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.

Monday, April 06, 2009

If the Iraq War is won, who deserves the credit? George W. Bush of course

Since the Obama Administration has ended the “Global War on Terrorism” in favor of something called “Overseas Contingency Operations Against Man-Made Disasters” can George W. Bush finally dust off the “Mission Accomplished” banner and get some credit for victory in Iraq?

Friday, March 27, 2009

Are tax hikes the “last resort” to balance the state’s finances?

Adapted from a guest column by Farrell Quinlan provided to the six member chambers of the West Valley Chambers of Commerce Alliance in mid-March for publication in their April newsletters.

Arizona's deepening state budget crisis has revealed itself to be a black hole of dismal fiscal and political reality whose gravity is so overwhelming; normal political physics break down within it.

How else can we explain the once-unimaginable shift by new Governor Jan Brewer from champion of tax cuts to proponent of a billion dollar tax increase?

Everything about Gov. Brewer's 27-year political career screams opposition to tax hikes. Few Arizona political leaders have earned and have enjoyed such a firm anti-tax reputation. So what happened?

Gov. Brewer was sworn in as Arizona's twenty-second chief executive on January 21, 2009 after six-year incumbent Janet Napolitano resigned to become the nation's third Secretary of Homeland Security. Upon taking office, Gov. Brewer's lap had dropped into it a $1.6 billion current-year budget deficit. Without missing a beat, the veteran politico and her fellow Republicans in the Legislature remedied that shortfall with three roughly equal measures of program cuts, dedicated fund sweeps and federal assistance. They welcomed February with the uneasy belief that they had staunched the current-year bleeding and could turn their attention to surgery on next year’s budget. That wasn't to be.

State revenue collections continued their steady erosion necessitating the use of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal assistance funding assigned to next year's budget to finally(?) close this year's stubborn deficit. The bleeding truly hadn't stopped.

When Gov. Brewer delivered an address to a joint session of the Legislature on March 4th, next year's structural budget deficit stood at approximately $3.5 billion. That figure becomes even more alarming when you consider that the Arizona only expects to collect about $7.6 billion in revenues. Put more starkly, Arizona is due to spend 46 percent more than it takes in.

Why can't our political leaders simply cut state spending and institute across the board personnel layoffs and furloughs to balance the budget? The private sector makes drastic cuts along these lines, why not government too?

However much we'd like to view state government as just a really big business that can be run like a business, it turns out that it isn't and it can't.

What’s becoming very apparent is that balancing the budget solely through spending cuts is hamstrung by the Arizona Constitution (Prop. 105: The Voter Protection Act) and by an array of "strings" attached to federal funding.

Most of the billions in federal education, transportation and health care dollars that flow through state programs require a state match. In some cases it's a 3-to-1 match or even a 4-to-1 match. If the state zeroes-out a $25 million general fund expenditure tied to a 3-to-1 federal match, we are actually cutting $100 million in services to realize the $25 million general fund savings. That's not much gain when compared to the pain felt by legislators' constituents who use that heavily-subsidized program.

Exacerbating the meager fiscal payoff of such a slash-and-burn strategy are new requirements in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (popularly known as the Stimulus Bill.) Federal assistance (bailout) moneys will only be released to states that hold their health care and education spending to 2006 or 2008 levels. This "maintenance of effort" requirement effectively limits how deep legislators can cut from these programs even if we don't have the money to pay for them; and we don't. If we add in the state’s spending on corrections, more than 75 percent of the state budget may be effectively off limits to closing the gap. And the math only gets worse if Arizona decides to forgo the billions in federal assistance in order to avoid these conditions.

Does this mean we've objectively reached that mystical "last resort" point where spending-cutters become tax-increasers? Gov. Brewer clearly thinks so. In her March 4th address to the Legislature, Gov. Brewer laid out a five-point plan she styled a "path to prosperity" and program for "building a better Arizona":
  1. Structural Budget Reform – strengthen the Rainy Day Fund, restrict fund sweeps and require honest revenue estimates for budgeting. (Much of this is an academic exercise until we have "extra" revenues to fill a future Rainy Day Fund.)
  2. Weaken Prop. 105: The Voter Protection Act – allow the Legislature to cut voter-protected spending on education and health care programs during extraordinary times of crisis. (This constitutional reform requires passage of a ballot proposition.)
  3. Spending Cuts – $1 billion in further cuts in state spending programs. (That means hundreds of millions in further education and health care cuts.)
  4. Tax Reform and Modernization – structural changes beginning in 2012 to craft a more jobs-friendly tax code.
  5. Temporary Tax Increase – $1 billion per year in temporary tax increases to bridge the gap in our massive budget shortfall. (Gov. Brewer would prefer to sign a tax increase sent to her by the Legislature but would settle for a special election later this summer to get voter approval for the tax increase.)
Initial legislative reaction to Gov. Brewer's tax increase proposal was, to be charitable, unenthusiastic. Lawmakers from her own party hold to the belief that the Legislature can and will balance the budget without raising taxes. Gov. Brewer wishes them luck in their quest and said she would sign such legislation. But one gets the feeling from legislators' body language that they too see themselves ultimately arriving at that same "last resort" space that Gov. Brewer landed on in her March 4th address.

Does this mean Arizonans are in store for higher taxes at precisely the worst time to raise taxes – during a recession? And will voters, if asked, agree to raise their own taxes and return spending flexibility to legislators so they can cut sacrosanct education and health care programs?

Regardless of the answers to these questions, rest assured, our permanent budget crisis will continue through 2009, past 2010 and out to as far as we can see.

Friday, February 20, 2009

No matter how much we resist, politics' impact unavoidable

Adapted from a guest column by Farrell Quinlan provided to the Arizonan quarterly published by the Arizona Capitol Times for the Arizona Contractors Association.

One fact of life that the Panic of 2008 or the Great Financial Meltdown (or whatever historians end up calling it) has reminded us is that no matter how hard we might try to ignore it, sooner or later, the consequences of government policy impacts everyone.

“Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you,” commented Athenian statesman Pericles 2,500 years ago in the cradle of democracy.

Today, with trillions of dollars flowing from Washington in various bailout schemes and billions of dollars in red ink here in Arizona – for good of for ill – politics has decided to take an obsessive and maybe even oppressive interest in you.

Here’s were a lobbyist might come in handy.

Sure, we all have a general sense of what a lobbyist does. Lobbyists serve special interests and get things from government that the rest of “us” can’t – if it were only as easy as that.

First off, everyone is a member of a “special interest.” Often, we are special interests many times over. Small business owners, teachers, construction workers, taxpayers, Social Security recipients, youth sports coaches, gun owners, nurses, doctors, lawyers, firemen, dog catchers, morticians, circus performers and a thousand other designations are all special interests who have lobbyists dedicated to looking out for their concerns.

We tend to see our own lobbyists as virtuous knights fighting the good fight against the despicable forces of the special interests when, in all candor, we’re all equally virtuous and despicable when it comes to influencing public policy.

We call them “special interests” for a reason. Human nature dictates when it comes to our own circumstance, there really is a special case to be made for our interests.

Some of the most important but difficult to quantify benefits a trade association membership provides its members are public policy representation and advocacy – otherwise called special interest lobbying.

During the first four to six months of every year, the Arizona Legislature meets in regular session to consider hundreds of pieces of legislation as well as produce a state budget that conforms to the constitutional mandate of being balanced. A typical session sees more than 300 bills pass out of about 1,200 introduced.

Part of the job for a trade association’s public policy team is to know the issues confronting their industry and making sure that the Legislature takes appropriate action on them. That can take the form of drafting legislation to address an issue, recruiting a legislative sponsor and supporting the legislation through committee hearings, amendments, passage by both chambers and signing into law by the governor. It can also mean opposing bad measures and/or offering amendments to improve legislation sponsored by other interests, special or not.

Trade associations also promote their industries by providing opportunities for direct contact between their members and the policymakers that have considerable power over their member companies and jobs. Either through face-to-face interaction with politicians by the association’s membership or through political action committee efforts to support pro-industry lawmakers, the trade association’s public policy team’s advocacy continues long after the conclusion of any legislative session.

“Having knowledge but lacking the power to express it clearly is no better than never having any ideas at all,” to again quote the ancient Pericles. In this spirit, a trade association works to give its members the power to express the interests of their industry, especially the special ones.

Renewable Energy Manufacturing a Key to Revive, Diversify Arizona’s Ailing Economy

Adapted from a guest column by Farrell Quinlan provided to the six member chambers of the West Valley Chambers of Commerce Alliance for publication in their newsletters.

First the bad news, it’s been a tough year.

It started with unprecedented high gasoline prices. Then followed the realization that the rising mortgage crisis wasn’t going to ebb or be contained. Instead, its “toxic assets” surged into a general credit and financial tsunami that engulfed the banks, crashed the stock market and plunged the nation and world into a deep recession.

Arizona, long the state on the leading edge of growth during the fat times, has been hit harder than most. Our economic fortune was tied to the mast of new home construction. The perfect storm of the mortgage and financial crises has exposed how narrowly dependent we have been on “growth” in general to support our economy.

Simply put, Arizona’s economy is not diversified enough. Our state spending appetite mirrored the unsustainable appreciation in our home values. We have a larger state budget deficit on a percentage basis than any other state, including the basket case of California.

Unemployment is rising. Arizonans are worried about their futures.

Something has to change to break this depressing cycle. We need to revitalize our economy, attract new capital investment and take advantage of our natural advantages to create jobs and diversify our portfolio.

The good news at the Arizona Capitol is a groundbreaking approach to incentivize the creation of new, high-paying manufacturing jobs throughout Arizona by attracting to our state one of the few remaining growth industries, renewable energy development and generation.

Sen. Barbara Leff’s SB 1403 would accomplish this through state income tax credits for renewable energy manufacturers that bring to the state new capital investment (plant, equipment, land and infrastructure) and job creation. It would also temporarily reclassify real and personal property for qualified projects with over $25 million in capital investment to help mitigate Arizona’s uncompetitively high and burdensome property tax on businesses.

And these aren’t just any jobs. A majority of jobs must meet or exceed 125 percent of the state’s median wage. Employers must provide health care coverage and pay at least 80 percent of employees’ premiums.

Haven’t we heard all these promises before?

Arizonans possess a well-earned skepticism for incentive programs to promote one industry or another. Many feel such programs over-promise and under-deliver. That’s why SB 1403 has been crafted to avoid past pitfalls and guarantees that not one dime of tax credit is realized until capital investments are made, jobs are created and the project is operational.

Taxpayer safeguards in SB 1403 abound. The total and annual amounts for the tax credit program are capped. It positions rural communities to be competitive in attracting new industries and high-wage, high-tech jobs. Companies must commit to at least ten years of operations and if a company tries to reverse course, SB 1403 includes tough “clawback” provisions that refund all incentives and credits to Arizona taxpayers.

Moreover, a detailed analysis by the eminent economist Elliott Pollack demonstrates that the program’s aggregate revenue impact is positive to the state General Fund. The bottom line, it’ll make the state money.

With all of these taxpayer safeguards and a solid “if you build it, only then will the tax credits come” requirement, SB 1403 establishes a new gold standard for economic development incentives that should serve as a model for any future incentive programs.

But the greatest benefit of SB 1403 is that is directly addresses Arizona’s stubborn lack of economic diversification by promoting the development of clean, sustainable, 21st Century technology industries.

There is a consensus that America must become more energy self-sufficient and wean ourselves off imported petroleum, especially from parts of the world where terrorists and dictators might enjoy a chokehold on our national security and economic well-being. Renewable energy generation is a key component of any energy independence policy.

The massive federal- and state-level support for renewable energy production that we’ve all read about means someone, somewhere has to make the billions of dollars in materials and equipment necessary to generate that renewable energy. Why not Arizona?

With SB 1403 on the books, Arizona will again be at the leading edge of job growth and have a more diversified and stable economy.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Say It Ain't So, [Another] Sad Day For Baseball

I have been a fan of Alex Rodriguez since he was the the top draft pick who was a sure fire superstar like Ken Griffey, Jr. I never understood the hate that he drew from fans and some in the media. He was too perfect (re: insincere) in interviews and you just knew he wasn't being square with you. Or that was the knock against him. I never begrudged him his 10-year, $252 million contract. Many succumbed to ugly jealously and criticized him for the money and his prickly perfectionism. The glare and scrutiny increased exponentially when the Texas Rangers dumped his contract on the only team that could handle its size, the New York Yankees.

A-Rod has been the most talented and arguably best player in baseball for the last decade. Now we learn that his best just wasn't good enough. He admitted today to using performance enhancing drugs during the 2001, 2002 and 2003 seasons. A reason he gives was the stress brought on by The Contract.

I haven't yet fully processed the impact of this revelation. But the sadness and deep melancholy among the baseball press is palpable. In a few short years, A-Rod was to be "The One" who would cleanse the sport of its most egregious embarrassment, Barry Bonds' holding of the All-Time Home Run Crown.

That can't happen now.

Now all of us who love the game must come to grips with the fact that steroids, HGH and other performance enhancing drugs were not the exception but the rule in baseball since at least the early 1990's. Whatever innocence we thought an A-Rod assault on Barry Bonds' record could restore is gone forever.

Major League Baseball will never be the same to its fans. They're all suspect now. They're just like the rest of us. Flawed, prideful and all too human.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Arizona Cardinals will Shock the World in Super Bowl XLIII

27 Cardinals
17 Steelers

Predicted MVP: Kurt Warner

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Obama-Biden: A One-Term Wonder

When Barack Obama takes the oath of office to become the 44th President of the United States of America, he will have the support and good will of a large majority of Americans including that of many conservatives and Republicans. We want our presidents to succeed and for the nation to prosper regardless of party.

Ideology ought to inform us as to the correct path, not be a blind faith that we follow like cultists.
Conservatives believe liberal-left policies will lead to a poorer and weaker America. If Barack Obama leads the country in a leftward direction, our nation and his presidency will fail. However, throughout the transition, he has shown a remarkable ability to surprise on what direction he will lead us. But the brutish world and our fragile economy will be the great tests of his moderation and leadership. Moreover, it remains to be seen how centrist the Hard Left Congress will allow President Obama to be.

Unlike many in the Lefty blogesphere who reflexively denounced anything George W. Bush identified with, conservatives tend to have a higher “patriot quotient”. What do I mean by “patriot quotient”? Conservatives tend to be small “n” nationalists who care far less for the feelings and esteem that Europeans hold our nation in than liberals. We are America homers. We want the scoreboard to show an American victory, even if our quarterback, or pitcher, or point guard isn’t our first choice.

The Left proved throughout the Bush 43’s administration that they didn’t really want America to win if that meant George W. Bush would win too.
Does that make conservatives more vulnerable to demagoguery and less able to answer the challenge that Leftists present? Perhaps, but that’s where our greater “patriot quotient” comes in. We’d rather lose an election than lose a war… where have I heard that before?

That being said, I truly hope that Joe Biden savors the pomp and celebration of the inaugural. Like day following night, a Vice President Biden will embarrass President Obama and the nation on a regular basis with his over-the-top pomposity and blowhardedness. I don’t believe he will be retained on the Obama ticket in 2012.

Therefore, January 21, 2009 begins the search for the Democrat’s 2012 vice presidential nominee. Keep an eye on Virginia’s Tim Kaine (believed to have been the choice of Obama’s heart for veep in 2008) and four-star Gen. David Petraeus, the Commander of U.S. Central Command and hero of the Iraq surge. An Obama-Petraeus 2012 ticket would be awfully tough to match for the Republicans. But that all assumes that President Obama maintains his apparent intention to have continuity in foreign and defense policy. If he tacks left on national security, all bets are off on the Petraeus pick… though Biden will still be a goner from the ticket.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

One Last Whack at that Poor, Dead Horse

At the risk of keeping this dust up alive for another day, I've got one last post concerning the Great STS-Quinlan Snarling Match between the Sonoran Alliance blog and the Willet Creek Dam blog.

Brett Mecum on staff at the state party sent me a nice note clarifying the situation surrounding the seven-page December 31, 2008 mailing from the state party on the state of the party and their record over the last two years. In the interest of putting this matter to rest with everyone getting a fair shot at making their best case, here is the note in total:


I hope that you and your family had Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I’ve been watching the exchange between your blog and Sonoran Alliance with quite a bit of amusement. I’m willing to bet that you’ve been getting some pretty decent traffic hits today. While I agree with the axiom that a man’s blog is his castle and that you should be able blog whatever you would like (after all, it is free speech), you are mistaken on at least two counts:

  1. The mailing we did was $0.59 not $0.95 (In fact, the entire cost of the mailing was $67.26, if you want to get technical);
  2. The report in questions was a report to the Executive Committee, not the entire State Committee.
The Executive Committee consists of the officers, three members at-large from each congressional district, the chairman, 1st vice chair, and 2nd vice chair from each county. The chairmen of the legislative districts serve as ex-officio non-voting members.

The reality is that we sent that mailing to just over 100 people who serve on the AZGOP Executive Committee, not to the 1,018 State Committeemen. You should view the Executive Committee on the same level as a corporate board of directors. Being new to the internal workings of the Party, I can understand your confusion. The seven page mailing was designed as a year-end report to the Executive Committee and shouldn’t have been construed beyond that. We have done reports such as this in the past to update the committee with various operations of the State Party. And just as you [Note: Farrell Quinlan is chairman of LD20 Republicans] are allowed to communicate with your district PCs, the AZGOP should communicate with its Executive Committee.

In the interests of accuracy, I trust that you will correct these errors with your readership. In the future, you should know that you can call the office and talk to Chairman Pullen or myself on such matters for clarification before you decide to send them into the public sphere.

All the best,



Brett Mecum

Political Director, Arizona Republican Party

3501 North 24th Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85016


Fair enough. I stand by my concern that though arguably "OK" and technically defensible, the recent flurry of mail to state committeemen from the state party extolling Chairman Pullen's tenure was/is too much and borders on and might actually be an abuse of office. These relentless mailings implicitly seek to "make the case" for his re-election while hiding behind official communications from the party.

I hated that practice when Rick Romley,
on his way out as county attorney and preparing to run for other elective office, published his die-cut hagiography on the taxpayer's dime.

I hate it now.

Brett and I just disagree.

Does this make Randy Pullen a bad guy who a Republican state committeeman should under no circumstances vote for? Not at all. They should vote their conscience on January 24th. I know I will.

My only regret in all this is that Sen. Jim Waring's outstanding legislation got lost in the imbroglio (or is that imbloglio?)

Monday, January 05, 2009

Lighten up, Francis

When I read this post on Sonoran Alliance, I was reminded of the scene from the Bill Murray comedy "Stripes" where members of the platoon were sitting around telling stories about themselves, where they come from.

Psycho: The name's Francis Soyer, but everybody calls me Psycho. Any of you guys call me Francis, and I'll kill you.
Leon: Ooooooh.
Psycho: You just made the list, buddy. And I don't like nobody touching my stuff. So just keep your meat-hooks off. If I catch any of you guys in my stuff, I'll kill you. Also, I don't like nobody touching me. Now, any of you homos touch me, and I'll kill you.
Sergeant Hulka: Lighten up, Francis.

All I could say while reading the post, “Lighten up, STS.”

Who or what is STS and what did I ever do to him… her… them… ah… whatever?  STS must be one of the Sonoran Alliance’s bloggers who doesn’t feel comfortable being “out-of-the-closet” yet (to use SA’s own formulation).  All I know is that when someone posts a entry brazenly proclaiming “Policing the Blogosphere” as its title, I’d really appreciate the ability to face my accuser, or at least know them as a real flesh and blood human being.  But who am I to judge the judge, right?  Let’s put aside STS’s manifest cowardice… er, no… I mean… spunky use of a pseudonym and address some of the indictments in his/her/its 1,264 words of breathless, over-the-top caviling.  

I’ll take them in order…

Correcting other blogs?  Absolutely, but doesn’t everything STS then goes on to write about fall into the “disagreeing with other blogs” category rather than being placed in the correction pile?

Bias Disclosure? Again fair point for some blogs, but in what way precisely am I hiding my biases on Willet Creek Dam?  It’s a personal blog that I use to comment on all manner of topics ranging from books to movie, from sports to politics.  I’m confused how I’m false advertising.

Hardliner on Immigration?  This is refreshing.  Quinlan has “an extremely hardline position in favor of ‘comprehensive immigration reform’ and he is a consistent advocate for businesses being able to hire illegal aliens, essentially without consequences.”  Interesting turn of phrasing.  I’ll admit, I don’t wake up at 3 a.m. in a pool of sweat anxious about the Rise of Atzlan and how I’m going to get screwed exchanging my dollars for Ameros from our new North American Union overlords.  If that makes me an apostate and not a REAL conservative in the eyes of some, I’ll live with that and be happy.  I wholeheartedly support the 2008 Republican Platform plank on immigration as well as the 2004 Republican Platform plank on immigration. ‘Nuff said.

My State Political Contributions?  No secrets, do a name search here.  On the federal level, I gave money to Mitt Romney, John Shadegg, Jeff Flake, David Schweikert, Jim Ogsbury, Laura Knaperak, Mark Anderson, Tim Bee and McCain-Palin.

My Lobbying Clients? Click here.

Bogus Franking?  STS goes to great lengths to defend Randy Pullen’s innocent one-page congratulations letter to state committeemen dated December 23, 2008.   If that letter was what had caused me to suggest some abuse of official communications then STS would be correct to criticize me for being unfair to Mr. Pullen.  But I wasn’t cheesed off about that mailing.  It was bent about the indefensible seven-page “2007-2008 Report” mailed on December 31, 2008 at $0.95 a pop.  Now that one really reeks of using Arizona Republican Party resources in a strategically-timed manner to aid in Randy Pullen’s re-election campaign.  Since that’s what I was referring to, then much of STS’s hair-trigger defense of Randy Pullen is moot.

Political Agenda?  My “self-serving… political agenda” is just that, self-serving because it’s mine.  No mystery here or need for Surgeon General-level consumer warnings to the blogosphere that STS condescends to (“Quinlan’s complaint is clever to a casual reader, but…”).  And where is STS’s evidence that my clients give fig about my blog posts?  Really?  The Arizona Landscape Contractors’ Association has not put me up to liking the movie Dark Knight or my disappointment with the U.S. Mint’s four reverse designs for the 2009 penny.  Sometimes there really aren’t wheels within wheels and the world is as straightforward as it presents itself.  Can’t I just believe that abusing official communications for campaign purposes is shabby without being a member of the Trilateral Commission or the Illuminati?

Quinlan Endorsement:  Then STS really gets his Castroesque and Kim Jong-il-like cult of personality rant really into high gear making all kinds of assumptions and conclusions about which candidates I am supporting for various party positions.  Here’s the deal, I’m a homer.  I’m supporting Diane Ortiz-Parsons for Maricopa County Republican 1st Vice Chair and Mike Middleton for Maricopa County Republican 2nd Vice Chair.  Why?  Because they are LD20 folks and I know they will do a good job.  Did I also endorse Jerry Brooks for Maricopa County Republican Chair?  Sure.  Why?  Because Diane and Mike are running on a ticket with him and I trust their recommendation.  I wouldn’t know Jerry Brooks or Rob Haney if they waved at me at Wal-mart.  All I know is that Jerry is from Chandler and so am I.  He’s already sent me two mailings (on his own dime!) asking for my support.  I’ve got nothing from Haney and it being a week out, I’ve decided that Brooks is my man.  (By the way, the West Valley Chambers of Commerce Alliance and the Arizona Contractors Association don’t really care and have released my from my feudal vassalage to make this decision on my own.)

Pot Calling the Kettle Black:  Ah-hah!  STS reveals that LD20 GOP Chairman Quinlan e-mailed his PCs with info about the upcoming county meeting and endorsed Brooks, et al… HYPOCRITE!!!  Lighten up, Francis.  My e-mail was from my personal account and wasn’t an official communication to anyone.  The official communication came in the mail from the county party a couple days ago.  And it didn"t have a list of candidates in it (only the announcement, resolutions and proxy form).  Comrade STS, am I not allowed to communicate with the PCs in my district?  

Finally, STS really begins to show the effects of oxygen deprivation when he concludes with soaring rhetoric about “the kind of Republican” I am and how I’ve “forfeit[ed] the mantle of integrity” and all that.  Yikes.  STS really has very thin skin about Dear Leader.  Or maybe, STS has a hidden, integrity-diminishing agenda against Farrell Quinlan and all his ilk!  


Blogging should be fun.  That’s how I approach it.  STS, good luck and be well.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Sen. Jim Waring Bill Seeks End of Officeholders' Abuse of Official Communications

Bravo to Sen. Jim Waring on his new legislation that seeks to keep public officials from abusing the public trust to promote themselves. It really angers me when officeholders use their position to inappropriately insinuate themselves into official communications from their agencies in blatant attempts to gravy train off a government expenditure. Incumbency is powerful enough.

Now if we could only get Arizona Republican Party Chairman Randy Pullen to stop using official party communications with GOP state committeemen to push his accomplishments ahead of the January 24th election of the next state GOP chairman. In that race, Pullen is running for re-election in a rematch with Lisa James who Pullen bested by a slim 4-vote margin in 2006. Regardless of Pullen's case for a second term, it's a risky strategy to play so loose with his "franking" privileges with an electorate that is so proud of its conservative credentials. I guess we'll see on January 24th how ideologically consistent these state committeemen are.

Read this account from the Arizona Capitol Times of Sen. Waring’s legislation here:

Arizona Capitol Times
January 2, 2009

Bill curbs public funds for media announcements

By Luige del Puerto

Three years ago, Gov. Janet Napolitano was featured on a state-sponsored billboard to promote Arizona tourism and safe driving on the state’s highways. The move was lambasted by her Republican opponents as a way to grab free publicity as the 2006 election approached.

But she isn’t the only elected official who has used state money to promote a public cause – and to reap the residual benefits of name recognition.

In 2007, the office of Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall published a 56-page booklet that included several pictures of LaWall herself. One photo showed LaWall next to a toddler with a caption that read “Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall believes our children are our future.”

And last year, Maricopa County Attorney Andrew Thomas followed suit with a 45-page handbook called “Roadmap to Crime Prevention” that included several references to Thomas and featured his smiling portrait.

This year, however, Sen. Jim Waring will try to end the practice of using public money on frivolous promotional material. The Phoenix Republican has sponsored legislation that would prohibit the use of public money for print or broadcast media announcements or Web site campaigns featuring elected officials or their employees.

The filing of SB 1002 on Dec. 9 represents Waring’s second try to get the bill passed. Last year, a similar Waring bill was not heard in the Senate.

SB 1002, though, includes new language to outline that the use of public funds for public announcements would be banned only when they refer to an official who is elected or appointed to elective office.

The bill also contains language effectively saying it should not be construed to prevent the official from “performing the duties” of his or her office, and it does not restrict an elected official’s right to communicate on “matters of public concern.”

The bill raises a couple of questions: How do you determine whether a print or broadcast media announcement is relating a matter of public concern? When is it in line with executing the duties of an elective office?

For instance, Thomas has vigorously defended publication of the handbook, saying it was an effective way to distribute public safety information.

The money used to pay for LaWall’s report came directly from funds seized in connection to criminal activity in the county.

And Napolitano has defended the decision to put up the billboards, saying she was just doing her job. At the time, she also pointed out that there were similar billboards featuring political figures all across the nation.

The legislation has a new sense of urgency, given the tough budget climate the state faces, Waring said.

“We do not have money to waste,” he said.

The Phoenix lawmaker said some of the ads or public announcements he has seen these past few years were neither efficient nor effective use of public money.

“The worst are the billboards with the governor’s picture — totally pointless,” he said.

Waring admitted that the bill is open-ended, but emphasized he needed a place to start, given that his previous bill did not go anywhere this past session.

“I am going to tighten it up and make it so it is clear, with no potential loopholes or ambiguities or it is not going to go,” he said.

Last session’s bill was assigned to the Senate Government Committee, chaired by Sen. Jack Harper, a Republican from Surprise. Harper did not hear the bill in committee.

Harper said there were complaints about the rigid language of last year’s bill. He said he hasn’t read the new version yet but added he supports its intent.

“It’s a great concept. I think it’s very taxpayer-friendly,” Harper said.

Jeff Kros, legislative director of the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, said his group’s concern over the previous bill was that its language was “probably too broad” and “too restrictive.”

“I think we have the same concerns as everybody else in that a lot of our elected officials have to use the media to do their jobs, and this seemed to be really restrictive,” Kros said.

Waring introduced his bill last year after Thomas’ handbooks had unleashed a firestorm across the state, with Maricopa County supervisors questioning the wisdom of using public money to produce them.

Waring, though, has said the bill was not intended to target any particular official.

Theoretically, under SB 1002, Thomas’ handbooks still could be produced — but minus the county attorney’s name and picture.

Friday, January 02, 2009

1,000th Anniversary of the Adherents of the Religion of Peace’s destruction of Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulchre

This year is the 1,000th anniversary of the destruction of The Church of the Holy Sepulchre by Caliph al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah, the Islamic Fatimid ruler based in Egypt. Though not the immediate cause of Western (Christian) military reaction, it is interesting to note that this provocation by Muslims against Christians occurs 86 years before the first papal call for a Crusade in 1095.

Constructed in A.D. 326 on the orders of Roman Emperor Constantine the Great, the church is where the New Testament says that Jesus was crucified and is said to also contain the place where Jesus was buried (the sepulchre). It passed from the control of the Christian Eastern Romans (or Byzantines) to the Muslin Arabs in A.D. 638. On October 18, 1009, Caliph Al-Hakim’s orders for the complete destruction of the church were carried out. It is believed that Al-Hakim was aggrieved by the scale of the annual Easter pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Though not the immediate casus belli for the Crusades, the Muslim destruction of the Church in 1009 serves as a clear refutation of the claim that the later Crusades were an unprovoked and imperialistic adventure perpetrated by the bad Europeans against innocent and peaceable Muslims.

September 11th, 2,000 years ago: "Quintilie Vare, legiones redde!"

Two-thousand-nine is the 2,000th anniversary of one of the most important battles in European history. September 11, A.D. 9 saw the conclusion the three-day Battle of the Teutoburg Forest between the Roman legions of Augustus Caesar under the command of Publius Quinctilius Varus and the Germanic tribes under the leadership of the Roman-trained Arminius or Hermann the German. Caught over extended and, more importantly, over confident, Varus was ambushed in a heavily wooded area and cut down along with three legions and auxiliary troops, about 20,000 troops in all.

According to the Roman historian Suetonius in his Lives of the Twelve Caesars, Augustus was so traumatized by the defeat that until his death in A.D. 14 at the age of 77, he would often cry out Quintili Vare, legiones redde! ('Quintilius Varus, give me back my legions!'). Moreover, to place an unmistakable exclamation point on the taboo associated with the shameful defeat, the three legionary numbers (XVII, XVIII and XIX) were never used again by the Romans for any of their armies, unlike other legions that were restructured — a case unique in Roman history.

The great loss caused Augustus to abandon his goal of establishing the Elbe River as the empire’s permanent frontier and withdrew to the Rhine River to mark the boundary between the Latin and German speaking worlds. Ever since, the French and Germans have been disputing Augustus’ settlement to the detriment of Europeans and the whole world for almost two millennia.

For the Romans, the Rhine border was defensible and held for 400 years until New Year’s Eve A.D. 406. On that momentous night, the Rhine froze over solid allowing a motley group of Vandals, Alans and Suebians to simply walk across at Mainz, initiation the beginning of the end for the Roman Empire in the West. Within three years, the Visigoths sack Rome itself accelerating a decline that ends in A.D. 476 with the cessation of the use of the title “Emperor of the Romans” in the West until the Frank Charlemagne revives the office in the year 800.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

2009: Anniversary of Some Dubious as well as Distinguished Events

Today is the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Arizona icon Sen. Barry Goldwater who was born on New Year’s Day 1909 in Territorial Arizona. The Year A.D. 2009 will also see the 200th anniversaries of the births of Abraham Lincoln and British naturalist Charles Darwin who were born on the same day, February 14, 1809.

Aside from Barrack Obama’s relentless efforts to associate himself with the 16th U.S. President, Lincoln is set to get a well-deserved though probably over-the-top attention from our media this year. This includes a generally uninspiring commemorative redesign of the reverse side of the penny with four depictions of scenes from Honest Abe’s life.

The log cabin and rail-splitter designs are nice and appropriate. But the last two, outside the Illinois Capitol building and the inexplicable construction view of the U.S. Capitol Dome, are mistakes. The final two designs should have depicted something to do with freeing of the slaves and the Emancipation Proclamation or perhaps the Lincoln-Douglas Debates on the topic of slavery. The final design should have focused on the universal values embodied in the Gettysburg Address and the Second Inaugural. Maybe a depiction of attention-starved Lincoln Administration domestic policy achievements like the railroads and creation of land grant colleges could have been featured instead of the Capitol scaffolding.

This year also sees the sad anniversaries of the Castro Bros. Communist Dictatorship on Cuba (50th, 1959) and Hugo Chávez’s socialist paradise in Venezuela (10th, 1999).

It’s the twentieth anniversary of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s fatwa calling on adherents to the “Religion of Peace” to murder “The Satanic Verses” author Salman Rushdie (which has yet to be successfully carried out.) It’s also the 20th anniversary of .the Tiananmen Square massacre in Beijing. Pete Rose’s lifetime ban from baseball for gambling on the sport also began in 1989.
But 1989 should not be remembered for those dreary events. Instead, the iconic scene of Germans dancing on the Berlin Wall on November 9, 1989 signaled the end of the Cold War with the West’s victory over Soviet Communism. What was so remarkable about the collapse was how peacefully it was accomplished. The notable exception to the bloodless revolutions toppling communism was in Romania where Christmas 1989 saw the lynching of dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu.

As a native Vermonter, I cannot let pass the 400th anniversary of explorer Samuel de Champlain’s “discovery” and claiming the Lake Champlain area of Vermont for France in 1609.

June 11th will see the 500th anniversary of the ill-fated marriage of Henry VIII of England to Catherine of Aragon. Seven-hundred years ago saw the beginning of the “Babylonian captivity” (1309–77) of the papacy in Avignon by the French crown.
I’ll stop here. My next post will take a closer look at a pair of historic events, one 1,000 years ago and the other 2,000 years ago, that have define today’s world.