Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Jeff Flake or Marc Victor?

I was a member of the Libertarian Party for about 13 years, active for about 10 of those.  This 'blog began as a side project while I was still writing copy (and paid far too little for it--usually $0) for LP candidates and the local Party.  If you want to know why to vote for third-party candidates, I'm the man to tell you.  Vote not for this year but for ten years from now--vote to help to build the party.  Vote to signal to the major-party candidates that they need to do more to earn your vote.

That's all very nice, and if you think that the Libertarian Party has potential to overcome its internal culture and history and become a force for positive change in Arizona, take my old advice.

But please, please, please, don't vote for Marc Victor.  And think very hard before casting a vote for Gary Johnson.

It's nothing personal.  Gary Johnson is the best Presidential candidate from any party since Reagan.  And Victor, who I never met, is by most accounts--from LP types and from ACLU lawyers--a genuinely genial person, a good defense lawyer, and a good man.  He's not qualified for the Senate.  The LP doesn't have many candidates to draw from ;the only Arizona LP regular who has the kind of public policy or high-level business experience that would qualify him is former Congressional economist Joe Cobb.

Joe Cobb, by the way, is running for Congress in the 4th District against Ed Pastor.  I cannot endorse anyone more strongly for Congress than I can endorse Joe Cobb.  He is the rare challenger with prior experience in shaping Federal policy and drafting legislation.  On a more personal level, he's a man of unimpeachable character and tremendous warmth.  We need both in Washington.

Of the qualified potential recruits for Senate candidate from outside the Libertarian Party, Sam Steiger retired a decade ago and is now deceased (!), and "independent" libertarian-leaning former Democrat Ted Downing seems to have backed out of politics following his defeat by cookie-cutter leftist Paula Aboud in 2010.  The LP needs to fill the ballot line, otherwise a Yuri Downing-like joker or worse, a lunatic bigot like Russ Dove or Roy Warden might run and permanently embarrass the organization.  Since parties cannot legally control their ballot lines in AZ, unqualified candidates are better than none at all, and unqualified candidates with the dignity of Marc Victor--a great improvement over the 2000, 2004, and 2006 candidates--are better still.

Victor does have a strike against him. It isn't mentioned on his campaign website, but it's no secret, either:  for a few days, Marc Victor was a Superior Court judge pro tempore.  For reasons of "principle"--the word Libertarians use when saying "it's my opinion" isn't enough--he recused himself from all drug cases on his calendar, and was fired from the job.  If an anarchist like Randy Barnett could be a prosecutor, Victor could probably have found a way to be a judge and keep a clean conscience.  (And if he couldn't, he should not have applied for the position in the first place.) He may not actually serve as Senator were he elected Senator.  He may decide to collaborate with nobody, "on principle", and never to compromise.  I do not vote for people who will not meet the duties of their office.  But that's no reason for people who cast protest votes to not vote for Victor.

The real reason is that Jeff Flake is a very libertarian Republican--until Justin Amash came along, easily the most libertarian member of Congress--making Victor the irrelevant alternative.  His primary-season reversal on immigration was a genuine disappointment to me and other longtime supporters.  The typical Arizona Republican stance, "border security first, then reform" is inhumane and idiotic.  (Why spend billions enforcing a bad and difficult-to-enforce policy before adopting something better and easier to enforce?)  But the number one rule in politics is that to do good, you must actually be in office.  A reformer like Flake has to fight both the Democrats and his own party.  During his time in Congress he's fought the good fight on government reform, on civil liberties, on the budget.  It's easy to demand perfect agreement as someone who doesn't work to advance an agenda in a legislature, easier still as a member of a political party with no intent to actually elect someone to Federal office in the near future.  For working policymakers, prioritization is necessary.  Cut him some slack.

The race with Carmona is far too close.  If you're thinking of voting for Victor, ask yourself if your policy agenda is best served by electing a run-of-the-mill big-government Democrat to the Senate or by electing a Republican who was for small government and comprehensive reform before the Tea Party made it cool to be fore small government and comprehensive reform.  Given what's at stake, ask yourself whether you want another Democrat in the Senate at all.  Democrats are committed to blocking meaningful health care reform and for ideological reasons won't join the conversation on, let alone debate House bills proposing to, reform Federal spending.  They'll balance the budget by raising already usurious tax rates, but cutting the scope of the Federal government is off the table.  And sending another Democrat to the Senate will make it difficult to block Obama judicial nominees hostile to freedom of the press or the right to keep and bear arms.  If Democrats attain a supermajority, use one hand to defend your civil liberties and keep another on your wallet.  Flake has consistently defended both.

Consider also that Carmona recently released an advertisement faking endorsements from John McCain and Jon Kyl.  Even in the election season that brought us the fake "war on women" and Mitt Romney the evil "vulture capitalist" scamster, fake endorsements are too bold a lie.  Carmona is not of good moral character.  And a vote for Victor will help send Carmona to the senate.

Regarding Gary Johnson:  He'd make a great president.  Vote for him with pride.  Unless you live in a swing state.  The stakes are far too high.  President Obama will block market-oriented health-care reforms.  He's refused to "play ball" on the budget.  And he may get to nominate two Supreme Court justices in his second term.  Picture Citizens United, McDonnell vs Chicago,  or Ricci vs DeStefano (the firefighters' discrimination case) going the other way.  And then vote Romney in Arizona unless the polls show a clear Romney victory.  And then support adoption of Condorcet voting in Arizona, so you never have to make that kind of choice again.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Pardon the dust.

"Pardon our dust as we update for the '90s." I wonder whether that sign is still in the El Con mall. 

Haloscan ended its 'blog commenting service. Comments and trackbacks from mid 2008-present are currently inaccessible. I will try to import them. Disqus is the site's new commenting platform.

This doesn't matter too much, since following my departure from the Goldwater State this space is now maintained largely as an archive. If you want to change that, just drop me a note. If you count yourself in the "free minds and free markets" set--if you like what you read here--don't follow any peculiar political doctrine or ideology, and have something to say about politics and policy in Arizona, you're welcome to give it a try.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

An incomplete roundup, one week later.

David Fitzsimmons (Arizona Daily Star cartoonist "Fitz") apologized for his slanderous on-air rant. Clarence Dupnik remains strident. The Republic hit him hard in its Monday editorial, calling for him to remember his duty as a peace officer. The Washington Times's Robert Knight recommends a recall election, which, despite Dupnik's sensible stand on SB 1070, would be a great idea for many reasons of which his recent unprofessional conduct is but one.

Dave Hardy fondly remembers Judge Roll as fair-minded and respectful of the law.

Most of Gabrielle Giffords's political opponents from recent years have released statements of good will. Steve Stoltz's civic-minded reflection is the standout in that number--I could never get in to his politics, but what a class act! Randy Graf is conspicuously absent from this group. Although I consider bigots an infinitesimal epsilon away from human trash, I'm not going to read any meaning in to his silence. Perhaps it's better that we don't hear from him.

At about the same level: writers are straining to claim that Joseph Zamudio--one of the men who subdued Jared Loughner--carrying a firearm presented a danger to others. I'm not going to even link such nonsense here, and will just note that it's contradictory to write of Zamudio's finger being on the trigger in one sentence and then in another that he kept it holstered. The Wall Street Journal's features story on Zamudio gets it right.

In addition to the misguided calls to lock up the insane, we're starting to see more discussion of civil outpatient commitment. Google "Kendra's Law". It is working in New York and similar policies have been effective in a handful of other states, with civil liberties infringement approaching zero. (The ACLU's gripe is ethnic disparity, reflecting that group's recent deviation away from its core mission.) We should consider enacting such a policy here in Arizona.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A practical difference between George Bush and Barack Obama

President Obama was (rightly) criticized in the first two years of his term for a dictatorial tone, for example claiming to phone BP and tell them what to do instead of letting that be handled through normal legal processes.

But in at least one respect he is less dictatorial than his predecessor. When George Bush came to Tucson for a 2008 fundraiser for Tim Bee, police--working overtime on the taxpayer dime--closed the entire length of Swan for at least four hours, from Davis Monthan AFB all the way to Sunrise. Without warning Tucson was split into two halves; people had to take detours of 15 miles or more to get from the west side to the east side, just to give George Bush a grand entrance. Hundreds were late to work or to get home to their children. Private driveways and business road cuts were also blocked along the entire route.

It's unclear to this day which of Bee or Bush was responsible for such waste and such gross inconveniencing of the common man. No President before or since has, to my knowledge, engaged in such a practice; clearing a path and restricting the movement of the plebs is better suited to a banana-republic caudillo. However banana-republican he has been at times, Barack Obama didn't have any roads shut down today yesterday. [BSK: post rescheduled.]

And Bee never did reimburse the public treasury or the many he inconvenience. He did, however, end up the victim of some great real-life trolling.

President Obama rose above his party tonight.

Barack Obama is now on the same list as Steve Stoltz and Rodney Glassman: those whose responses to Saturday's spree shooting epitomizes republican civility.

"What we cannot do is use this tragedy as another occasion to turn on each other...[as we discuss this] let each of us do so with a good dose of humility."

And now a direct rejection of the thesis that rhetoric caused the spree shooting, without subsequently backhandedly insinuating that it did: a civil case for civility.

Addendum (BSK re: Obama): If we want our "democracy" to live up to childrens' expectations, then consensual governance is in order. Governing with the consent of the governed. Not "scoring touchdowns" with extreme and ill-wrought bills of large scope, not "elections have consequences", not democracy, not majoritarianism, and certainly not the blood-and-soil nationalism we have seen in Arizona.

Addendum 2 (BSK re: the UA choir): There is no more American song than the Shaker Hymn. When I hear just the melody in Appalachian Spring it makes the hair on my neck stand up and sometimes brings a tear to my eye. A most appropriate choice for today for a number of reasons.

Live video feed link: Obama's address

The link to live coverage of tonight's memorial address is buried on the Arizona Public Media website. For those who are having trouble finding it, it is: http://ondemand.azpm.org/live/. All you have missed so far (at the time of posting) is half of a performance of Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man.