So Democrats What is the Alternative?

Anyone who has been following the efforts to close the budget gap will have seen the Democrats and their liberal allies pushing their attacks on Republicans for the inevitable spending cuts that are necessary to close the gap.  Of course, it wouldn’t take a political genius to foresee that these attacks would focus almost exclusively on possible cuts in education.  This is smart politics and it plays well in the press.

Strangely missing though is a credible alternative from the Democrats.  Their proposal of borrowing and budget gimmicks can and should be a non-starter.  These tricks come straight from our former Governor’s playbook and are frankly a direct contributor the situation we face today.  In essence their proposal of putting off payments until the next budget cycle in hopes of an upturn are nothing more than robbing Peter to pay Paul or in other words – a Ponzi Scheme.  And like all Ponzi schemes it will collapse.

The simple fact is that there are only two ways to fix the budget problem.

Cut spending or raise taxes.

Republicans in the Legislature and Governor Brewer correctly understand that raising taxes in a tough economy will lead to more economic pain for Arizona citizens and business.  Pain that in a declining job market is the last thing anyone needs.

So if raising taxes is a non-starter – not even Democrats with the exception of their new liberal State Chairman are proposing that – then the question becomes what to do?

The only answer is to cut spending, and as Democrats and their allies know, voter mandated spending is off the table.  That of course leaves education squarely in the crosshairs.

It’s easy when you are in the minority to take a shot at the majority who will have to make hard choices.  And politically, that is what the Democrats should and are doing.  But once you get past the politics, the question still remains.

What is the alternative?

Some Thoughts on SA

I have watched for some time now the relentless back and forth on SA by commenters. As we have gotten closer to Election Day, the vitriol increases and the attacks intensify. While I most certainly agree with the old adage – “politics ain’t beanbag”, the tone has become quite disturbing.

Over the last couple of months, the tone of SA has morphed from a discussion of issues and the political races of the day, to flat out blood sport between competing camps in comments that are almost without fail done anonymously. Now while I respect anonymity and the right to have your comments be heard, it can be abused when posters publish comments that they most certainly would not want to be associated with their names.

The practical effect of all this is that the comment section, while immensely entertaining at times, has morphed into what one particularly insightful commenter called the wall of a bathroom stall where competing gangs exchange taunts and words they wouldn’t probably say to someone’s face. We have attacks on candidates’ families, vicious and sometimes borderline slanderous attacks on people running for office, and sometimes flat out lies about candidates.

Now some might say that candidates ask for this when they run for office and use that as justification for the attacks. Some might also say that candidates attack each other all the time, in some cases much worse than goes on in the blogs. But there is a big difference. No anonymity. Candidates that attack each other have to put their names on the mailers, radio ads, phone calls, etc. Even the attack on Russell Pearce which I found abhorrent, was not done anonymously. There is a big difference. At least the candidates know who’s throwing the punches and voters can make an informed decision with that knowledge. In contrast, the comment section of this blog has become increasingly angry and vicious with a no holds barred attitude in attacking candidates and its done with a litany of made up names.

Never forget that each and every candidate for public office is doing something noble that should have our respect and admiration – they are running for public office. It’s the very foundation of our democracy.

What distinguishes SA from most other conservative blogs in this state is that it allows a diversity of writers, ideas, and opinions to be posted. Most, if not all of the other conservative blogs in this state are the opinion of one or two people and that’s it. Many routinely censor and moderate comments and don’t allow comments that disagree with their particular world view. In fact, one blog even took SA for task for not adhering religiously to that particular blogger’s view of how things should be done. That blogger just doesn’t get it and never will get what SA is all about. At its very base, it is a place to post ideas and thoughts about issues and politics and share those with others – not a place to censor views and opinions.

With that said, however, that freedom is being abused by some and while I most certainly respect your right to say whatever you want, whenever you want, no matter how offensive or stupid it may be, it would help going forward to maybe show a little decency towards the candidates running for office and at minimum have the courage if you are going to make an attack to use your real name and if that is not an option, follow the adage of the commenter mentioned above and not turn the comment section of SA into the wall of a toilet stall.

This About Sums It Up

National Review Editorial on Immigration Bill

The National Review has a terrific editorial on the Immigration Bill titled “It’s Worse Than You Think.”

“The immigration bill, according to its critics, hands out amnesty to illegal immigrants as soon as some ineffectual steps toward enforcement are taken. Don’t believe it. The bill provides amnesty as soon as it is enacted.”

You can read the rest here

Elections Have Consequences

And we are seeing that adage played out in the budget battles down at the Legislature.

This afternoon, I watched the debate in the Senate over their bipartisan budget bill that includes next to no tax relief. Immediately after the main appropriations bill passed, I saw liberal Republican Senator Carolyn Allen go over and enthusiastically shake hands with Democrat Senator Albert Hale.

That serves as a good symbol for where things stand today for conservatives in the Arizona Legislature. Losses in both the House and Senate last year have put conservatives in the position of having no real say over the budget process.

The reality today is that those losses have effectively given liberal Republicans like Carolyn Allen, Tom O’Halleran, Pete Hershberger, and Jennifer Burns quite of bit of control over the budget in the Legislature at conservatives’ expense.

Perhaps what is going on with the budget bills will at long last send a message to Republicans that the failure to do whats necessary to protect and build your majorities will come back to bite you later on. That biting is going on now.

Maybe We Should Rename All Government Departments

Todd Lang, Executive Director of the So-Called “Clean Elections” Commission was quoted today in the Tribune as objecting the Arizona Senate’s amendment to rename the Clean Elections Act the “Publicly Funded Elections Act.” Lang’s reasoning for his objection is that he believes this is a step towards repealing the Act. Lang also said that voters would be less inclined to support the Clean Elections Commission if they see it as “just another expense of tax dollars.”

It’s interesting that Lang is so nervous about what would happen if voters were given a clearer picture that their tax dollars are being spent on campaigns. You would think the Commission would have more confidence in their own mission. But then again, they probably know better than most that the idea of using tax dollars to finance political campaigns is not the most popular proposition.

In any event, Lang’s opposition to renaming the Committee to more accurately reflect it’s mission got me thinking. The Clean Elections Commission has the best deal in government, it has a name whose sole purpose is to confuse and obfuscate it’s true mission and instead make people feel good about what the Commission does. In the interest of fairness to other government agencies, maybe we should give each agency in Arizona government the opportunity to come up with a new name to help taxpayers feel good about their missions.

In the spirit of helpfulness, I have come up with a couple of suggestions.

Change the Department of Education to “Department of Making Your Kids Smart”

Change the Department of Transportation to “The Department of No More Traffic”
Any other suggestions?

The Road Ahead in CD1

There is a report today in the Phoenix Business Journal that furthers speculation that Congressman Rick Renzi’s days in Congress may very well be numbered. While I won’t rehash recent coverage about Renzi’s problems, suffice to say that it’s looking increasingly likely that there will be a special election some time in the next 6-10 months.

So it’s not surprising then that the speculation has begun about who is considering running on the Republican side. Here is a brief review and the Hack’s opinion on who is considering running and what their strengths and weaknesses are.

Top Tier Candidates

Former Senate President Ken Bennett

Bennett seems like a logical choice for this seat. He has a good base in Yavapai County, and he is LDS which should help him with conservative LDS Democrats in the NE portion of the district. Potential weaknesses may include unfounded claims that he exerted political influence in his son’s legal cases, and the same question every candidate will have to answer – can they raise enough money to be competitive in what should be a very expensive race.

State Rep. Bill Konopnicki

Before everyone posts comments on how Konopnicki is too liberal to win a primary (and maybe he is), keep in mind that Konopnicki always runs very strong in his legislative district. Konopnicki is not only LDS, but he has routinely won the swing areas of this district in his Legislative races. Konopnicki is also wealthy and could conceivably finance a big chunk of his campaign.

Potential weaknesses include the fact that he is seen as one of the most liberal Republican members of the Arizona Legislature which could make getting through a primary tough. He also has rubbed some of his Republican colleagues in the Legislature the wrong way with his willingness to occasionally plot with Democrats (the 2004 budget is just one example).

Rancher Steve Pierce

Pierce is a wealthy rancher who was the chairman of the Yavapai County Republican Party. He is well-liked in Yavapai and considered a good conservative. He is also close to Kyl, Shadegg, and Flake. Pierce could also afford to self-finance his campaign.

Pierce’s most obvious weakness is that he is relatively unknown to voters. Though, in fairness, if Pierce were to write a big check, that could be overcome relatively easiliy.

Other Potential Candidates

Senator Tom O’Halleran

Probably not going to happen for the liberal Republican State Senator. He represents Yavapai, but it’s likely there will be another conservative candidate from Yavapai County who will be in a position to take the bulk of GOP votes out of the County. O’Halleran doesn’t have much to offer to primary voters in this race. It would also be tough for O’Halleran to raise the kind of money to be competitive.

Lobbyist Sydney Hay

Hay ran and finished a close third in the 2002 Republican Primary for this seat. Word is that she is calling around to feel out her prospects on this race and would like to run. She is conservative and well-liked by conservative activists. She is also a good campaigner and able to articulate the issues.

However, it’s well-known that she does not live in the district, and it’s unlikely that the voters would accept another carpetbagger. In addition, Hay is a lobbyist. Now, in fairness, she generally lobbies for conservative causes, but that distinction will very likely get lost in a race like this, and being a lobbyist running for Congress is probably not the right profile to have in a race like this. Also, it’s unlikely that Hay could raise the kind of money necessary to be competitive in this race.

The Hack’s Take

The price of entry to be taken seriously in this race is going to be high. That immediately put’s potential self-funders like Pierce and Konopnicki into the top-tier. Bennett belongs with these two because he could conceivably put some of his own money into the race and would be able to raise money. He also has a good base from which to run in a primary and a lot of goodwill to tap into. In the end, I think it’s an either or situation for Pierce and Bennett. Both don’t get into the race. Whoever does would probably become the favorite. Konopnicki may flinch because our resign to run law would very likely require him to leave the Legislature. If he does run, he could win if he were able to do well in his legislative district and self-fund a big chunk of his race. O’Halleran and Hay are likely non-starters. They may run, but I think neither would be able to compete with the top-tier candidates.

Now fire away!!!

This is Exactly the Type of Candidate We Need to Retake the Hayworth Seat

Not Exactly.

Jim Ogsbury, a DC lobbyist with Arizona connections is planning to run in the Republican Primary for AZ-05. According to Ogsbury’s own bio on the Triadvocates website, Ogsbury has spent “fifteen years inside the Capital Beltway.”

For those of you who don’t know much about Ogsbury – and why would you, he has spent the last 15 years in Washington DC. Ogsbury is a DC lobbyist whose self-acknowledged specialty is getting pork for his clients.

Now let’s rewind to the 2006 election. JD Hayworth, a good man, and a good conservative, came under withering attacks by Harry Mitchell and the DCCC for among other things, being too close to lobbyists, being too much of a DC insider who had forgotten his roots, and being part of the Republican culture of pork barrel spending in Congress.

Well at least the Democrats won’t have to reinvent the wheel if Ogsbury is the nominee.

Some Presidential Humor from Stephen Colbert

In the May issue of GQ, Stephen Colbert was asked to fill out a job application for President. Here are some of his answers.
Please list four jobs prior to current position,” 1. Correspondent/Whipping Boy, The ‘Daily Show’ with Jon Stewart. Duties included: carrying water for Jon Stewart’s liberal agenda. 2. Investigative reporter WKJC-Raleigh. Blew the lid off the ‘Yield’ sign controversy on Maple Street, just past the Arby’s. 3. Male prostitute — but ‘classy.’ In fact, that was my street name — Butt Classy. 4. Arby’s.”
Have you ever been arrested: “Refused to leave George H.W.’s victory party on Election Night 1992 until every vote was counted — Hilton staff wrestled me from Bush suite after attempt to hug Barbara.”
How will you appeal to women voters: “First of all, I don’t want to appeal to women voters. I want to appeal to lady voters.”
Hypothetical: on the eve of the South Carolina primary, you are unjustly accused of fathering an illegitimate child. What is your defense strategy?”1. Find out who squealed. 2. Hard to say. What color is this illegitimate child?”
Any other situations that could embarrass your campaign: “1. Once treated Wolf Blitzer as peer. 2. Tongued Jane Fonda. 3. Totalitarian ruler of Malawi, 1982-84.”
What are the three greatest threats to America: “1. Bears. 2. Clive Owen. 3. Other countries.”
What are your views on illegal immigration: “We simply lay down one of those invisible electric dog fences and just put the shock collars on the Mexicans. Just until they learn. It’s the humane solution.”

Another Romney Flip Flop

According to a report in today’s Boston Globe, serial flip-flopper Mitt Romney was asked at an event this past weekend whether or not he agreed with Hillary Clinton’s notorious statement that “it takes a village to raise a child.” Not surprisingly, now that he is trying to woo conservatives, Romney said “it takes a family.”
However, back in 1998, Romney had this to say about it taking a village to raise a child:

“Hillary Clinton is very much right, it does take a village, and we are a village and we need to work together in a non-skeptical, no-finger-pointing way…”

You would think that his own campaign team would have done the opp research on their own guy to see what’s out there, and maybe they did. In any event, Romney should have seen this one coming a mile away. But then again, when you have switched your position on so many issues, it’s probably hard to keep it all straight.