AZ propositions

November 8th, 2006

The propositions tell a story of a law-and-order state with a bit of our founding Progressive impulse to make people be better (punishing nasty habits like smoking). So don’t smoking in public, pay a tobacco tax for the further institutionalization of preschool age children, and give food animals bigger pens to live in before we eat them. But don’t mess with the voting system by mailing out ballots to every registered voter and don’t turn ballots into lottery tickets.

Don’t lock up the public lands and don’t begger Grandma with ever-increasing property taxes. As to illegal aliens, don’t give them bail, don’t let them sue Americans, don’t give them any more access to the public schools than you must, and remind everyone that English is the language of Arizona. But we’re not mean spirited; we’re kind to the disadvantaged: the poor deserve a raise, and the elderly should be able to make whatever arrangements they want to take care of each other, so back off the extreme pursuit of any arrangement that might give legitimacy to gays. That last bit is complicated but it sold. And at the end of all the propositions and all the business the legislature failed to take care of itself, the people weren’t feeling generous about raises.

Here are the numbers as of Wednesday morning, from the spreadsheet at the official website http://www.azsos.gov/election/2006/General/2006_General_results_query.htm

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Voting rate
overall 45.30%
Maracopa 42.1%
Pima 52.8%
So the traditional R stronghold was weak and the D stronghold came out. That may explain the Hayworth and AZ8 (Kolbe retiring) seats.

Props: y/n
Prop. 100 No bail for illegal immigrants: 77.8/22.2
Prop. 101 Local property tax levies (limit to inflation):50.4/49.6
Prop. 102 Limits on lawsuit damages for illegal immigrants:74.4 /25.6
Prop. 103 - English as state’s official language: 74.5/25.8
Prop. 104 - Municipal debt to include emergency services: 58.6/41.4
Prop. 105 - Preserve 43,000 acres of state trust lands: 28.8/71.2
(stalking horse to draw off 106)
Prop. 106 - Preserve 694,000 acres of state trust lands: 48.4/51.6
Prop. 107 - Ban same-sex marriage: 48.6/51.4
Prop. 200 - $1 million lottery for voters 33.6/66.4
Prop. 201 - Ban smoking in restaurants, bars 54.2/45.8
Prop. 202 - Raise minimum wage 65.8/34.2
Prop. 203 - Cigarette tax to fund pre-school programs 52.6/47.4
Prop. 204 - Ban small cages for pigs, calves 61.5/38.5
Prop. 205 - Require mail-in ballots 28.8/71.2
Prop. 206 - Ban smoking in restaurants, not bars: 42.7/57.3
Prop. 207 - Limit government’s ability to take land: 65.1/34.9
Prop. 300 - Limit education services for illegal immigrants: 71.6 /28.4
Prop. 301 - Ban probation for methamphetamine offenses: 58.1/41.9
(recall we support medical marijuana, so are more treatment oriented than punitive, hence the closer vote here)
Prop. 302 - Pay raise for state legislators 46.9/53.1

When is a report of police brutality good news?

November 7th, 2006

From MSNBC online:

BAGHDAD - In an unprecedented move, Iraqi authorities charged 57 members of the Shiite-dominated Iraqi police force, including a general, in the alleged torture of hundreds of detainees at a prison in east Baghdad, the Interior Ministry announced Tuesday.

When it is Iraq and the Iraqi government is charging rather than rewarding police officers for brutalizing people. The deposed dictator is on death row and thugs from a formerly oppressed group are facing prosecution for doing to Sunnis what Sunnis used to do to their group.

Election Day

November 7th, 2006

Got up, brewed coffee and walked down the block to my polling place. Maybe 15 people in line. The ballot was long: four pages with all the propositions and judges. Allegedly the longest in the nation this year. But we get sample ballots and voter guides from various official and unofficial groups so there was no reason not to come in with all the “answers.” My snapshot observation was that a number of the people at my polling place had their preferences marked on a sample ballot or jotted down.

On the one hand, long ballots would seem to overwhelm and present a demand for judgment on matters which most of us know nothing about, and about which there is very little information to be found. How, exactly, am I supposed to judge which judge to retain and which not? On the other hand, if someone was to call themselves to the voters’ attention with especially politically offensive conduct/ decisions, then citizens have the opportunity to correct the perceived offense. So long as people feel indifferent or satisfied, the lists of obscure officials can be approved prefunctorilly or passed over entirely, the name on the list serving just as a safety valve for severe displeasure with a supposedly non-political official who calls themselves to the public’s attention.

Regarding officials and displeasure, I just do not understand how the head of the GOTV effort for the Republican Party helps his boss avoid impeachment by going on the air the day before an election, where he needs every R and a lot of I’s to come out for his slate, to call the base “restrictionists.” He did so on Hugh Hewitt’s program and Hugh did not challenge him. Laura Ingraham did pick up on it and was hot on the topic of operatives who had failed to produce results and even insulted the base for the past two years now trying so say it is the base’s fault in advance of the election results. Here is the quote in context:

HH: Now Karl Rove, you’ve got the Hispanic vote out there. The President’s done very well with it. It’s been absolutely essential to keep reminding the Hispanic voting community that it’s a great program that the President’s put forward in terms of legalization and a border security. Has that affected, though…the debate that’s been going on has often been not civil, despite the President’s attempt to keep it so. Has that affected Hispanic turnout, or Hispanic voting?

KR: I don’t know about a Hispanic turnout. I do think that individual Republican candidates are going to look back after this election and find that the rhetoric that they adopted hurt them in the Hispanic community. And we’re going to find other candidates who are going to look back and find that the rhetoric that they adopted by emphasizing a comprehensive solution to our border problems won them support in the Hispanic community. So I think there’s going to be…again, this race is going to be largely dominated by choices between two individual candidates running for the same office, and less by national issues. Now national issues will intrude, but they will intrude in the frame of a choice between the two individual candidates. And in that instance, I think immigration will be seen as…a comprehensive approach will be seen as a winner, and a narrow restrictionist approach will be seen as a loser.

Clumsy to adopt a negative label and even clumsier to do so the day before an election where you want the base to overlook the snubs and offenses of the past.

Call to perservere

October 25th, 2006

The President gave a very strong and clear call to the nation this morning, laying out in the starkest terms, in the face of the dinosaur media and their faction that has confounded pursuet of power with the national interest in the context of the domestic election cycle overlaid on the course of the long war.

The President made the stakes clear up front:

Today I will explain how we’re adapting our tactics to help the Iraqi government gain control of the security situation. I’ll also explain why, despite the difficulties and bloodshed, it remains critical that America defeat the enemy in Iraq by helping the Iraqis build a free nation that can sustain itself and defend itself. Our security at home depends on ensuring that Iraq is an ally in the war on terror and does not become a terrorist haven like Afghanistan under the Taliban.

He then admitted strategic errors while drawing the sting out. He took the initiative, as I believe he should have done in April 2003, by pointing to continuing adjustment and learning. This is what this nation, and any other nation that has successfully prosecuted an armed struggle, does. See every war we’ve fought.

he enemy we face in Iraq has evolved over the past three years. After the fall of Saddam Hussein, a sophisticated and a violent insurgency took root. Early on this insurgency was made up of remnants of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party, as well as criminals released by the regime. The insurgency was fueled by al Qaeda and other foreign terrorists, who focused most of their attention on high-profile attacks against coalition forces and international institutions.

We learned some key lessons from that early phase in the war. We saw how quickly al Qaeda and other extremist groups would come to Iraq to fight and try to drive us out. We overestimated the capability of the civil service in Iraq to continue to provide essential services to the Iraqi people. We did not expect the Iraqi army, including the Republican Guard, to melt away in the way that it did in the phase of advancing coalition forces. Despite these early setbacks, some very important progress was made, in the midst of an incredibly violent period.

The President’s remarks implicitly rebutted the “no military solution” chestnut, addressing ALMOST the whole range of instruments of national power, roughly organized by military planners as DIME: diplomatic, information, military, and economic.

Diplomatic:

In the end, the Iraqi people and their government will have to make the difficult decisions necessary to solve these problems. So, in addition to refining our military tactics to defeat the enemy, we’re also working to help the Iraqi government achieve a political solution that brings together Shia and Sunnis and Kurds and other ethnic and religious groups. Yesterday, our Ambassador to Iraq, Zal Khalilzad laid out a three-step approach. First, we’re working with political and religious leaders across Iraq, urging them to take steps to restrain their followers and stop sectarian violence. [ . . . ] Third, we’re reaching out to Arab states such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan, and asking them to support the Iraqi government’s efforts to persuade Sunni insurgents to lay down their arms and accept national reconciliation.

Information:

Here the President was silent. This has been and will continue to be the key to sustaining the American will and it requires an openness that key players in the Administration just do not seem to trust. Witness the struggle over milblogs and independent imbeds.

Military: This is what we are always shown, almost exclusively.

On the military side, our commanders on the ground are constantly adjusting our tactics to stay ahead of our enemies. We are refining our training strategy for the Iraqi security forces so we can help more of those forces take the lead in the fight, and provide them better equipment and fire power to be successful.

We’ve increased the number of coalition advisors in the Iraqi Ministries of Defense and Interior so they can better plan and execute security operations against the enemy. We have changed our force structure so we can better respond to the conditions on the ground. For example, during the Iraqi elections, we increased our force levels to more than 150,000 troops to ensure people could vote.

Economic:

The new Iraqi government has . . . agreed to a schedule for resolving issues, such as . . . sharing oil revenues, amending the Iraqi constitution, and reforming the de-Baathification process. [ . . . ] The international community is also supporting the international compact that outlines the support that will be provided to Iraq as it moves forward with its own program of reform.

The problem all along has been a lack of clear articulation (Information) of the thing that mades the DIME “worth a dime” — strategy [no my original idea, actually heard more elegantly from an Iraqi general]. But be that as it may, the President is crystal clear on the national survival level of necessity.

My administration will carefully consider any proposal that will help us achieve victory. It’s my responsibility to provide the American people with a candid assessment on the way forward. There is tough fighting ahead. The road to victory will not be easy. We should not expect a simple solution. The fact that the fighting is tough does not mean our efforts in Iraq are not worth it. To the contrary; the consequences in Iraq will have a decisive impact on the security of our country, because defeating the terrorists in Iraq is essential to turning back the cause of extremism in the Middle East.

If we do not defeat the terrorists or extremists in Iraq, they will gain access to vast oil reserves, and use Iraq as a base to overthrow moderate governments across the broader Middle East. They will launch new attacks on America from this new safe haven. They will pursue their goal of a radical Islamic empire that stretches from Spain to Indonesia. I know many Americans are not satisfied with the situation in Iraq. I’m not satisfied, either. And that is why we’re taking new steps to help secure Baghdad, and constantly adjusting our tactics across the country to meet the changing threat.

But we cannot allow our dissatisfaction to turn into disillusionment about our purpose in this war. We must not look at every success of the enemy as a mistake on our part, cause for an investigation, or a reason to call for our troops to come home. We must not fall prey to the sophisticated propaganda by the enemy, who is trying to undermine our confidence and make us believe that our presence in Iraq is the cause of all its problems If I did not think our mission in Iraq was vital to America’s security, I’d bring our troops home tomorrow. I met too many wives and husbands who have lost their partners in life, too many children who won’t ever see their mom and dad again.

I owe it to them and to the families who still have loved ones in harm’s way to ensure that their sacrifices are not in vain. Our country has faced adversity before during times of war. In past wars, we’ve lost young Americans who gave everything to protect our freedom and way of life. In this war, we’ve lost good men and women who’ve given their lives for a cause that is necessary and it is just. We mourn every loss, and we must gird ourselves for the sacrifices that are yet to come. America’s men and women in uniform are the finest in the world. I’m awed by their strength and their character.

As General Casey reported yesterday in Iraq, “the men and women of the Armed Forces… have never lost a battle in over three years in the war.” Every American can take pride in our troops, and the vital work they are doing to protect us. Our troops are fighting a war that will set the course for this new century. The outcome will determine the destiny of millions across the world. Defeating the terrorists and extremists is the challenge of our time and the calling of this generation.

I’m confident this generation will answer that call and defeat an ideology that is bent on destroying America and all that we stand for. And now I’ll be glad to answer some of your questions.

I think that these final paragraphs should be reprinted on the front page of every paper, and the sound clip played on every evening news broadcast. But, since it will be buried and distorted, just look at the questions or listen and hear the sneering contempt of the propagandists posing as press corps, it is up to ordinary Americans to make each other aware. Link it, copy and paste the text in email, print it and share it.

Note the questions, even stripped of the coloring of voice:

Q: Terry. Mr. President, the war in Iraq has lasted almost as long as World War II for the United States. And as you mentioned, October was the deadliest month for American forces this year — in a year. Do you think we’re winning, and why?

A: THE PRESIDENT: First of all, this is a different kind of war than a war against the fascists in World War II. We were facing a nation state — two nation states — three nation states in World War II. We were able to find an enemy by locating its ships, or aircraft, or soldiers on the ground.

This is a war against extremists and radicals who kill innocent people to achieve political objectives. It has a multiple of fronts. Afghanistan was a front in this war against the terrorists. Iraq is now the central front in the war against the terrorists. This war is more than just finding people and bringing them to justice; this war is an ideological conflict between a radical ideology that can’t stand freedom, and moderate, reasonable people that hope to live in a peaceful society. And so it’s going to take a long time, Terry. [ After further elaboration, the President brought it home ] otherwise, we’re looking at the potential of this kind of world: a world in which radical forms of Islam compete for power; a world in which moderate governments get toppled by people willing to murder the innocent; a world in which oil reserves are controlled by radicals in order to extract blackmail from the West; a world in which Iran has a nuclear weapon.

And if that were to occur, people would look back at this day and age and say, what happened to those people in 2006? How come they couldn’t see the threat to a future generation of people? Defeat will only come if the United States becomes isolationist and refuses to, one, protect ourselves, and, two, help those who desire to become — to live in a moderate, peaceful world.

Q: David [Gregory]. Mr. President, for several years you have been saying that America will stay the course in Iraq; you were committed to the policy. And now you say that, no, you’re not saying, stay the course, that you’re adapting to win, that you’re showing flexibility.

And as you mentioned, out of Baghdad we’re now hearing about benchmarks and timetables from the Iraqi government, as relayed by American officials, to stop the sectarian violence. In the past, Democrats and other critics of the war who talked about benchmarks and timetables were labeled as defeatists, defeat-o-crats, or people who wanted to cut and run. So why shouldn’t the American people conclude that this is nothing from you other than semantic, rhetorical games and all politics two weeks before an election?

A: THE PRESIDENT: David, there is a significant difference between benchmarks for a government to achieve and a timetable for withdrawal. You’re talking about — when you’re talking about the benchmarks, he’s talking about the fact that we’re working with the Iraqi government to have certain benchmarks to meet as a way to determine whether or not they’re making the hard decisions necessary to achieve peace. I believe that’s what you’re referring to. And we’re working with the Iraqi government to come up with benchmarks. Listen, this is a sovereign government. It was elected by the people of Iraq.

What we’re asking them to do is to say, when do you think you’re going to get this done, when can you get this done, so the people themselves in Iraq can see that the government is moving forward with a reconciliation plan and plans necessary to unify this government. That is substantially different, David, from people saying, we want a time certain to get out of Iraq. As a matter of fact, the benchmarks will make it more likely we win. Withdrawing on an artificial timetable means we lose. Now, I’m giving the speech — you’re asking me why I’m giving this speech today — because there’s — I think I owe an explanation to the American people, and will continue to make explanations.

The people need to know that we have a plan for victory. Like I said in my opening comments, I fully understand if the people think we don’t have a plan for victory, they’re not going to support the effort. And so I’ll continue to speak out about our way forward.

Mass Murder ending in suicide

October 2nd, 2006

Regarding the school house murder of Amish girls, Hugh Hewitt did the usual thoughtful job today, asking the right questions of the right people and probing for answers instead of talking points.

Dr. Helen Smith confirmed much of what I’d learned from Prof. James Clarke in the late 1990s. The murders are an attention-getting addition to  a suicide. The individual is narcissistic and blaming others for perceived wrongs/ failures. The murders provide a way for the individual to “show them” — to effectively say “look what you made me do.”

Prof. Clarke did work on the differing profiles/ motivations of political assassins. He has observed that the addition of a media pool camera to cover the president every minute he is in public, on the off change they might catch an attack on the president, may increase the incentives for individuals with the same mental state as mass-murderers to make an attempt on the president.

By extension, I think we might argue that the 24/7 saturation coverage and omnicasting, with a “what went wrong” slant, facilitates the homicidal suicide. Perhaps, and purely the musing of a layman, the answer is the same answer as we ought to be giving to islamo-fascists. No more understanding coverage. No more “neutrality.” Call evil evil and call losers losers. Heap scorn on them and give no quarter and no sympathic hearing/viewing to apologists, fellow travelors and useful idiots. Turn the information campaign back against the sociopath and on the islamo-fascist. While this will not end mass-murder or the long war, it might at least turn one feedback loop from positive to negative for the bad guys.
Just a thought.