Saturday, November 27, 2010


I recently came across this provocative post from Tyler Cowen who seems like the only person who is defending the recent changes to our airport security.

This quote makes the most sense to me:

"Hovering in the background is the reality that a few successful downings will kill many people and furthermore probably wipe out the insurance market and thus lead to nationalization of the airlines. It's not clear what the freedom-enhancing path looks like and there is no default setting of market accountability. It's 'elephant interventions' all the way down."

and this one:

"The funny thing is this: when Americans insist on total liberty against external molestation, it motivates both good responses and bad ones. It supports a libertarian desire for freedom against government abuse, but the same sentiments generate a lot of anti-liberal policies when it comes to immigration, foreign policy, torture, rendition, attitudes toward Muslims, executive power, and most generally treatment of 'others.' An insistence on zero molestation, zero risk, isn't as pro-liberty as it appears in the isolated context of pat-downs. It leads us to impose a lot of costs on others, usually without thinking much about their rights."

and finally:

"The issue reminds me of the taxation and spending debates; many Americans want low taxes and high government spending, forever. For airline security, at times we want to treat it as a matter of mere law enforcement, to be handled by others, and one which should not inconvenience our daily lives or infringe on our rights. At the same time, so many Americans view airline security as a vital matter of foreign policy and indeed as part of a war. We own and promote this view and yet we are outraged when asked to behave as one might be expected to in a theater of war."

Another example how Americans want their cake and eat it too.

By the way here Megan McArdle links a video about TSA going over the top harassing a lady who refuses to send her breast milk through a scanner.

But if our airlines are truly one of the fronts on the war on terror, these kinds of overreaches are possible. Its hard to imagine that this kind of activity helps our national security. But, to me, its not hard to imagine when we give an organization the thankless job of preventing a terrorist from bringing down a plane (they are blamed when they fail, no one notices when they succeed), abuse is surely possible.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Immigration and the DREAM Act (and some general snarkiness)

Just wanted to share this link with anyone who happens to stumble upon this blog. I found it profound.

"It's worth noting that the southwestern portion of the United States just was Mexico, once upon a time. There is an undeniable economic and cultural continuity between Mexico and the United States. The border distorts and disrupts it, but it cannot and will never put an end to it. The pattern of traffic between these two countries is not something to choke off, but something sensibly to regulate and rationalise."


"The DREAM Act sends the message that although American immigration law in effect tries to make water run uphill, we are not monsters. It says that we will not hobble the prospects of young people raised and schooled in America just because we were so perverse to demand that their parents wait in a line before a door that never opens. It signals that we were once a nation of immigrants, and even if we have become too fearful and small to properly honour that noble legacy, America in some small way remains a land of opportunity."

Ok, what follows is a rant, a vent. I have really smart, reasonable friends that may disagree with the some of the points I make in the second half of this post. Also, there are reasonable disagreements on the issues I bring up. What I see right now, almost systemically, however, is something really wrong in the Republican party. I think it comes from some combination of corruption from being in power for too long and this crazy Obama is a socialist, power over country sentiment, and FOX news/AM talk radio that's brought them where they are today.

So, I just need to do it :-). Feel free to ignore all of it. No offense if any of these issues feel targeted at you. I'm venting :-).

How many issues have the Republican party demogogued over the last 10 years or so, to the point of unreasonableness, let's just count a few off the top of my head:

  • Immigration: Hard working Mexicans drain our society's resources! Let's stop every single Mexican from entering our country despite unrelenting market forces!

  • Banking: The great recession was caused by Barack Obama who took office after it began! By the way, it had nothing to do with unregulated bankers who took advantage of lax regulation to gamble the world's reserves making record profits on both the downside and the upside! But hey, regulating banks is always a bad idea - resist!

  • War: Preemptive invasion on the cheap - but don't worry we'll be welcomed as liberators and Democracy will flourish wherever we decree it.

  • Nuclear Proliferation - Its not enough to fight the war on terror, Russia is and will always be our enemy. Just say no to START - let's keep the Cold War going! By the way, Europe sucks too!

  • Health Care: There is a market solution to elderly - kick them off of medicare, give them a voucher (that will not rise with medicare inflation, and I'm sure some for-profit insurance company won't mind giving them insurance with that voucher despite the fact that an elderly person will likely cost much more than any voucher will cover.

  • Health Care Part II: Same thing for anyone with a chronic condition. But there's a free market solution for every problem!

  • Tax Cuts: Tax cuts always increase revenue! (Need I say more - well for some people I do :-)

  • Education cuts improve education quality - no need for reform, its magic! Teachers work harder when you pay them less money - and they will surely pay for their supplies out of pocket.

  • Tax cuts for the wealthy: The wealthy are the only drivers for our economy -despite the fact they make up 1% of our economy, but they control something like 20% of our wealth - so they must know what they're doing right? So, if you want to boost the economy, put more money in their pockets and they will magically guide our economy into the next century.

  • Global Warming: Its fiction because, well if its wasn't then we recognize their are no free market solutions for global warming and anything without a free market solution doesn't exist.

I could go on, but I think you get the picture.

Saturday, November 20, 2010


The libertarian leaning local columnist Robert Robb had some nice things to say about Terry Goddard.

"Goddard began the diffusion of political power that characterizes Phoenix and the state today. He actually had more lasting influence on Arizona's political future than those most often cited as the dominant figures of that period: Bruce Babbitt, Burton Barr and Alfredo Gutierrez.

If Goddard had played it safe as mayor, he undoubtedly would have been elected governor in 1990.

Goddard, however, forcefully advocated for a series of failed tax-increase proposals: to build a downtown baseball stadium, to transform and restore the Salt River throughout the county, and to establish a county-wide transit system.

In much of this, he was just premature. A downtown baseball stadium was eventually built. A county-wide transit tax was approved. Piecemeal improvements of the Salt River are occurring. In the case of the transit system and Salt River improvements, what Goddard advocated in the 1980s was actually much better than what county residents ultimately got."

I think this is why I am a Democrat right now. I love Tempe Town Lake, I live only a few miles south of it. My daughter's youth choir sang the National Anthem at a Diamond Backs game recently. I took the light rail downtown to see her and the game. I forgot how much I love baseball and I had a blast at the game, despite the cheesy over the top amusement park-like baseball stadium. I also loved riding the light rail and I wish I could take it more often, but I love that it exists.

Baseball stadiums, light rail, highways, Tempe Town Lake, parks - none of these exist without some amount of public government support. But the Republican party presumably would prefer to cut all of this and more. It's the utter-cheapness of today's Republican party that drives me away from it. Its a political party that has started to think small.

I grew up in Yuma, a city that historically has close to the highest unemployment rate in the nation. And my dad was perpetually unemployed or vastly underemployed. We literally scraped by. I cannot tell you the number of times they would say the words: "We can't afford it." And it was always true - they couldn't afford much of what I wanted (even my modest wants were usually unfulfilled.

But looking back, my dad often suffered from a lack of vision. You don't say we can't afford it, you find a way to afford it and then you afford it. I'm speaking of the more worthwhile wants I had growing up - like piano lessons, say. And I can think of times when my dad was able to step it up and afford stuff - most notably when it came time for me to serve a two year church mission. He took on a second job for those two years to pay for that mission, and for that I'm very grateful. So, he had it within him, but too often he used poverty as an excuse (this is my interpretation - there were probably issues going on I didn't fully understand).

I get that we don't want unnecessary debt or burdensome taxes, but that just means to me that you find a way to raise revenue broadly so it has minimal impact, say by cutting loopholes, broadening the tax base instead of simply raising the rates.

This hit home for me one more time today. My oldest daughter was involved in a Suzuki "book promotion" concert today. All of these kids involved in Suzuki violin or cello gathered for a concert at a church in South Tempe. They played in order from the beginner to advanced. The most advanced student played last. She must have been 12 or 13 and she played a solo, the only solo of the day, and her piece was beautiful and inspiring.

To play the violin well (or at all), you need to practice for years, be willing to spend good money on lessons and instruments and music. Be willing to spend the time day after day. And then after many, many years you may be good enough to actually perform something that people will show up to listen to, and not just because they're being supportive because they know they will be inspired, maybe. But you still do it anyway because you're thinking big. You want to create something beautiful - and the cost of doing so is basically beside the point, because beauty really has no price tag.

The Republican party has within itself the ability to think big by the way. I think I understand their ideology pretty well - I lived it pretty passionately for a good 10-20 years.

Republicans believe in the free market but so do the Democrats. Nobody is arguing in any of our political debates that we should nationalize the internet or Apple.

Where the battle lines are drawn are in those areas where the free market is not actively participatory - preserving the environment (some companies do want to preserve the environment, but usually only if and when it benefits them, or its a secondary concern subservient to profits), universal access to education and health care, roads, police, our military.

Republicans want strong and active government in police and in the military but they want to minimize its footprint in other areas. Democrats don't. That's really the extent of the difference between the two parties.

But Republicans are not cruel, most want good schools for everyone, most would be in favor of a diabetic getting access to insulin regardless of ability to pay. They just don't want the government to do it. They rightly believe that government tends to be motivated by more political than altruistic concerns, and in the politician's machinations, winning the next election takes precedent over anything else.

But what are their alternatives - churches and charitable organizations. And I think I understand why - I can see on paper (not sure if the data bears this out) that when a person volunteers time and money to a specific organization they're gong to want to be more diligent in vetting that organization and all of this comes from a place of passion and for a higher purpose. I give a lot of money to my church - I do it because of my faith, but I also have a lot of confidence those funds will be used wisely. This is why I favor eliminating tax loopholes and deductions, but I make an exception for charitable giving. The problem with taxes are they are not voluntary. They are collected by force, so other than through elections, politicians don't have the same accountability that charities do.

But I want to see this explained much, much better and with more vigor by Republicans. If Republicans truly believed that charitable institutions could fill in the gaps for health care, education, libraries, care for the elderly, I would love to see them embrace this fully and explain to me how. And I want to see it employed in practice.

Remove the tax subsidies employers get for providing employee health insurance, which will effectively kill employer provided health insurance. Then show me how through a combination of free market health insurance and charity, I can always get insulin to my daughter. I'm not being cynical here, I want this position defended much more forcefully by the Republicans.

Stop thinking small. In my view, we have more wealth on this good earth than we realize. We can harness our global natural resources, get more out of more people. We can live more abundant lives than we currently are.

Its time our politics reflect that - from both parties.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ok, so, Its Education We're Going to Defund

Looks like 300 million dollars are going to be cut from our schools and social services. That's just a start, apparently, we've got to get to $2 billion this fiscal year and $3billion in the next. But just to be clear, unless our schools have been burning $300 million dollars in a literal fire, that's going to increase our unemployment rates at a time we already have 9.6% unemployment. I think its clear that this makes it more likely not less that our economy will fall into a double dip.

Even if we can make these kinds of cuts without affecting school quality (which I seriously doubt), even if we are able to find people to fire who are making zero impact on our school quality, those people will be added to our unemployment roles. Those people will have to immediately cut spending, which impacts demand, which will reduce the incentive for businesses to hire and the cycle continues.

For those who think the government stimulus was a waste of money, now as that stimulus expires, we'll see what happens, to some extent, to our economy without it.

By the way, these spending cuts will be offset somewhat, by the Fed's decision to increase the money supply through its monetary policy, which conservatives inexplicably are also against. In that link, Krugman argues that even Friedman is too liberal for today's conservatives.

All of this is worrying enough, but I assume that $300 million (plus the additional cuts still to come) are sizeable enough that it will affect educational quality.

I just ran across this article recently. It is short, but the author tries to pinpoint the source of America's wealth. Here's how the article concludes:

"America does seem to be special in important ways, but it's not always clear what those ways are. A liberal economic order and geographically mobile population are important, but so is the level of education, the promise of social mobility, and the openness of America's borders. It's worth keeping all of that in mind as the country's leaders think about the ways economic policy should change in the wake of the Great Recession."

It's like Arizona read that paragraph and decided to do the opposite of every item in this sentence.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Will Medicaid Be Cut

Laurie Roberts already addresses the issue of medicaid funding quite well.

But here's a reader on Andrew Sullivan's blog who relies on medicaid to take care of her disabled child:

"Cuts to Medicaid will result in more people like my daughter having to live in institutions, at a much higher cost to the public than home-based care. Most elected officials are clueless about this; I know I've had to sit down with my current and prior state delegates to educate them since they had no idea. (This video from Virginia state delegate Patrick Hope discusses the downward spiral that would result from cuts to Medicaid.)"

Here's our fearless leader of the Senate, Russell Pearce, talking about medicaid.

Over the past couple of decades, Arizona has rolled back our local tax rates but they can do so based largely on a couple of decades now of robust population growth and resulting in the growth in housing, construction, and other industries that benefit from that growth. But obviously in the past decade, the growth turned into a massive bubble and we now have a glut of housing. It's doubtful that the old economic models we've counted on are going to be there anymore.

Our state has some serious budget holes to fill in immediately. Do we want to fill those on the backs of the poor (medicaid), they young (education) or do we want to look at both expand and slightly increase our tax rates so that we can sustainably pay for the services our state needs.

In the long term we can look at reform, which should include a more robust rainy day fund that is not just given away. Of course we need to improve our schools and universities and find ways to squeeze out efficiencies.

What I worry about is the Republican party has turned into a caricature of itself.

Read these blog posts on David Frum's blog (a moderate conservative former speech writer for Bush Jr) here, here and here.

Some Reasons given:

Republicans campaign against the educated
"Applebaum reacted to Christine O’Donnell’s advertised boast – 'I didn’t go to Yale' – that Republicans 'need to stop celebrating stupidity'."

Republicans discard science
"Under Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, Republicans championed science and knowledge. But over the past 30 years, national Republicans have formed an intensifying alliance with religious conservatives more skeptical of science and knowledge. I don’t know whether discarding evolution goes against common sense; but I’m pretty sure it goes against most Ivy League-educated senses."

They talk about evolution here, but I see it alarmingly apparent in the global warming debates.

The Republican dogma no longer makes sense

"Educated people may also be extra-sensitive to policy positions that do not make logical sense. While individual elements of the Republican platform can make sense on their own, the combination of demands to reduce the deficit, plus increase Medicare spending, plus opposing reform meant to save costs, plus uncompromising insistence on tax cuts just does not add up. "

And this is a huge problem for the Republican party going forward:

"However, there is another side to the challenge: one of governance and policy. A party needs a well-educated echelon – call it an elite – to formulate policy to deal with complex challenges. Without the philosophical and academic achievements of the likes of Friedrich von Hayek, Milton Friedman and James Q. Wilson, the Reagan revolution would not have been possible."

Going back to Medicaid quickly. One of the reasons why I left the Republican party is for the reasons given here, the ideology no longer makes sense. You can cut taxes, but at some point you have to stop - we need revenue. We can cut services (the Republican party has been far from consistent both in ideology and in practice in this regard), but do we want to eliminate safety nets?

The Democratic party is far from perfect, but of the two, its by far the more thoughtful and rigorous (many thoughtful people have abandoned both).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Anger Over the Housing Crisis

The problem is that I don't know who to be angry at. All I know is that there's a lot to be angry about this Thanksgiving season.

Last night I helped a friend move out of his condo. His family purchased it while he was going to school as a way to build a little equity in hopes of using it to by a more permanent house after graduation. He bought it at a reasonable price - his mortgage costs were roughly what rent would have been (maybe a bit higher), but that's reasonable, right?

However, this was pre-boom times and as the decade progressed, those condo values ballooned, and buyers eventually were priced out of thse condos. That should have tempered the boom, right? Wrong. My friend knew something was up when renters were the only ones who could occupy these condos because investors were the only ones who could afford to buy and they were buying, inflating the boom further.

Unfortunately for him, he decided to sell too late and when he tried, there were no buyers. He kept dropping the price of his condo until the writing was on the wall and he knew he was entering negative equity.

He's now trying to short sell the condo for around $40,000. Can you imagine that? If you took out a 30 year mortgage for $40k, you're monthly payment would be $350 including taxes fees and insurance. The average rent in this area is at least double that (if not more). Is his condo really only worth $40K? Absolutely not.

Which brings me to my anger. From mostly around 2005 to 2008, things went absolutely haywire. Loan officers, landscape architects, real estate agents, anybody affiliated in any way with the real estate bubble were making a bunch of money. My friend told me that he knew a landscape architect working primarily in Anthem making $180,000/year at the peak. I knew someone who was refinancing mortgages as a side job and doubling her engineering salary while she did it.

This American Life covers all of this nonsense here.

What's sickening is that there are people still making a lot of money on short sells and foreclosures, profiting on the downside just as much as they were profiting on the upside. Its hard to begrudge anyone from making a bunch of money doing legal and basically honest work.

Its just disgusting how wasteful this all became. So many people were working really hard making a lot of money doing very little to produce stuff of value. It's true that we now have a sea of cookie-cutters sprawled across our beautiful desert. Some of these housing communities do have real value as people find a way to live and enjoy their lives in them. Some now are decaying unoccupied awaiting foreclosure.

What would Phoenix have been like if people bought homes they wanted in communities they loved. If homes were bought to live in and not to flip. If people transformed their homes into something they love instead of something they think would be the easiest to sell. If people saved and spent their savings to re-furbish older homes in core communities closer to where they work and played.

We're in the mess because so many people thought they could get rich off their homes or other people's homes. And our politicians thought that if you just deregulate everything you can prosper.

But prosperity takes work and discipline. We need professionals and craftsman building and creating art. Making things people love. Our politics should reflect that.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Propositions - a Recap

As far as I know here are the results of the propositions. I have a pretty long history in being disappointed in state proposition results, but the reality of it is that I win some and I lose some and this year is no different. So, let's go down the line one by one:

Prop. 106

This proposition amends the state constitution to make it possible for for someone to pay for medical services in any way they prefer without having to pay a fine. I totally understand why this passed, but its not clear to me what the consequence of passing it will be. There will be definite conflicts between the language in this proposition and "Obamacare" passed by the federal government and there's enough ambiguity in the proposition, lawsuits are probably the only way to sort it all out. My feeling is that this proposition will waste some state funds but not result in any substantive change to our health care environment. I don't think Arizona has the authority to arbitrarily overrule what the federal government does. Conflicts will have to be decided in the courts.

Ultimately, I still believe people don't fully understand the need for mandates. If people really want to restrict insurance companies from denying those with preexisting conditions or to limit coverage or kick someone off their rolls based on their actuarial models, then by virtue of this restriction, they are essentially insured regardless of whether or not they pay a premium.

If you can wait until you are sick to enroll and still be covered, you were insured. Removing a mandate allows someone to free-ride.

And in essence, we have this ability to free ride right now, at least to some extent. How many people really want to live with the consequences of a society without mandates? Do you want to prove you can pay before being admitted into the hospital or being picked up by an ambulance? Do you want to be refused cancer treatments because of inadequate insurance?

My feeling is this proposition will ultimately have little to no consequence other than giving some lawyers something to do. But Arizonans have a history of of this kind of silliness.

In fact there seems to be a larger disconnect with voters nationwide. We want a bunch of services but we don't want to pay for them. We want stuff for nothing which is why we have this massive debt, and we need to start electing politicians who will call us on this (I blame Reagan by the way :-) ).

Proposition 107, Proposition 113
Prop 107 bans state sponsored affirmative action; prop 113 maintains the legality secret ballot in union elections. First off, its almost high comedy that Arizona passed 107 especially when we may be on the verge of gutting our government to balance the budget. Do our state universities (universities that accept practically everybody) really even use affirmative action?

On 113, I don't get the feeling that our unions have much power in our state, so this proposition does little to change that. In my view, both of these propositions will ultimately have little consequence.

The Rest
The voters agreed with me on the rest that have been decided:

1) Hunting and fishing is not a constitutional right on the same level of speech, press, and worship (phew).
2) No lieutenant governor position will be established (the idea is a good one, but it needs more vetting to make way for independents to run in the general election).
3) And the voters rejected the states attempts to balance the budget by pulling funds from state trust lands and "First Things First."

By the way on failing to pass 301 and 302 we have essentially blown a hole in our budget a mile wide. Voting no on these propositions only makes sense if our politicians are willing to raise revenue through tax increases (something I support). But I'm not sure if the average voter realizes this.

Instead, it looks like we'll ultimately have to reject $7 billion dollars of federal aid, so that we can gut medicaid. Is our goal to drive both migrant workers and the poor out of our state?.

I hope this quote raises more than a few eyebrows:

"The budget is more than $800 million in the hole this year, with another $1.4 billion in cuts needed next year. If you cut all of state government, with the exception of prisons, DES, K-12 and universities and AHCCCS, you would save $820 million."

Those Still to be Decided
Of the three propositions still undecided, legalizing marijuana is the one I care the most about and I'm praying and hoping it fails.

Friday, November 5, 2010

On Harry Mitchell's defeat

First of all, I'm far from an expert on local or even national elections. I know what I know, I have my own experiences, I try to read as much as I have time to read, and I think and discuss about the issues. Its my hobby, definitely a bit of an obsession. But I don't claim to know that much about the local political leaders.

I supported Harry Mitchell's campaign a tiny bit: spent some time making calls for him one evening, got up at 5am on election day to put fliers on door knobs of likely Democratic voters with information about their polling locations. I wish I could have done more, I would be surprised if I moved even one voter over to Mitchell, but you never know.

Let me be clear. I'm incredibly impressed with him as a person. I met him briefly once. Its clear that he's a man of substance. He was mayor of Tempe from 1980 until 1994 and its my understanding that he transformed Tempe's downtown. There's even a statue there made in his honor.

He's a pragmatist - believing in low taxes for small businesses but also believing in schools. Look at the bills he's sponsored or co-sponsored here. A long and substantive list.

Ultimately, he was voted out because of the economy and because of his health care vote. He was one of the last holdouts on this vote and expressed strong concerns over the bill, but he ultimately voted for it and ultimately lost his seat because of this vote.

I owed him some of my time. I wrote him a letter encouraging him to vote for the health care bill, and he did (I'm doubtful it was because of my letter - but still).

Let me though give him some parting criticisms. I mentioned that I made some phone calls for him during his campaign. When I got to his headquarters to do this, I was told by one of his staff to avoid mentioning the health care bill because they needed to win and this bill and that vote was not popular. Indeed Schweikert ran almost exclusively on that vote and in all probability won because of it.

But how could I do it. It was frustrating making phone calls to strangers when I had to defend Mitchell because of some obscure "GI" bill of the 21st century bill he authored (which sounded good to me by the way) a bill I knew very little about. It was disingenuous and it sucked all of the passion right out of me.

I watched their debate and Schweikert hammered Mitchell on the health care issue, Mitchell defended it pretty well in the debate, but not nearly far enough. Look, it probably wouldn't matter how Mitchell ran his campaign, and it probably wouldn't have mattered how he voted on the health care bill. The wave against Democrats was probably too massive to overcome.

But I just wish the Democrats would have put up a better fight. Listen to last week's "This American Life episode here. The first forty minutes they talk about the Republicans and its interesting. But skip that for now, get to about the forty minute mark to listen to the Democrats.

They make the point that they should have ran hard on letting the tax cuts expire for the rich (an issue they win 2 to 1 among voters) or did you know that most people support almost everything that's in Obamacare, they inexplicably just don't support Obamacare. Maybe instead of running away from the bill, they should have defended it hard, like this for example:

"You want to see a death panel? I will take you to a death panel. Take the media to the door of an insurance company and tell the story of the little girl who was denied her care and she died. That's a real death panel and it happens every day in the private insurance system. That's the real answer."

Or the Ohio Congressman, John Boccieri, an Iraq war veteran who won a district in 2006 that had previously been Republican for 60 years who when asked about his health care vote by a reporter said this:

"I used to think I was brave and I used to think I was tough and I've flown into enemy fire and I've flown in four combat missions. I'm just not tough enough to look this lady in the eye who has breast cancer and tell her I'm going to deny her health care. If you want someone whose that tough, you've gotta vote Republican."

And these stories abound and the Republicans have no answer. My own daughter is a type 1 diabetic. She needs something like this health care bill in place so she doesn't have to cling to a big company insurance plan. So, she has the freedom to innovate, to run a small business or to work for one or whatever.

We need a real two party system. The Republican party has talking points and easily expressed slogans. The Democratic party is a muddled mess.

So, yes, I'm sad that Harry Mitchell lost, he's a man of substance with a long, distinguished career of public service. But it was just difficult for me to get excited about someone who did not have any energy to defend his vote on one of the most significant bills in our modern history.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Quick Reaction to the State Election Results

It looks like the Republicans won the state-wide elections in a clean sweep. And it looks like they are gaining majorities in the legislature. On top of that both Proposition 301 and Proposition 302 went down in big defeats.

So, what to make of this (if anything)?

Prop 301 and 302 were put on the ballot in a desperate attempt to find millions of dollars to help balance the Arizona budget. The voters said heck no with emphasis (302 moves funds allocated for "First things First" into the general fund, 301 transfers money from the state land conservation fund into the general fund).

Meanwhile, the Republicans have been running almost religiously on the principle of no new taxes. They also want additional resources on the border and want to expand the police force role to include immigration enforcement (HB1070).

They also have a constitutional mandate to balance a state budget they couldn't balance last year even with the help of the federal stimulus. Do you remember the stimulus is running out and won't be available next year? Meanwhile, of the 50 states, we are one of the most frugal states in the country in terms of per pupil funding on education.

Not to mention we elect Huppenthal who now has a voter mandate to turn all of our schools into charters or something.

I have no idea where all of this is heading, but it doesn't look good for Arizona.

Good luck Republicans. You're in charge of this mess almost completely now. My prayers are with you.

Monday, November 1, 2010

My Ballot Picks

I've been trying really hard this election to stay up to speed on the candidates and I've been doing pretty well. The night before the election I thought I'd might finalize my picks in one post.

My general strategy is to vote Democrat, although in this post I'll tell you the elections I think where the candidates are pretty even.

For reference, here are my propositions.

Here are the Arizona Republic's picks

On to my picks:

My Ballot

PositionMy VoteArizona Republic's OpinonBrief Explanation
SenateRodney GlassmanJohn McCainRodney Glassman is young, inexperienced, from a rich family, has some question marks in his past, but he's also smart, energetic, polished, and confident. John McCain brought Sarah Palin to the world and may do his part to end it if for some odd chance Palin wins the presidency in 2012. His presidential campaign, in a word, was awful. He's also changing course on a number of issues, trying desperately to reincarnate himself into the Rush Limbaugh of the Senate. This is really more of a no vote against McCain than a yes vote for Glassman (McCain is someone I've really, really liked in the past, so I'm sad to see McCain's career turn this way).
Congressional District 5Harry Mitchell
David SchweikertThis is one of those elections where two really pretty good candidates are running against each other. Harry Mitchell has a long, deep and substantive record in local politics. A longtime teacher at Tempe High, the mayor of Tempe, a state legislature, and a Congressman for two terms. He's a moderate all the way, every bill he's authored has had Republican co-signers. I'm voting for him because he voted for Obamacare, despite some of his misgivings, he did what was right.

Schweikert is young, energetic and a fiscal conservative. I trust (though not sure) he would be sincere in his attempts to act as a counter-weight to Obama's spending. I'm voting for Mitchell, but Schweikert should be a better representative than J.D. Hayworth (who Mitchell beat in 2006) if he were to win. For now, I believe the election is too close to call.
GovernorTerry GoddardJan BrewerJan Brewer was not prepared to take over when Napolitano left, but after a slow start she's been competent. I abhorred the 1070b signing, but she did defend it with passion. Goddard, though, is a much more competent governor who would defend our schools in the face of a legislature who will try their hardest to cut its funding. The state is facing hard times right now. The schools are already scraping by. Goddard is in a better position to do the right thing.
Secretary of StateChris DescheneKen BennettThis one is a tossup election for me and admittedly Ken Bennett has more direct experience and is better prepared to take over as governor if for some reason he's called upon. Both seem qualified to assume the responsibilities of Secretary of State. I want greater participation in the elections and I trust Deschene will work harder to reach out to the disenfranchised. I'm going with Deschene.
TreasurerAndrei CherneyDoug DuceyI agree with Ducey ideologically more than I do with Cherney. I just trust Cherney more than I do Ducey. My heart and gut over rule my head on this one.
Attorney GeneralFelicia RotelliniFelicia RotelliniWow, the Arizona Republic finally agrees with me :-). This is a no-brainer. Tom Horne is a strong candidate, although he does have a lifetime ban from the SEC (for something he did 40 years ago - but still). But this is more about Rotellini - she's incredible, highly qualified, with a sterling record. Arizona would really muff this one if they chose Horne over Rotellini.
School SuperintendentPenny KottermanJohn HuppenthalAnother no brainer. If you're a school reform ideologue with no faith in teachers or administrators and all it takes to run our schools is in-depth knowledge on the latest research (no matter how sketchy or politicized) - Huppenthal is your guy. He's never taught school, but has a long record writing legislative bills on school policy. Kotterman has been an instructor and a administrator, has a deep knowledge of school issues and a comprehensive view on how to improve them. This choice should also be a no brainer.
Corporation CommisionGary Pierce and David BradleyGary Pierce and Brenda BurnsThere are three really qualified candidates running from my view (the second Democrat unfortunately passed away). I prefer a little more emphasis on renewable energy than the Republicans will bring to the table, but I'll be happy no matter what happens here I'm sure.
Central Arizona Water Conservation District"Tim Bray, Frank Fairbanks, Jim Holway, Arif Kazmi, Sid WilsonSameI'm placing my trust in the AZ Republic on this one. There are some tea-party candidates running who just want to cut costs and have no background or experience with water. Be sure to avoid those folks.
State Mining InspectorManuel CruzJoe HartTwo good candidates - one is focused more on advocacy for mining in the state, the other is more focused on regulation and safety. I'm going for the second.
Legislative District 17 - SenateDavid SchapiraDavid SchapiraDavid Shapira is much more qualified and knowledgeable on the issues than Wendy Rogers. Rogers skipped their one debate and has a pretty narrow view of the issues facing Arizona generally. Shapira is by far the better choice.
Legislative District 17 - HouseEd Ableser and Ben ArredondoEd Ableser and Ben ArredondoI never did getting around to blogging about this race. The Republicans did not field anybody even worth mentioning once Steve May dropped out (he was kind of a joke as well). Its inexplicable - this district has plenty of Republicans living in it and we've had substantive Republicans representing it in the past. Ben Arredondo is a rock and the better of the two. Ed Ableser is energetic although a bit idealistic apparently.
County AttorneyBill Montgomery Bill Montgomery I really like Rick Romley who lost to him in the primaries. There are no Democrats running. Montgomery was endored by Arpiro which is a big negative for me, but I'm assuming he's competent enough for the position.
Clerk of the Superior CourtMichael JeanesMichael JeanesGoing with the AZ Republic on this one
Justice of the Peace - KyreneElizabeth RogersUnknownShe's the incumbent and the Democrat
ConstableJon LevensonUnknownI've met him and his sign is in my yard.
High School Governing BoardDave Wells and David SchapiraUnknownDave Wells is a professor at ASU and seems knowledgeable and energetic. Schapira is also running for the the Senate (part time position) and can use his influence to help Tempe High schools