right box in the documents in question. When the error was brought to Jim's attention in 2001, he immediately corrected it. No action was taken by the Corporation Commission.
Kyl's attack ad asserts that this paper work mistake was an attempt by Pederson to mislead potential lenders, but Brian Scott and Kevin Schillig, whose companies lent the Pederson Group hundreds of millions of dollars for projects during the mid- 1990s, said Kyl was wrong.
Lenders don't even use Corporation Commission documents to determine whether a company should receive a loan, Scott and Schillig said. They have their own forms.
"Jim's been forthright on all issues, never hid anything and disclosed his financial history along the way," Scott said. Scott was with Bank of America in the 1990s and was in charge of the loans offered the Pederson Group.
"Jim Pederson is a man of integrity," Schillig said. "I've loaned him millions of dollars, and he has paid every penny back, every time." Schillig was employed by JP Morgan Chase when he worked with Jim's company.
Adam Mays, with A.R. Mays Construction, has worked with the Pederson Group for nearly 20 years. He explained that contractors build 30 days ahead of being paid by the developer. Millions of dollars are at stake in their relationship, and trust is integral.
"I would build for Jim on a handshake," Mays said of his experiences working with the Pederson Group. "I've worked on projects with Jim for over 17 years and he has treated everyone fairly and honorably."
Also attending the news conference were Crawford Love and Carol Sotnik, who as members of the Bellasera Homeowners Association, worked with the Pederson Group on a project about which their community had reservations. They explained how Jim worked closely with HOA members to assuage their concerns and meet their requirements.
"I may not agree with Jim on every political issue, but the best phrase to describe my experience with him is, 'Promises made; promises kept,'" Love said. "Jim will always work to find common ground, and he is a man of his word."
You simply can't trust anything that Jon Kyl says. If you follow that maxim you'll never go wrong. Ask the Supreme Court. When Kyl and Senator Graham filed an amici brief in the Hamdan case, Kyl tried to lie to them, too. They tried to pass off comments inserted into the record as actual floor debate. Apparently, Jon thought that the highest court in the land was as gullible as the average Republican. But he didn't fool (many) of the Justices, and after November 7th, hopefully he won't be in a position to practice his deceits any more (except perhaps as a private attorney, where that sort of thing can be well-rewarded, so long as you don't get caught... I'm told).
It is not always apparent in the mainstream media what Americans really think about immigration. We see crosstabs on polling suggesting that immigration is the most important issue to voters by pluralities as much as 45%. It makes quite an impression when only 10-15% cite the war in Iraq. Immigration has captured an overwhelming mind-share this election cycle, but the raw numbers says nothing about how those voters think about the issue, or whether they are likely to vote on the basis of a candidate's position on that issue.
Those studying the attitude of Americans toward immigration find that the vast majority of Americans, and almost all those who think immigration the most important issue, are not reactionaries who want to militarize or seal the border with a wall.
...an overwhelming majority -- between two-thirds and three-quarters in every major poll -- would like to see Congress address the problem with a combination of tougher enforcement and earned citizenship for the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants already living and working here. A strange-bedfellow coalition -- of business associations, labor unions, and the Catholic Church, among others -- has endorsed this position. In Washington, the consensus behind it is even more striking, with supporters spanning the spectrum from conservative President George W. Bush to left-leaning Senator Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.), from mavericks like Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) to party regulars like Senator Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and all but a handful of congressional Democrats.
Most Americans do not agree with the relatively tiny minority who think that immigration is bad for America and that draconian measures are necessary to stop immigration. Those shouting slogans such as "No Amnesty" and "Build a Wall" and "Stop the Invasion" are simply a noisy periphery, not a major factor in electoral politics, save that the GOP has willfully ceded a mythic position to such fanatics.
Mostly male, white, and lacking college degrees, these naysayers believe immigrants are bad for the economy; they want to build a wall along the southern border and adamantly oppose allowing illegal immigrants to become citizens. Only about half are Republicans, and they account for no more than a quarter of the GOP. But many Republicans in Congress, particularly in the House, are convinced that this group is more intense -- more concerned, more motivated, more likely to vote on the basis of this single issue -- than anyone else likely to go to the polls. So the naysayers have become the tail wagging the dog of the immigration debate, and they may succeed in blocking a solution this year.
The take-away message here is that if you are like most Americans, wanting a comprehensive and intelligent solution to the ills attendant upon our current system of immigration, you want a Democratic majority in Congress. Leaving the GOP in control with a bare majority will do nothing but empower the spoilers of the anti-immigrationist right- the fringe elements like Randy Graf and Tom Tancredo - who will use their newly powerful swing positions to get further political mileage from a broken immigration system to elect more and more extremists to office.
The immigration extremists' political incentives will push them to make the problems worse, build bureaucratic constituencies by throwing money in to huge projects at the border, and further polarize our nation and demonize immigrant communities to grow their political base. Occurring nowhere in that list of priorities is ameliorating the problems caused by illegal immigration and crafting an immigration regime that reflects global realities and addresses the economic underpinnings of the flow of immigrants into this country.
You want action? You want results? Vote for a Democratic Congress.
I love this man. It's just that simple...
The latest numbers from Carol Zimmerman polling for the AZ Daily Star are a surprise only to those who hoped the race had closed further. It confirms the trend shown by KAET's earlier polling, but no one has been able show me a poll with any numbers tighter than 8% shown in the KAET poll.
The Star's numbers look good, though I wish they would have spent the money on a large enough sample size to get an MOE of under 3% (doubling the sample size would have been nice). After all, this is one the most watched races in the nation. Cheapskates.
Giffords still enjoys a very forbidding and sexy lead. There really is no way that, short of a major political earthquake, Graf can overtake Giffords. Undecideds are polling as leaning Democratic at a ratio of 2:1 all across America, I doubt that pattern stops at the border of CD 8 (though perhaps there's another border Graf would like to see sealed). Graf needs ALL the remaining undecideds to be competitive, and that's simply not going to happen.
The only thing that can stop Gabby Giffords from being the next Congresswoman from CD 8 is complacency. Not on her part, though that would hurt; but on the part of Democratic and Independent voters who have had enough, but figure this one's in the bag, so why bother voting? Or those Republicans who decide that, rather than vote for a Democrat and send their party a loud and clear message, they'll just not vote. Turn-out can still rain on Gabby's parade. Don't let it.
Vote. And encourage others to do so, regardless of the party. The most important thing you can do between now and the election is simply everything you possibly can to increase voter participation and turn-out. If we can do just 5% better at turning-out the Democrat vote in this off-year election than we have historically, Arizona can send a Democratic-majority delegation to a Democratically controlled Congress. Wouldn't that be a nice Christmas present for our boys overseas? A Congress that actually has our troops' backs, rather than their noses buried in the President's ass?
Moveon.org is running a virtual phonebanking project which is targeting low-turn-out Democrats. You call and encourage other Democrats to cast their votes who might not otherwise do so. No sales pitch, no hostile undecideds, just getting people to use their power as citizens. It's painless and does more with less than any other effort you could make. You can work solo, or you sign up to attend a calling party, or even host one if you like.
Quickly, people! We need a moniker to keep this thing sexy for the press. I vote for SwapGate (has the added benefit of an association with wife swapping). Let's hear your suggestions.
UPDATE 10/26: Let the backpedaling begin! As I feared, inconsistencies and distortions and innuendo in the breaking of the story has led the Renzi campaign and at least the Republic to begin to dial back on the seriousness of the reports. Renzi is, of course, claiming that the whole thing is a manipulation of police procedure for political gain by the Simon campaign.
UPDATE 10/25: WaPo has the whole story, sans speculations, in today's edition. Note that the story credits two liberal blogs with breaking the story over the weekend. I assume they are referring to Lofty Donkey and R-Cubed. Congratulations fellow Arizona bloggers.
When it rains, it pours: Congressman From Arizona Is the Focus of an Inquiry - New York Times. The unfolding multiple scandals involving influence pedaling by Renzi are now starting to break all across both traditional media and the national internets.
Federal authorities in Arizona have opened an inquiry into whether Representative Rick Renzi introduced legislation that benefited a military contractor that employs his father, law enforcement officials said Tuesday.
The officials said the inquiry was at an early stage and that no search warrants had been issued, suggesting that investigators had yet to determine whether there was a basis to open a formal investigation or empanel a grand jury.
Mr. Renzi, 48, a Republican who represents the First Congressional District, is a former insurance executive and real estate investor who was first elected in 2002. Almost from the start, he has been a target of citizen watchdog groups who have accused him of ethical laxity in office.
Law enforcement officials said that the most serious accusation involved Mr. Renzi’s sponsorship of legislation in 2003 that appeared to indirectly benefit the ManTech International Corporation, a communications company based in Virginia that employs Mr. Renzi’s father, Eugene, a retired Army general, as executive vice president.
Representative Renzi’s office did not return a reporter’s telephone calls on Tuesday to discuss the inquiry. In the past, Mr. Renzi has dismissed questions about whether his efforts aided ManTech, saying it did not need any assistance from him.
Of course, there are also scandals that Renzi is not under criminal investigation for, such as his putting a fundraiser on his payroll against both federal law and House ethics rules.
Put it all together and it spells scandalpolooza and more than enough grist for the national media to get seriously up in Mr. Renzi's grille.
Drinking Liberally will be meeting as usual at The Shanty on 4th Ave and 9th St, beginning at 6pm, this Thursday Oct. 26th.
This week, our special guest is Tucson City Council Member Nina Trasoff. Please come and join Nina for conversation about the future of Tucson.
Last week, we hosted City Council Member Carol West. We had a great conversation about growth, water, environmental protection and many other topics.
Next week we don't yet have any special guest scheduled, if you have someone in mind, let us know by writing to Tucson AT DrinkingLiberally DOT Org.
Tucson's liberal book club, Reading Liberally will be meeting on November 1st. The book under discussion is "The Broken Branch" by Ornstein and Mann. Write to the address above for meeting details.
The latest polling from KAET's Cronkite Eight project has Pederson within 6 points of Kyl. Kyl is 4 points shy of an absolute majority, and there are 9% undecided - more than enough to close the gap for Pederson. We have a competitive race, folks. If Pederson can hammer Kyl more effectively over the home stretch we could have a new Democratic Senator from Arizona.
The same poll has a few interesting and encouraging data points on other contests. It is showing the latest crazy embarrassing blow-out numbers for the Governor's race. Apparently, Arizona really doesn't want a Governor whose major policy theme seems to be to tear down the 9/11 memorial because it's not politically correct enough. Go figure.
Finally, a bit of good news (amid a lot of bad) on the Proposition front. The poll indicates that voters are understanding the threat to families that Proposition 107 represents (despite the best efforts of the fascists - whose ranks Senator McCain has joined by appearing on a Pro-Prop 107 mailer "wholeheartedly" endorsing this gay-bashing, non-trad family trashing bullshit). 107 looks set to go down hard.
UPDATE: I've been reminded that the language of the question asked in this poll might have over-determined the result a bit:
"Proposition 107 will amend the Arizona constitution to ban same-sex marriages and would bar governmental entities such as cities, counties, school districts and universities from providing employee benefits to unmarried partners. Will you vote for or against this proposition?"
Could be that the assessment of the effect skewed the results. Certainly, previous polling indicates that 107 fails when fully explained, and wins when framed as simply being a ban on gay marriage or "one man one woman" nonsense.
Just a little process note: please leave a comment letting me know if you're liking the new statistical graphics. Something new I'm trying.
It doesn't get any tighter than this, folks. Now, if only someone would open a criminal investigation on Hayworth (which his corruption richly warrants)... Of course these state-level polls seldom include a large enough sample to get the MOE below 3%, but with two very close polls in a row, it's a good bet that this race will be won or lost by inches in the final days of the campaign. So go show Mitchell some love and we could have a 5 to 3 Congressional delegation next year!
UPDATE: Apparently Renzi has lawyered up (though I doubt if this is really a recent retainer as Renzi has been under investigation for months), hiring former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods. Now the media trial before the trial begins. Strap in, this should be very entertaining...
So there it is. There is indeed an investigation which is at the early stages. No indictment. No leaking staffer. No collusion by the prosecutor.
Regardless that it may seem quotidian compared to the salacious rumors, it's gleeful news. Renzi is officially in the midst of a criminal investigation stemming from the misuse of his office. That in itself is the nail in the ol' coffin. Looks like Carpetbagger Dick is goin' back to VA.
With Renzi running behind Simon, we may well be looking at another pickup for the Dems in Arizona. Ellen needs our support and money to put this thing away. Go donate to her campaign now. Seriously.
In my view, the proposition that the GOP is riddled with bigoted idiots in leadership positions - not to mention those all-important followership positions - hardly requires more proof that reading the paper or watching TV news while having enough neuronal activity to sustain life functions. But I understand that there are some conservatives of good will and fine ethical fibre who still believe that such attitudes are an abberation in their GOP. Like most people, if we do not share an attitude, we consider it to be marginal. It's a perfectly human reaction. It's called denial, and it is the first step in recovery from bigot addiction.
Recent incidents involving prominent Arizona Republican leaders such as Russell Pearce and J.D. Hayworth have shown how thoroughly abhorrent attitudes have pervaded the Republican party. I haven't covered these incidents much of late, but as long as fine, rock-ribbed Republican folk continue to support those politicians, and, perhaps, the Republican party itself, these attitudes will continue to fester and grow within their party. So I'm writing this to the Republicans who visit here.
Of course, I'm perfectly happy to see the GOP torpedo its own future with growing segments of the electorate. But I do genuinely feel that some of this nonsense is starting to discredit mainline Republicanism, which is unfortunate because there are useful and noble ideas behind Republicanism that I honor. I don't think those ideas should guide government policy unchecked, but they can play a useful role in loyal opposition in a properly deliberative democratic process (which radical Republicans have all but destroyed in this country).
I posit this question: Isn't it better to bring down one or two of your own worst offenders? If Republicans continue to stand behind politicians who espouse racist and/or anti-semitic ideas, isn't it reasonable for people to assume that the party also stands behind those ideas?
Russell Pearce calls for a redux of Project Wetback, with complete insouciance about the racist overtones of the project's name. Is he really that out of touch? Then he email blasts anti-semitic conspiracy lit written by a hate group. Is he really that incompetent and sloppy? How is this guy a credit to your party and champion of your values? Even immigrant-baiting Randy Graf had the good sense to back away from association with this level of stupid.
After launching a rhetorical attack in his book based on the anti-semitic rantings of Henry Ford, which was already chock-full of racialist ideas and lies about Hispanic people, J.D. Hayworth sends his proxies to a Jewish temple who then claims that J.D. is a more observant Jew than they are. When most of those in attendance storm out in disgust, the mouthpiece tells the remaining congregation, "no wonder there are anti-Semites." This is the best face you can present to the nation? This is a leader in your party? This guy doesn't merit leadership of the night shift at Denny's.
Ron Gould flies a Confederate flag outside his Lake Havasu home. Then he storms out of an interview in which he questioned about it. Given that we are not in the South, Gould's contention that he flew it as a historical symbol doesn't fly. And even if we accept that, what history is it a symbol of? The attempt by Southern elites to destroy our Union in name of keeping other humans as property. Laudable, no? What does this say about Gould? What does it say about the Republican party?
Where does the permission to indulge in this sort of open bigotry, hate, and racism come from? From the very top of the GOP, and from the very bottom.
A piece of advice to all Republicans. When your leaders get too crazy for the good of your party, put them down. Don't let them spread their hatred and bigotry, lest you gather a well-deserved reputation as the party of hate.
A great short documentary (about 8 minutes) from the Guardian Unlimited about the daily challenges faced by our troops in working with Iraqi security forces. Quite a reality check for the "stand down when Iraqis stand up" crowd. Newsflash: the Iraqi security forces start shooting at us as soon as they stand up.
I hate Dick Renzi. He's a scumbag who embodies everything that is wrong with our Congress and this country's politics. He doesn't deserve a single vote. He deserves to be locked up and have his ill-gotten worldly wealth and power stripped from him publicly and humiliatingly. I wish it were true that a federal grand jury has indicted the bastard - along with a sizable chunk of the GOP's Congressional majority and most of the political appointees in the Executive.
Just establishing my street cred.
Given all of that, I still think this rumor that Renzi has been indicted and the US Attorney for Arizona is 'sitting on' the indictment until after the election is simply a sophomoric and joyously optimistic rumor. I believe with 99% certainty that this rumor is patently false.
How it got started I can only imagine, but it seems to have first appeared in the blogs at LoftyDonkey, and his/her diary at KOS (I have no idea the identity of Lofty Donkey, though I have spoken with someone using his/her address via GMail and Google IMs). Since then, it has trickled hesitantly across the nets. I read the rumor with fascination and excitement, like most on the left, I'm sure. I don't know how Lofty got the information, but I'm sure it was passed on in good faith, even if it was not actually vetted, apparently.
Doubts quickly crept in, and before catapulting the propaganda further into the blogosphere, I contacted Lofty Donkey for verification of sources. Lofty Donkey told me the name of an AP reporter and told me that it was his/her understanding that the source for that reporter was an ex-staffer from Renzi's congressional office. This immediately put up my antennae. A staffer seemed unlikely as a source on this, at best, and the reporter could be easily contacted.
That's what I did. This morning I got a call from an exasperated and fairly angry AP reporter who asked to have his/her name kept out of this business. S/He denied there was any such investigation and that the rumors in the blogs and editorial rooms over the weekend were the first s/he had heard of the entire matter. S/He had been fielding calls from editors putting down the rumor, and was understandably pissed. There is no source. There is no reporter. There is no leak. Ergo, the likelihood that there is an indictment and that it is being 'sat on' is quite low.
Note, however, that dead tree purveyors were sniffing after this internet rumor already. The netroots do have power.
I don't know all the fine details of federal practice, but the idea of a US Attorney 'sitting on' an indictment for political purposes is simply absurd. The only legal way of which I am aware that a federal prosecutor can 'sit on' an indictment is for a judge to agree to seal it. That keeps it secret for a very narrow class of reasons. The main ones being that the target of the indictment may learn of it and flee, or that the target is a prominent public figure and the prosecutor is giving that person a chance to 'make it go away' by cooperating with the investigation. The idea that career US Attorney, even one appointed by Bush, would deceive the court and ruin his career to help Dick Renzi is implausible.
Of course, it is possible that the US Attorney sealed a indictment of Renzi as a prelude to cooperation with an investigation. However, the rumor states that Renzi is under indictment for accepting a bribe and possibly fraud, even going so far as to say that he has been interviewed by the FBI (possibly true), and that the FBI wiretapped Renzi's phone and have a recording of him soliciting a bribe (implausible for so many reasons). These 'facts' make Renzi the focus of the investigation. No prosecutor is going to deal away the blue fin tuna to catch a few mackerel. Sealing Renzi's indictment makes no sense.
Now, if the prosecutor really wanted to delay legal action against Renzi until after the election, he or she could simply not present evidence to the grand jury until after the election. No muss, no fuss. That's how I would do it if I wanted to avoid political consequences of an indictment. I wouldn't present to the grand jury (risking a leak from the jury or court personnel), ask the presiding judge to seal it (involving the judge in my scheme and exposing myself to disbarment), or somehow prevent the unsealed indictment from being routinely announced (causing all sorts of red flags to rise), or hide it in my office or bury it in my back yard - when all I had to do was not present evidence in the first place. Especially if I have a recording pursuant to a valid warrant as evidence! That's not going anywhere. No timeliness issues other than the statute of limitations.
For all these reasons the story is utterly absurd from a legal and logistical standpoint.
No source. No reporter. No indictment. No story. It's all utter bullshit.
So stop writing about it!
It could be true that a case is being prepared against Renzi. He's done some shit that may very well warrant prosecution. And it could be that the US Attorney is not going to take the case to the grand jury until after the election. That is a perfectly reasonable factual basis for this outlandish rumor. It might yet happen that Carpetbagger Dick is going to get his. There may still be a grain of truth on that beach of ignorant innuendo.
I can't claim perfectly clean hands. I have published things based on rumor, or based on the word of someone it turns out I should not have relied on, or who had in turn innocently relied on innuendo or lies. But if blogs are going to ever become a source of news not available elsewhere, they also must be trustworthy enough for the public to spend their scarce time reading. We have to resist the tidal forces of the scoop. Traditional journalists suffer the same pernicious incentives, and when publishing is a matter of a mouse click, that pressure becomes a rip tide.
Check your facts, use your critical faculties, seek expertise: especially when the story is as explosive and important as a conspiracy to suppress the indictment of a Congressman weeks before the election, we owe our readers at least this much.
See what it's like to live at minimum wage (if you don't do it yourself already): Seven Days at Minimum Wage.
Acorn is doing an innovative vlog to promote raising the minimum wage featuring 7 people over the next 7 days struggling to get by on $5.15 an hour.
In Arizona, we have the opportunity to improve the situation somewhat for the working poor by voting YES on PROP 202, which would raise the mnimum wage in Arizona to $6.76 an hour and index it to inflation, so that workers aren't paid less every year as inflation erodes their earnings.
Arizonan Sandra Hohmann is covering Arizona's politics for AOL's new political megablog, The Stump. Drop by and leave a comment from a hommie.
Karl Reiner is a friend of this site and an active voice for a fact-based approach to the issue of immigration from Mexico, recently gave the following speech to the American Association of University Women in Green Valley. His remarks are reproduced here by permission. BlogForArizona published an exclusive essay by Karl in April of this year on the topic of immigration policy. I am glad to present his latest remarks to BlogForArizona readers in full. It takes a little time, but you will be well-rewarded.
Karl Reiner managed international trade and economic policy analysis at the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington, DC. He served as an acting deputy assistant secretary during the first Bush and Clinton administrations. A Vietnam veteran, he is a graduate of the Ohio State University and holds a MS degree from the Garvin School of International Management. After retiring from government service in 1994, he did consulting and authored a novel, Sgt. Bellnapp’s Secret, published in 2001.
October 17, 2006
By Karl Reiner
Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. It is a pleasure to be here with you today to discuss some of the economic factors behind the contentious immigration issue which is also known as the illegal migrant problem. The matter is not as clear cut as many commentators would like to paint it because the situation involves a variety of U.S. and Mexican interests. I believe we can all agree on the fact that the U.S. government is responsible for border security, immigration policy, foreign relations, and national defense. These have always been Federal responsibilities. Of course, if you live in a border state like Arizona, the consequences of Federal inattention can very quickly turn into a local concern.
Since the U.S. and Mexico share a long common border, you would assume that Mexico would be high up on the list of countries we want to succeed because of the economic and defense ramifications affecting the United States. Mexico, however, seems to have fallen through a crack in our priorities and given the current state of affairs, we ought to be asking ourselves how long is it going to be allowed to continue?
In its last session, Congress
was unable to agree on an immigration bill. The most expensive legislative
body in the world is too politically fractured to be able sort through
the mass of conflicting interests and proposed solutions. It was unable
to reach an agreement taking into account security, Mexico’s economic
development needs and the mobility of workers.
With the U.S. economy running at nearly full employment, provisions will have to be made for the orderly movement of labor. If workers are going to fill jobs, improvements have to be made in the existing temporary visa programs because the regulations have gotten out of sync with market conditions. Although it is a political hot potato, we will also have to decide what to do with the 12 million undocumented aliens already working in the U.S.
The legislation that finally gets enacted will have an impact on Arizona, the rest of the nation and Mexico. We should hope Congress thinks through the consequences of its actions and takes them into account before it acts. Hopefully, the complexities can be sorted out in a way that makes things better and not worse for the U.S. and Mexico.
Unfortunately in times of crisis, Congress does make a mistake every so often. Back in 1930, as the Great Depression was getting underway, Congress passed the Hawley-Smoot tariff bill that raised American tariffs to record heights in an attempt to protect existing jobs and allow the growing number of unemployed to find work producing the goods that had been previously imported. It had just the opposite effect. As other countries retaliated by raising their own tariffs, U.S. exports plunged and unemployment climbed. Hawley-Smoot made the Depression worse.
The shrillness in the debates
over immigration policy is a result of our failure to pay attention
to Mexico’s economic problems. Having a prosperous and stable Mexico
on our southern border has never been an important component of our
security policy. We are now, in a very haphazard fashion, beginning
to deal with the consequence of neglecting Mexico for so long.
The economic side of the question continues to be ignored as many politicians
focus attention on border security. Securing the border will be costly:
more border patrol agents, fences and surveillance devices, all with
a hefty price tag running in the billions. The will be one clear benefit,
the creation of a lot of new government contracts. Although we
have the technology and manpower to do the job, the money will not be
well spent because implementing better security by itself may create
as many problems as it solves. Enhanced security has to be coupled
with a program to help Mexico get its economic house in order if we
are going to be successful.
We have a situation involving two of the three largest economies on the North American Continent. The American economy ranks No. 1 in the world. It is linked to Canada (No.8) and Mexico (No.10) by the much-maligned North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Because the U.S. and Canada have similar economies, there have been relatively few problems in the relationship with our northern neighbor. Trade is flowing smoothly. Immigration is not a major concern because those residents of the U.S. and Canada working outside their home countries are relatively few in number and their presence has been accepted as beneficial to both nations.
The same can not be said for
relations with our southern neighbor. When NAFTA went into effect in
1994, there was a great deal of worry about a massive loss of U.S. jobs
to Mexico. It never materialized; instead U.S. employment has grown
by 20 million since the time of the treaty’s inception.
One of the underlying promises made by Mexican leaders was that Mexico’s prosperity would increase if it joined NAFTA. And it has, although very unevenly, and that has created a high degree of disenchantment. Mexico’s relatively inefficient small farmers have been especially hard hit because they cannot produce crops at prices competitive with imports. Mexico’s sluggish economy is not helping matters because those workers leaving the farming sector, along with the new entrants into the labor market, are having difficulty finding jobs.
Mexican governments have had an unstated policy of looking at the migration of workers to the U.S. as a type of social safety valve. Under present circumstances, the policy will not be changed because it provides an economic benefit to Mexico and they have no good alternatives. The Mexicans working in the U.S. send home an estimated $17 to $20 billion a year, supporting a substantial part of the population in many regions. These remittances pump a vital source of revenue into the country. Working in the United States has become an accepted way to gain skills, save money and provide for one’s family. Many workers have filled the same seasonal jobs for years, arriving in the spring and departing with the onset of winter. Others don’t see much hope for improving life in Mexico and decide to stay. Since 1990, about 25% of all U.S. immigrants have come from Mexico.
The economic ties between the
U.S. and Mexico are substantial and they must be factored into any program
affecting border relations. The U.S. buys around 90% of Mexico’s
exports. These shipments to the U.S account for approximately one-fourth
of Mexico’s $600 billion annual economic output. In 2005, combined
U.S. - Mexican trade totaled $290 billion, more than $23 billion higher
than in 2004. Through June 2006, both our exports and imports
are running ahead of last year’s levels. It is likely that the
upward trend will continue and trade will set another record this year.
Mexico is also an essential component of Arizona’s economy. The state does $15 to $18 billion a year in export business with Mexico. Mexican visitors spend about $300 million in Pima County annually.
The economic relationship is vital to both countries. As such, Mexico has to be considered for what it actually is: a major U.S. trading partner, a border security concern and a rapidly developing county with a number of large problems. Mexico’s problems are many and serious. The economy suffers from the effects of past mismanagement and the resulting setbacks have hampered the economy in reaching its full potential.
The most vexing problem facing
Mexico today is the long-term economic growth failure of the last 25
years. This tragedy has been caused by a number of economic and
social factors. I am going to mention some of the most glaring ones
so you can better appreciate the magnitude of the problem.
Mexico’s inconsistent regulatory environment and the poor state of its infrastructure impede job-creating investment and limit the potential for small firms to grow. It must make changes in order to attract more domestic and foreign investment. Mexico has also had a problem in holding on to jobs. As many as 800,000 jobs may have been lost to China in recent years.
Everyone has heard stories
about Mexico’s legendry corruption problem. It has a negative impact
on the country because corruption and public safety problems incapacitate
a sizable part of Mexican society. The cost to the nation has been estimated
at approximately $60 billion per year. It is a drag on development and
is an insidious overhead cost Mexico cannot afford.
The failure to grow the economy
has resulted in continual widespread poverty. A substantial portion
of Mexico’s population, estimated as high as 45 million, has an income
of less than $1,000 per year. Would the situation be different
today if management had been better during the previous years? The
answer is yes. If Mexico’s economy had continued to grow at pre-1980
levels, it would now have a per-capita income around the level of Spain’s.
We can also define the effects
of Mexico’s growth problem by doing a comparison with South Korea.
In 1970, average incomes in South Korea were about half of those in
Mexico. By 2004, Korean incomes were more than twice Mexico’s.
Between 1970 and 2004, average Mexican incomes rose 57%. The comparable
gain over the same time period in Korea was 574 %. This clearly illustrates
the dire consequences of suffering from a slow growth syndrome.
In recent years, the Mexican economy has grown about 4 % annually. This is far below the 7 % that many economists feel is needed to sustain growth and begin to chip away at poverty levels. Mexico has been unable to boost itself into the same league as China, which is growing at 8-10 % a year or India, which is growing in 6-8 % range.
What is causing the vexing slow growth problem? Economies tend to advance through the adaptation of better technologies and business methods. As production and efficiency improve, prices go down and incomes go up.
In Mexico, this process is
weak. The country is slow to embrace better technology and change outmoded
business practices. Mexico has a number of large, modern firms positioned
in a semi-protected market. These firms are able to use the government
to limit competition and thereby reduce the pressure on them to improve
efficiency or lower prices.
Let’s consider an example. Pemex, the state owned oil monopoly had sales of $69 billion and over 137,000 employees in 2004. For the same period, Exxon-Mobil produced $291 billion in revenue and had 86,000 employees. In other words, Exxon produced over four times the revenue with a workforce about 65% the size of the one fielded by Pemex.
Mexico does have a large informal business sector consisting of thousands of small firms, ranging from vendors to manufacturers. They aren’t really legal because they haven’t registered with the government. Most don’t pay taxes or comply with other regulations.
According to estimates, about a third of Mexico’s work force is employed in this informal sector. Many of these firms are forced to remain small and inefficient because they can’t get bank loans. Others don’t want to grow larger because they will become entangled in a web of government regulations and will be forced to pay taxes.
While there are many entrepreneurs in Mexican society, the system frustrates and holds them back. The environment prevents them from expanding their enterprises and making a larger contribution to the economy. In Mexico, companies with fewer than 10 employees account for about two-fifths of all employment. In the U.S., these same sized firms account for one-ninth of total jobs.
Why does this horrendous inefficiency exist? Some observers think it is due to cultural values that resist change and encourage economic cronyism. They point to the successful Asian societies that have accepted change and have fostered economic growth as the models that need to be followed. Others are skeptical of the cultural explanation and believe reducing trade protectionism and government intervention requires a certain amount of time. A nation’s attitudes and institutions change slowly and results can’t be delivered faster than change takes place.
Regardless of the cause, a
country eventually has to face reality and make a decision to start
the process moving. Economic liberalization produces good results when
implemented gradually and properly in terms of pace and sequence as
in Europe, or more recently as in China and India. The record
is fairly clear. Over time, the reduction in trade barriers and the
stability of economic policy in countries has produced an environment
conducive to rising living standards and the expansion of world trade.
However, the sudden and brutal emergence of market forces can dispossess people economically and culturally. We have seen some of these effects in Russia as it slowly moves away from the old Soviet model.
Revving up an economy is not
an easy job. Economic reformers are not particularly loved and they
struggle to reduce heavy-handed state intervention in the economy while
at the same time trying to soften the impact of a cold -hearted free
market system. It is a difficult balancing act and it is easy to make
mistakes. There can be negative economic and social consequences
if the process gets out of hand. The resulting high levels of inequality
can lead to political and social instability.
With its large amount of intellectual
and management resources, the U.S. could provide Mexico with the assistance
it needs to improve its economic performance. Why we have not considered
this option in the context of the migrant issue is a good question for
our political decision-makers to answer. Of the $8 billion we
spend on foreign aid annually, only about $30 million goes to Mexico
at the present time. We need to change that policy and ensure Mexico
becomes an economic success. Having a stable and secure Mexico on our
southern border would reduce illegal immigration, improve security and
be good for business.
Time may be running out because the situation in Mexico is becoming dicey. President–elect Felipe Calderon and his National Action Party (PAN) won the recent election by a mere fraction of a percent. The loser, Manuel Lopez Obrador, the leader of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD) has claimed the election was rigged and has vowed to keep the political pot boiling as he leads the opposition.
With the industrializing north of Mexico now pitted against the southern part of the country that is lagging behind, the government may slide into a political deadlock at the very time more emphasis should be placed on economic reform. The economic forecasts are mostly gloomy. There is a good probability that Mexico’s economy will improve only marginally; there is also a good chance it may stumble into a decline.
Throughout U.S. history, the impact of immigrants has often been a hotly debated topic. In good economic times, immigrants have been mostly welcomed. During other periods, the door has been virtually closed. What many people see as most alarming today is the lack of control on the border. The government doesn’t have the ability to control the door. This has led to a rekindling of the debate over the impact of immigrants on society. There are studies showing it can take immigrants as long as 10-12 years to become self-sufficient and begin to make contributions. On the other hand, other studies show it takes much less time. These diverse findings probably reflect the fact that the go-getters and those with higher levels of education move ahead at a faster pace.
There is a study showing Arizona taxpayers pay $1.3 billion a year for the education, health care and jailing of illegal immigrants. Critics consider the estimate to be inflated because it does not include the taxes the illegals pay and the money they pump into the economy as they spend their wages on food, shelter and clothing.
Depending on your point of
view, you can easily find data to back up any position on this issue
that you wish to take. However, it may not be wise to take a short-term
view of immigrant costs and contributions because the second and later
generations have always become a productive asset.
John Washington emigrated from England to Virginia in the mid-1600s and died there in 1677. It wasn’t until his great- grandson, George, became an accomplished surveyor, farmer, general and president that people got interested in learning about John’s life.
Samuel Lincoln, an apprentice
weaver, sailed from England in 1637 bound for Massachusetts.
Over the succeeding years, his descendents didn’t leave much of an
impact on society as they migrated west. When Abraham Lincoln
came on the scene, the popular view of the Lincoln family changed forever.
While many immigrants can viewed as economically marginal today, no
one can predict what contributions their children will make. These people
could turn out to be the great-grandparents of a person destined to
have his or her likeness engraved on U.S. currency at sometime in the
As a consequence of the migrants flooding into Arizona, there is a growing concern over the survival of English as our national language. These fears may be misplaced. China’s economy is expected to continue to grow and at some point during the next 25 years, it will reach the same size as ours. There are about 200 million Chinese studying English today. Less than 50,000 Americans are studying Mandarin. The people who are worried about English remaining the national language of the United States don’t realize it has already become the language of international business. In many countries, all major signs are printed in the native language and English. During the past decades, English has become the second language of the bilingual working world. English may not be doing well in Arizona, but it seems to be more than holding its own in other countries.
While Mexico sputtered along for the past 25 years, the top policy-makers in the U.S. government remained undisturbed despite the fact that Mexico was steadily falling behind the economic power curve. Unfortunately, Mexico wasn’t the only matter poorly handled or ignored in the recent past. In the early 1970s, the government announced it wanted to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of oil. The same position was restated again in 2006 as gasoline prices jumped through the roof. In reality, nothing much has changed since the 1970s. Our imports of foreign oil have actually increased. The global demand for oil is increasing, supplies are growing tighter and we can’t decide what to do about it. The alternative technologies that could have been developed since the 1970s aren’t available today because the problem wasn’t taken seriously.
After investing a considerable amount of money and effort in helping drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan in the 1980s, we let the country slide out of our sight after the Soviets departed. Now, we are involved in Afghanistan again. Neither the Clinton nor the Bush Administrations made terrorism much of a priority because the attacks were taking place outside the U.S. Unfortunately, it took the sad events of 9/11 to drastically shake things up. The commission investigating the matter issued a report that was less than flattering to the government’s operations and noted the opportunities that were missed.
The initial relief response to Hurricane Katrina was quite slow. It appears that this nation has lost the logistical ability to deliver basic supplies of food, water and medicine in response to natural disasters.
In the aftermath of World War II, a bipartisan group of political leaders supported the program that helped rebuild Europe and Japan. In today’s polarized political environment even the consideration of doing something similar for Mexico appears to be out of the question. We are defaulting on the bipartisan foreign economic policy espousing the benefits of free enterprise, open markets and the rule of law. Seeing to it that our allies and neighbors become economically viable is something we no longer consider important enough to do. And, unfortunately, one of the results of the policy shift is the problem now facing Arizona.
Link: ACSBlog: The Blog of the American Constitution Society: Guest Blogger Geoffrey Stone: Liberal Values. Excellent basis for a discussion of what Liberals stand for now.
Geoffrey R. Stone, the Harry Kalven, Jr. Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago is the author of Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism (W. W. Norton 2004) and a member of the ACS Board of Directors.
For most of the past four decades, “liberals” have been in retreat. Since the election of Richard Nixon in 1968, Republicans have controlled the White House 70% of the time and Republican presidents have made 86% of the Supreme Court appointments. In many quarters, the word “liberal” has become a pejorative. Part of the problem is that liberals have failed to define themselves and to state clearly what they believe. As a liberal, I find that appalling. In that light, I thought it might be interesting to try to articulate ten propositions that seem to me to define “liberal” today. Undoubtedly, not all liberals embrace all of these propositions, and many conservatives embrace at least some of them.
Moreover, because ten is a small number, the list is not exhaustive. And because these propositions will in some instances conflict, the “liberal” position on a specific issue may not always be predictable. My goal, however, is not to end discussion, but to invite debate.
1. Liberals believe individuals should doubt their own truths and consider fairly and open-mindedly the truths of others. This is at the very heart of liberalism. Liberals understand, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes once observed, that “time has upset many fighting faiths.” Liberals are skeptical of censorship and celebrate free and open debate.
2. Liberals believe individuals should be tolerant and respectful of difference. It is liberals who have supported and continue to support the civil rights movement, affirmative action, the Equal Rights Amendment, and the rights of gays and lesbians. (Note than a conflict between propositions 1 and 2 leads to divisions among liberals on issues like pornography, and hate speech.)
3. Liberals believe individuals have both a right and a responsibility to participate in public debate. It is liberals who have championed and continue to champion expansion of the franchise, the elimination of obstacles to voting, “one person, one vote,” limits on partisan gerrymandering, campaign finance reform, and a more vibrant freedom of speech. They believe, with Justice Louis Brandeis, that “the greatest menace to freedom is an inert people.”
4. Liberals believe “we the people” are the governors and not the subjects of government, and that government must treat each person with that in mind. It is liberals who have defended and continue to defend the freedom of the press to investigate and challenge the government, the protection of individual privacy from overbearing government monitoring, and the right of individuals to reproductive freedom. (Note that libertarians, often thought of as “conservatives,” share this value with liberals.)
5. Liberals believe government must respect and affirmatively safeguard the liberty, equality and dignity of each individual. It is liberals who have championed and continue to champion the rights of racial, religious, and ethnic minorities, political dissidents, persons accused of crime, and the outcasts of society. It is liberals who have insisted on the right to counsel, a broad application of the right to due process of law, and the principle of equal protection for all people.
6. Liberals believe government has a fundamental responsibility to help those who are less fortunate. It is liberals who have supported and continue to support robust government programs to improve health care, education, social security, job training, and welfare for the neediest members of society. It is liberals who maintain that a national community is like a family and that government exists in part to “promote the general Welfare.”
7. Liberals believe government should never act on the basis of sectarian faith. It is liberals who have opposed and continue to oppose school prayer and the teaching of creationism in public schools and who support government funding for stem cell research, the rights of gays and lesbians, and the freedom of choice for women.
8. Liberals believe courts have a special responsibility to protect individual liberties. It is principally liberal judges and justices who have preserved and continue to preserve freedom of expression, individual privacy, freedom of religion, and due process of law. (Conservative judges and justices more often wield judicial authority to protect property rights and the interests of corporations, commercial advertisers, and the wealthy.)
9. Liberals believe government must protect the safety and security of the people, for without such protection liberalism is impossible. This, of course, is less a tenet of liberalism than a reply to those who attack liberalism. The accusation that liberals are unwilling to protect the nation from internal and external dangers is false. Because liberals respect competing values, such as procedural fairness and individual dignity, they weigh more carefully particular exercises of government power (such as the use of secret evidence, hearsay, and torture), but they are no less willing to use government authority in other forms (such as expanded police forces and international diplomacy) to protect the nation and its citizens.
10. Liberals believe government must protect the safety and security of the people, without unnecessarily sacrificing constitutional values. It is liberals who have demanded and continue to demand legal protections to avoid the conviction of innocent persons in the criminal justice system, reasonable restraints on government surveillance of American citizens, and fair procedures to ensure that alleged enemy combatants are in fact enemy combatants. Liberals adhere to the view expressed by Justice Louis Brandeis some eighty years ago, “Those who won our independence . . . did not exalt order at the cost of liberty.”
Consider this an invitation. Are these propositions meaningful? Are they helpful? Are they simply wrong? As a liberal, how would you change them or modify the list? As a conservative, how would you draft a similar list for conservatives?
Good for what ails ya!
UPDATE: Stumbling around for a defense Tan just makes it worse for himself and implicates himself directly in the attempted voter suppression.
Anti-Immigration GOP Congressional candidate Tan Nguyen, himself a naturalized immigrant from Vietnam, denied any knowledge of a voter intimidation letter sent by his office.
State and federal officials were investigating the letter, which was written in Spanish and mailed to an estimated 14,000 Democratic voters in central Orange County. It warns, "You are advised that if your residence in this country is illegal or you are an immigrant, voting in a federal election is a crime that could result in jail time."
A naturalized adult immigrant is, of course, eligible to vote - and to run for Congress for that matter.
Tan D. Nguyen denied knowing anything about the letter in an interview Thursday with The Associated Press but said he fired a campaign staffer who may have been responsible for it. Nguyen's attorney said his client had no intention of quitting.
Way to demonstrate that much-ballyhooed Republican value of 'personal responsibility,' Tan. Get caught, fire some poor bastard who 'may have been responsible,' and wash your hands of your dirty deeds.
I gotta give props to the Orange County GOP (like a Jew might praise Hitler for the tidiness of the toilets in the death camps). They investigated the matter, their Chairman believes Tan had personal knowledge of the matter, and the party's executive committee voted unanimously to urge Tan to resign from the race. They know a PR nightmare when they see one, and they don't want the rap to stick to them for shielding the guilty bastard. Or maybe they just want to do the right thing (and pigs wearing lipstick are flying out of my ass).
This incident is a road map for what we should almost certainly expect to happen in races here in Arizona where there are large Hispanic minorities to be threatened and intimidated. If shitbirds like Randy Graf, J.D. Hayworth, Jon Kyl and the rest don't have a secret program to suppress and intimidate Hispanic voters, they're even more incompetent than I already think they are.
Ricky Gervais, creator of The Office, gives his humorous take on the creator of The Universe. Made me laugh...
10/20: I'm bumping this post back to top as the general election approaches. It is vitally important for Democrats and Indepentents alike to vote ONLY for the Democratic candidate for state Representatives in the listed races. This is not a tactic that is formally endorsed by the Democratic party, because... well, just because. But I can assure that there is plenty of support for use of single-shotting as our only hope of capturing several seats that would otherwise be out of reach. In fact, polling indicates that in some races, single-shotting our candidate is literally the difference between victory and defeat. Many Republican candidates are also using single-shotting as a way to ensure that their more conservative candidates are seated, even at the expense of their more moderate running mates, so you know the technique works. I'll bump this column weekly until the election.
AZ Democrats are toying with a controversial idea to increase Democratic legislative representation in otherwise non-competitive districts. The practice is called 'Single-Shotting' and consists of asking voters to vote for one, and only one, candidate in the general election instead of two. This increases the odds of the chosen 'Single-Shot' candidate being elected.
The first controversy is whether the technique will actually work. There's little doubt of the mathematical validity of the technique. Since every voter gets two votes for State Representative, if some of the voters use only one, then the candidate receiving that single vote automatically receives a greater percentage of the total votes cast, giving him or her a better chance at election. The doubt is whether it will actually elect candidates, and if the voters can be persuaded to not use both their votes.
Both doubts can only be resolved through trial and error. We'll know if it will work if we try it. The hardest part appears to be persuading voters to give up one of their votes. I suggest that people look at it as actually giving both your votes to a single candidate - like preference voting, which, in a primitive fashion, is exactly what it is. In 'Single-Shotting' a candidate, you are in essence giving both your votes to one candidate by not giving the second to another.
Now, let me be clear that this does not involve primary voting IN ANY WAY. Only in the GENERAL ELECTION is this technique being considered. Single-Shotting in the Primaries is pointless from a Party-building standpoint, and deadly to Party morale.
Candidates who are potential single shots are:
LD 1 - Wes Edmonds
LD 3 - Luis Lopez
LD 4 - Debra Boehlke
LD 5 - Jack Brown
LD 8 - Stephanie Rimmer
LD 9 - Sheri Van Horsen
LD 10 - Jackie Thrasher
LD 11 - Mark Anthony DiSimone
LD 18 - Tammie Pursley
LD 19 - Lara Wibeto
LD 21 - Phil Hettamnsperger
LD 26 - Lena Seradnik
LD 30 - Clarence Boykins
The second controversy is using this tecnique where there is more than one candidate running in a marginal district. Such a case is LD 17, in which 'Single-Shotting' is NOT being considered, for this very reason. Though the Republicans have a roughly 5K voter registration advantage in LD 17, the Democrats have been successful in the district, holding both the Senate seat and one of the legislative seats. 'Single-shotting' may give Democrats a better shot at holding this House seat, but it is unfair to the two House nominees. In a tempestuous and anti-majority election cycle, such as this one, it might also tend to lessen the chances that Democrats could sweep the contest, despite the Republican advantage in the district.
I encourge you, if you live in one of the targeted districts, give all of your franchise to only the Democratic candidate. Encourage your associates and neighbors to do the same.
To get a clearer idea of how often readers are visiting, please take a moment and complete this one question survey. Thanks for reading BlogForArizona and for your help.
UPDATE: Boy, it hard to get people to do even little things. The response rate has been very low. So, starting now I am offering 72 virgins in the afterlife for everyone who responds to this survey. Come on! click that little button. Costs you nothing and you get everlasting letchery in the hereafter.*
*Offer contingent upon an afterlife's existence. Virgin concubines are not transferable.
Olbermann smacks another out of the park:
And check out Olbermann's special commentary from later in the show:
There's not much I would add to Olbermann's commentary on this issue. Our political leaders have behaved shamefully. Their names will echo down the ages as exemplars of moral cowardice and betrayal of the American way. As Quisling came to mean collaborator who sells his people to a foreign oppressor, McCain will come to mean capitulator who surenders his nation's freedom to an internal enemy.
But more important than this, is national shame we will feel when we finally discover all that has been done in our names, and under the pretense of protecting us from terror. It will likely be many years before the full story of how this Administration has broken our laws and shamed their Constitutional oaths. As Professor Turley points out, we once prosecuted as war crimes some of the techniques of torture we've now legalized. And that's only what we know about.
Some will say that we mustn't be naive. We must use all means available to protect ourselves. They're wrong. Democracies always fight with one hand behind their back, as it were. We do this because we believe that the rule of law is indispensible to civilized existence. Without legal restraints, we are no better than our enemies. It is our way of life that is worth preserving; without that, our lives mean nothing.
"Give me liberty or give me death." Perhaps it has been too long since Americans have tasted the lash of tyranny for many to understand the moral force of those words: perhaps it won't be long now before Americans will rediscover that oppression makes liberty more precious than life. And perhaps, too, they will once again realize that the worst tyranny doesn't come from a foriegn enemy, but from within.
The document defines a clear line in the sky, stating that national space policy shall be to develop and maintain systems to enable the United States to deny access to space to anyone we deem hostile to our interests, impliedly abrogating the right to free access and peaceful use of space which are the foundation of the international legal regime laid out by the treaties to which we are party. Despite Administration claims that this new policy, 4 years in incubation, is simply a continuation of existing policy, the tone and intent of this new policy is clearly weighted toward fighting war "in, from, and through" space.
The Bush Administration has said off the record though a 'senior official' that "this policy is not about developing or deploying weapons in space. Period." I think most thinking people have learned that anytime such an emphatic and categorical denial is issued off the record by this White House, it means the exact opposite is true.
In light of these developments, I present a 'classic' BlogForArizona post from 2004 on the topic of the Bush Administration's quest to weaponize space. It is more relevant than ever in light of the new policy:
The Bush Administration is considering changes to defense policy that may destroy our national security, economic well-being, and the stability of the world order. These changes are set to happen way over your head – 50 miles above, to be precise. The Pentagon aims to make outer space the new theater of war. Their blind ambitions threaten to ignite a new and ruinously expensive arms race that could destroy the international norms that have made outer space a vital and growing part of the world’s civilian economy and a lynchpin of America’s long-term security.
Pursuant to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2000, the Commission to Assess United States National Security Space Management and Organization undertook a study of our vulnerabilities and military capabilities in space. Donald Rumsfeld chaired the Commission until a few weeks before their report was issued, when Bush appointed him Secretary of Defense. Given this fact, little about the Commission’s report will surprise you.
The Commission report warned of significant vulnerabilities in both civilian and military space assets that must be addressed. As there have not been any attacks on space borne assets to date, it is difficult to quantify how serious or how likely various threats might be. The Commission supports their recommendations with worse case assumptions out of any proportion to likely threats. They insisting we prepare to meet a possible ‘Pearl Harbor in space’ where no enemy is known to exist. In their estimation, that preparation entails nothing less than the headlong introduction of weapons into space.
The world’s consensus is that spaced borne weaponry is inconsistent with the "peaceful purposes" for which space is reserved by the Outer Space Treaty. However, the current legal regime does not specifically disallow weaponization of space, except for nuclear weapons and other WMD. Thus, this Administration advances an extreme interpretation that space based weapons systems are consistent with "peaceful uses" so long as they are not used for aggressive military operations. This means that development and deployment of first-strike capable anti-satellite and ground targeting weapons systems in orbit would be lawful as long as they are only used in a defensive capacity – and we all now know how flexible the concept of defense can become.
What kind of weapons might we see deployed in space? Anti-satellite weapons to destroy or disable an enemy’s space assets, and systems to protect our own satellites. Space-based weapons platforms carrying lasers, particle beams, kinetic weapons, and other systems to disrupt or destroy targets on the ground or in the atmosphere. Contrary to common conception it does not include "Star Wars", the National Missile Defense (NMD) system. Only sensors and command and control systems of NMD would be in orbit as the system is currently conceived.
The Commission report is unequivocal in its judgment that deployment of weapons in space is purely a winning proposition, enhancing the security of our space-based assets and extending the reach and speed of our military options. Military planners see a golden moment in history and they want to seize it. No other nation can deploy military space systems that could match ours, and being first to the high ground of space allows us to dictate the terms of access. We are presented an opportunity to unilaterally shift the fulcrum of the world’s strategic military balance in our favor. The Commission makes it plain that they believe weaponization of space will assure U.S. military predominance and preparedness for the foreseeable future.
The question we must ask is whether we should allow this. Will the militarization of space enhance or degrade our long-term security? One obvious reason not to place weapons in space is that despite any temporary strategic advantage we might gain, proliferation and an arms race are inevitable, if not necessarily immediate. Consider the obvious military advantages conveyed by the GPS system as an example. Even though it is not a weapons system, the military advantages conveyed by ownership of the system are so great that even our European allies felt compelled to reproduce the system under their own control in the form of the new Galileo system. Europe and Japan may be the only other powers currently capable of deploying equivalent space weapons systems, but our alliances with them will not deter them from competing with us in space; their long-term strategic security will demand it.
Other nations, such as Russia, China, possibly India, or even Canada would soon follow, and there is little we could do to stop them without seriously provoking these major powers. In the long run, we will have achieved nothing but to increase insecurity in the world, and in our alliances. Just as it seems likely that a world free of nuclear weapons is now forever out of reach, the hope of space as a realm of peaceful cooperation among all mankind may recede beyond retrieval. Knowing that some strategic advantages are so alluring that it is beyond our wisdom to willingly surrender them, we must manifest sufficient wisdom to never seek such advantages in the first place.
The ensuing arms race would also be ruinously expensive. Already our military expenditures consume 50% of all discretionary federal spending. In a time of record deficits, a monstrous national debt, and structural trade imbalances with most of the world that threaten the very soundness of our currency, it is madness to invite an arms race we cannot sustain financially. We would also be robbing other nations of needed development capital and ourselves of foreign investment as other nations are compelled by national interest to follow us into space with their own military systems, slowing an already sluggish global economy still further.
The world’s strategic posture is precarious even without orbiting weapons. A nuclear holocaust of unimaginable scope is still only minutes away at all times; an accidental launch, or terrorist with a nuclear bomb could still destroy us all. Space borne weapons systems are inherently vulnerable, leading to a ‘use it or lose it’ mentality. War games involving space assets indicate they are a destabilizing factor. They frequently escalate conflicts that would have been manageable in their absence – often resulting in nuclear exchanges. The fog of war only becomes denser in outer space, leaving us more vulnerable to destabilizing attacks by non-state actors intent on precipitating military conflicts. Weapons in space are an invitation to terrorism, not a solution.
As other nations’ militaries inevitably follow us into space, the basic understandings about free access to space are certain to be compromised, if not destroyed. The core rules of free and open navigation of outer space are indispensable to its productive and peaceful use. It is seldom considered any more, but the over flight regime, which allows even an enemies spacecraft to over fly another nation’s territory, is not a given. It was the result of wise policy and deft diplomacy by the Eisenhower Administration at the height of the Cold War. The ability to over fly a nation in an unrestricted manner, even to the point of spying upon that nation from space, is the bedrock of the commercial, scientific, and military uses of outer space. The over flight regime has also made enormous contributions to world peace. The ability to remotely verify treaty obligations without intrusive inspections is a vital tool of diplomacy. Once spacecraft with ground targeting weapons systems capable of nearly instantaneous and devastating attack are in orbit, the over flight norms will be severely strained.
What other norms that preserve the use of space as the common heritage of mankind might also buckle under the strain? How long before earth’s orbits, the moon, the LaGrange points begin to be carved up, or fought over, surrendering to the de facto territoriality that results from military preparations. Military aviation has steadily enhanced sovereign control of every nation’s airspace for sound and inescapable security reasons, as we saw vividly on 9/11/2001. Military astronautics will likewise force nations to exert greater control over orbital space, limiting or even restricting access for sound national security reasons. Commercial uses of space may become so problematic and expensive that the industry could cease to grow, or even fail. Scientific progress could be irreparably hampered.
There is a need, and considerable merit, in hardening our space systems against malicious disruption or attack by preparing appropriate counter-measures and redundancies. Our economy and our national security rely on space assets more every day. We must prepare and protect ourselves to our vital national interests in space. But we mustn’t rush forward to claim the new frontier at the point of a sword, creating instability, waste, and insecurity in the process. Several new treaties codifying the exclusion of weapons from space have been proposed and it is in America’s best national security interests to lead the effort to ratify such a treaty. The Bush Administration stands ready to take one giant leap of faith that mankind may not be able to retreat from. Our descendants will not thank us for over-reacting to imagined threats, or for over-reaching to snatch at short-term gains while missing the greater chance to ensure that war never achieves escape velocity.
It's time for Liberals to gather, share a beer or two and talk as citizens about the world and its follies. We will be meeting at the Shanty on 4th Ave and 9th St this Thursday evening starting at 6pm.
This week, our guest is former Democratic Councilwoman, now Independent Councilwoman for Ward 2, Carol West. Bring your questions about city policy and politics and converse with Carol.
Last week we screened "Iraq for Sale". We had at least 50 people in attendance and raised over $120 dollars for Iraq Veterans Against the War.
Next week, our special guest will be Democratic Councilwoman for Ward 6, Nina Trasoff.
Reading Liberally, our liberal book club, will be meeting Nov. 1st at the home of two of our members. We are reading "The Broken Branch" by Mann and Ornstein. Get your copy today and write to Tucson AT DrinkingLiberally DOT org for more information on the meeting.
The calendar for future meetings and our message board are located on the sidebar of this blog. All future events are subject to change and we welcome suggestions for future guests and events.
With Hayworth polling at 48% and Mitchell at 45% in a poll of 509 likely voters with a MOE of +/-4.4%, the CD 5 Congressional race is statistically tied. The data were collected between Oct. 13-16th. I'm not a fan of the methodology used for the interviews, but such automated polls are generally accepted as accurate enough to report (unless you don't like the results). So, to be safe, I would probably throw in a few more MOE points to reflect methodological issues.
Contributing to the large movement that this result represents is a a 4% decrease, from 52% to 48% of likely voters identifying as Republican. This may be the result of a national trend of formerly weak or moderate Republicans identifying as Independent, and of left-leaning Independents to increasingly identifying as Democrats. The current political environment is like quicksand under the feet of incumbent Republicans. The harder they struggle, the deeper they sink.
We face a very real prospect of sending a 5 to 3 Democratic majority Arizona House delegation to Congress this election. Gabi's got CD 8 all but wrapped up. Ellen Simon just pulled ahead of Dick Renzi. And now Harry has pulled even with J.D.. I haven't seen good polling on other contested Congressional races, but I'd bet they are unexpectedly competitive.
With Grijalva and Pastor about as secure as incumbents get, we're turning Arizona blue. If Kyl loses re-election to Pederson, half of our Senatorial delegation will be Democratic as well. With Janet and Terry re-elected, all we have to do is help Israel vote Secretary Brewer (the Wicked Witch of the Ballot) off the island and Jason Williams flunk incumbent SPI Tom Horne, then make sure Rano totals up more votes than Dean for Treasurer. It would be a nice bonus to get some Democratic representation in the fourth constitutional branch of Arizona government, the Corporation Commission, as well. As a friend was pointing out to me earlier today, we have a kick-ass progressive Constitution here in Arizona, all we need is some Democrats who know how to make it work for us.
Then we can get down to the serious business of digging the GOP majority out of our state legislature.
If Pederson beats Kyl, it will be despite Pederson.
I've simply had enough. I can't hold my tongue any longer about Pederson's message strategy.
He's completely buying into Kyl's framing of the issues. He even has the stupid slogans 'amnesty' and 'cut and run' coming out of his own mouth in his fucking TV ads! Needless to say, this is much worse than his unpardonable use of 'Democrat party' in one of his earlier ads. In fact, many of his ads seem to say little beyond denying he's for 'amnesty' or that he won't 'cut and run'. He's utterly failing to create a viable counter-message that undercuts the premises of the GOP positions on arguably the defining issues of this cycle: Iraq and immigration.
Whomever Jim is paying millions to craft his message in the media is ripping him off and ought to be declared an enemy combatant. They are yet more of the ever-losing Democratic consultants that have been triangulating us into minority party status for a generation.
It's probably too late to save Jim's messaging: voters will have to find their own reasons to get rid of Kyl, because Jim's campaign certainly isn't giving them any.
I was hoping that Pederson might move some numbers with the debates. I knew this would be hard to do. I know just how good Kyl is at debate and sticking to message. But I was surprised at what a train-wreck the first debate was. Kyl kicked Jim's ass. It kills me to say it, but it is true.
Kyl was completely relaxed and on message. He engaged the camera and practically oozed confidence and charisma. "You bet!" might become the bastard's campaign slogan. Pederson was off-stride, petulant at times, failed to engage the camera, constantly referencing his notes or seeming stuck. He didn't finish off his delivery, but instead left the listener just hanging, unsure if Jim had paused or was finished. And he looked pasty... and a bit like Gerald Ford. And he looked peeved and pissed off at times, even losing his cool for a few moments in the midst of the debate, raising his voice and gesticulating wildly. That's going to end up in a last-minute ad, I'm betting.
Pederson consistently failed to substantively attack Kyl's record. At times, it seemed like Jim was the incumbent defending his record. Jim failed to attack Kyl's premises and reframe the debate effectively. He even let Kyl get away with using the clapped out and discredited Laffer curve bullshit as an excuse for cutting taxes and growing the deficit.
Jim didn't do himself any favors by reminding everyone that, "I'm the business guy..." We know he's a millionaire real estate developer - it's one of the things Kyl is dinging him on. But instead of effectively and persuasively reframing that fact, he artlessly announces, "I'm the business guy..." Jeez.
In the entire debate I really only saw Pederson land a glove on Kyl once, during the section on immigration, in which made some effective attacks on Kyl's record. But even then, Kyl was able to parry most of the effect, and those who are voting on immigration are likely strong Kyl supporters anyhow. Poking Kyl for failing to fix the problem isn't as important as telling moderates what his plan is, which Pederson failed to do.
I really expected Pederson to be much better prepared for this. His staff have failed to prep him properly. I think they underestimated Kyl. Not only was Kyl a trial attorney, quite used to thinking on his feet, but he actually has had his own cable show for several years. He has lots of on-camera time both doing interviews and being interviewed and questioned. The worst nightmare of the Pederson campaign should have been Pederson, whose delivery is lack-luster at best, going toe to toe with the polished and nearly bullet-proof Kyl. They failed to adequately prepare for this phase of the campaign, and it shows.
Obviously, there is no way to quickly close the gap between the rhetorical and performance skills of the two men. Instead, the Pederson campaign should focus on embarrassing Kyl in the remaining debates and in hammering home their own framing of Iraq and immigration. Kyl is vulnerable to being tied fast to a sinking President. Pederson needs to spend lots of time and energy pivoting constantly to the message that Kyl is Bush's water boy. That is Kyl's Achilles heel.
He should also be embarrassed repeatedly over his attempt to hoodwink the Supreme Court with the faked legislative history in the Hamdan case. That sort of dishonest and manipulative behavior is seen strongly as unbecoming a Senator. I know Pederson has an ad out on this, but he needs to fluster Kyl with it in the remaining debates.
Pederson also needs to pull a Rove and attack Kyl on one of his perceived strengths: the Time Top Ten Senator bullshit. Kyl drags that out repeatedly. It needs to be made radioactive. The Time piece portrayed Kyl as effective because he was able to ram through an unpopular and extremist agenda, not because he'd been an effective voice for Arizona. Pederson has to remind everyone of that.
Phoenix New Times: Deal Breaker.
Seems that Tricky Dickie Renzi has been a very bad boy. On top of news that Democrat Ellen Simon is beating him in the polls, The New Times has published a story that puts Renzi elbow deep in the shit.
I strongly suggest you read the whole story, but this is how a Congressman falls:
In 2002 Renzi sells half of his land development company, the only assets of which is undeveloped land, to business partner James Sandlin for $200K, which Renzi then plows into his campaign to jump into Congress. He wins. Once he's in office Sandlin buys out the remaining half of Renzi's business for between $1 and $5 million (disclosures aren't terribly accurate). This represents as much as a 2500% appreciation in the value of Renzi's business in just 6 months, if this transaction was at arms length.
In 2005, James Sandlin owns a piece of property on the San Pedro river which had some conservation value. On October 1, 2005 the Sierra Vista Herald ran a story quoting Dick Renzi saying he was going to introduce legislation to swap Sandlin's land for a tract of federal land outside of Florence that Don Diamond was coveting.
On October 7th Sandlin sold his land on the San Pedro to an investment consortium for $4.5 million. Immediately thereafter, Renzi backed out of sponsoring the legislation when a lobbyist complained of his preferential treatment of Sandlin. This is known as pulling your hand out of the cookie jar and hiding it behind your back when Mom walks in unexpectedly.
The consortium which purchased the land put it back on the market for a much lower price, even offering it back to Sandlin, who no longer wanted it. Sandlin walks with $4.5 million. Renzi says he didn't want to create the appearance of impropriety. Too late, bub.
The point: Sandlin's land on the San Pedro wasn't worth nearly what he got for it. Renzi's announced intention to push the swap allowed Sandlin to sell at an inflated price. This is seen as pay-back for Sandlin's earlier questionable business deal with Renzi that paid for Renzi's election and put at least a million in Renzi's pocket. Once Renzi's 'appearance of impropriety' was noticed, he backed out, leaving the investors who bought from Sandlin in expectation of a federal swap holding the (now empty) bag, and Sandlin several million dollars richer.
Needless to say, Ellen Simon is all over this. She's sent out several press releases about how sleazy this is. And she dead right. Dick has developed a well-deserved reputation as one of the most corrupt bastards in a barrel-full of corrupt bastards. It's time Renzi find another career more suited to his ethical sensibility: I hear hedge funds are a great place to steal big these days...
Northern Arizona DFA is working hard to bring CD1 home for Democrats:
Help NAZ DFA Group Keep TV Ads on the Air in AZ-01 A couple of years ago, members of the local chapter of DFA in Flagstaff formed a 527 called DFA-Flagstaff. They have become an influential activist group in Northern Arizona. The group has had success with numerous events like screenings, festivals, voter registration drives, GOTV and radio ads.
This group has now created and produced a series of voter education TV ads dealing with the subject of the house race in AZ-01. You can view these three ads through the group’s web site. The first two ads are currently on the air. This 527 group followed the advice of DailyKos and is working directly with the local cable company. This allows them to target their audience by geography, channel and time.
Your help is needed getting the third ad on the air and keeping these ads running through election day. They need to raise additional funds to continue their ad buy next week. Each ad only costs $11. If you contribute $22, you are purchasing two ads. The group is entirely volunteer based. All money raised will go directly towards the ad buy. Please consider making a contribution, if not to get the ads on the air, to thank these guys for the hard work they are doing. Plus, if they receive enough contributions, they will create additional ads. You can contribute through their web site or directly through ClickAndPledge.
Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! brought together the makers of the the 9/11 documentary "Loose Change" and the authors of the Popular Mechanics 9/11 conspiracy debunking article and book. The Popular Mechanics guys pretty much clean the "Loose Change" boys' clocks. They end up looking like petulant children whose only resort is to call their PopMech counterparts liars. Yet new polling indicates that 84% of Americans do not believe the official version of the events of 9/11. Go figure. Judge for yourself.
Part 2 (you can skip this one, it just repeats the end of Part 1):
The entire movie in its entirety for all of you who didn't get to the theater in the short time it was in release:
I have no love for Kolbe. But if there isn't more smoke here that some political hack saying that Kolbe acted a little creepy and stroked some dude's arm funny on a camping trip that included some half-dozen adults and two former pages, this is a witch hunt. I sincerely hope that there are allegations from the former pages involved or something to justify this, otherwise I'll have to conclude that the great GOP Gay Offical Purge is in full swing.
Such a purge isn't solely a bad thing; it puts the nasty fascist hatred at the heart of the modern conservative movement on public display. And I've always been disgusted by the self-hating 'Log Cabiners' who support the GOP even as the GOP reviles, demonizes, and attacks the rights of those with other than normative sexual orientations or identification. It's well past time for that particular hypocrisy to end. But in the process, many fine men and women are going to have their reputations attacked, their lives upended, and face the gang-rape machine that is criminal investigation and its idiot-savant side-kick the media circus.
Kolbe himself, by all accounts of those who knew him and worked with him over his long years of public service, is a decent and honorable man. I certainly hope that he is exonerated of these apparently baseless speculations. But even if he is, a long record of public service (no matter how much you disagree with some of its results, or find it to be less than distinguished) will have been dragged through the mud for no other purpose, I suspect, than to divert attention away from the PR jugular wound that is Foleygate.
But the purge may accellerate from here. I'm hearing rumors that the next shoe to drop is Dennis Hastert will be coming out as a homosexual in a marriage of convenience. It is said that he has been living with top aide in a DC apartment for some years, and that his 'wife' stays in a hotel when visiting. The word is that he is about to be conclusively outted by a wrathful GOP and will resign early next week. I know. My first reaction was also "Jabba the Hastert, gay? Ewwww." But maybe he's a lot more lovable as a bear than as a Speaker. If any of this is true, it will make Kolbe's woes page 13 news by comparison. It will also mark a definitive point of no return for the GOP's Gay Official Purge.
UPDATE: As I think on the spectacle of an ongoing and outright purge of gays from the GOP, I reflect that history demonstrates that there is little that entertains the safely orthodox masses more than a public auto de fe. I wonder if burning the perverts at the stake might be just the sort of bloody contrition that the GOP needs right now to mollify the Christian right and keep them coming to the polls in November. There have been reports of growing disaffection in the religious base of the GOP; one wonders if this is all a wisely timed sacrifice of a widely despised faction. One thing is for certain, hanging the faggots from the yardarms will excite the base to the point that they could well phase change to a vapor state.
For you who are willing to rise early on a weekend to hang out with politicians, this looks like great fun. House Majority Leader (and possibly the future first female Speaker) Nancy Pelosi of California will be in town helping our own Raul Grijalva stomp Ron Drake, like Godzilla stomped the hapless ant-like residents of Tokyo.
"(It was released by liberals on) the last day of the session of Congress, when it couldn't be responded to do — the last day," he said. "It is the day you would not want something like this to break. And they've known it for years. They've held it for years, and then they threw it out there on the last day of the session demanding that the speaker of the house resign."
Dobson said it, but it could have been just about any Republican at this point. They have settled on a counter-strategy, and this is it.
It is undoubtedly the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Even if some Democrats knew - even if every Democrat knew about Foley - even if there was a vast left-wing conspiracy to time release of the news about Foley's behavior as an October surprise - the Republicans knew and didn't get out ahead of it. They didn't fix it. They did nothing.
What they're telling voters is "We were too stupid to see that a pedophile in our caucus might be a political issue, so we did nothing and let the Democrats use it to their political advantage. Vote for us!" That has to be the dirt-fucking-dumbest damage control strategy ever. Not only are the Republicans immoral enough to harbour and protect a pedophile, but they let the Democrats shove their noses in the mess right before a key election.
Only one conclusion is possible. They richly deserve to lose.
Link: Majority Watch: Latest independent polling puts Democrat Ellen Simon in the lead over incumbent Republican Rick Renzi.
Based on 983 interviews conducted between October 8-10, MOE 3.09%.
This is a tight poll. The methodology is impeccable and crosstabs are available on the website. This is excellent news, which hopefully will attract yet more national support for Ellen Simon in pulling off an upset in a district which had been written off as a 'safe Republican' district when Jack Jackson Jr. jumped out.
And, may I say, nobody in Congress deserves a proper ass-kicking more than Dick Renzi. Good riddance. And great job Ellen Simon!
UPDATE 10/13: We raised $122 for Iraq Veterans Against the War, and found ourselves thoroughly shocked by the greed and mendacity revealed in this film. Many thanks to all who attended and contributed so generously. And many thanks to the owner and staff at The Shanty for letting us tear up their patio, accomodating our needs so well, and being so attentive and hard-working.
Here is a trailer of the movie:
The movie will be screened at The Shanty on 4th Avenue and 9th Street. Screening will begin at full dark, likely about 7pm. Admission is free, but bring your cash, because we will be collecting donations for Iraq Veterans Against the War. And, of course, you'll want to buy lots of beer (it will soften the blow of the unvarnished truth). Sandwiches will be provided courtesy of The Shanty, in addition to popcorn, but you are encouraged by the management to potluck your snacks and bring enough to share, like the well-socialized liberals you are.
There is high demand to see this film, so if you can, bring some lawn chairs, you might need them.
Asked if he believed the U.S. should engage in dialogue with North Korea, Graf said: "On that I can't say. There are people way above my paygrade currently that have laid out the course. Our commander-in-chief is obviously in charge of that decision right now, and I'm going to trust his judgment."
In other words, Graf believes that the issue of war and peace is apparently not one for The U.S. Congress to decide. So much for Graf's strict constructionist cred. The Constitution says of the House of Representatives' power over military affairs:
To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;
To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;
To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;
To provide and maintain a navy;
To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;
To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
Does that sound like military affairs of the sort we face in NORK are 'above the paygrade' of our Representatives to the body Constitutionally mandated to carry out the above duties?
I would also remind Graf that "Our Commander-in-Chief" is not an office. The Presidency is, and it is a civilian political office which neither requires not deserves a military-like deferance by our elected officials. Our Representatives of tribunes of the people, not servants of the Commander-in-Chief.
Nor does this President warrant any confidence in his judgment. He has made numerous, compounded and subbornly maintained errors of judgment which have left this country weaker militarily, more dependent on foreign sources of energy than ever, in debt, and despised by friends and enemies alike in the world. Yet Randy proclaims that he's "going to trust his judgment." He might be the last one in this country who does.
No, it's not the issues around security in Korea are not above the paygrade that Graf seeks: it is his job to be active and participate in shaping this nation's security policy. And that's the problem. Randy is a follower, not a leader, on national security. He follows his base, he follows the polls, he follows Tancredo and the Minutemen, he follows his Commander-in-Chief. Korea is not above his paygrade: leadership is.
McCain actually guest-posted at: Captain's Quarters. Boy, is he ever slumming of late...
His statement is cut from the same cloth as Bush's stance regarding NORK:
Time for Decisive Action on North Korea
Korea doubts the world’s resolve. It is testing South Korea, China, Russia, Japan, and the United States. They launched seven missiles in July, and were criticized by the Security Council, but suffered no serious sanction. We have talked and talked about punishing their bad behavior. They don’t believe we have the resolve to do it. We must prove them wrong.
I am encouraged by the Security Council’s swift and strong condemnation of the act on Monday, but the permanent members must now follow up our words with action. We must impose Chapter 7 sanctions with teeth, as President Bush has proposed.
China has staked its prestige as an emerging great power on its ability to reason with North Korea, keep them engaged with the six party negotiations, and make progress toward a diplomatic resolution of this crisis. North Korea has now challenged them as directly as they challenge South Korea, Japan, Russia and the U.S. It is not in China’s interest or our interest to have a nuclear arms race in Asia, but that is where we’re headed. If China intends to be a force for stability in Asia, then it must do more than rebuke North Korea. It must show Pyongyang that it cannot sustain itself as a viable state with aggressive actions and in isolation from the entire world.
They have missiles, and now they claim to have tested a nuclear device. Eventually they will have the technology to put warheads on missiles. That is a grave threat to South Korea, Japan and the United States that we cannot under any circumstances accept. North Korea also has a record of transferring weapons technology to other rogue nations, such as Iran and Syria.
The President is right to call on the Council to impose a military arms embargo, financial and trade sanctions, and, most importantly, the right to interdict and inspect all cargo in and out of North Korea. I hope the Council quickly adopts these sanctions, and that all members enforce them.
The worst thing we could do is accede to North Korea’s demand for bilateral talks. When has rewarding North Korea’s bad behavior ever gotten us anything more than worse behavior?
I would remind Senator Hillary Clinton and other Democrats critical of Bush Administration policies that the framework agreement her husband’s administration negotiated was a failure. The Koreans received millions in energy assistance. They diverted millions in food assistance to their military. And what did they do? They secretly enriched uranium.
Prior to the agreement, every single time the Clinton Administration warned the Koreans not to do something -- not to kick out the IAEA inspectors, not to remove the fuel rods from their reactor -- they did it. And they were rewarded every single time by the Clinton Administration with further talks. We had a carrots and no sticks policy that only encouraged bad behavior. When one carrot didn’t work, we offered another.
This isn’t just about North Korea. Iran is watching this test of the Council’s will, and our decisions will surely influence their response to demands that they cease their nuclear program. Now, we must, at long last, stop reinforcing failure with failure.
Instead we must extinguish the behavior by ignoring it, apparently. Good dog training; poor diplomacy.
McCain wants to continue the disastrous Bush policy of refusing to enter into bilateral talks with NORK. All this accomplishes is to subordinate American security needs to the interests of China. Instead of treating NORK's WMD capability like a regional issue and letting China, SORK, and Japan define the agenda, we had damn well better step up to the plate, recognize reality and enter into touch and verifiable bi-lateral security agreements with NORK. Doing otherwise is going to have Japan going nuclear in a matter of months, and SORK following soon after. We'll have an East Asian nuclear arms race to complement the South Asian and Middle Eastern ones we've already got on our plate.
Warfare by other means: that's what sanctions really are. The people will pay for the sins of the leader, and it will only stiffen the resolve of the people and the regime. Nor is it likely to be successful in bringing the regime to heel. As we saw in Iraq, sanctions actually tighten the grip of tyrants on power. Not to mention that NORK is perhaps the most isolated and self-contained nation on earth. Their major trade is charity from China, which is unlikely to be interrupted by UN sanctions. The whole idea is simply window dressing for a policy of continuing inaction in the face of extremely destabilizing events. More of the same for the GOP: they have consistently acted to waste our diplomatic and military capacity, and failed to act when decisive, and politically difficult action is needed.
If this is what we can expect from McCain's international leadership, it's a damn fine thing he'll never successfully run the Christo-fascist gauntlet the GOP Presidential nomination has become.
Link: Tucson, AZ (Static: Book Tour). Amy's coming! If ever I had a crush on a reporter, it's Amy Goodman (well, I also had a thing for Kris Pickel, back in the day...). Amy's promoting her new book "Static: Government, Liars, Media Cheerleaders, and the People Who Fight Back."
She will speak at the Rialto Theater on Friday, 10/13 at 6:15 PM. Tickets are $10 and proceeds support local independent media, KXCI and Access Tucson.
Excellent discussion of the friction between religion and science.
Some of my favorite moments:
"I think science is corrosive of religious belief, and it's a good thing too."
"I don't like God. In the sense that I don't like Iago, or some other fictional characters."
A recent AZ State Dems newletter suggests (carefully) that GOP vandals are behind a recent incident of vandalism at the Pima County Dems HQ:
Democrats Targeted for Vandalism
If all of this wasn't enough, we learned Friday that the Democratic Party Headquarters in Tucson was vandalized and the phone lines to the call center were cut overnight. This crippled our volunteer call center and jeopardized our ability to talk to voters in Southern Arizona at a critical time in the election.
Did radical GOP supporters cut critical phone lines to Democratic offices? You decide. But whether they did or not, I can assure you that Republicans will stop at nothing to beat our Democratic candidates and push an extreme agenda for Arizona.
We need your support today to stop them.
I can't say I know enough meth heads to know if any significant number of them are "radical GOP supporters," but somehow I kinda doubt they're all that interested in voting (except maybe to vote against Prop 301).
Workers at the Pima HQ indicate that there was indeed an incident of vandalism, but it wasn't just the phone lines that were cut, it was the power. The reason it was done is that the copper wiring was stolen from the building's power system: a common MO of meth addicts stealing copper to sell to recyclers and feed their habits.
It appears that either the person or persons in charge of the state newsletter didn't bother to check the facts, or they deliberately mischaracterized the incident to throw some dirt on the GOP and whip up fundraising (though carefully covering their 180 by framing it as a question, and tacking on a weasely disclaimer, "But whether they did or not"). I tried to contact the state official in charge of internet campaigns, but have not received any response.
Now I detest the GOP as much as the next Democrat, but I see no profit in making shit up when there is more than enough real corruption, ineptitude, and degenerate behavior to write a thousand newsletters without stretching a single fact. All this does is give the GOP more ammo to claim that we are liars, and that nothing we can say (even those things backed by solid facts) can be believed by voters. And it makes our culture of political ethics more and more like theirs, and that I can't abide.
Get your shit together Phoenix. And email a retraction.
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