Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sotomayor hearings show why Arizona conservatives should appriciate Sen. Jon Kyl more

Arizona’s Sen. Jon Kyl is a star of the Sotomayor confirmation hearings. It's amazing some self-described conservatives in Arizona question his conservative credentials. I decided to do a little research and to find out just how consistently conservative he has been in Congress. Results: wow. Jon Kyl has earned a 96.96% LIFETIME conservative rating from the American Conservative Union. Check out their ratings of every Member of Congress going back decades. It's a great way to lose a few hours. Here’s Jon Kyl’s voting record since 1987! A 100 score is a perfect conservative voting record on the key votes that legislative year.

1987: 96
1988: 100
1989: 96
1990: 92
1991: 100
1992: 92
1993: 96
1994: 90
1995: 100
1996: 100
1997: 96
1998: 96
1999: 100
2000: 100
2001: 100
2002: 100
2003: 90
2004: 100
2005: 100
2006: 92
2007: 100
2008: 96

(U.S. House: 1987-1994 – U.S. Senate: 1995- )

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Judgment on Republican legislative majority still to be written

I am quoted in a long cover story in this week's Arizona Capitol Times by Luige del Puerto detailing the political and legislative strategy of Arizona Democrats:

Farrell Quinlan, chairman of the GOP in Legislative District 20, said it remains to be seen whether Brewer’s clash with Republican legislative leaders on her proposal to temporarily raise taxes would help the minority party in the election in 2010.

Quinlan said no one remembers what happens before a budget is passed.

"If the scoreboard is a balanced budget and if a tax increase can be avoided, the Republican majority will have a very proud accomplishment to crow about," he said.

In a growing economy, criticisms against cuts to programs may prove effective, but Quinlan said the electorate in 2010 would have gone through a few years of belt-tightening at home. In a shrinking economy, voters might have lost jobs and might have to cut back on spending. Voters will view the budget cuts in this context, he said.

"A percentage cut in somebody’s budget will look a whole lot better than a 100 percent cut, which a lot of the voters will experience when it comes to their jobs or even their home situation," he said.

Click here to read the entire article.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Medical marijuana backers file notice of ballot effort

By Christian Palmer
Arizona Capitol Times

Medical marijuana advocates have filed notice with the Arizona Secretary of State that they intend to gather signatures in an effort to place an initiative on the 2010 ballot to ask voters to legalize smoking pot by patients who get a recommendation from a doctor.

Under the proposal, Arizonans with certain medical conditions and symptoms would be permitted to qualify with the Arizona Department of Health Services to obtain limited amounts of marijuana for personal use from state-regulated dispensaries.

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project would protect patients, doctors and caregivers of patients that suffer from diseases such as cancer, AIDS, HIV, Alzheimer's, Hepatitis C and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis from prosecution under state and federal law.

Glaucoma patients and others ailing from diseases or medical treatments that cause severe and chronic pain, nausea, seizures, muscle spasms and severe loss of muscle mass also would be permitted to use marijuana with the recommendation of a doctor and department consent.

"This is a common-sense law that allows severely ill patients access to medication that they need, while providing strict controls to make sure this medicine is only available to qualified patients," campaign manager Andrew Myers stated in a press release. "Thousands of patients across Arizona are already using medical marijuana with their doctor's recommendation. These patients shouldn't have to risk arrest and jail just for following their doctor's advice."

With the approval of the Department of Health Services, patients would be permitted to possess up to two-and-a-half ounces of marijuana. The department also would have discretion to authorize individuals to grow their own marijuana for medical use.

The proposal would also permit "designated caregivers" to grow up to 12 marijuana plants to assist no more than five patients who have been approved by the department to use marijuana for medical purposes. Caregivers must be at least 21 years old and cannot have prior convictions for violent offenses or felony violations of federal drugs laws.

If passed, members of public also would be allowed to petition the department to add additional medical conditions to the initiative’s listed diseases and symptoms that could qualify an individual to legally use marijuana.

The proposal does not allow approved marijuana users to operate motor vehicles while under influence of the drug, and use is prohibited in preschools, primary schools, secondary schools and correctional facilities.

Arizona political consultant Farrell Quinlan said he believes the medical marijuana initiative still leaves plenty of unanswered questions. The initiative’s language takes up 34 pages, and Quinlan said he would like to assemble a coalition of neighborhood groups, employers and law enforcement officials to determine the initiative’s actual impact.

He said he already has grave concerns about the proposal’s impact on workplace safety, workers’ compensation, neighborhood zoning rights and the criminal justice system. Quinlan said he is also worried that Arizona’s existing Voter Protection Act would make altering the effects of the initiative almost impossible.

"What kind of straightjacket does that put on future lawmakers?" said Quinlan, a former [board] member of Drugs Don’t Work in Arizona, a federally funded organization that consulted employers interested in implementing anti-drug strategies in their workplaces.

The Voter Protection Act, passed in 1998, requires that legislators approve changes to existing laws passed by ballot initiative by a three-quarters majority vote. The act also specifies that any amendments must "further the purpose" of the pertaining initiative.

Myers said concerns about the proposal’s effects are misguided, as 13 states have adopted similar medical marijuana use laws that have been well-received by the public.

"There’s never been a serious effort to repeal any of them," said Myers, a former staffer for ex-Governor Janet Napolitano. "It’s a common-sense law."

Myers said the initiative has been drafted by election law attorney Lisa Hauser.

Backers of the proposal must submit at least 153,365 signatures of registered Arizona voters by July 1, 2010 to qualify the proposed law change for the 2010 November general election ballot.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

CRITIQUE & REVIEW: Rebooted “Star Trek” franchise to live long and prosper

J.J. Abrams could have really laid an egg with his "Star Trek" reboot. Instead he triumphs. Abrams has refreshed and upgraded the characters from the original series that were burdened in prior movies under the limitations of its iconic cast. This new "Star Trek" is now a true movie franchise with true movie production values. No more charity work for marginal TV actors fortunate enough to score a gig on a failed 1960’s television series. The new Trek gets high marks for accentuating the importance of individual initiative on (imagined future) historical events. I also like some of the liberties Abrams took with some of the lesser characters from the series. I look forward to where he takes us in future sequels.

Look: 8
Story: 8
Acting: 8
Politics: 8
Goal: 10
Intangibles: 9
Overall: 9

Sunday, May 10, 2009

CRITIQUE & REVIEW: “X-Men Origins: Wolverine” is OK

Why are comic books dominated by Leftist tropes? Again, we have an evil military industrial complex... blah, blah, blah… "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" is entertaining all the same.

Look: 7
Story: 6.5
Acting: 7
Politics: 4
Goal: 7
Intangibles: 8
Overall: 7

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

CRITIQUE & REVIEW: Who watches the “Watchmen”? Answer: Few

BREAKING NEWS: Leftist ideology continues domination of comic book movies [save the Spider-Man and Batman franchises.]
"Watchmen" was supposed to be awesome. It was supposed to be THE comic book movie to put all others to shame. Instead, it’s a (loooong) swing and a miss. Nothing against the director and fine cast but the hype far outsized its silly story.

Look: 6.5
Story: 6.5
Acting: 7
Politics: 4
Goal: 5
Intangibles: 5
Overall: 6

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Simcox bid will rely on GOP grassroots, but support might be thin

By Matt Bunk
Arizona Capitol Times

A top advisor for Chris Simcox said the Minuteman founder will rely on ground-level support in his bid to knock off incumbent Sen. John McCain, but so far it's not clear whether Simcox will be able to rally the necessary support and financial assistance from Arizona's grassroots GOP.

Hours after news broke that Simcox is gearing up to take on McCain (http://www.azcapitoltimes.com/freestory.cfm?ID=11000), some Republican Party activists said a Simcox candidacy is good for Arizona and will provide voters with an option between McCain, who has shown a moderate streak on immigration, and Simcox, who started the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps and has aggressively pursued increased military presence along the border and the construction of a border wall to halt illegal immigration.

Eric Johnson, an acting advisor for the Simcox campaign and a former staffer for Don Goldwater's gubernatorial bid, said the plan is to target Republicans who feel disenfranchised and may have left the party in recent years.

"There are a lot of people who left Republicans and became independent because of McCain," he said.

Rob Haney, chairman of Maricopa County Republican Committee and one of McCain's most vocal detractors, told the Yellow Sheet Report he's glad Simcox is running.

"I think we need someone in there that represents the grassroots, and certainly John McCain does not," Haney said.

Others, though, flatly refused to consider Simcox over McCain.

Farrell Quinlan, a lobbyist who is also a Maricopa County Republican Party precinct committeeman from District 20, was skeptical of Simcox's ability to mount a viable campaign against such a strong incumbent.

"It looks like this is a vehicle to make a point on certain issues," Quinlan said. "I think McCain has strength in Arizona that has yet to be tapped... McCain will do a thorough job of defending his seat."

Some Republican leaders were circumspect about which candidate they would support.

Tom Husband, Executive Director of the Maricopa County Republican Committee, wouldn't say who he would vote for, but he acknowledged the need for change and speculated that the race would come down to one issue: border security.

"We'll have to see what they say for the future," Husband said. "We certainly have enough problems...a lot of discontent with where we've been and where we're headed."

Husband said Simcox would have a difficult time raising enough money to take on a candidate as entrenched as McCain.

"McCain has a tremendous machine," Husband said. "I certainly don't know where (Simcox's) funding will come from. We're going to have to wait and see."

Arizona Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen was attending a meeting of the Republican National Committee and was unavailable for comment.

Haney, though, said Simcox has done an outstanding job running the Minuteman organization. "If it hadn't been for him, this issue would not have come to the forefront as far as what the grassroots are feeling as opposed to what's being dictated to us."

Anybody who is strong on border issues, strong about defending the Constitution and strong on national security gets attacked, Haney said.

"I'm glad that we do have an alternate opinion, an alternate candidate so I would support anybody's candidacy that's going to support our national security, as opposed to dissing our Constitution the way that John McCain has."

Attempts to reach Sen. John McCain's office April 21st were unsuccessful. McCain has said he plans to run for re-election in 2010.

Campaign adviser Johnson said Simcox's campaign will be about more than immigration.

"(Simcox) is a true conservative Republican. His platform is what it should be," Johnson said.

McCain has strayed from GOP principles numerous times over the years, Johnson said, including the McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation and efforts to limit sales of firearms at gun shows. "He went after the First Amendment, then the Second," Johnson said.

However, illegal immigration does figure to play a major role because it is a common thread through many of the problems facing America now: health care, schools and prison overcrowding, in particular, Johnson said.

Robert Kiley, a California political consultant who will manage the Simcox campaign, said the candidate's national profile will allow him to raise the $10 million to $15 million needed to take on McCain, who has served in Congress for the past 28 years.

"We don't think there's going to be an issue raising money," Kiley said. "There's a lot of anger out there."

But for now, the campaign organization is minimal. Simcox reportedly told the -- Washington Times -- that "I have a Web site, SimcoxforSenate.com, two paid campaign staffers and a bank account of zero, so the American people will let me know if I'm the one they want to send to Washington."

Simcox will join state Rep. Carl Seel at a press conference at 11:30 a.m. April 23rd to urge elected officials to take a stronger stance against all forms of illegal immigration as border violence increases.

Simcox is expected to step down from the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps in order to focus on the campaign.

- Staff writers Jim Small, Tasya Peterson and Capitol Times intern Trevor Guyette contributed to this report.