It is election night in America and as someone who is politically interested I am keeping an eye on the results and percentage returns. Since there is not much happening early in the evening I decided to watch what the Daily Show was up to. They had an interview with Barack Obama
, but I could not get through it. Obama is no Bill Clinton or Bob Hawke. Obama sounded like he was rattling off lines to each question after an initial parry whereas Clinton and Hawke would make their positions within the flow of what sounded like a chat between friends.
I was actually surprised at the strength of my reaction to it. I was turned off and if I hadn't already voted and made up my mind, it would probably have made me go and look at Romney again. I am certain though after a quick research of Romney's positions I would quickly change my mind back. It is instructive. Then again the Clintons and Hawkes of the world are rare. Australia has only produced one in over one hundred and fifty years of democracy and I am not certain America will ever top Bill Clinton for his natural and instinctive political ability.
I am reading Thomas Ricks, The Generals
. Ricks wrote the best journalistic histories on Iraq with Fiasco and Gamble. The Generals explores the personnel management style of Marshall and Eisenhower who over saw the US Military during World War II and its rise to world power status. Marshall and Eisenhower used to fire upper ranks for lack of performance regularly. The current military does not . Ricks is exploring why that management technique changed.
The US Generals in World War II for full of several egotistic and unusual personalities. One of which survived at the General level despite poor performance and extreme egotism; General MacArthur. He was disliked by the Australians who had to work with him and the Marine Corps who took the large brunt of Nimitz's island hopping strategy. When other generals were getting fired, why did MacArthur survive? Ricks' writes:
Simply removing MacArthur appears to have been out of the question. Whatever his military abilities, he seems to have been kept in command in the Pacific in part because his political standing made it easier to have him in the Army rather than outside of it, criticizing the President.
There is also the argument that FDR was juggling a political coalition that included anti new deal and isolationist conservatives along with midwestern pacifists. Having an anti new deal and conservative general in MacArthur as a hero kept those groups unified and focused on the war America was in. However;
Handling MacArthur as he [FDR] did may have been the right move for FDR in World War II, but by doing so, Roosevelt planted a political minefield for his successor. Eventually MacArthur would have to be dealt with, but that would be left to Harry Truman, a less artful man than FDR.
Truman ultimately relieved MacArthur during the Korean War which was unpopular politically. However, since the allies in the Korean War operated under the auspices of the UN many nations did not like that MacArthur was leading the allied forces. It is doubtful MacArthur had the confidence of the upper US military either. Today he stands as an example of what not to be as a General.
It is easy to forget over the last four years how bad a President George W. Bush was and how complicit the Republican White House and Congress was in poor governance. This is from 2009
For his first annual budget next week, President Obama has banned four accounting gimmicks that President George W. Bush used to make deficit projections look smaller. The price of more honest bookkeeping: A budget that is $2.7 trillion deeper in the red over the next decade than it would otherwise appear, according to administration officials.
The new accounting involves spending on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Medicare reimbursements to physicians and the cost of disaster responses.
The Republican Party likes to blame the Democrats as tax and spend but under the Presidential stewardship of Democrats the record and data pretty much says the opposite
. The best President it turns out is Truman, then Eisenhower, Clinton, Johnson and Kennedy. The bottom of the list is Obama, Bush Jnr, Bush Snr, Reagan, Reagan and then Bush Jnr again.
Obama got the raw end of the stick there as he inherited an economy newly in collapse and as the article above mentions, started more honest book keeping with the budgets, than what the Bush Administration had been doing. I do not know if the economist graph takes that into account.
It is easy to forget how dishonest and politically cynical the Bush Administration along with the Hastert and DeLay Congress was. Then again McConnell's Senate and Boehner's House has followed on in that manner and will most likely continue to do so if Obama wins a second term.
Marketers in the fashion world have been appealing to the vanity of clothing shoppers by making a size 6 become equivalent to what was a size 16 twenty years ago. One of the issues there is that mens clothing, and specifically mens pants is measured in inches. A size 32 pair of jeans might now really be 36 inches in the waist rather than the 32 inches the size suggests. An inch is not subjective, it is not an opinion and it does not change based on perception either. It is a scientific measurement.
The argument over the last fifty years from the conservative culture warriors is that they won over post-modernism and relativism. Liberalism stepped back and re-evaluated the technology and began to focus more on concrete value and empirical data. Conservatism did not. If anything it has embraced post-modernism far more than Liberalism did. The upshot is, like jean sizes, science and non-relativistic measurements are now seen as political issues. Climate change is one area. Now it appears statistics is another area that is open to a political rather than scientific definition of truth.
Originally it was only in the fringes with unskewedpolls.com which eschewed a political interpretation of polling data and demonizing of anyone that disagreed with that. Now it is spreading to the republican party elites which include politicians, establishment and conservative media members
Nate Silver says this is a 73.6 percent chance that the president is going to win? Nobody in that campaign thinks they have a 73 percent chance -- they think they have a 50.1 percent chance of winning. And you talk to the Romney people, it's the same thing," Scarborough said. "Both sides understand that it is close, and it could go either way. And anybody that thinks that this race is anything but a tossup right now is such an ideologue, they should be kept away from typewriters, computers, laptops and microphones for the next 10 days, because they're jokes.
One of the best things about the internet is that experts and amateurs with expertise can publish outside of the mainstream media. Polling data and political science are two important areas which tend to clash with media narratives. For instance the media tends to do sensationalism on each poll with; "Romney up by 5", "Obama up by 1", etc. Sites like 538
and the monkey cage
put that type of reporting into a perspective that is backed by rigorous statistical data.
It has been invaluable in sorting out the hype form reality. For instance the debates have been made out as a massive event but polling data suggests it is not and that a fundamental model which incorporates the economy and incumbency into it flattens out temporary bounces from conventions and debates into something more useful for prediction.
The Bush Administration had numerous instances where it elevated politics over science. It appears that the Republican Party has not lost that mindset.
: Ezra Klein describes
the media motivation well;
Silver's work poses a threat to more traditional -- and, in particular, to more excitable -- forms of political punditry and horse-race journalism.
Klein's site is another graph and empirically heavy blog. It has been the way of the new media that it is different to mass media. It is either an echo chamber and appealing to a niche or heavily empirical. 538 is in the latter. I think modern media is better for it too.
: An article from deadspin
with more detail and the history of how Silver came to political statistical measurement from sports. The article notes:
In fact, we've reached the point in our screwed-up political media culture where the polling companies and forecasters--not the pundits, not the spokespeople, and certainly not the candidates--are the only people being evaluated rigorously on the substance of their arguments. If Nate Silver and Sam Wang screw up, their popularity will suffer as a result, and they'll have to reconsider their models. Meanwhile, if Brooks, Jordan, Scarborough, Rubin, or Byers make another poor argument, they'll continue to collect their paychecks as if nothing had happened.
Pundits are exceptionally bad for predictions. I recently read a book where it proved how bad they were.
: Final note. It appears that the pundits are attempting to be held accountable by modern political analysts
. If psephologists rising in the public notice - possum in Australia and Silver in the US - has done anything it has exposed political experts in mainstream media as entertainers. To be truthful we always knew. When ever Rush Limbaugh would utter something culturally atrocious he would hide behind saying he is an entertainer and it was just satire. The psephologists are just driving the point home.
Political Science is turning up some interesting biases. It is now known that undecided voters are very partisan and probably have made their mind up already based on those biases. Another new data point is that the federal reserve behaves differently when a Democrat is in office than when a Republican is
The Federal Reserve Bank behaves very differently when the White House is occupied by a Democrat than when it is occupied by a Republican. The Fed Funds Rate, the primary lever used by the Fed to manage the nation's economy, tends to rise during Democratic administrations and fall during Republican administrations. This pattern may help explain why Republicans have controlled the White House more frequently than Democrats in recent decades.
For pollsters like Nate Silver
who use a fundamental form of modeling which takes into account the economy as a baseline for re-election, the so-called federal reserve being hawkish on inflation when a Democrat is President and a Dove when a Republican is can lead to a different baseline for Democratic incumbents and challengers.
This poses a real issue as the Federal Reserve is supposed to be politically independent. One of the reasons for a politically independent Federal Reserve bank is that monetary decisions will be based upon the good for the economy rather than for the good of whichever political party is in power. Both the Washington and Westminster system have moved in this direction believing that an independent central bank is good policy.
The US has seen more inequality than most countries during the neoliberal period from the 1970s to today, and even after the big financial crash of 2007, in equality has intensified in the US. We see CEOs arguing
that the deficit is the biggest problem facing the US rather than unemployment.
It is possible that this partian nature of monetary policy from the federal reserve is an outcome of this inequality. It looks like the US is moving to a class society in one way or another which is really sad if that is the case. The amazing political economy that brought us the first man on the moon, the internet, the iphone and universal internet search is sadly unwinding itself from its potential over class bias.
: Matthew O'Brien
has a counter view of the same study:
In other words, there hasn't been a persistent bias -- though there may have been in the 1970s -- and both parties have plenty of reason to say the Fed has helped their political opponents. ... Central bankers are human, and like the rest of us humans, they have political preferences. Sometimes -- ahem, Alan Greenspan -- they act on those preferences, but for the most part they do not, at least in the post-Volcker period. Central bankers are technocrats first, humans second.
O'Brien argues that the Federal Reserve were acting like technocrats first rather than partisans, subconscious partisans or humans.
The Arizona propositions come in two forms. Constitutional amendments which carry the 1XX prefixes and the Legislative initiatives which have the 2XX numbers. The constitutional amendments can be proposed by the legislature or popular initiative. The 2XX tend to be from popular initiative.
This will add explicit protection to the constitution for victims of crime. The short description is so that victims of crime cannot be sued by those that committed the crime against them. The trivial argument is that a criminal slips on a toy when burgling a house and then sues the crime victim for negligence.
Currently Section 31 contains; "No law shall be enacted in this state limiting the amount of damages to be recovered for causing death or injury to any person." The proposition would add; "except that a crime victim is not subject to a claim for damages by a person who is harmed while the person is attempting to engage in, engaging in or fleeing after having engaged in or attempted to engage in conduct that is classified as a felony offense".
Apparently there has not been a case in Arizona where [pdf]
"an unambiguously defined crime victim was legally compelled to pay restitution to a perpetrator of a felony". I suspect this may also have something to do with the Republican style policies of "stand your ground" and not making crime victims liable for restitution if there is a shooting involved.
I am voting no on Proposition 114. I suspect this will get through as it appeals to populist sentiment.
This proposition has a large number of changes to the Judicial selection process in the Arizonan Constitution. The Arizona Department of State sends out a large paper booklet to all voters which describes all the propositions with for and against on it. The current nomination method is by a non-partisan board which is made up of five attorney members that are appointed by the State Bar of Arizona and ten non-attorney members that have strict limits on party membership. The proposition will change that to Governor appointing four members of the board and State Bar appointing one. The non attorney members also have the party limits removed.
There are a lot of constitutional language changes in this proposition and it is confusing. I can not find any issues with the current judicial system that needs fixing and that this proposition will achieve. It looks like it will aid the Governor controlling the selections more closely as well through tighter control of the nomination board. I am giving this a no.
This amends the constitution to give a greater tax break on newly acquired machinery. The Arizona constitution claims that all property is subject to taxation unless exempted by the constitution.
I may be off base here, but I think the constitution is poorly written if it is so inflexible that a simple legislative solution like this is entrenched and requires a popular ballot to change it. This is definitely in the realm of legislative language and not entrenched constitutional language.
I thought that maybe these propositions on the West Coast were a new way of legislating with popular will where the voting public starts to interact with legislation via propositions. It does not seem that way though. It is possible that this is the start of Athenian style democracy where all legislation is constitutionally entrenched and policy is done via propositions and popular ballot. In Arizona I think these propositions are done because the constitution carries legislative tasks in it.
Proposition 116 gets a no vote.
This proposition will amend the constitution to limit the annual increase in the value of property to calculate property taxes. This is typical "no" to all taxes type policy. Currently in Arizona you pay property taxes on the value of the land from two years ago anyway which makes it cheaper - except after the crash when property values plummeted and the two year old value was still higher. The state and counties do all they can to bend over backwards and keep property taxes low anyway. Proposition 117 gets a no.
This amendment changes the formula for distributing money from the permanent fund to public institutions. This is another legislative task that somehow got entrenched into the constitution. Apparently there were genuine issues during the real estate crash
with the formula; "Experience since 2004 has demonstrated that the current formula can result in years with little or no payout due to economic fluctuations or downturns. Prop 118 would guarantee annual payouts but likely at smaller average distributions over time."
This seems innocuous. Proposition 118 gets a yes.
This is a complex proposition. It allows the state to exchange trust land for public land when it is to do with developing lands for sale or public use or protecting military facilities. It appears in the 1930s there was federal legislation to give Arizona 11 million acres which it could only lease of sell. There has been new legislation in Congress which expands the scope of that original act.
Arizona entrenched the 1930s Federal legislation into its constitution. Now the Arizona constitution needs a proposition to amend it so that it matches federal legislation. Once again, the Arizona constitution is too inflexible, this should be done by the Arizona Assembly.
Proposition 119 gets a yes vote but it is more an indication of the inflexibility of the Arizona Constitution that this is being put before voters.
This is a retarded Tea Party proposition. It is also unconstitutional and will most likely be thrown out by the Supreme Court if it passes. This proposition would, "amend the Arizona Constitution to grant the state exclusive control over air, water, public lands, minerals, wildlife and other natural resources within the state's boundaries."
Proposition 120 gets a no and a wish that the Tea Partiers in Arizona understand the constitution of their nation and stop abusing the Arizona assembly for pushing unconstitutional propositions in-front of voters. Idiots.
This proposition is a popular initiative which would change the constitution so that the primary becomes a top-two system. All voters will be able to participate no matter their party affiliation. Supposedly it is to encourage more moderate candidates by having it open and a top two system rather than partisan voters voting in their party's primaries. Potentially the candidates that survive the primary could be from the same party. Party signaling is important especially when faced with a massive ballot on a voting booth and under pressure to fill it out. Having candidates from the same party is no good, nor is third party candidates being excluded.
The real problem is the current Republican party is not moderate. Until they clean up their act it is important that third parties offer alternatives such as the Libertarians, Greens and Independents. Additionally the Democrats need to offer candidates as well. Diversity is good in this instance. Voting against the Republicans because of their extremism is the best mechanism to enforce moderation.
Proposition 121 gets a no.
This is a popular initiative that would create a legislative act which raises the sales by one per cent for the purpose of funding educational, transportation and human services. The sales tax rate will go from 5.6 percent to 6.6 percent. The legislation also requires the Legislature to increase certain components of the education financing formula. One of the downsides of this mechanism is that legislators aren't able to respond to changing funding demands because money is fixed in place by a formula. California has had similar issues. Then again it is a popular initiative that is being pushed because the legislature has not been responding to popular demands.
Proposition 204 gets a no vote.
The Scottsdale City Council is a non-partisan ballot. Voters are asked to vote for three of the six candidates on the ballot. As the elections get more and more local, there is less and less information on candidates. About all that can be gleaned from their website is an issues page, which tend to be similar amongst candidates. The local newspaper, azcentral.com, usually asks some questions of the candidates
as well. But other than that, there is not much to go by.
Maybe the best mechanism is to work backwards. What do I think the policies should be for Scottsdale and who comes closest to matching what I think should happen in the future for Scottsdale?
The city of Scottsdale is really quite large and diverse. It borders the City of Phoenix and runs from Tempe in the south up to Cave Creek in the north. It encompasses older areas such as South Scottsdale which have been around for fifty years, the tourism center of Old Town Scottsdale, the brand new suburbs of North Scottsdale which have only been built in the last ten years, plus there is the large sprawling McDowell Mountains preserve.
What are the demographics of Scottsdale? It is definately suburban. Fifty six percent of all dwellings are single family homes and fifty seven percent of households have married couples in them. With twenty three percent single and the remainder widowed or divorced.
Scottsdale has a lot of retired people and proffessionals without children. In Phoenix, families with children tend to move to Chandler and Gilbert, where the schools are new and everyone has children. In Scottsdale nearly eighty percent of household do not have children.
The median income in Scottsdale is 57K which is above the US national median of 44K. By any standard Scottsdale is a wealthy suburb. The unemployment rate is 7.5% which compares favorably to the US national unemployment rate of 8.6%. Scottsdale is a service economy with 32% in sales and offices, 25% of people working in management, business or finance. It is a white collar professional economy.
Scottdale is also out of room. There is some desert left just south of Route 101 up near the Mayo Center, but that is about it. Scottsdale is not going to be able to grow by developing on virgin desert any longer. Scottsdale is constrained by the Indian Reservation to the east, the City of Phoenix to the west, Tempe to the south and the McDowell Mountains to the north. If Scottsdale is going to grow, it is going to have be up.
The books written by Ryan Avent and Matt Yglesias on the value of urbanization are very convinving. I think Phoenix will have to follow that path. Water will be the main issue as the SRP and CAP really only deliver to a small segment of the city and the continued sprawl are outside their delivery areas. Which means water will only come to an urban core of Phoenix City, Scottsdale, Tempe, and Mesa.
Guy Phillips answered on an AZCentral questions
; "He [Phillips] said high density and high-rise apartments threaten the city's quality of life and could turn Scottsdale into "another Phoenix." He supports tourism, special events and small business as income generators."
Joanne Phillips also has nimbyist policies. Her website opposes Chaparral Rd being expanded
. She also answered; "People don't come here to look for apartment buildings," she told The Republic. "They come here for the feel of the West. If we lose it, we will lose a huge component and cachet of our charm." I think that is bogus, the only faux wild west area is a small three mile square part of Scottsdale known as Old Town. The rest of Scottsdale is sprawling suburbs and commercial centers dotted with the occasional mega-mall.
So by process of elimnation Guy Phillips and Joanne Phillips are out. The third person that gets disqualified is Schaffner as his website leaves me with no idea of what his policies are. He answers some questions on AZCentral, but not enough for me to make an informed decision. It ends up being Virginia Korte, Eric Luoma and Suzanne Klapp getting the nod.
At the county and local levels there is little information on most candidates. So you can only really go by their webpages and the policies and views of issues that they write up. Sometimes there is some local news coverage, but not always. There is always the danger of voting for an actual Nazi or a true Communist. Such is voting on a local ballot.
The candidates are Republican Bill Montgomery and Libertarian Michael Kielsky. Montgomery was taped privately being disparaging of state institution Sherif Arpaio and soon afterwards stood with him to get his backing. This is most likely party and electoral mechanics making Montgomery look foolish. Arpaio is a doddering old fool. Since there are no Democratic candidates for this election, I think it is ok to say that publicly. Arpaio is eighty plus years old.
Montgomery also has Identity Theft as one of the major issues on his website. I suspect this is because Lifelock is a local company to Maricopa County. The rest of his issues look boiler plate national Republican platforms though with a touch more hyperbole than other local Republican candidates.
Michael Kielsky is a local attorney and Libertarian Candidate. The Libertarians tend to be solid on the idea of harm to an individual with fits closely to the Libertarian philosophy of freedom. Kielsky writes;
"Only the most serious offenders, who are a threat to victims and society, should be locked away, to protect us from their violence.For offenders who have caused harm but are no future threat, community supervision programs including probation, house-arrest, or assignment to a half-way house, each increase the offenders re-integration into a crime-free life, create opportunities for restitution, and permit greater access to work and career, family and community contact, and counseling resources, which each strengthen the offender's crime-free habits."
I am willing to give Kielsky a chance. I would be interested to see how effective such policies are at a county level.
The incumbent is octagenarian, birther and media circus Joe Arpaio. My mother used to say about Bob Hawke that he would turn up to a letter being opened. I think Arpaio is the same. The first strike against Arpaio is his posse to determine if Barack Obama's birth certificate is real. There are genuine issues with Obama's presidency; that is not one of them.
There are many reasons to vote against Arpaio but the main is, he is not very good at law enforcement
Not all of Maricopa County is doing so badly -- just the parts under the jurisdiction of the sheriff's office. The local police departments watching Maricopa's cities and towns are doing just fine. Phoenix, as Dickey notes, is a veritable success story, with a 14% drop in violent crime since 2002; other municipalities in the county, like Scottsdale (15% drop) and Mesa (30% drop), have been even more effective. It's just the unincorporated parts of the county -- the region under Arpaio's purportedly iron fist -- where violent crime has spiked so alarmingly.
The policy that Arpaio and Pearce were taking is called, "attrition through enforcement". Basically the idea is to make life so miserable that immigrants "voluntary comply" and deport themselves. I live in Scottsdale which has its own police force and does not use Arpaio for that. Though Scottsdale still uses Arpaio for managing the jails.
The Democratic candidate is Paul Penzone and the Independent is Mike Stauffer. Penzone is former policeman in Phoenix and it looks like he has been accused of beating his wife though there was no formal complaint. This news story has the most information I could find
The ad reiterates allegations made by Penzone's then-estranged wife that Penzone had caused her to hit her forehead in March 2003 by pushing her on a doorway. Penzone said it was his wife who hit him in the head during the dispute with a hockey stick. No charges were ever filed.
Many Republicans who detest Arpaio are using this as an argument for Independent conservative candidate Mike Stauffer. He has youtube videos on pink underwear
, tent city
. He comes off as reasonable and empirical. After reading Penzone's issues and Stauffer's - even though the latter's tend to be small 20 second youtube videos, I have to say Stauffer comes off the best. I think he is the best candidate. I have to vote for him. Hopefully this does not mean that Arpaio gets back in :(
United States Senator
The candidates for Senator are the Republican Jeff Flake, Democrat Richard Carmona and Libertarian Marc Victor. This is the seat that has been vacated by Republican John Kyl retiring. Jeff Flake is a congressman in Arizona.
Flake got the seat after the prior congressman voluntarily term limited himself after three terms. Flake promised to do the same but changed his mind at the end of his third term and decided to run for a fourth. Given some of his positions during his time in congress he actually seems to be one of the more reasonable Republicans.
Richard Carmona served in the Bush Administration as the Surgeon General, however, he was disillusioned by the Bush Administration's deference to politics over science. Carmona had been asked by Republicans to run for a congressional district but declined. He is running as a Democrat for the Senate seat.
Marc Victor is a Libertarian candidate for Senate. Arizona has a strong libertarian community. Victor appears to be on the strong end of Libertarian freedom values. Seeing the existence of income tax as an issue, however the isolationist foreign policy and anti drug war policies are sensible and note worthy. Victor's policies on immigration are also interesting.
In conclusion I am probably going to vote a straight Democratic ticket as I believe the current Republicans are unfit to govern. Flake doesn't seem that bad, and in a less confrontational political environment I might entertain him closer.
Congressional District 9
The candidates are Republican Vernon Parker, Democrat Kristen Sinema and Libertarian Powell Gammill. Parker is a councilman in Paradise Valley. There is not much information on Parker however the issues page on his website are boiler plate Republican policies of which I disagree with nearly all of them. Sinema has served in the Arizona House and Senate. She has been an advocate for women's issues. The issues on her website are more personal to Arizona than Parker's which are national Republican issues. Powell Gammill's website looks to be a frontpage creation. He probably needs a slicker presentation.
State Senator District 24
The candidates are Republican Augustine Bartning and Democrat Katie Hobbs. There is not much on the internet about Bartning. He appears to be a young guy and the issues on his webpage are more progressive than the national republicans. Hobbs is a one term state representative trying to move to the state Senate. Her issues page says, "The extremist politics that have taken over Arizona our hurting our state. Katie Hobbs is focused on continuing her fight against the Tea Party and Governor Brewer's horrible policies." I am no fan of Tea Party policies, whether Bartning will vote for along party lines or with a Tea Party faction is hard to determine. Russell Pearce who pushed much of the Tea Party state agenda has been voted out through a recall election. Either way, it is safer voting for Hobbs in this instance.
State Representative District 24
There are candidates for the Republican, Democratic and Green parties for the house in this district. Which is great. The ballot also requires voting for two candidates as each district has two members. They appear to be first two past the post.
When you get to the state levels some candidates do not even have a wiki page. Republican, Brian Kaufman, does not. From his web page he appears to be a young guy with the standard state level Republican issue list. The Democrats have two candidates, Lela Alston who is a former Senator and Chad Campbell who is the current minority whip. Campbell's official page has gone walkabout and is pointing to a default godaddy page, but Alston's points to a liberal on the green side of things. The Green candidate is Gerard Davis who's official website is a wordpress site. A good choice I thought. The two Democrats will be getting my vote here. The Republicans have majorities in the upper and lower house in Arizona. Since I think Democratic policies are better than Republican ones in the state, they are my preferred choice.
Arizona has four candidates on the ballot for President of the United States.
- Democrat : Barack Obama and Joe Biden
- Republican : Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan
- Libertarian : Gary Johnson and Jim Gray
- Green : Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala
Due to the laws in different states to get on the ballot for President have a high bar, not all states have a third party of any kind on the ballot. It is to Arizona's credit that the laws at least make it easy enough for the major Libertarian and Green third parties to get on the ballot.
Coming into executive power as the economy and banking sector was crashing cannot be fun. Given the constraints of the Republican filibuster in the Senate, of a Republican majority in the house since 2010, and the nature of modern media and politics, I think Obama has handled it as well as the power of the executive allows.
I also support government health care, I think it is absurd that in the US employers provide health care and are subsidized so much that it is cheaper to go with the three choices an employers provides than it is to buy it individually. I don't have any issues with Obamacare in trying to expand insurance coverage.
Where Obama has been dissappointing has been in the constant expanse of executive power. While he did stop torture which was an evil aspect of the Bush Administration, there has been the assisinations via drones in other countries of individuals the executive has decided to kill.
While the Libya intervention was well managed, once again it was the executive deciding to take a nation to war unilaterally. That is did not register heavily on the public scale like Iraq or Afghanistan did, this doesn't stop the reality that the executive now takes the US to war without legislative or judicial interference.
Obama has predominantly honored his promises and in terms of governance he has been way better than Bush. The Obama adminstration has been honest, competent and workmanlike. I also prefer Obama's judicial appointments to the ones that Bush managed to get through. Other than the constant concern of executive power growth I have no issue with Obama as a President.
I am not sure what to make of Romney. I follow politics enough that I was aware of his performances during the Republican primary debates. Of the Republican challengers to the primary he was the most polished and seemed far more reasonable that most of the others, excepting Huntsman.
But reasonable when surrounded by Bachman, Santorum, Gingrich et al, still leaves a candidate as pretty much right wing crazy when they go against a Democrat. These days there are few Democrats that can out crazy your bog standard run of the mill Republican.
I am also aware that Romney changes his positions to whoever he talks to and will willingly lie to make something more palatable to an immediate audience. The first debate against Obama he changed positions so rapidly and was willing to say whatever he needed to in order to win the debate that it is hard to understand what he will do when in office.
Ezra Klein might have the gist of it, where he will be an executive that will govern in some form of triangulation with what is possible, what the legislature will allow and what his base will support. Not a lot of conviction, however, politicians represent the popular will. Given that the Republican base and the Republican legislature do not represent an ideology or policies that I agree with, then that is probably enough not to vote for Romney anyway, his willingness to lie withstanding.
Gary Johnson is a former Republican two term Governor of Mexico and the Libertarian candidate for President. New Mexico has a line item veto. Johnson used that, in addition to vetoing entire bills, to limit the growth of government. He left the state with a billion dollar surplus. He definately walks the Libertarian walk.
His candidacy for president started with the Republicans, but he was unable to get on the debates and with Ron Paul running, Paul was the leading libertarian Republican and made it difficult for Johnson to challenge. As a result he ran for the Libertarian Party candidacy.
Liberatarianism is seductive. The general principles of fiscally conservative, socially liberal, limited government and foreign non-interventionism match most people's view of government. The policies that Libertarian's would use to achive that goal tend to cut a little too far to the bone, and too quickly for most people to be confortable with.
For instance, Johnson advocates cutting Medicare and Medicaid by 43 per cent and changing them into block grants to control costs. This is the same as the Ryan plan, however, the central beauracracy of Medicare has been more efficient in keeping down costs as a single purchaser than anything else.
The block grants aren't a free market solution. The problem in health care in the US is that it is cheaper to buy health care through your employer even though there are only three choices, than it is to buy it through a health insurance company as an individual where there are thousands of choices. It is because the government subsidizes employers through the tax code if they provide health care and because employers can buy in bulk.
There is the added issue that even buying catastrophic insurance where you pay the first three thousand dollars yourself and then everything after that is one hundred percent covered is financially impossible for a family earning under bout forty thousand a year. The poor, disadvantaged and unemployed are always going to have to be covered by government and that is better done at the national level where the federal government can act as a single purchaser.
To be fair to Johnson and the Libertarians, the Democrats are closer to this solution than the Republicans or Libertarians are, but not by much. The Libertarians are also hostile to the Federal Reserve, yet experiences in Australia have shown that monetary policy in conjunction with fiscal policy can have effective outcomes.
One area I do like Libertarian policy is cutting the defence budget by half. The US military is far too big in comparison to the rest of the world and despite it being a manageable amount of GDP it can do with reduction. In civil liberties the Libertarians are ahead of the major parties and I agree with them on the drug war as well.
There is not a lot of information on Dr Jill Stein and the Green Party policies. The center piece of the Grean campaign is the Green New Deal. This policy statement is made up of four pillars. The Economic Bill of Rights, Green transition, Financial Reform and Functioning Democracy.
The Greens tend to have a very positive vew of government and many of their policies are a mix of moving more to government where they trust it and then devolving big government where they do not trust it. For instance Greens want to remove the national military and devolve it to the National Guard. However they want to collapse elections to the national government. While their policies may seem consistent with Green ideology, I am not sure how far it would get with having to deal with a Democratic and Republican legislative.
Obama gets my vote. I am happy with his governance this far and consider what he has done in the White House an improvement over the previous Administration who were largely a mixture of incompetent and reckless. I do not trust Romney and I think what policies the Republicans have put forward would not be good for the country. If I was to vote for those kind of policies I would rather vote for the Libertarians to do it as their views of civil liberties and militarism are closer to mine.
Most Popular on South Sea Republic
The articles that have been viewed the most:
Most Popular Restaurants in Phoenix
Phoenix Eats Out
is the restaurant review site for Phoenix
and Old Town Scottsdale
which lists the modernist and contemporary restaurants, taverns and bars in the greater Phoenix area.
This is the list of the most popular restaurants pages from phoenixeatsout.com that have been viewed the most;
My personal favourite restaurants in Phoenix are AZ88
, Humble Pie
, Orange Table
, The Vig
and others coming close behind. View the complete list with the photo-journalistic style images on phoenixeatsout.com
Most Popular Hikes in Arizona
Arizona is an outdoor state and has lots of hiking in the city and around the state. Phoenix is unusual for most cities in having several large mountains in the center of the city with great hiking. Anyone who comes to Phoenix has to do the Echo Canyon trail on Camelback
and the Summit Hike on Squaw Peak
or Piesta Peak. The views of the city, suburbs and surrounding mountains are wonderful from Camelback and Piesta Peak.
For more experienced hikers there is the McDowell Mountains in North Scottsdale that has several difficult and strenuous hikes in Tom's Thumb
and Bell Pass
. Alternatively, you can hike the highest mountain in Arizona. At 12,600 feet Humphrey's Peak
is a long and difficult hike.
Alternate Australian Constitutions
Between 2004 and 2009 this site, southsearepublic.org
, was a constitutional blog based on scoop which focused on Australian and global constitutional issues.
One of the strongest aspects of it was the development of constitutions by those involved in the blog. These constitutions are the outcome:
The constitutions were built using principles from Montesquieu's separation of powers, the enlightnment's universal political rights and the ancient Athenian technology of sortition and choice by lot.
Archives For South Sea Republic
South Sea Republic started in 2004 as an Australian constitutional blog in 2004 based on scoop software. It was an immigrative outgrowth of Kuro5hin. The archives for each year since then;
The articles are ordered by views.
Who Is Cam Riley
I am an Australian living in the United States as a permanent resident.
I am a software developer by trade and mostly work in Java and jump between middleware and front end.
I originally worked in the New York area of the United States in telecommunications before moving to Washington DC and
working in a mix of telecommunications, energy and ITS. I started my own software company before heading out to
Arizona and working with Shutterfly. Since then I have joined a startup in the Phoenix area and am thoroughly enjoying myself.
I do a lot of photography which I post on this website, but also on flickr. I have a photo-journalistic website which lists
the modernist and contemporary restaurants in phoenix. I have a site on the Australian Flying Corps [AFC]
which has been around since the 1990s and which I unfortunately
lost the .org URL to during a life event; however, it is under the www.australianflyingcorps.com
The AFC website has gone through several iterations since the 90s and the two most recent are Australian Flying Corps Archives(2004-2002)
Australian Flying Corps Archives(2002-1999)
which are good places to start.
Websites Worth Reading
Websites of friends, colleagues and of interest;